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story of my pub

'Whoever made it, they put an atmosphere in the walls': The magic of the Blackbird in Ballycotton

“The lads are playing and you’re just sitting next to them.”

FOR NEARLY 200 years, there has been a pub on Main Street, Ballycotton. These days, it’s known as Blackbird.

“It originally goes back to 1832 and it’s always been a pub,” says Mossie Tattan, bar manager. “There have been different owners of it and we took it over seven years ago.”

In that time, this quaint pub has established itself as one of the most beloved watering holes in East Cork as well as a renowned music venue. The latter was something Tattan and his family were keen to nurture.

“Our aim that time was to keep it as a music pub and just upgrade it a small bit and just do things a small bit better,” he says.

The pub hosts sessions every Saturday and Sunday night, and a folk club once a month.

It also regularly puts on gigs with the likes of Mundy, John Spillane, Liam Reilly, and many others having played in the pub’s intimate music room over the years.

“The lads are playing and you’re just sitting next to them,” he says of the venue.

It also lends itself to more impromptu music sessions.

“Other times, it’s just lads walking in off the street like, ‘Moss, can we use the music room down the back?’”

It’s the type of place where staff can step out from behind the bar to belt out a few numbers before returning to serve more pints.


The pub itself is split into several distinct areas.

“You could go into the main bar and there could be a match on,” explains Tattan. “You could go down to the back room and somebody could be having a session. You could go into the beer garden and have some fish and chips. It’s like that.”

The beer garden is not your typical beer garden. It overlooks Ballycotton Bay and houses the ruins of an old post office and shop.

It’s also home to The Field Kitchen, a trendy catering unit run by Ballymaloe-trained duo Adrian and Lisa Gallen. They serve up everything from fish and chips to delicious burgers and pride themselves on using fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

“If you can’t get fresh fish in Ballycotton, you can’t get it anywhere,” laughs Tattan.

Tattan says the pub enjoys custom from locals and tourists alike. It’s the only pub within a ten or twelve mile radius doing live music and that’s a draw in and of itself.

It’s also extremely popular among wedding parties with many opting to have the day-after gatherings in the pub.

Equally, the pub gets plenty of custom thanks to TripAdvisor, which rates the Ballycotton Cliff Walk as the second best thing to do in Cork.

“The fact is Ballycotton is fair beautiful, like,” says Tattan. “And it rains less in Ballycotton than anywhere in Ireland.”

You might think that the latter is a fact used to lure tourists to to the village, but Tattan is adamant that it’s true.

“Whatever the way the wind blows off, it keeps us drier than most of the country.”

You learn something new every day, eh?


So, how would Tattan describe the vibe of the pub for someone who hasn’t been in there before?

“It’s one of these pubs that when you walk into them, people don’t turn around and look who’s walking in the door,” he says. “That doesn’t happen in this pub. People are very comfortable in here.”

“Whoever made it in the 1830s, they certainly put an atmosphere into the walls of it. People go in, sit down and go, ‘Ah yeah. This is a pub we can sit down in and chill out.’”

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