Although pubs will be back in business by the end of the month, they may be missing a few customers.
Some people have resorted to building their own pubs in the comfort of their own home and it could be a while before they are tempted back.
This is according to the country’s leading supplier of pool, snooker and other game tables. Wicklow-based Andy McEvoy, whose customers include Bono and Larry Mullen from U2, has noticed his business has shot up 100% since the start of the Covid-19 crisis: “I’m selling and refurbishing tables all around the country, especially in Cork and Dublin. And a lot of the customers are people who miss the pub where they used to play pool or snooker."
“But with social distancing and all the various health restrictions around pubs these days, a lot of my customers can’t see themselves going back to a pub for a long time. So they are clearing out space in the portacabin at the back of the house, putting in a pool or snooker table and having the lads round."
And Andy, whose customers also include golfer Pádraig Harrington and RTÉ’s Aonghus McAnally, added: “Some also have dartboards up. Others are also looking for football tables.”
Between 2005 and 2007, there was a big interest in buying new pool or snooker tables in Ireland. But when the crash came in 2008, and until about 2010, interest dropped off.
Instead, the main business came from refurbishing old tables or buying second-hand ones: “With the crash, people started getting rid of their tables. And those that had them got them refurbished, rather than replacing them with a new one. But interest is now back up again in both buying new ones but also buying up what second-hand stock I have. They are a great thing to have in your house when you don’t have much to do."
“In the 1980s, when there was a lot of unemployment, snooker was a very popular past time because it was cheap," he explains.
Andy was able to work throughout the Covid-19 crisis because he moved to rural Wicklow in 2002 and set up his own workshops and warehouse.
Venues he supplies tables for include Killarney’s Gleneagles Hotel. He supplies the tables for the annual Munster and All Ireland Championships. Customers also include Carlow’s Ivy Rooms, and Cork’s Crucible Snooker Club where upcoming snooker star Aaron Hill plays.
“Lovely fellah,” Andy said. “You want to keep an eye on that lad. He’s destined for great things.”
Legends he considers friends include Steve Davis, and Ken Doherty.