Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Pint and a Haircut

James Smith, Cavan

After 50 years in the pub business my father recently retired, in those 50 years he has a collection of stories that you wouldn’t believe and are a reflection of Irish life from 1959 to 2009.

My father was the type of publican who valued every one of his customers and the craic that each one brought to the pub. He would rather lose money on drinks than lose a customer. As long as the customer wasn’t insulting, fighting or generally being a nuisance they were always welcomed.

It was one of these customers who in the 70’s realised that farmers bringing milk to the local creamery didn’t have time for a drink AND a haircut and decided to set up a barber shop in the toilets of the pub. He would come in every Friday, have a few whiskeys and a couple of Guinness and then take one of the bar stools into the toilets and each farmer would wait patiently at the bar for their haircut. For the first couple of weeks my father didn’t realise what was going on and when he finally caught on to what was happening, he decided that as long as the “barber” wasn’t too drunk when cutting the hair and didn’t clip the top of someone’s ear off then it why not let it go. This went on for about 6 months and it became such a part of the pub life that no one thought it was strange. That is until an off-duty member of the Garda Special Branch from Adare felt nature calling. He went into the toilet and encountered a slightly inebriated barber cutting the hair of an even more slightly inebriated customer, all 3 nodded at each other and went about their business. After that day the Garda became a regular of the pub until the day my father closed the doors for good. His reckoning was that in all the pubs in Ireland that he had visited, he had never encountered a sight like this. This was a pub that virtually anything could happen in and he wanted to be there if it did.

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