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50 years in Brogan’s… Pat wouldn’t have it any other way

Pat Sheedy behind the bar at Brogan’s on O’Connell Street in Ennis.  Photograph by Declan MonaghanWORKING in Brogan’s Bar for 50 years, Pat Sheedy is well used to lending an ear to the many customers who frequent the well-known Ennis pub. But when it comes to talking about himself, the bartender shies away from being the centre of attention.
While Pat may prefer to stay out of the limelight, this month he will rightly be the focus of celebrations at Brogan’s Bar, with an evening of music planned to mark his golden anniversary.
Pat, from Doora, first began working in Brogan’s when he left school at 14. “I certainly didn’t think I’d be here this long. I started off in the yard doing the bottles and peeling the spuds. My sister, Francis, had worked there along with my brother, John,” he recalled. “Brian Hogan was the owner at the time, son of Patrick Hogan who was Ceann Comhairle.
“Things were very different back then, there have certainly been some big changes over the years. The pub itself hasn’t changed much but there have been changes in the trade,” he said.
Pat remembers the pub was often used for matchmaking back in the ’60s, with curtains on the booths where the matchmaking would take place. He also recalled, “There would be mainly country people coming in here back when I started. There would be people coming in from the markets and marts. Now there are lots of different people coming from all over the world. And they would do food from 12 till six and nothing after that. Now in the trade, it’s more about the food than the drink,” he said.
Over the years, Pat has seen many famous faces walk through the doors of Brogan’s, including Richard Harris, Paul Newman, Sienna Miller and Charlie Haughey. As well as getting a pint from Pat, some were even lucky enough to get a racing tip from the man himself. Pat’s bar-tending career has even led him to be awarded barman of the year back in the early ’90s.
Although Pat is celebrating his 50th year, he insists there are still plenty more pints to pull with no plans for retirement just yet. He is optimistic about the future of the publican trade.
“Nowadays, more and more people are going to off licences and not going out but drinking at home. Years ago, there would be big queues in bars and places would be packed but it’s changed now. But the best place is the pub to meet people and socialise. I think they will come back again, people will get fed up of sitting at home,” he said.
Paddy Brogan, owner of Brogan’s Bar, said they are delighted to honour Pat with a celebratory night. “We took over the bar here in 1976 and it was in the conditions of sale that we kept Pat on. We didn’t have any objections to that, in fact it’s the best thing we ever did keeping him on. Pat’s an institution, they come from all over to see him. He’s the man they all want to see, no-one else. He is very dependable, never late for work, in fact, he gets here ahead of time. He’s very sociable and likeable but he shies away from attention.”
On June 25, a host of traditional musicians will come together in Brogan’s Bar to mark Pat’s anniversary.
“We have lots of musicians lined up to celebrate this milestone anniversary, really well-known musicians who have played in Brogan’s over the years. They are all mad to play for Pat,” Paddy said.
Caroline O’Sullivan, who is organising the event added, “It should be a great night. It’s going to be all about Pat, sure who else has done 50 years.” As well as traditional music, there will also be a DJ and a barbecue planned for the night.
Pat concluded by saying he has “really enjoyed the last 50 years. I love being a barman and I don’t know what I would have done if I wasn’t doing this. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

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