Limerick’s White House marks 200 years

Anne Sheridan


Anne Sheridan

IT HAS been featured in Time magazine, threatened to close over the smoking ban and proudly declares that to drink there it helps to be ‘a little bit mad’.

IT HAS been featured in Time magazine, threatened to close over the smoking ban and proudly declares that to drink there it helps to be ‘a little bit mad’.

Limerick’s famous White House pub is to celebrate 200 years at the end of this month with a major party in aid of charity.

Established in 1812, it has survived some of the most cataclysmic events in Irish history and it still going strong.

Manager Glenn McLoughlin said the simple secrets to the bar’s enduring success is they don’t have a TV and have an eclectic mix of clientele.

“It really is the characters who come here that epitomise the White House, which is borderline mental and it helps that the management is on the touched side as well,” he joked.

“The smoking ban didn’t affect our trade as much as we thought, but it’s still a challenging time for the pub trade. With the recession, people are choosing to drink at home and supermarkets are offering cheaper alcohol. But you can’t bottle the atmosphere of a pub,” he said.

Glenn said he fell in love with the bar when he was asked to run it 13 years ago and has “loved every minute here”.

He said while the pub is “simple in its design, everything works. It has basically been untouched since it first opened”.

“If the walls could talk here, there would be some stories to tell. A lot of people have said they’ve met their future partners in the White House because you can enjoy the art of conversation without ‘boom boom shake the room’ all around you,” he adds.

A favourite haunt with bankers, lawyers, artists and musicians, Jack Charlton once downed a pint of Guinness here, and it was a favourite watering hole with late TD Jim Kemmy.

It was named the White House after the company which initially opened the bar, WH White & Co, and it was bought by Eamonn Gleeson and family in the 1920s, and sold in the 1990s to Gannon Properties.

Glenn said the late former owner Eamon Gleeson, whose picture hangs proudly in the bar, was noted as “an eccentric, who used to wire all the bar stools together so they couldn’t be moved.”

“He really had great tolerance for people that other people had no tolerance at all for.”

The White House poetry night, which has featured poets from all over the world, was reinstated in the bar a decade ago, and has counted thousands of poetry nights under the stewardship of MC Barney Sheehan, 78.

“I’ve been drinking here since the ‘50s. The best thing about it is there’s no TV in here, no racket, and you can come in and sit down and enjoy a conversation with your friends. I hope to be coming here for another 22 years at least,” said Mr Sheehan.

Actor Myles Breen, who will perform as the mother of the bride in an upcoming mock wedding on its bicentenary, said he’s frequented the bar since the ‘80s.

“The pub has always been incredibly supportive to actors, writers and musicians. It still is my favourite pub in Limerick for that reason. It hasn’t changed - the White House has kept its charm from day one.”

Cora Peters, 54, who will ‘marry’ Dan Lawless in the upcoming nuptials, said she has been drinking in the bar since the age of three, when her grandfather brought her in to the bar and she drank the tops of people’s Guiness,

“I like everything about the White House, everything. You can feel the old ghosts here still, of all the people who’ve been coming here over the years,” she said.

The party will be held on Saturday, October 27, from 4pm. Tickets are priced at €20 and include a champagne reception, a buffet downstairs in Thai Gourmet, with all the proceeds going to the Pink Ribbon charity, which benefits breast cancer patients. They hope to raise in excess of €2,000.