TWO well-known County Limerick publicans have found themselves before the courts for permitting customers to be on their premises after hours - up to 150 patrons were in one pub at 2.30 in the morning.
Kilmallock Court heard how between 100 and 150 people were observed by gardai in The Abbey Bar in Galbally after the annual rugby barbecue was cancelled due to â€œmonsoon-likeâ€ weather conditions while 17 patrons were enjoying a family reunion at 3.30am in Houlihanâ€™s Bar in Kilmallock on a separate date.
Michael Houlihan of Sarsfield Street, Kilmallock was before the court for permitting customers to be on his premises - Houlihanâ€™s Bar, Sarsfield Street, Kilmallock, after hours on June 17 last.
Joseph Kearns, 44, of Mooreabbey, Galbally was before the court also for permitting customers to be on his premises at The Abbey Bar, Galbally, outside the correct hours on June 24, 2012.
Garda Niall McInerney of Kilmallock garda station told the court that on the date in question at approximately 2.30am he was on routine patrol in the Galbally area when he observed people exiting the front door of The Abbey Bar.
Garda McInerney said that as the gardai approached the premises the door was open but was then â€œclosed in the face of members of the gardaiâ€.
â€œWe could hear noise coming from inside the bar. We knocked on the door and told them members of An Garda Siochana wished to carry out an inspection. We were allowed entry around five minutes later,â€ Garda McInerney explained.
The court heard that there were between 100 and 150 people present and there were drinks on bar counters and on the tables.
â€œPeople were consuming intoxicating liquor in front of me,â€ said Garda McInerney who said that it took approximately five minutes to clear the premises.
â€œThe licensee, Joseph Kearns, was present and I spoke to him,â€ he added.
The court heard that there had been previous convictions for similar offences.
Solicitor for Mr Kearns, Brendan Gill, said the offence took place on the night of the annual rugby club barbecue in Galbally which he said â€œwould be one of the biggest social occasions of the year in the areaâ€.
Mr Gill said that unfortunately due to the inclement weather on the day the barbecue was cancelled and as a result there was â€œan influx of people in the pubâ€.
â€œIâ€™m told it was almost monsoon-like conditions and that is one of the reasons why the pub was so packed at the time,â€ said Mr Gill.
Mr Gill said that Mr Kearns told him there were no drinks being served â€œalbeit he accepts there were drinks being consumedâ€.
â€œHe runs a small rural pub. He apologises,â€ said Mr Gill.
Judge Mary Larkin said she would convict and fine Mr Kearns â‚¬500 and endorse the licence.
Mr Gill requested â€œone final chanceâ€ and asked that the licence would not be endorsed.
â€œOne hundred to 150 people - it might as well have been in the middle of the day,â€ noted Judge Larkin. â€œEven in the middle of the day â€“ how would you get them in?â€ she remarked.
Mr Gill noted that these were somewhat unusual circumstances. Judge Larkin noted that it didnâ€™t give the publican the right to â€œwork awayâ€.
Judge Larkin fined Mr Kearns â‚¬750 and did not endorse his licence.
In the second case of the day involving public houses, Inspector Paul Reidy told the court that at 3.30am on the morning of June 17, the front door of Mike Houlihanâ€™s Bar in Kilmallock was locked â€œbut there was loud talking coming from inside the barâ€.
Insp Reidy said the gardai were permitted inside where they observed 17 individuals on the premises.
â€œThe excuse that was given was there were people home from England,â€ said Insp Reidy.
The court heard that Mr Houlihan had previous convictions for similar convictions.
Solicitor for Mr Houlihan, Robin Lee, said that on the date in question, there were a number of people back from England. Mr Lee said it was a family reunion.
â€œThey had congregated on his premises. They would be long acquaintances of the licensee. They prevailed upon him to allow them on the premises after hours,â€ said Mr Lee who added that his client â€œapologises for this indiscretionâ€.
â€œHe understands that it shouldnâ€™t have happened,â€ said Mr Lee.
Judge Mary Larkin imposed a fine of â‚¬300.