O’Reilly’s Pub “100 Not Out”

Congratulations to O’Reilly’s Pub on Seafort Avenue, in Sandymount, who are celebrating their centenary year in June.

The O’Reilly family, originally from County Cavan took ownership of the premises in 1922. Thomas O’Reilly bought the pub from Sylvester White who owned Fleming’s Pub where Ryan’s pub stands today, in late June 1922. This was the beginning of the O’Reilly family foothold in Sandymount.

Sandymount was a genteel and sleepy village. In its backdrop you had inner-city Dublin being in turmoil with the Civil War which raged across the country in 1922. James Joyce’s Ulysses was also published in 1922, in which Stephen Dedalus asks himself as he walks on Sandymount Strand, “Am I walking into eternity along Sandymount Strand?” Over the following years the electric trams trundled back and forth along Strand Road, through Sandymount village and on to Irishtown and Ringsend to the former Nelson’s Pillar where the Spire is today on O’Connell Street. The trams were housed in sheds on Gilford Road and the single storey cottages in the avenue behind the sheds were for the tram drivers and staff. The two-storey house was for the manager. The last tram from Sandymount village left in July 1949.

The building of houses on Beach Road, Farney Park, and Wilfield Road began in the 1930’s, with the houses on Durham Road being built in the early 1950’s. Following these were the houses on Castle Park in the early 1960’s and St John’s estate on Park Avenue in the late 1980’s.

After the passing of Thomas O’Reilly, the pub continued to operate under the management of his two sons, Patrick, better known as Mr. O and Tommy. Mr O and Tommy formed a great brotherly partnership for years, both very different characters. Mr. O with his quick dry wit and Tommy getting through his day in his own relaxed way. Tommy, the last surviving brother, passed away on 31st Dec 1999, the eve of the new millennium. The pub’s ownership passed to T.P. O’Reilly (Paul), who is Mr. O’s son, and Tommy’s nephew. He is the current proprietor and third generation of the family to run the pub.

Paul was born and reared in Sandymount Village and grew up in the family home above the pub along with his two sisters Siobhan and Derval. Paul’s mother Joan, known to friends as Mrs. O., was an elegant lady who contributed to the pub’s continued success for many years.

Paul has fond memories of the pub and Sandymount village. He remembers when he came home from school helping his father to bottle Guinness and label the bottles. He would also run up and down Seafort Avenue with telephone messages for neighbours as the phone in the pub was one of very few in the village. “Be in the pub tonight at 8 o’clock, your uncle Jimmy is calling from America.” When not helping their father and uncle, Sandymount beach was a familiar amenity to the young O’Reilly children.

At a time when foreign travel was still a rarity, Sandymount village and its beach were very popular destinations for a day out in the summer months. Droves of people arrived from the inner city to use the beach. This also brought in an influx of visitors and shoppers to the village. Seafort Stores on Seafort Avenue, on the way to the beach, sold sand buckets and spades, toy sunglasses, sun hats, small lilos and water safety rings. Other shops to name but a few included Findlater’s where Mace is, Leverett and Frye, on Sandymount Green, where Mario’s restaurant is, Batt’s dispensing chemist where AIB is, McAuliffe’s Pharmacy which is still there today, but under new ownership, Roddy’s on Sandymount Green, Tom McCormack’s vegetable shop where Books on the Green is, Miss Milligan’s Hardware where Sandymount Pharmacy is and the legendary Mapother’s Newsagents.

Back during the second World War many locals collected driftwood on Sandymount beach for fuel to burn in their fire grates at home, as coal supplies were hindered coming into Dublin port by German U-boats on the open seas.

The village continues to draw an influx of visitors due partly to the wonderful use of Sandymount Green donated to the community by the Earl of Pembroke, and the progressive businesses that grow from strength to strength every year. The two statues in the Green commemorate William Butler Yeats and Seamus Heaney who were awarded the Nobel Laureate Prize for Literature in 1923 and 1995 respectively. Seamus was a very regular customer in O’Reilly’s Pub and lived on Strand Road near the Merrion Gates for many years. W.B. Yeats was born at 5 Sandymount Avenue.

In April 2022, a tree was planted in the Green, and a plaque unveiled to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of local entertainer and winning Eurovision song writer Shay Healy, who grew up on Wilfield Road. Celebrations to mark the occasion took place in O’Reilly’s with live music performances and songs from Shay’s family and closest friends. Amongst them were Flo McSweeney, Paul Harrington, and Johnny Logan. O’Reilly’s is no stranger to celebrities and has enjoyed serving film actors, models, sports stars, and writers. A celebration like the one for Shay demonstrates that even today after 100 years O’Reilly’s continues to be a quintessential village pub at the heart of the community in Sandymount village.

O’Reilly’s has hosted many players’ celebrations for clubs such as Clanna Gael, Railway Union, Pembroke Cricket Club, Monkstown Rugby Club and YMCA. O’Reilly’s Pub has also been very proud sponsors of all these clubs over the years.

