We’re from Tarmonbarry, Co Roscommon. That’s where our bar-restaurant-hotel, Keenan’s is. My father was a publican and a farmer, so I would have grown up on the farm as well as in the pub.

My great-great-grandfather bought the pub in 1865. I’m the fifth generation to run this place, alongside my wife Annette, and my son David is the sixth. He’s the general manager now.

Back when the pub was taken over first, it was a very small place. It wouldn’t have changed that much from 1865 up to the 1950s or 60s. In the 70s things began to change, more industry came to the area.

When I was a young fella in the 70s there were four pubs in the village and most of them had little grocery shops alongside the pub.

Then in the early 80s the multinational [supermarkets] would have come in and more or less taken over, so the pub scene would have changed hugely.

There are a rang of seasonal cocktails available at Keenan's. \ Richard Mc Carthy Photography

Over the years we went from doing music to then gradually over the years getting into the food business. We started doing food in the early 90s and that has been a game changer for us.

We added 12 bedrooms in ’05/’06, so it’s a four star hotel now.

Our village is a good halfway stop between east and west, between Dublin and Westport. We’re on the main national route, the N5.

We’re there just as you cross the River Shannon. We’re the first premises in Connacht as you come from the east.

Our business is probably a combination of a good passing trade and we’ve very good local business too. The River Shannon then is a busy boating destination.

We’re just overlooking the Shannon and a lot of the cruisers would actually stop outside the door.

The Royal Canal Greenway finishes exactly a mile up the road from us as well. We did very well from that this year.

It was a very exciting life working her

When you go into our place you’d never know who you’re going to meet, because of it being a halfway point for a lot of people.

There’d be a lot of quite famous, quite interesting people that call into us. John Hurt, Bono, Jack Charlton, Ronnie Drew and Gay Burn have all been here.

It was a very exciting life working here. In a small village you had to look for different opportunities all of the time, try to do something that little bit different all the time.

COVID was tough for everybody, I would say particularly tough on hospitality businesses.

But we’re generally quite optimistic, we try and deal with whatever comes in front of us. I’d be optimistic about the restaurant business in particular. I think people have always enjoyed themselves over the years and I think they will still go out and socialise.


I can remember stacking the shelves and doing the bottles from the age of about eight or nine, and cleaning up every Saturday and Sunday morning.

Then when we got to secondary school we were working in behind the bar at weekends and helping out as much as we could.

I played football with Roscommon for a good number of years. I won a minor All-Ireland with them. That curtailed the nights out a bit anyway, so working behind the bar suited that way.

There were times though when you were mad to get away on a night out and get away early.

As much as we loved working there, we were always mad to get out of there at the same time. We thought we wanted to get away, but as you get older you start to appreciate it a bit more. Then we were all mad to get back again.

I was working in Dublin in a fund management company for a couple of years

I went to college in Dublin City University (DCU). I did business studies, then after that I did a master’s in finance.

I was working in Dublin in a fund management company for a couple of years. Then I was fortunate enough to go travelling for a few months down in south-east Asia.

It was either go work in Australia or go work in the bar with Mam and Dad. I decided to come back and give it a go. All’s going well so far. That was six years ago.

We’re looking to improve and add bits and pieces all the time.

Over the years technology has become a big part of it. Mam and Dad would have encouraged me to develop that side of it a bit more, away from the pen and paper and bring in the online system to keep it a bit more streamlined.

We started doing a cocktail menu in the summer of 2020 after the first lockdown. It took off. It’s good to spice things up every now and again, just change things up as much as you can.

We’ve a lot more products these days and lots more beers that people are asking for all the time.

We’re really blessed with the location we have and I wouldn’t change it at all. We’ve a great catchment area and there are lots of locals coming into us. Between the river and the road, we’re very happy where we are.

Read more

Not just surviving, but thriving

Christmas tree growing in Co Cork