Monday, April 15, 2024

Clarke’s Bar – celebrating 20 years

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Clarke’s Bar on Patrick Street, Mullingar is preparing to celebrate 20 years in business over the coming weeks. In its two decades serving the people of Mullingar and beyond, the popular venue has grown to become a local success story.

Husband and wife team Kieran and Carole Clarke opened Clarke’s Bar in September 2002 and together with their family and their excellent team of bar and waitstaff, they are one of the favourite bars in the town for birthday parties, wedding parties, anniversary parties as well as for a quiet drink or two.

Speaking with Topic recently, Kieran, who is originally from Loughnavalley, revealed that he and his wife Carole, from Mullingar “bought the bar 20 years ago from Kenny’s who owned the Market Bar at the time, and going back, the bar would have been owned by Wallace’s in 1978. “We bought it with living accommodation and myself and Carole lived here for seven years and had out four boys here, before we moved out of town a bit as the boys grew up”. 20 years on and the business has gone from strength to strength and continues to do so.

As the regulars will agree, Clarke’s Bar really has a great family feeling about it and not just because it’s a locally owned family business but because the staff and attention to detail make it feel like you’re amongst lifelong friends. Part of that is down to getting the right people and part of it is proper hospitality training, which Kieran and Carole are both well qualified in.

DREAM TEAM: Clarke’s Bar staff members Naomi Plunkett, Sorcha Burke, Carole Clarke, Kieran Clarke, and Bryan Clarke

Kieran started his training in the Greville Arms Hotel in 1985 and went on to work in the Newbury Hotel, Canton Casey’s to mention a few before buying the bar in 2002. Carole also spent time in the hospitality sector, having worked for Amber Court for some time before her marriage to Kieran in 1991. Carole and Kieran have four sons, Aaron, Kevin, Bryan and Conor, the youngest, who is 22 years of age.

The couple agree that they are blessed to have their family around them, especially their sons and while Kevin works in Dublin, the other three boys help out all the time in the bar. Aaron’s wife Nicole also helps out with social media and marketing and their two children Jacob (age 5) and Maizey Rose (aged eight months) are very much part of the ‘large’ Clarke family.

Clarke’s employ four full time staff, alongside Kieran and Carole and they have quite a few part time staff also, all of whom are from the local area. Kieran mentions “We keep it local as much as possible”.

Such is the dedication of the staff in Clarke’s Bar, that the majority of former staff members came back to work for Clarke’s to help out during the recent Fleadh 2022.

Kieran and Carole say that their goal is to make all their valued customers feel like family with the great service being their trademark. They certainly got all of those elements right and this trademark along with the old world charm that exudes from every corner in Clarke’s is why, 20 years later, customers keep coming back for more.

Proud to support local sporting organisations

Clarke’s Bar is more than just a bar; it’s a great place for a chat or catch up, to celebrate important milestones, to listen to some good music or to cheer on your favourite team. The bar welcomes and supports all sports people and are well-known in the town for sponsoring many GAA teams – the Westmeath GAA Junior Championships 1 and 2 in particular.

They also sponsor local pitch and putt teams and recently, the Clarke’s Bar name can be seen emblazoned on the jerseys of Mullingar Celtic, whom Kieran, Carole and all the team at Clarke’s look forward to watching advance over the coming weeks and months.

STAR SIGNING: Niall Horan is presented with his Mullingar Celtic kit from Celtic’s Johnny Mee and team sponsors Carole and Kieran Clarke from Clarke’s Bar

Clarke’s are very grateful to teams that choose their venue for their team celebrations.
Throughout the bar there are lots of high definition televisions playing all major sporting events throughout the day, including GAA, football and horse racing.

Like all businesses, the Covid era was a testing time for Clarke’s but “with the help and support of all our staff and our loyal customers, we worked through it all and didn’t have to let anyone go, and we’re very grateful to our staff and regulars for that” Kieran states firmly, adding that “We were happy enough to use the time to complete any work we were doing in the bar, so things that were 60% done, we used the time during Covid to make them 100%”.

Carole points out that “having Paddy Powers next door is a bonus as customers can order a pint, pop next door for a flutter on the horses and enjoy their pint when they come back”.

Cosy Spaces and Lots of Places

Whether it’s a wedding reception, a birthday celebration, funeral gatherings or a work event, Clarke’s Bar caters to everyone’s requirements. They provide professional catering services for any event and have plenty of space throughout the property for a quiet gathering or a larger party. Clarke’s also offer bar and catering services at your venue for any event – so keep that in mind when you’d like to plan an event at your place without the fuss.

