Jim Tonery opened his pub in Bohermore 60 years ago yesterday, on June 5, 1959. It was formerly owned by Johnny and Kate Martyn. The inside walls were whitewashed to keep them clean and also disinfected. Barrels were stored against the back wall and sometimes used as seating with planks on top. One had to be careful when entering as there was a small step down just inside the door, and if you missed it and staggered, you were likely to hear Mrs Martyn say, “Go back to where you came from, you have enough in already”. Johnny Martyn was a blacksmith and he had a forge attached to the pub where he shod horses, made gates, etc.
Jim Tonery bought the premises in 1957. The building was not in great shape and a lot of renovation and reconstruction was necessary. It was done by Colie and Michael Connolly, and when the time came for painting, Michael John Daly did all the signwriting. The pub opened on June 5, and when they ran out of drink on the opening night, Jim Tonery knew he had made the right decision. Indeed the bar was known as ‘the pub with no beer’ for a while after.
Jim was a great hurler and a great GAA man. There was a long tradition of hurling in Bohermore and, in 1898, they decided to name their club ‘Bohermore 98s'. Thanks to Jim, Paddy ‘Ham’ Ruffley, and John Crowe, this name gradually evolved to just ‘98s’ and it was under this banner Jim captained the team to winning a county final. In the 1930s they changed the name again, this time to Liam Mellows.
Jim married Margaret Forde from Claregalway and they had eight children together, many of whom helped in the pub as they were growing up. It was a great local, famous for the quality of its pint. Darts were a popular game there and there were regular games of 25 for geese and turkeys coming into the Christmas period. Most of the talk there was about hurling in those early days; today it is more about rugby and racing. Eventually, Jim handed the running of the bar over to his son Tom, and today it is the third generation of the family, in the shape of Peadar, who is in charge.
The large yard at the back was regularly used by farmers from the Aran Islands when they were bringing their cattle in to the fairs in Eyre Square or the Fairgreen. They would drive their cattle in there overnight before the fair, and they had the use of the hayshed. Many’s the Baby Power that was sipped by the ‘night shift’ there as they watched over their animals in that yard.
One of the artefacts in the pub is a framed version of “The Barman’s Prayer”. Here are a few of the verses
He deserves a hero’s medal for the many lives he’s saved
and upon the roll of honour his name should be engraved
He deserves a lot of credit for the way he stands the strain
for the yarns he’s had to swallow would drive most insane.
When he retires, a job well done, to await six foot of soil,
discards his coat and apron, no more the earth to toil
as St Peter sees him coming he leaves the gate ajar
for he knows he’s had his hell on earth
the man behind the bar.
When you are in the bar, make sure you get the hilarious story of Tonery’s runaway horse. Our photographs today show the pub c1965; Jim Tonery himself behind the bar – notice the Watney’s Red Barrel dispenser on the counter and the Babycham clock behind him; and a group of locals in the pub c1960. They are, front row: Tom Skerrett, John Ryan, John Keane, and Mary Tonery. Back row: Mick Laffey, Jim Tonery, Colie Folan, Pakie Keaveney, Tom Naughton, and Josie Hehir.
Our thanks to the Tonery family for their help today and we wish them many happy returns on this notable anniversary for the business.