A real Irish character

Posted on: 4th July, 2017

Category: Arts & Entertainment

Contributor: West Cork People

This year Ma Murphy’s in Bantry was recognised at the Munster final of the Irish Restaurant Awards 2017. The family-run pub claimed the coveted ‘Munster Pub of the Year’ award and it’s not difficult to see why.

A family-run pub since 1840, Ma Murphy’s in Bantry is a landmark in the town and a unique part of the community. A veritable step back in time, this institution still serves groceries and has kept the traditional Snug. With ancient memorabilia adorning the walls, including an old grandfather clock (over 100-years-old), old Tilly lamps sat in corners, and cobbled stones out the back where the old forge has been put to new use, this pub oozes character and charm.

One of the newest generation of Leonard’s to run the pub, Mary Leonard, remembers singsongs and story-telling being a part of her childhood at Ma Murphy’s. Her father, Billy Leonard, whose family originally hails from Cape Clear, came back from Wales to run the pub over 30 years ago when Mrs Daly, the original Ma Murphy’s daughter passed away. While Mary and her brother Sean run the pub today, Billy is still in the background and to the delight of regular customers still gets behind the bar now and then.

“We’re thrilled with the award,” says Mary “and would like to sincerely thank all our customers for their continued support.”

Back in the day, Ma Murphy’s was always a great meeting place after Sunday Mass. Even today, you will still meet 90-year-old farmers mixing with younger generations and enjoying the chat. It’s not unusual to see a grandfather, his son and his grandson sitting up at the bar having a pint together.

In Ma’s day, a big feed of mackerel was cooked and served on Fair Day to the farmers who dropped by to have their horses shod. She also cooked up Pig’s Crubeens to the lads who came in before the dances. On busy nights, music sessions in the pub would spill over in to the kitchen with customers dancing on tables late in to the night.

In the old days, Blacksmith Tom H. Harrington ran his forge at the back of Ma Murphy’s. Farmers from as far as Adrigole and Crookhaven would leave their horses with Tom to be shod while they went for a pint and a drop in the bar. They would also buy their groceries and enjoy a good chat. Mary can still remember the noise from the hammer and the anvil in the forge and the smell of the fire.

Music and craic are still traditions at this charming old-school pub, which has withstood the test of time.

The old forge has been renovated to accommodate musicians and performers and there are regular live music sessions at Ma Murphy’s every Tuesday and Thursday night and at weekends.

Even today it’s not difficult to imagine ponies and sheep parked out the back while farmers enjoy their few pints on Fair Day or women matchmaking in the Snug at the front of the bar.

With a large number of tourists saying that their decision to visit Ireland is influenced by the Irish pub, it’s more important than ever to promote and support the Irish Pub concept – a concept of which Ma Murphy’s in Bantry is the perfect example, combining excellent service and experience with culture and tradition.

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Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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