Clarke’s Bar have ample space for functions and parties of all sizes

Clarke’s Bar is a deceptively large venue. They have the ability to cater for up to 400 people, including several parties comfortably at one time, such is the clever layout of the property and the professional management of the venue. As the colder evenings close in, the heated beer garden area will be popular again.

People are used to socialising outside now since Covid times and so a heated area for gatherings or parties is a great success. There is an additional larger private outdoor seated area available for those who want to be away from the bar area. The upstairs function room is also perfect for private gatherings, having seating and a pool table area, as well as a private bathroom area. The side nook area in Clarke’s proves a popular spot for many friends to meet and catch up on a night out and the bar and lounge area remains a favourite with regulars.

The entire venue sports comfortable wooden furniture, old signs that we all grew up seeing (7-Up signs, etc) and several areas of the bar is hand-painted by one of the staff members, Naomi Plunkett, providing a really personal ambience throughout.

Great music, guaranteed

Clarke’s Bar has music every weekend, and they continue to have their Open Traditional Wednesday night music with their in-house band Coin Flip. All traditional musicians are welcome to come and play a tune and enjoy a great night of traditional music.

Apart from regular weekend bands and music from the likes of Camillus Hiney, The Buckleys and Some Ones Sons, Clarke’s also offers a computer facility to plug your own music in and dance to your own beats.

Superstar Visitors during The Fleadh

When speaking about Clarke’s recent visitors, local star Niall Horan and his superstar friend Lewis Capaldi, Kieran simply stated that “we welcome everyone here at Clarke’s – superstars and all” and that welcome was very evident, especially throughout the Fleadh time, when Kieran said how great it was to see the diaspora of the town return to have a few pints there.

“The Fleadh was a spectacle; it was just great for the town and for everyone involved and fair play to Joe Connaire and his committee for putting on such a brilliant event. It was fantastic to see locals and familiar diaspora faces in the bar and about the town. We made a lot of new friends and got to catch up with old friendships. It was lovely. We are delighted it will be back in the town in 2023 and we’ll get the chance to perfect our efforts properly then – we got it right this year but next year we’ll get it perfect” Kieran laughs.

Clarke’s staff members pictured with Niall Horan during his recent visit. Left to right: Sorcha Burke, Bryan Clarke, Chloe Masterson, Kieran Clarke, Carole Clarke, Naomi Plunkett and Conor Clarke. Seated in front are Ellen Igoe and Cathal Craig

Carole agreed that they were happy how the Fleadh went for the Clarke’s and reminisced about the constant lovely music that they got to enjoy daily as quite a few famous musicians, Tim Scanlan being one of them, who chose to make Clarke’s their base for the duration of the Fleadh, as did many musicians who were taking part in competitions.

“It was wonderful to see the children playing music with their parents and engaging with other musicians here during the days of the Fleadh” Carole said, adding that “we are so looking forward to welcoming everyone back again next year”.

Get them a Clarke’s Bar Gift Card

One wouldn’t normally associate a gift card as a product a bar would sell but Clarke’s Bar offer gift cards, as the perfect gift solution for the man in your life who has everything, or for the woman in your life who enjoys a night out now and again for a few cocktails.

SLÁINTE: Naomi Plunkett and Bryan Clarke at Clarke’s Bar

Kieran explained that this has been a very successful business idea for them and he’s delighted that so many avail of the Clarke’s Bar Gift Cards. So for friends, colleagues, neighbours, family or team mates, call into Clarke’s Bar today and pick up a few of these Gift Cards and no doubt you’ll be the favoured one for years to come.

Celebrations Planned for Clarke’s 20th Anniversary

Kieran and Carole would like to thank their staff and loyal customers who have been stalwarts since they took over the business twenty years ago. “Clarke’s have seen generations of families as loyal, regular customers and we are so grateful for this and we truly appreciate their custom. The same goes for our staff – we really have the best staff and we take pride in our staff” Carole said. Of course the support of the family also gets a special mention as “we could not have done it without them” Kieran tells us. They both hope that everyone will come along and celebrate their 20th anniversary celebrations over the coming weeks and months.

Contact Clarke’s For Your Next Party

If you would like to have a party to remember in a great venue in Mullingar town, give Clarke’s bar a ring on 044 934 0932 to discuss your plans. Alternatively, email the team at clarkesbarmullingar or better still, drop in to Clarke’s Bar on No. 5, Patrick Street, Mullingar, N91 P035. Don’t forget to follow them on Instagram and Facebook to keep up to date with all the exciting things that happen in Clarke’s!

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