The owners of a 152-year-old rural pub have found a novel way to quench the thirst of loyal customers - by delivering free beer by drone.
Avril McKeever of well-known McKeever's Pub drafted in the services of 'barman' Paul Clarke and his drone to deliver the beer to customers living within 2km of the venue at Beauparc, Co. Meath
Avril and her daughter Jessica run the bar, after Avril took over management from her mum Angela (aged 92) who lives on site with them.
Avril admits that she was 'heartbroken' when she had to close the venue after Covid-19 restrictions were announced and thought of a drone as a way to tell customers she was still thinking of them.
"Jessica is fourth generation McKeevers and the bar has been in the family for 152 years. It's an all-women-run bar and we run a tight ship," she said.
"I grew up here and bar work is part of me so I was heartbroken the night I had to close.
"I remember getting so upset and crying when the last customer Leo Nelson was leaving and he was saying not to worry, that we'd be back up and running in no time.
"We came up with the idea of the drone as a bit of craic really and a way to reconnect with our customers. Paul is my nephew-in-law so I asked him to operate his drone to drop two bottles of beer in the gardens of customers who live within 2km of here.
"We are a rural pub so we have a really strong connection with our community so I just wanted to reach out and say, we're still here. We hope you're all doing ok and please have a drink on us.
"I'm delighted to see the Government's road map of re-opening the country. I know we are a long way down on the list but it's something to work towards.
"I'll have to think about ways to ensure social distancing when we do reopen. I'm actually thinking of making outside tables with segregated parts to keep people apart," she said.
First 'customer' Derek 'Ducky' Carolan said his delivery was a 'great surprise' when he got home from work.
"It really was much appreciated and what a lovely gesture," said the agri-business worker who lives about 2km from the pub
"McKeevers is well and truly missed. It's a big meeting place for people to go and discuss the week rather than being a place to go and drink
"It's a big part of our community and Avril is a great-spirited and community minded person who would go out of her way to help anyone so to do this as a way of saying you're ok, is a terrific act."
Local Fine Gael Cllr Paddy Meade said, despite being a tee-totaller, he misses the pubs being open.
"Some might find my loss surprising as I'm not a drinker but the fun and laughter that would be had in McKeever's on a night out is really missed and valued at this time.
"It's a lovely gesture from Avril and Jessica for their neighbours and the customers lucky enough to live close enough for delivery tell me the beer arrives nice and chilled from the sky breeze," he laughed.
"It's a creative idea and one which may become more common in years to come so fair play to them for being ahead of the curve."