The Marine Bar is a family run traditional Irish pub renowned far and wide for the best of Irish Music Sessions all year round. Led by owner and musician Christy O’Neill, the Marine Bar hosts live traditional and folk music every Saturday and Monday nights and Sundays on a bank holiday.
The story behind the Marine Bar
The Marine Bar has a rich history starting dating from the 18th Century when the Marines were marching from Cork Harbour to Waterford Harbour. Just about halfway between the bays, the road rises over the Drum Hills, not a tall mountain, but from either side there’s a long climb up the rolling slopes.
On a particularly hot summers day the Marines reached the top of one slope and their Sergeant persuaded a local widow to help quench their thirst. Naturally, the thirsty Marines drank her dry, giving the Sergeant an idea…
If the widow was willing to open a Shebeen, the Sergeant would speak to the local magistrate and get her a licence. The cow shed was cleaned, fresh hay laid for seating and a barrel or two of whiskey was rolled in from the secret still in the hills.
The years flew by into the 1830’s and the Shebeen was still going strong, the hay replaced with benches and stools aplenty. The whiskey was flowing, porter and brandy too, the location ideal on the main road between the two booming cities of Waterford and Cork.
An Italian entrepreneur having settled in nearby Clonmel was extending his stagecoach business and decided The Marine was the perfect location to change horses after that long climb. Another business opportunity was clasped and the famed Bianconi Stagecoach Line passed by the Marine and onto Cork.
But soon came the railways, the first opened in Dublin, and the Marine lost the bulk of its traffic. Then the famine struck.
Wagonloads of the dead were hauled to their anonymous graves just a five minute walk down the road. Whole villages cleared out for America, or joined their kin beneath the earth. Off went the Kelly’s, the Murphy’s and the Daley’s.
And the tide turns.
In 1994 Christy O’Neill brought the fading local pub that was still called the Marine Bar. By now all memory of the Redcoats was long gone and everyone assumed that the Marines being referred to were the local community of fishermen, making their living off the Irish sea.
Christy’s plan was simple. Offer the public what they wanted and The Marine would thrive again.
Fine Drink. Great Music. And Lots of Craic.
Nearly 300 years and the Marine Bar is still a traditional shebeen at heart.