O’Grady’s Irish pub, Seven Kings, celebrates 16th anniversary
PUBLISHED: 10:00 16 September 2017 | UPDATED: 08:23 30 October 2017
O’Grady’s in Seven Kings is about to celebrate its 16th anniversary and has a whole host of entertainment planned.
This month is the 16th anniversary of O’Grady’s bar, High Road, Seven Kings, and its proprietor Seamus O’Grady is planning a whole weekend of festivities.
That original opening was shortly after the start of the milennium, and Seamus has seen huge changes in the pub industry but it’s his his personal touch in managing the bar that means his customers keep coming back.
“The whole drinking culture has changed. But if you don’t provide anything for people they are not going to come and sit in your pub for the sake of it,” says the east Galway native, who comes from between Creggs and Glenamaddy.
“We have to work hard to stay busy, making sure there is something always going on. “The younger people want to go up town now, which is different to the older Irish who are around here and who like a local.”
He is no stranger to the pub trade, having run bars since picking up experience from when his father ran a pub in east London “too many years ago for me to want to remember”.
But to make the most of the space he has with the property, three years ago Seamus decided to open up a guesthouse, and the business also has a thriving food trade too.
“We had two flats upstairs but they weren’t turning any revenue at all. It wasn’t so much a risk to add another arm to the business, but one day I just went up there and started thinking how well we could do with the space and location.
“We fitted 14 rooms up there and haven’t looked back since. There is a great demand for it due to its location next to the station and how quickly you can get into the city from here.”
With the help of his wife Ann, from Kilmoyley in north Kerry, O’Grady’s has a warm family feel to it, and Seamus thanks their loyal clientele for helping them establish themselves in Ilford for so long.
“This weekend is about giving back to every customer who ever set foot inside the door. I would like to thank them all. Seventeen may be an odd number but we wanted to mark it for the first time.”
Such is the nature of the Irish pub in the city, it is often the first port of call for those moving over from Ireland to find a job.
“Sometimes we call it an unauthorised job centre,” he jokes. “There would be quite a few contractors that are regulars, or just those who hear of jobs from working in construction generally.
“Then we have a lot of youngsters working here. They start of collecting glasses, and then behind the bar when they are of age. It keeps them going through their studies and then when they maybe leave to go off to university they have those skills to bring with them, they aren’t starting from scratch.”
“There is a huge amount of people who come back years after they to say hi and tell us how they are getting on. That gives you great satisfaction.”
The pub acts as a hub for community events too, with Seamus often hosting fundraisers, family parties as well as his now-famous Cheltenham preview nights that attract the biggest names from the world of horse-racing. Entry is free, then attendees donate toward the Injured Jockey Fund.
They have become so popular that bookmaker Paddy Power has sponsored the night for the past five years, Mick Fitzgerald has come back for the past ten years and Luke Harvey for 13.
But back in September 2010, Seamus could not have dreamed for the longevity he has had in Ilford, with a busy restaurant there too.
“You can sleep here, eat here and drink here all under the one roof!” he says.
“It exceeded all our wildest ambitions. I can’t tell you why it’s worked well, you’d have to ask the customers!
“There is just nice people coming in here, they like what they see and they keep coming back.
“There is a great community feel here. Ladies come in on their own to eat and drink and feel safe here.
“There is no one being a nuisance and if there is then they are gone”
And now they are approaching a big anniversary can he see himself moving elsewehere?
“Not likely! Where would I be going!? No, I haven’t one notion of leaving this place. It has been brilliant.”
Friday September 22
Celtic Crunch, Barry Owen band, Johnnie Gallagher and the Boxtie Band and special guests Marty Morrissey and Pat Jennings
Saturday September 23
Celtic Crunch, BibleCode Sundays with Lorraine O’Reilly, Johnnie Gallagher and the Boxtie Band and special guest Niall Quinn and Irish dancing
Sunday September 24
Lorraine O’Reilly, BibleCode Sundays and Johnnie Gallagher and the Boxtie Band, Irish dancing
Entertainment from 6pm each night.
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