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Pub spy 'Pint in Scanlon's was worth the very long wait'

Westmeath boozer embraces 'new normal'

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Welcome return: Scanlon’s bar in Kinnegad, Westmeath, was our first port of call following a six-month sabbatical

Welcome return: Scanlon’s bar in Kinnegad, Westmeath, was our first port of call following a six-month sabbatical

Welcome return: Scanlon’s bar in Kinnegad, Westmeath, was our first port of call following a six-month sabbatical

THE Commandos had been sitting patiently by the phone waiting for the call.

They were desperate to get back on the road after six months in solitary confinement, especially the Old Commando who described his mouth as "drier than the Sahara".

Unfortunately for him and some others, they are based inside 'The Pale' so they are resigned to 'isolation' for another two weeks until Government restrictions are lifted. The Young Commando, however, was one of the lucky ones and he was doubly delighted at the prospect of visiting pubs again without the Old Commando in tow.

"This is great. I won't have to listen to any of his nonsense and we get to drink a few pints without being chucked out after an hour and forty-five minutes," he joked. "Not being able to afford a house in Dublin has finally paid off," he added.

After six long months our Pub-Mobile took to the M4 and we decided to visit the small town of Kinnegad in Co Westmeath - a place we've frequented many times over the years.

The Main Street was quiet when we arrived, so parking was relatively straightforward. We stopped outside Scanlon's Bar & Restaurant on the Main Street and decided to check it out. A framed tribute to the Galway footballers of 1966 greets you at the front door and the Young Commando was curious as to why they would be honouring the men from the west in Westmeath.

Traffic

"Before there was such thing as motorways, this was one of the busiest towns in Ireland for traffic. Every Galway man going to Croker would stop off in Westmeath, whether it be here or Tyrrellspass or Moate," our Rural Commando informed him.

There is a hand sanitiser dispenser in the front porch where a sign also reminds customers that no smoking is to take place in this area to avoid a congregation where social distancing is not possible. Our Commandos have always frowned upon smoking in the front door area so hopefully every pub will enforce this idea going forward.

The barstools are lined up against the counter as normal but the red and white barrier tape prohibits their use and this is also something new everyone will have to get used to.

The tables and chairs throughout the pub are spread out and everyone was obeying social distancing of 2m.

We noticed that most of the patrons were couples enjoying a quiet pint and they mostly kept to themselves. The barman, who was wearing a face mask, came to our table to take our order while the barmaid, who was wearing a face-visor, was constantly cleaning and sanitising the tables and sweeping the timber floor.

Birra Moretti, Orchard Thieves and Appleman's Cider are just some of the drinks available on draught and the creamy pints cost €4.50. A new way of doing business also seems to be in force, as we didn't have to pay for our drinks immediately and this is something we do like.

It's so much easier to tap the card and clear the tab in one go than constantly root through your pocket for loose change. Hopefully this is one change that can stay with us whenever we run to the 'old normal'.

"Oh God, I've missed that," the Young Commando said with a huge smile on his face.

"Pure cream," he declared. The Ireland bunting and shamrocks from St Patrick's Day are still draped around the counter and different parts of the bar and they were still serving food during our stay.

Frozen cocktails are available for €6.50 each or two for €12 and there are two TVs in the pub, one on either side of the room. It was hard to make conversation with anyone and that's probably going to be the case for the foreseeable future.

The Young Commando inspected the toilets before we departed. There are three cubicles and four urinals, although every second one was 'out of action' for social distancing purposes. Both dryers were working, hot water was provided and the soap dispenser was full.