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Charlie Malone’s is Bringing Limerick Back To Basics

Paddy Kelly pictured inside the bar at Charlie Malone’s with the old-style shop. Photo: Katie Glavin/ilovelimerick

Charlie Malone’s is Bringing Limerick Back To Basics

by ilovelimerick correspondent Katie Glavin

Charlie Malone’s bar and pub is situated on Wolfe Tone Street in Limerick and is bringing Limerick’s people back to basics due to its old-fashioned ways. This bar features the old-style shop which was once found in all pubs and the interior is a blast from the past with the wood panelled walls, and open fired. I met with Paddy Kelly, the owner of Charlie Malone’s, in this culture filled country-style pub to speak about the tricks of the trade.





Is the pub business new to you or is it something you’ve always been involved with?

I grew up in the pub trade, my parents have a pub in Bulgaden in Kilmallock. I was brought up in the centre of this trade. I went on to study hotel management but I fell back into the pub trade again, It’s what I preferred really.


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Paddy Kelly pictured outside Charlie Malone’s on Wolfe Tone Street. Picture: Katie Glavin/ilovelimerick

How did you come up with the idea of bringing back the old-fashioned style of pub in Charlie Malone’s?

I always loved the old-style pub, I grew up surrounded by them in the country. We used to always be taken to west Clare, The Aran Islands and my Dad is from Mayo so we used to go up there a lot too. A lot of those pubs had culture in them, the real Irish culture and that’s what I liked about them. I like the feel of a place when you walk in and know it’s a proper Irish pub. I just prefer the real pub where there’s a good atmosphere, good chat and a good pint of Guinness. It’s the old- world style of the pub too that draws people in, it’s nostalgic, it brings back memories and that’s what people like, that’s what Charlie Malone’s is offering.


Was the idea of opening your own pub an idea that you’ve always had or was that something that came about recently?

Yeah, I think it was always in my head. I’ve been here in the city 15 years but the idea took a while to develop because there were different bits and pieces that needed to be done. I kept finding out new things about Charlie Malone’s. All the old timber that’s here on the walls now, that was all covered over and I didn’t know it was there until I went digging. I didn’t know I could use the fireplace. I was told the fireplace never worked and all those little things needed to be brought back to life again. Bit by bit we got things done, it was just a matter of taking different bits from different places. Every time I go into a pub I like looking at different styles and the different characters. I just wanted Charlie Malone’s to have its own style and its own character.


Since you’ve opened the old-style Charlie Malone’s, what has the reaction from customers been like?

They do really like it since we put in the old-style shop people have been extremely positive. I suppose they like the idea of bringing the Charlie Malone’s back to its original state. A lot of pubs have changed and modernised, but to bring back the old style is a good thing. The old-style pub is coming back into fashion. Through the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s the style has been changing and I think it might have taken the character away from certain pubs but publicans seem to be going back the other way to the old style again. Even the brewing companies are reverting to the old ways, Smithwick’s came in the other day and put in all new taps, but they’re the old-style taps. It’s all coming back again which is good because I don’t ever want to have to change this place.


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Pictured: Paddy Kelly behind the bar with the old-fashioned shop inside Charlie Malone’s. Photo: Katie Glavin/ilovelimerick

Has it been hard maintaining an old-styled pub considering both the bar and the shop side of things?

It hasn’t been any harder than maintaining a normal pub really. The shop is mostly there for character. The sweets side of the shop has been busy but it’s mainly there for convenience, like if someone wanted a box of tea for when they get home. We have novelty things too, like the old Beano comics, people like having a blast from the past. The shop is really just a convenience thing, I like to have it there just to make things easier for the customers.  


What do you think your pub is offering to the community?

Our main focus is having a good product and looking after the customers as best we can. We try to get to know all our customers in Charlie Malone’s. The better you know the customer, the more integrated they can become with the pub. Charlie Malone’s a social hub really, if I know the people here, I can introduce them to the other customers and then they’re making friends. I like seeing people mingle and integrating. That’s what a pub is all about, a pub is it’s people really.


How has trade been since opening the old style pub?

The old style pub has definitely increased trade. It could be a nostalgic thing but there’s a different mix of it. For the older crowd it could be a nostalgic thing but for the younger crowd, it’s a bit of a novelty. We get a lot of foreign students coming in too and it’s a bit of an insight into the Irish culture for them. I think with all the nightclubs and big now, if you bring it back to basics, that’s what people are used to. That’s what we provide and people will always go back to basics again. We’ve got very loyal customers here as well. We’ve got regular customers but we also have a passing trade too. Down through the years, we have gotten to know all our customers and we have made some very good friends through the trade. The people working here are good people and we enjoy working together, that matters a lot for the trade too. You need a good team because that helps make the atmosphere in here so positive.


Is this something you’d like to expand?

I’m concentrating on this at the moment. It’s a place that’s still developing. In the last 3 to 4 years, it has changed a lot. With this business, you need to keep your eye on the ball. We’re constantly trying to attract extra clientele and keep the pub busy. It’s a very competitive trade but at the end of the day if you can provide the product for the clientele you want, you maintain, it’s consistent and of a high standard then you will always attract the right people. These are the things you need to do in this trade, I’m focusing on what I have at the moment and just returning loyalty to our loyal customers. Looking after the customers is important and just maintaining that good product and high standard we have here.


After speaking with Paddy, it was clear that this publican had a goal in mind. Paddy’s fond memories of country pubs and the atmosphere of community and culture had inspired him to bring Limerick back to basics through Charlie Malone’s. With a variety of live music, a cosy atmosphere and good products and excellent customer care, Charlie Malone’s is one of Limerick’s many hidden treasures. This quaint pub is a must see and really embraces the culture and history that Limerick has to offer. 

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Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.