Watching any of the big sporting events in O’Reilly’s is as good as being there if not better when you are sitting among the very knowledgeable and friendly sports fans in front of one of the numerous television screens. With a pint or your favourite tipple in your hand you are guaranteed to have a very enjoyable experience.

O’Reilly’s is also proud to have its own Golfing Society, which was founded in 1996 by local solicitor John McKenna with Paul O’Reilly as the President of the Society. This is another invaluable part of O’Reilly’s business offering a great social activity to young and mature players. Organising and playing about 10 outings a year and bringing the fun back to the 19th Hole for prize giving and craic makes for some very memorable nights.

The Society has generated much needed funds for charitable causes and its recent fundraising outing raised funds for the very deserving Father Peter McVerry Trust, who are committed to reducing homelessness and the harm caused by substance misuse and social disadvantage.

Adding to the Society’s fund raising, the customers of O’Reilly’s have always dug deep into their pockets over the years to raise funds for a number of charities including Temple Street Children’s Hospital, The Rehabilitation Institute and Enable Ireland. These funds are raised at our seasonal fun nights such as the Halloween Fancy Dress and Best Christmas Jumper/Outfit, not forgetting the pub quizzes organised by the staff.

In addition to 3rd and 4th generation O’Reilly family members Paul, Derval and Cara working in the pub, many other staff members from the locality have served behind the bar with loyalty and diligence. Amongst them were two sets of twins – the Donnelly brothers, Peter, who is sadly no longer with us, and his brother Paul who is now enjoying retirement, and the Mooney brothers, Dessie and William. Many of the other locals, far too many to name here, also worked and served behind the bar with their children following in their footsteps. For some families O’Reilly’s has become a rite of passage. T J and Paula Murphy from Seafort Ave now have their youngest daughter, Ella, following in the footsteps of both her sisters who worked in O’Reilly’s.

So, what’s the secret, the magic formula, to the success and longevity of O’Reilly’s pub?

We asked Dave Mahony, the Manager of O’Reilly’s, now in his 31st year in O’Reilly’s to share his thoughts.

“May i first put on record my very special thanks to all our loyal customers for their support, and for helping us reach this great milestone in O’Reillys history.” I believe the magic formula is quite simple, to use the term ‘If it isn’t broken don’t fix it.’ O’Reilly’s is a Dublin Pub, traditional in its style, a place to enjoy your favourite drink, read the paper or a book, listen to music; a place to meet family and friends, grab a sandwich or something much more substantial, watch a game or have a coffee with your neighbour. We believe we have everyone covered. A glass of wine or prosecco, a G&T or a cocktail are among the ladies’ favourites. Men of all ages enjoy a splendidly good pint or two. We cater for the Designated Driver with our variety of non-alcoholic drinks with Guinness Zero Zero being one of the most popular. We have a very successful collaboration with BuJo Sandymount. Using your mobile phone, you can order from BuJo’s menu and have it delivered to your table in O’Reilly’s.

We offer live music every Saturday night and Traditional Irish music every second Wednesday. It is a place for live sport with 6 HD TV’s including 2 in the Beer Garden, with stereo sound to enhance the big game atmosphere.

The pièce de résistance is the Beer Garden. The beautiful mature garden at the back of O’Reilly’s is a must see for any visitor. Patio seating area with heaters, mature trees, shrubs, seasonal flowers, a beautiful green lawn, and all walled in for privacy. Enjoy your drink with friends in a quiet, secluded location away from passing traffic.

Then we throw in the final and most important ingredient in the magic formula, the staff. With 40 years’ experience in the bar trade, I’ve learned that people want to be served well. They want professional, helpful, and polite staff. They want friendly staff to whom they can chat, share a joke and a story.

In O’Reilly’s you will find a spotlessly clean pub, great staff, friendly local customers, a great atmosphere, and a relaxed and warm welcome. If you haven’t paid us a visit, please do, and make sure to check out the beer garden.”

What better way to finish off
a walk, perhaps over to Irish
town Nature Park and maybe out as far as the Poolbeg Lighthouse, than by popping into O’Reilly’s beer garden to quench your thirst with a couple of cool pints or whatever takes your fancy. If you are hungry why not order one of Bujo’s fabulous burgers.

To mark the occasion of our 100th year we have a Mid-Summer Festival planned, starting 22nd June and running until 25th June.

The Time Table is as Follows:
Wednesday 22nd June. History night.

Local Historian, Eamon Bohan will talk us through the many changes to the Village over the years. An interesting
look at the changing face of the Village and Pubs in the Village over 200 years.

Thursday 23rd June. Quiz Night.

Pub Quiz time, a traditional Pub Quiz Night with a few surprises thrown in for good measure. Teams of 4 playerers. Prizes for the top 3 teams placed. Make sure you book your team for this event. €40 for a team of 4 Players. All funds raised will be donated to the Ukraine Victims Fund.

Friday 24th June. Friday Night Live.
Live music from 9.30 till close with Ian Byrne.

Saturday 25th June. Party Night.
Shorts and Shades Party night with DJ Dale Tynan.

We look forward to seeing you soon.

Images: Courtesy of Tom O’ Sullivan.