independent

Wednesday 23 October 2019

All hail Mary's

In an old Irish pub where 85 per cent of the customers are male, one young Spanish lady says she feels right at home

WORDS: MARIA PEPPER

'THERE IS no place like this in Spain,' said Barcelona woman Esther Hueto who has been living in Wexford for the past four years.

She is talking about her local pub Mary's Bar in John's Gate Street, a few yards away from her home.

There are probably not many places left like this in Ireland either.

It may in fact be the only licensed premises in the country without a television.

The word pretentious has no meaning within the cluttered walls.

Mary's Bar is one of those rare and original little Irish pubs that hasn't changed in decades, perhaps longer.

It dates back to 1775 and has been in the Kielthy family since the early 1950's when north Wexford couple Joss and his wife Mary, now deceased, bought it from the Boyle Estate.

Though it has traditionally been a man's pub, Mary's Bar (as the name might suggest) has been largely run by women.

Mary Kielthy from Hollyfort first came to the pub to help out the previous tenants Sergeant Cullimore and his wife.

When she and her husband ended up buying it, she ran the show while Joss worked in CIE.

It is now run by their daughter Catherine, assisted by her sister Mary.

Esther Hueto is now a regular and loves the homely atmosphere.

'A friend said to me do you know there's a pub a few doors from where you live.'

'We came in one night. I thought it was lovely. You can get lost looking at all the things on the walls,' said Esther. 'Every time you come in, you find something new.' 'It's the kind of pub where you make friends. You have people coming in who are 20 years old and 80 years old.'

The Spanish woman fell in love with Wexford when she came here in early 2007 to study English for a month at the Slaney Language Centre.

'I went home to Barcelona for 20 days and I packed my

bags and came back.'

Esther who works in Spectrum Art Gallery introduced her boyfriend Justin Doyle to the pub.

'He's from Wexford and he hadn't been in before. He loves it now too,' she said.

Esther likes the fact that she can feel comfortable popping into the bar on her own, even though, in her estimation, about 85 per cent of the customers are male.

'I feel very safe here when I come in on my own. I don't mind waiting for a friend.'

'There are very special customers here that make you laugh. They are also very patient with my English.'

'It doesn't matter what age your are -18 or 80, you will have a good time.'

Esther recently returned to Barcelona for her parents' 50th wedding anniversary and sent a postcard to add to the bar's collection from all over the world.

'I've never sent a postcard to a pub before but that's the kind of place it is.'

The late Joss Kielthy, a well-known Wexford republican who welcomed Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams to the pub on a number of occasions, passed away in 2008 at the age of 88 but his spirit is still very much alive still.

There is a sign saying Joss's Snug' in the corner where he used to sit and play the mouth organ during the music sessions that continue on the premises.

'He loved traditional music and ballads and anything to do with Ireland,' said Catherine.

The pub regularly welcomes curious foreign visitors.

The New York-based Wexford musician Larry Kirwan of Black 47 always drops in for a pint during his trips back home.

The British comedian Lenny Henry arrived with a film crew a few years ago during his 'Lenny's Britain' tour.

Paul Horgan, a former big top performer with Fossett's Circus, has been drinking in Mary's for 25 years.

Jimmy Murphy, a former caretaker with Wexford Vocational College, has been a customer for over 50 years.

'Everyone is welcome here. Everyone joins in the conversation,' said Catherine.

'That's why we don't have a television. It takes away from the banter.'

The well-travelled Wexford guitarist Declan Sinnott has described Mary's Bar as the 'most televisionless pub' he has ever seen. 'THERE IS no place like this in Spain,' said Barcelona woman Esther Hueto who has been living in Wexford for the past four years.

She is talking about her local pub Mary's Bar in John's Gate Street, a few yards away from her home.

There are probably not many places left like this in Ireland either.

It may in fact be the only licensed premises in the country without a television.

The word pretentious has no meaning within the cluttered walls.

Mary's Bar is one of those rare and original little Irish pubs that hasn't changed in decades, perhaps longer.

It dates back to 1775 and has been in the Kielthy family since the early 1950's when north Wexford couple Joss and his wife Mary, now deceased, bought it from the Boyle Estate.

Though it has traditionally been a man's pub, Mary's Bar (as the name might suggest) has been largely run by women.

Mary Kielthy from Hollyfort first came to the pub to help out the previous tenants Sergeant Cullimore and his wife.

When she and her husband ended up buying it, she ran the show while Joss worked in CIE.

It is now run by their daughter Catherine, assisted by her sister Mary.

Esther Hueto is now a regular and loves the homely atmosphere.

'A friend said to me do you know there's a pub a few doors from where you live.'

'We came in one night. I thought it was lovely. You can get lost looking at all the things on the walls,' said Esther. 'Every time you come in, you find something new.' 'It's the kind of pub where you make friends. You have people coming in who are 20 years old and 80 years old.'

The Spanish woman fell in love with Wexford when she came here in early 2007 to study English for a month at the Slaney Language Centre.

'I went home to Barcelona for 20 days and I packed my

bags and came back.'

Esther who works in Spectrum Art Gallery introduced her boyfriend Justin Doyle to the pub.

'He's from Wexford and he hadn't been in before. He loves it now too,' she said.

Esther likes the fact that she can feel comfortable popping into the bar on her own, even though, in her estimation, about 85 per cent of the customers are male.

'I feel very safe here when I come in on my own. I don't mind waiting for a friend.'

'There are very special customers here that make you laugh. They are also very patient with my English.'

'It doesn't matter what age your are -18 or 80, you will have a good time.'

Esther recently returned to Barcelona for her parents' 50th wedding anniversary and sent a postcard to add to the bar's collection from all over the world.

'I've never sent a postcard to a pub before but that's the kind of place it is.'

The late Joss Kielthy, a well-known Wexford republican who welcomed Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams to the pub on a number of occasions, passed away in 2008 at the age of 88 but his spirit is still very much alive still.

There is a sign saying Joss's Snug' in the corner where he used to sit and play the mouth organ during the music sessions that continue on the premises.

'He loved traditional music and ballads and anything to do with Ireland,' said Catherine.

The pub regularly welcomes curious foreign visitors.

The New York-based Wexford musician Larry Kirwan of Black 47 always drops in for a pint during his trips back home.

The British comedian Lenny Henry arrived with a film crew a few years ago during his 'Lenny's Britain' tour.

Paul Horgan, a former big top performer with Fossett's Circus, has been drinking in Mary's for 25 years.

Jimmy Murphy, a former caretaker with Wexford Vocational College, has been a customer for over 50 years.

'Everyone is welcome here. Everyone joins in the conversation,' said Catherine.

'That's why we don't have a television. It takes away from the banter.'

The well-travelled Wexford guitarist Declan Sinnott has described Mary's Bar as the 'most televisionless pub' he has ever seen.

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