'It's been fantastic, we have been out the door' - Mullingar publican
The publicans of Mullingar are bracing themselves for a “tsunami” of custom over the next four days and they can't wait, according to the chairman of the Westmeath branch of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI).
Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner today, Mullingar publican Liam Gilleran said that the excitement and buzz generated by the Fleadh will live long in his memory.
“It's been fantastic we have just been out the door. It's such a good news story for the town. The last few days have been phenomenal. I was chatting to a young lad from Anchorage in Alaska yesterday. I have been chatting to people from Japan, the Philippines, Atlanta, Santa Fé, New Mexico, France, Germany and obviously our neighbours from across the water. It's just been incredible.
“I have been blown away. To say I have been emotional is an understatement. It's like you are in a play that you love and you don't want it to stop. Everyone is in great form and every one is playing music and having for.”
Due to the volume of custom in many local pubs this week some publicans became concerned about their stock levels, but Liam says that food and drink suppliers have been very efficient with their early morning deliveries.
“I have been lucky enough to do a couple of Fleadhs so I had an idea of what was coming. Some of our members, through no fault of their own, weren't as aware of what was coming. People shouldn't worry, we'll make sure that they won't go thirsty.”
Despite pre-Fleadh rumours that publicans would significantly increase their prices for the week, this hasn't been the case. Despite the increase in overheads over the past six months, in particular, Liam says that local publicans have no interest in fleecing locals or visitors.
“As far as I am concerned it was up to each member to set their price. It's six euros for a pint here and it was six euros for a pint in Drogheda three years ago. There are a lot of additional price pressures, such as utilities. Normally for 60 days my ESB bill was around two and a half thousand. The last one was six thousand four hundred. There are a lot of stealth charges hitting publicans but our members haven't passed them on. Six euros for a pint is very reasonable and we haven't had any complaints. If you go Temple Bar you can pay eight, nine or ten euros for a pint.”
Proud of his home town and how its people have worked in preparation for the fleadh, Liam singled out one group for extra praise, the organising committee and their army of fleadh volunteers.
“What Joe Connaire [organising committee chair] and Willie Penrose [vice chair] have done for Mullingar is incredible. The financial benefits of the Fleadh are phenomenal. If anyone needs the freedom of the town it's those two guys for bringing the fleadh back.”