Not Disposable: Pubs across Ireland mark one year of closure with campaign sharing memories and messages of hope, hurt and anger

Not Disposable: Pubs across Ireland mark one year of closure with campaign sharing memories and messages of hope, hurt and anger

TODAY MARKS a full year since pubs across Ireland were forced to close their doors to the public.

On 15 March 2020, the hospitality industry were ordered to close their doors to flatten the curve and stop the spread of Covid-19, which had recently reached Irish shores and which threatened the health of everyone in the country.

Days earlier, then-Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had ordered the closure of schools and colleges and urged people to stay at home, but stopped short of ordering the closure of pubs, restaurants and cafés.

Most pubs closed voluntarily in order to do what they saw as their public duty-- but all the same, that weekend social media was flooded with footage of revellers partying in packed bars, and the Government ordered the industry to close.

A year to the day later, and the hospitality industry has been one of the worst-affected by the pandemic-- particularly 'wet pubs' which do not serve food, which were allowed to open for just two weeks in total over the last 12 months.

Today, publicans and their staff have been sharing old memories and messages of hope, hurt and anger under the hashtag 'Not disposable' as many fear their businesses will not be able to survive long enough to reopen whenever it is finally deemed safe to do so.

Dublin's famous Gorgans Castle Lounge shared an emotional post with pictures of days gone by, writing "We are a place for celebration, a friendly chat, a Christmas pint, a bit of craic & so much more. We are #NotDisposable."

The Castle Inn shared an image and wrote "It's a year since we closed and while it's been difficult with false openings and only welcoming our friends for 16 days, we are still here and really looking forward to the next chapter".

The Bank Bar in Dublin urged the government to provide "a clear roadmap" about when their staff can finally get back to work, arguing "we need clarity on when we can get back running our business".

Walsh's Bar in Mitchelstown, County Cork warned that pubs were being treated as a "forgotten industry ...never to fully recover", while 57 The Headline called for publicans "to be treated with the respect our industry deserves".

The frustration of publicans is palpable in many posts, with the Olde Glen Bar stating "our great staff, suppliers, musicians & wonderful customers are all suffering mentally, physically and financially. We are not disposable."

Gearóid Whelan of Whelan's Bar in Newcastle West, County Limerick, made headlines last summer when he sought to prove he could reopen safely despite not selling food in his bar-- he was closed down by Gardaí just hours later.

Gearóid shared an image of his bar packed to the rafters on what is usually "the busiest week of the year" thanks to Cheltenham and St Patrick's Day, but vowed "we will be back".

The Irish government have been reluctant to lay out a proper road map or suggest dates which certain businesses may be able to reopen as the country recovers from a devastating third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As thigns stand, children are returning to school on a phased basis, some outdoor meetings may be allowed and the 5km travel limit relaxed somewhat at some point in April-- however things are subject to change, particularly as the roll-out of vaccinations continues to hit bumps in the road.