John Coffey’s Story
The bar business is in John Coffey’s blood. He comes from several generations of publicans.
Originally from Newbridge in County Kildare, he grew up over his father’s pub on the main street in the town. He knows the trade inside and out, and is well respected and liked by his peers.
John’s passion is traditional Irish music. There was always some sort of a musical session going on in the bar when he was growing up. John married into a famous musical family, his wife Grainne Lunny, is a member of a family with strong musical roots. Her brother Donal is world famous as a multi-instrumental musician, who starred in bands from Planxty, The Bothy Band, Moving Hearts and many other legends of Irish folk music.
John and Grainne decided to set down roots in the small village of Clogh, County Kilkenny in 1979, when John fell in for his deceased uncle’s pub. They had the choice of selling the premises and moving to a bigger and busier location, but they decided that life in the former mining village would be a better place to raise their children.
It might still say ‘Joyce’ over the door, but ‘regardless of the sign,’ for the past 34 years it has been known as Coffey’s of Clogh. John couldn’t bring himself to take down his late uncle’s name from over the door.
Heart and Soul
John and Grainne put their hearts and souls into building the business up. They made a name as an open house for musicians, and it was one of the worst kept secrets in the area when a ‘secret session’ would be happening, when one of their famous friends such as Donal Lunny, Christy Moore or a host of others would be dropping by for a ‘quiet one.’ People used to come from all around to pack into the tiny pub. John never charged a penny in cover charge.
That all stopped a couple of years ago. Business seemed to dry up over-night.
Every small country or rural pub began to feel the pinch, and Clogh was no different.
‘There were no jobs in the area, so we had no customers. Simple as that,’ John says. ‘Most of my younger customers are in Australia or elsewhere now.’
Two years ago, John and Grainne had to take the decision to close the pub.