Speaker Conolly pub getting great support from community

By Maurice Garvey

THE regulations and guidelines surrounding pubs during Covid-19 has caused no end of uncertainty – publicans serving food were told to keep food receipts for customers, which was later scrapped, as were a number of reopening dates for wet pubs, not to mention over stocked Guinness that was turned into fertiliser.

What is allowed today, may not be deemed acceptable tomorrow morning by health authorities.

Speaker Connolly 1

Speaker staff including James and Siobhan Murphy outside the premises

It is a difficult environment to try and run a business, but Firhouse establishment the Speaker Conolly have reopened and are keeping an eye on the latest government guidelines whilst trying to provide their customers with a bit of normality.

Established in 1985 by James Murphy, the Speaker recently launched a new menu and have further plans in place to update the business model via a visually appealing outdoor area and a coffee dock for dog walkers.

“We launched the new menu last Thursday, it is what people wanted and we have had nothing but compliments,” said Siobhan Murphy, daughter of James.

New head chef Darren Gainsford and his team have created a new menu offering weekday lunches, and evening meals plus daily specials.

Siobhan said: “This is a safe, clean environment. Everything is sprayed down and disinfected after every single person. Social distancing is adhered to. I guess you learn to live with it.

“Sometimes you might have to say ‘do you mind moving over’ to a person sitting too close to another. You feel like their Mammy but people want to go back to their pub, they are local and they want it to work. The support we have had from the community has been incredible.”

Located beside the Dodder River, it is common to see many dog walkers and they are all welcome at the Speaker, who can accommodate them in a coffee dock.

“We are trying to get the word out about the coffee dock for dog walkers – it is an indoor area that is tiled,” said Siobhan, an animal lover who has been heavily involved with the DSPCA and Clondalkin Animal Aid.

“We are a very unfriendly country for animals, pet owners are almost treated like smokers, and think they cannot go into the pub. But they are welcome to our coffee dock. If I see a dog walker going by, I will tell them they can come in.”

Planning has also been submitted to South Dublin County Council to radically change the exterior of the premises, to make it more inviting to passers by.

“We hope to have an outdoor seating area with boat sails, something to draw in the eye of people,” said Siobhan.

“With the way things are going, outdoor seating might become more important, fresh air and a hot coffee.”

In 1985, local builder John McDermott built the Speaker for two Tallaght publicans James Murphy (The Dragon Inn) and Harry Morton (The Firhouse Inn).

“Back then you couldn’t have a pub within one mile, both of them were affected by this and got together to build the Speaker,” said Siobhan.

 The Speaker is named after William Conolly of Hell Fire Club fame.

It underwent a remodel in the early 90’s and is lit by beautiful Tiffany lamps throughout.

The Lounge is split into three raised sections and there is a separate bar with red leather couches, a stove and some high tables.

Today, it is solely owned by the Murphy family, with Siobhan running the day to day operations and James (85) retired but often popping in to see how things are going.

Some 17 staff (including part timers) are employed at the Speaker.

“It has come a long way since those early days of a drink only pub to establish itself as one of the area’s finest gastropubs,” said Siobhan.

“It’s a mix of drinks, excellent food and live entertainment, also showing all live sporting events on a large 100” screen.

We have live music on a Sunday night. You are only allowed a two-piece band, but Joey Mullin has a different person with him each week.

It creates a great buzz and almost feels like normal, but we have a Covid officer on duty at all times to ensure compliance.”

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