Category Archives: Bartenders

A cocktail of Mulligan’s bar tenders. Stirred, not shaken!!!

Tommie Cusack remembered

Photograph (adapted) from the Irish Press, 2nd September, 1994.


In September, 1994, Tommie Cusack, celebrated fifty years in the bar trade. The Irish Press marked the event with a photograph and article in which he was described as the city’s best known barman. The article also said that Tommie had poured close to ‘one million pints’ in his lifetime.

Tommie died on the 28 March 2006 aged 78.

Hospitality Mulligan’s

In 2003, Hospitality Ireland ran a feature on Mulligan’s in which Gary Cusack, Billy Phelan and Dave Cregan gave their thoughts on the trade. Extracts from the article by Paul O’Doherty below.


Mulligan’s on Poolbeg Street in Dublin is renowned for its pint of Guinness.

Gary Cusack describes Mulligan’s as ‘a relaxed, easy going pub and while a lot of the characters have departed due to the demise of the Irish Press, most of the customers are great fun.

The most unusual drink he’s ever been asked for? ‘Guinness and lime, and the occasional Guinness Cole shandy.’

Billy Phelan overlooks the pumps like Lee Van Cleef looking for the man with no name. His greeting is welcoming and his wit is dry.

Billy Phelan
Lee Van Cleef





He started in the trade in 1968 when he left school. Born in Ballybrophy (‘where there’s not a decent pub, and they don’t even open during the day’) he arrived in Dublin 43 years ago.

What’s good about Mulligan’s? Again it’s simple: ‘A good cross-section of customers, getting the chance to meet different people all the time.

Dave Cregan, a youthful 42 could pass for a rock journalist. His 25 years as a barman has not diluted his enthusiasm.

‘The best people in the world drink in Mulligan’s. Genuine people. Great customers’. Recently a man asked him for a shot of crème de menthe and a shot of Sambuca mixed with a dash of Guinness. ‘A Dublin man, not a tourist. Strange’

Gary Cusack dispels view on grumpy barmen

In 1999, the Irish Independent published a feature on pubs. The journalist, Eddie Lennon, who wrote the article, contended that ‘Dublin pubs might be booming, but barmen have never been so grumpy – or plain useless’.

However, his views were overturned when he visited Mulligans and met Gary Cusack.

eyeyie(After writing critical assessments of some Dublin pubs, Eddie Lennon then turned his attention to Mulligan’s…)

But not all pubs employ that sort of inept barman. Some take the trade seriously and realise that there’s more to running a good establishment than totting up the till at the end of the night.

Mulligan’s pub on Poolbeg Street, is one of the few pubs in the city centre that springs to mind as having decent bar staff. Gary, one of the Cusack family who own the pub, has worked there for 11 years. The things he looks for in a barman are ‘honesty,  loyalty, what’s he like with the customers.

‘You give them a few weeks and see what sort of rapport they have with customers – do they get on with them, can they slag a bit and take a bit of flagging – because there’s always that with customers, especially regulars. A bit of banter livens things up.

‘Some customers don’t think barmen are human. They say: “Why is your man grumpy, what’s wrong with him?”

‘It’s a hard enough trade as it is but some people don’t realise he could be have trouble with the wife or whatever, everyday stuff that gets to you. Now and again you’re going to be a bit short with somebody, like when something happens during the day that wrecks your head.

‘The business has changed a lot. When I started here there were two barmen. One was here 30 years – he has since died – the other was 26 years here when he left. You don’t really get that anymore, especially in the city centre.

‘It’s all students or young people going in for a couple of years, and then they’re gone. I try to get bar staff and have them for years. People love coming in and hearing “How are you doing John?” and saying “The usual, please”.

‘After a few months they get to know each other and there’s a loyalty. It is an advantage to the publican to have that kind of friendship built up between bar staff and customer.

‘In a lot of pubs, every day of the week there’s a new barman – when you’re a regular for years, you don’t expect to put the hand up and get served. There always should be respect for somebody who spends their week’s wages in the pub for years.

‘A sense of humour, knowledge of sport and knowing a bit about everything are important.’

Courtesy Irish Independent, 29 June, 1999.



The irrepressible Mick Murray
The irrepressible Mick Murray

From the author:

I have conducted more than 1,200 interviews for the book ‘Mulligan’s- the grand old pub of Poolbeg Street’.

As you can imagine, many of these interviews were intriguing and invigorating. Some, not so. I had to decide what to include and, more important, what to exclude.

This is not an easy choice to make. However,  one story to me encapsulated the subject.

And so, I decided to put this story in the introduction. This is the door to the book and the door to the premises.

The story is from Mick Murray. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and as much as your fellow readers do.

Mulligan’s – the grand old pub of Poolbeg Street, published by Mercier Press will be released  in May 2015.