Reopening Ireland: Mulligan’s first indoor pour in nearly 500 days

Words: Emily Mullen

We stopped into Mulligan’s on Poolbeg Street on July 26th and had the first indoor pint pulled in nearly 500 days

Over the last couple of weeks, the team at Mulligan’s had been making do, serving takeaway pints from their entrance door to a couple of tables outside. While Poolbeg street is mercifully clear of the traffic that clogs up the quays, just a stone’s throw away, the road is deafening loud with two lots of building work rumbling on during the day. It’s a built-up street too, the previous week’s sun never really breaking through the highrises onto the ancient streets below. Takeaway pints weren’t for them, their customers need to be inside, admiring the high ceilings, the gilt mirrors and the shining taps.

Arriving minutes before the 12pm reopening time, we were expecting a queue of regulars lined up alongside the pub, but all we found was a man wheeling endless boxes of King crisps in and leaving them in a room at the back. The place was pretty deserted and smelt like it had been empty for a while, it had that scent off the spare room in your grannys, where the door hasn’t opened in a couple of months and the air has been trapped. Mulligan’s looks the same as it always did, bar the introduction of hand sanitiser, arrows on the floor and lengths of seethrough plastic sheeting that divide the back bar from the customer. It’s behind this that Darran Cusack who is third-generation Mulligan’s descendant pours the first pint.

Standing beside the wooden bartop, patently watching the settle, the second pour, before finally feeling the cool of the glass against your own hand, it might not seem like much but on July 26 at one of the final stages of reopening it felt significant. Pulled into a branded glass, this pint of Guinness was destined to become the first one drunk inside those wooden clad walls in 496 days. Nicely settled, with a decent creamy head, the pint tasted all the better for being drunk inside that iconic Dublin pub. This moment isn’t just significant for us, serving a customer indoors, is a moment the Mulligan’s team have been waiting for and working towards for the last 16 months. Each blast of the barrel, makes it feel a little more like the pub they once knew.

“Ah you’d miss the office” Cusack says, while he wipes the row of Guinness taps behind the plastic sheeting “we got word just before Patrick’s Day, we all thought it would be two weeks of closure, we were amazed by how long it took to get back”. Emphasising the importance of the pub reopening for indoor trading Cusack said “since we have reopened inside Mulligan’s is Mulligan’s again”. He recently became a father for the first time and said this made getting back to work all the more important. Behind the bar he has a good vantage point of the door, which is pulled open, not by the long sought after regulars, but by more journalists keen to cover this monumentous moment in our reopening. The ironic thing was that we were there to talk to regulars, and none could be found. The trade Cusack reckons will take some time to pick up, “we rely on tourists and we have a good regular crowd”. He is hopeful from September when offices open in town again, that there will be a return to the after-work crowd.

The first pint pulled in Mulligan’s on Poolbeg Street in almost 500 days

Getting the pint into your hand is one thing, but settling down at one of those square tables with the pint involves a series of government-sanctioned hoops to jump through. Vaccine certs have to be scanned, IDs checked, contact name and number given. The Mulligan’s team were as patient as could be with these new processes, trying though they were. They resigned themselves to the lengthy procedure, patiently waiting at the top of the table for QR codes to be produced and bags to be rummaged through. After waiting the guts of a year and a half for a reopening, patience is something they have mastered.

The first pint was pulled by Darran Cusack

Pubs across the city reported a slow first day of trading despite initial expectations. Many businesses across the city have staggered their openings throughout the week, or postponing them all together for a variety of different reasons. The vaccine certificate does seem to be a huge problem for staff and customers alike, with groups of people either in possession of one half of a vaccine, not in possession of their EU Digital Covid Certificate or having not passed the requisite time for the vaccine to take its efficacy effect. Staff also need to check ID while doing this, there are also taking the contact details of the lead customer, making the whole process a lengthy and arduous one, when you consider how fluid it once was. It’s a hard aspect for staff to deal with, something that there has been little to no training provided for.

The first pint pulled for an indoor punter in almost 16 months

While it was a slow enough return to indoor hospitality on July 26th, we’re all looking forward to seeing places like Mulligan’s packed to the gills all across Ireland and breathing a collective sigh of relief about how we’ve gotten back to “normal”.

Elsewhere on District: 17 common questions about the return of indoor drinking and dining