Local Anger The 'colourful' past of Roscommon pub owner who caught Covid-19
Fourteen people are known to have tested positive for Covid-19 around Elphin, Co Roscommon, where 'colourful' Gordon Murray spent time in his pub despite awaiting test results that would prove positive.
Publican Mr Murray previously made headlines in 2014 when he drove a tractor at a car as an attempt was being made to serve a summons on him.
In court, he claimed that he thought he was being robbed when his vehicle smashed into car driven by retired Garda Sgt John Hynes who was with his wife Catherine.
The same year the publican and farmer was hit with €93,538 Revenue bill for under-declaring his income.
Last week, he had to defend himself again after it emerged he spent 40 minutes in his pub on a Saturday night as he awaited the results of his Covid test.
Mr Murray said hadn't been informed that he was to self- isolate pending the outcome of the test.
"That was never explained to me. If I knew that there is no way I would have been in the pub on the Saturday," he said, adding that he has been displaying mild flu-like symptoms.
Mr Murray also said he was not contacted in advance about an 18th birthday celebration at his bar.
"I am disappointed as to why this group of people arrived without contacting me, but they probably knew if they did ask I would refuse them," he told the Roscommon Herald.
Mr Murray said An Bothar Rua has been abiding by guidelines, asking people to provide details on entering.
"I run a good pub here and it is a very well known and established premises. This behaviour is totally out of character," he said.
"Unfortunately, we are in a small, tight-knit community and they are quick to point the finger. It is a lesson. Shouting and roaring and making complaints is not going to help," he added.
This week, the pub remained closed while Mr Murray, who remains in self-isolation, did not take our calls or respond to a text message.
Two local residents who spoke with the Sunday World on the outskirts of the town this week said Mr Murray was correct in his assumption people are pointing the finger at him.
"He's right about that," one of the men said.
"People are angry with him and they are blaming him.
"He's what you might call a colourful character … he's had to pay the taxman a ball of money, then he drove the tractor into that retired garda's car. But you'd have to be living under rock not to know you're supposed to self-isolate if you think you might have this virus. A lot of people wouldn't be of a mind to accept his apology."
Local councillor Valerie Byrne this week told the Sunday World she believes the virus was already in the rural town prior to the now infamous party at the An Bothar Rua pub on September 19.
The town, which in 2016 had a population of 565 people, remained largely in self-imposed lockdown this week as the residents sensibly chose to wait it out for a second week for the virus surge to subside.
"What happened in Elphin wasn't really fair," Cllr. Byrne this week told the Sunday World. "And I don't think, to be honest, we are any better or worse in managing this thing than villages and towns all over the country. A mistake was made and an apology given - but mistakes have been made right across the country.
"And I think the people putting stuff up on Facebook need to have a good think about what they are posting."
Asked about the spread of the virus in and around Elphin, Cllr. Byrne said a total of 13 or 14 people would now be known to have tested positive for Covid - but stressed this was both in the village and the surrounding area.