Ireland’s oldest bar gets its licence back after year and a half in grey trading limbo

Archaeologists, history buffs, trad musicians, bon viveurs, and imbibers of all shapes and requirements can breathe a big sigh of relief this week (March 5 ) with the news that the oldest pub in the world - Sean’s Bar on Main Street - has been given back its licence to trade.

The landmark premises, situated on the western reaches of Luan’s Ford, has been quenching the thirst of travellers since sometime around the turn of the first millennium, but a basic accounting oversight threatened its progression into the third.

In the Circuit Court this week proprietors Timmy and Aisling Donovan had to make an 85-page application for their licence to trade after letting their tax compliance cert lapse, and having to trade in a state of limbo for almost the last 18 months.

The District Court rubber-stamps the renewal of pub licences at its annual licensing court each September - subject to no objections - but this application had to be made in the superior court because the licence was allowed to lapse.

Before Judge Dearbhla Flanagan, Mr Padraig Hogan SC, presented the sizeable dossier which included deeds of conveyancing, a clearance certificate from the county fire officer, an engineers survey of the 226 sqm premises, and an affadavit from the court clerk as to the bona fides of the premises’ licence to date.

He explained how the fire officer had consented to an extension in February to allow the premises remain open, and that the licence had expired on September 30, 2011 awaiting a tax clearance certificate.

“We’re now clear, and good with the Revenue. We’re now fully tax compliant,” said Mr Donovan in evidence.

Court Clerk Martin Conlon, giving evidence on one of those rare occasions instead of swearing it in, confirmed for Judge Flanagan that Mr Donovan’s licence “has never been suspended for any convictions” and that “there is no record of the licence being extinguished”.

Peter D Jones, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, rose briefly to say there were no Garda objections to the renewal of the licence.

In his evidence, Mr Donovan said he began working in the famous inn 1986, before purchasing it from the eponymous former proprietor, Sean Fitzpatrick in 2001.

Accepting all the evidence and documents before her, Judge Flanagan declared: “All is in order, and I make an order to renew the licence”.

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