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A Bunratty hotel is promoting family fun and safety this summer through the recent opening of an alcohol-free bar.

The 144 roomed Bunratty Castle Hotel which forms part of the Best Western Hotels and Resorts Group that licenses 4,700 hotels worldwide has brought both audacity and innovation to the village since COVID-19, when General Manager Danny Corbett decided to open a coffee shed named Jilly and Joe’s in a bid to keep his staff employed.

The establishment of a highly successful food truck serving spicy wings and seafood boxes as well as an ice-cream and pizza parlour allowed much of the 40-person roster to return to working ways.

Senior Assistant Manager Robert Keogh said that the hotel’s focus this summer was to avoid anti-social behaviour and focus on family fun, which resulted in the genesis of an all-encompassing alcohol-free bar. “It’s lovely to see families arriving on bikes each day or to see the car park full to the brim. We made the switch to alcohol free to ensure that these people were safe going home. We are already seeing such a positive response”.

The bar serves a selection of alcohol-free cocktails, a wide range of non-alcoholic gins, bottles and the resoundingly popular Heineken 0.0 draft. Preparations for the summer reopening resulted in the hotel “heavily investing” in a number of new fruits and syrups in an effort to echo the effects of infamous cocktails such as a Pornstar Martinii or Sex on the Beach, which they have duly dubbed a “Soft Pornstar Martini” and a family friendly “Walk on the Beach.”

The Cratloe native points to a shift in the tide of the renowned Irish drinking culture, whereby he accented that “there has always been this negative thing about the Irish, that we could never go anywhere or do anything, unless there was drink involved. I think we have really evolved and that’s the way forward. It’s great to see kids and families all out and so happy. We want a safe environment here”.

A father of three, Robert stated that many of the staff that have families would bring their children down to Bunratty on their day off. Touting an atmosphere akin to a “tourist resort on weekends”, he admitted that “it’s great to see the village come to life again after so many dark months.”

Despite all other services within the hotel being closed for the time being, Robert and his tight knit staff are anxiously awaiting the return of indoor dining preliminarily agreed upon by Government as July 19th, adding that a new ‘Jilly and Joe’s Carvery’ will be opening up with a full menu and will be “another feather in the cap of Bunratty to draw more people in”.

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