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Tony Coote from Ennis enjoying a pint at Kenny's Bar, Ennis. Photograph by Paul Corey.

“The whole town has changed”

A BUSINESS that combines a pub and shop is nearly a thing of the past but a few of them still
survive, including Kenny’s in Ennis.

Located at the corner of Carmody Street and Drumbiggle Road, it is a type of premises that is now almost unique in Ennis, where one can get a newspaper and a couple of groceries at the front and a pint of Guinness or a whiskey in the back.

When The Clare Champion visited on Thursday night of last week, Tony Coote was one of those seated comfortably at the bar. “I’m a regular here; it’s a very unique pub. There aren’t many places you’d come in and see tennis balls for sale,” he laughs, pointing at a bag of them hanging up in the shop.

If you were looking for an authentic Irish bar, it would be hard to beat Kenny’s and some visitors to the town do make their way there, Tony said. “A lot of Yanks come down here from the Old Ground to get their photo taken. He lets them in there to pull a pint and take a photograph.”

Most of those in his vicinity had pints of stout in front of them and he said the Guinness there is “very good”, a great selling point for any bar. Not only does it taste better than in most pubs, it’s also much better value.

“The pint here is cheaper than anywhere else. That pint is €3.90; a pint anywhere else could be €4.20 to €4.40. That girl there[sitting just further along the bar] is drinking Bulmers. Down town its €4.90; it’s €4 here.”

Tony has retired now, which means that the lower drink-driving limits, which are being criticised in pubs all over the county and country, don’t affect him greatly, as he doesn’t have to drive early in the morning.“If I was working, you couldn’t have a couple of pints. I wouldn’t agree with what he [Shane Ross] has done but what can you do?”

The Ennis of today is vastly different to the town he grew up in, Tony feels.“The whole town has changed really. There’s a lot of pubs gone. They’re fish shops or sweet shops now; you’ve only the few. The outskirts of the town is huge now.”

He remembers a time when most people knew each other on Ennis’ streets. “Everybody knew you; you could do nothing wrong. If you did, you’d hear ‘I’ll be meeting your father and I’ll be telling him’,” he jokes.

Young people are less courteous now, Tony feels. “The younger crowd now, they wouldn’t have the respect we had for people’s property and people themselves, that we had when we were growing up. If you are walking the town at lunchtime when the kids are coming out from school, they’ll stand on the footpath and block it and won’t get out of your way.”

Retirement is great, he feels. “I like it. I was working since I was 14 years of age. I play a lot of golf and I’m quite happy doing it at the moment.”

Maura Coffey was also having a few drinks and is also retired, having spent 41 years working in
the Old Ground. “I’m coming in here since I was 20 or 21; I’m 67 now. I come in most nights and have my two
or three drinks. It’s a local. I knew Rory’s [owner Rory Kenny] dad and his mam.”

Maura Coffey from Ennis at Kenny’s Bar. Photograph by Paul Corey

Like Tony, she feels the town is less friendly than it once was, while she says there is a risk of crime now that used not be there. “Years ago, you could leave the door unlocked but you can’t do that any more; it’s gone.”

Owen Ryan