The Donegal Vintner’s Federation members were greeted by a red carpet and butlers when they made their way to the annual dinner dance at the Clanree Hotel, Letterkenny on Thursday night last. Many publicans made their way to the event to meet and greet old and new colleagues in their trade.
The Vintner’s Association of Ireland’s (VFI), county secretary, Alice Lynch said that the night was a good one in which everyone felt more optimistic and united following a speech by the present VFI President, Carlow man Gerry Mellet.
“There was a great feeling. The President was very upbeat about the trade despite the difficult times we are in. He spoke about diversifying and working together with different groups to improve our industry. The pub is still the number one attraction in Ireland so it is a matter of working together to make it the success that it can be,” she said.
Alice owns the well known pub ‘Maggie’s Tavern’ which lies between Raphoe and St. Johnston and admits that being located close to the border is difficult for many border pubs.
“We are in a very gloomy time. those of us who are located around the border region are experiencing a double blow. However, at the end of the day it is all about getting yourself heard and working together to make this trade the success that it can be,” she said.
At present Alice has shown absolute and sheer determination in the face of these challenging times by taking a catering course at the Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT) in order to be able to bake, make and create her very own treats and party nibbles for her customers.
“It is great to get in touch with your organisation again. There is a feeling of loneliness in all industries at the moment, our industry is no different. The main message of the night was that we do need to start to work together and with different groups, building on what we have and getting back to basics,” she said.
The current availability of cheaper drinks in supermarkets and off-licences was also discussed at the dinner dance.
“People can get cheap drink in supermarkets and off-licences, this is leading to disputes in the home,” she said.
She added that there was no control on drinking on the home in comparison to public houses where closing time is called.
“The discussion at the dinner dance the other night, touched on the fact that drink is a controlled substance and that it has to be controlled responsibly and treated with respect. More and more publicans are leaving people at home after hours. My husband and I are leaving people home all the time. I know, that we don’t get it right all the time but if you are thinking of going down that road it is good. We do need government incentives to help us,” she said.
She said that the night was a good one and was enjoyed by many. “The red carpet was out and there were butlers. It was just nice to feel that people had gone through that effort to make you feel special,” she said.