T&H Doolan’s, the city’s oldest pub, closed its doors last Thursday following three centuries of trading as a licensed premises.
Local musicians gathered with management and staff at the George’s Street pub on Thursday night for one last ‘seisiún’ at an establishment that has been – for generations – a focal point of the city’s trad and live scene, as well as a popular tourist attraction.
Present on the night was Dermot Power, who began his musical career playing in T&H’s in the mid 60s with the late Bernie Colclough and has gigged regularly at the pub ever since.
“It’s so sad. First of all, you have twelve people out of work, not to mention the local musicians who will be affected. But the pub is also such an integral part of Waterford and its music scene. Liam Clancy owned it back in the 60s and everybody who was anybody on the folk scene would have visited the pub in those days.
“The pub was also central to the protest era during the 60s. I can remember the crowd down there when Dunlop’s in Arundel Square went on strike around that time.
“You were always guaranteed to meet like-minded individuals there and it was such an important pub for anyone coming to visit Waterford. Aside from tourists and music fans, you have all different people who regularly meet in T&H’s , from the regular coffee morning ladies to people working in the area.”
T&H Doolan’s pub and restaurant, which was owned by Eamon Reid, was put on the market last December when Mr Reid decided to retire. The Reid family have been in the trade for many years, previously owning Egan’s, The Old Stand and The Cleaboy Pub.
Dermot paid particular tribute to the Reid family who, he said, were determined to continue the tradition of live music, seven nights a week, to the bitter end.
“So many musicians owe a lot to the Reid family for their continued support. In recent years, we would have been playing to smaller and smaller crowds but they always insisted that the gig go ahead. Waterford owes them a lot.”
He also expressed concerns that the landmark pub could rapidly become dilapidated and even an eyesore in heart of the city. “The building is so old that the big fear now is that it will become dilapidated very quickly. Shame on the banks, they have no social conscience allowing this Waterford institution to close its doors.”
Local auctioneer John Rohan said T&H Doolan’s is one of Ireland’s oldest hostelries, dating from the 1400s and the pub is officially preserved as an historic site. Its annual rates liability stands just shy of €25,000. T&H’s will now go to auction, with an asking price of €330,000.