I played a gig in this pub about 10 years ago. It was a jazz gig, in rural Co. Roscommon (not a noted jazz hotspot), and it was packed. A great atmosphere – the management obviously knew what they were doing and had built their business up to the point where people would travel to it to hear good music.
I haven’t been there since, until this morning. There was a wedding on in the church across the road, and the pub was packed at 12.30 before the bride arrived, and again at 2.30 after she got married. I have no idea if the pub is under the same management or not as it was 10 years ago, but it looked a little more lonely today. The corner shop next door was closed, and bar the church, there wasn’t much else around.
And so I wondered – was it now a pub that relied on weddings and other big one-off events to draw a crowd? Like the pubs in Clones in Co. Monaghan, whose annual takings significantly depend on how many big GAA matches are played in the town each summer.
They are two completely different business models – positioning yourself as the only show in town and waiting for the people who come to your town and need your services, or building something so good that your location doesn’t hugely matter because people will travel to see what you’re doing?
And so I hoped that M. J. Henry’s was still the second type, so that when a wedding happens to come to town like today, it’s a bonus for them, not their bread and butter.