'Huge excitement' as Limerick's Westward Ho gets a new culinary lease of life

Maria Flannery

Reporter:

Maria Flannery

The popular Westward Ho in Mungret has got a new culinary lease of life Picture: Michael Cowhey

The popular Westward Ho in Mungret has got a new culinary lease of life Picture: Michael Cowhey

MUNGRET’S local pub has had new life breathed into it.

The Westward Ho, on the N69, was dormant for more than a year — but with its doors open now for just over a week, the newly refurbished bar is already making waves as a popular spot for foodies.

The excitement around the reopening is heightened with the lure of local jobs. Forty employees are already at work, with more opportunities expected down the line.

And the new owners? Cian Bourke and Brian Murphy, the pair behind the hugely successful Curragower Bar on Clancy’s Strand, and Finnegan’s in Annacotty.

“We were taken aback by the excitement, because when the opportunity came up, we didn’t really know a whole lot about the Westward Ho,” said Mr Bourke.

“But as the weeks have gone on, the excitement about it has been absolutely huge. We are delighted about that. When we started, food was very much the thing on our minds, and now that we are in here, the locals have said that they feel it’s given a centre to the community as well. So I suppose, the bar side of things is a lot bigger than we expected, but the food is our main driver,” he added.

The head chef is the same man who leads the Curragower team, executive chef Shawn Keniston.

“I think the food is going to be very exciting, we have a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu here. We have a lot of the Curragower favourites here as well, like the seafood chowder and the chicken wings,” said Mr Bourke.

Mr Bourke and Mr Murphy now employ an astonishing 160 people across their three Limerick bars — a testament to their popularity.

“When we started in the Curragower eight years ago, we had five people working for us in the first year. To move from five to 160 so quickly has been pretty amazing,” said Mr Bourke.

“The Curragower has about 52 employees, and it’s constantly growing —  we had 40 this time last year. I think the Westward Ho probably has the potential for about 60 as well once we settle into it.

“We are hoping to develop the place more as we get used to it. We have plans to make a large outdoor area, so that’s all hopefully next year,” he added.

Nigel Mercier, chair of the community council, said the reopening is a huge boon to Mungret.

“I always said when it closed down, that anybody who just spit and polished and opened the door, leaving it exactly the way that it was, would be destined to fail.

“It needed an overhaul, and that’s exactly what Brian and Cian have done. It’s especially nice that it’s happened in time for Christmas, because one thing that we missed last year was meeting the neighbours there,” added Mr Mercier.