It was a sad time for both Tom and Pat recently with the closing of PV’s Bar on Ballymahon Street in Longford town. Foremost of course in their minds were the staff, who have lost their jobs and these included, the great John Moohan who had been there since the mid ‘80s.
It was always a favourite bar for Pat, in particular, as he shared a great passion with its former owner, Pat (PV or Paddy) Fallon, and that passion was the greyhounds. Our Pat knew PV, as he was better known, before he ever went to America. Indeed the two left Longford in or around the same time with our Pat heading for England.
The pub trade was in Pat’s blood and his father ran Fallon’s bar on Main Street, where Kelleher’s restaurant and Stenson’s pharmacy is now. The modern day building also includes what was previously Kiernan’s Bar and before that, Brown’s Bar.
PV worked hard in the States and always with the aim of coming back to run his own bar in Longford. He married a good Killoe woman, Rose Begley, and they made a formidable and extremely hardworking couple. It was whilst they were home on holidays in 1970, that he put a bid on what was then Clarke’s bar on Ballymahon Street. The bar had been owned by Jimmy Clarke, an uncle of Peter Clarke, who has the bar on Dublin Street.
The bar had been in the Clarke family since 1888 and carried an extensive bar, grocery and hardware business. It is hard to believe that it was just a thatched cottage when they first bought it but in 1898 transformed it into the distinctive three storey structure that still stands tall on Ballymahon Street – 116 years later.
Whilst it was a number of years before Pat and Rose returned from the States to run the bar, 1970 marked the start of a 30 year relationship with the street for the Fallon family and the fostering of many great and enduring friendships.
We mentioned how our Pat and PV shared a common bond over greyhounds and many of PV’s ran with the stable name ‘Pepsi’. Indeed his foundation bitch was Pepsi Princess, a promising young pup and a gift from the late Arthur McCarrick, who ran McCarrick’s cash and carry on the Athlone Road. Princess went on to win the Longford Derby in a record time and many more great nights followed at Longford and several of the big tracks around Ireland.
It was in 1976 that Pat and Rose Fallon returned from the US to launch the ‘Gold Rush’ bar (formerly Clarke’s) on Ballymahon Street. It was ahead of its time and probably as innovative a bar as you would find anywhere in Ireland at that time.
The couple’s hard work ethic and the public demand for something different, but still traditional approach, proved to be a winning formula and the bar went from strength to strength.
The Gold Rush was a firm favourite for our pair of boys, who incidentally had both come home from England, in and around the same time that Pat and Rose Fallon came back from the States.
It was in 1985 then that PV Fallon carried out a major renovation on the Ballymahon St bar and renamed it Patrick V Fallon’s. It was quickly established as one of the best bars in the country.
The bar, PV himself, and indeed many of the patrons, routinely featured in Bord Failte promotional material, especially those used in their campaigns in the US. And it wasn’t unwusual for staff to feature in many of these ‘promotional shots’.
Indeed the lads remember one shoot especially when barmen, Billy Reilly and Joe Deely featured along with locals, Margaret McKenna, Josephine Belton and Cllr Tony Carberry. Over the years PV’s was known for its loyal and dedicated staff. Indeed Billy Reilly was always a great buddy of our two men, and only recently hung up the apron due to ill health. He was most recently working in Eamon Farrell’s bar on Earl Street. Joe Deely was another popular young lad there before he emigrated to the US.
A name that will always be linked with PV’s and the Fallon family is of course John Moohan, who was with the bar from the mid eighties. Both Tom and Pat have many fond memories also of both Rita O’Brien and Mary McKiernan, both of whom have sadly passed way. Mary’s sister, Nancy, also worked there.
PV’s it seems forged so many friendships, and whilst many great memories, some are also tinged with sadness.
Pat Fallon was a great businessman and at its height, Patrick V Fallon’s was one of the best bars in the country. From 1985 through to the early nineties it was one of the biggest and most popular bars in the Midlands. Every weekend saw them travel from across the region to meet up in PV’s and it was always wedged.
PV wasn’t a man to rest on his laurels either and he added a very popular restaurant then in 1987 and Tom remembers that it was a great place for a substantial feed.
It was an emotional time no doubt for Pat, Rose and the Fallon family when they sold the business to the late Tom Kearns in September 2000. Tom Kearns completely revamped the bar and added a live music area (the Red Room) and also launched Blue nightclub. A few years later he sold the bar to Galhoy Inns for several million.
There is no doubt though that the glory years for the bar were during Pat Fallon’s tenure.
Together with Rose and a dedicated staff, he created a truly wonderful bar that we were happy to call our own. He was also a forceful voice for the Vintners Federation and was chairman of the Longford group and at one point was Vice President for the Leinster Vintners.
As big as it was, Fallon’s was always a great family bar. Pat and Rose Fallon saw their two children, Maureen and Michael, grow up over the bar. It was a place where families were always made feel welcome and it was one of the few bars where Tom was happy to bring the children when they were young.
Both Tom and Pat have great memories of PV Fallon’s. Every week or so they reckon at least one ‘big noise’ called into the bar. They remember one Saturday afternoon when the Saw Doctors started an impromptu session round the fire and it last into the night.
Whilst he was able to sing, former Taoiseach, Jack Lynch and his wife, wasn’t prone to bursting into song when he dropped by, but they would always call in for lunch, when they were passing through Longford. The golfer Christy O’Connor was another frequent visitor.
But the great appeal of PV Fallon’s was that it didn’t matter who you were, the welcome was the same for everyone. Indeed we reckon that’s why it was such a firm favourite with Bord Failte and why they featured it in so much of their promotional material. There was a famous photo taken in the bar of the late, Timmy Farrell from Moydow. Many’s the pint our Tom and Pat, remember sharing with him in PV’s.
A quiet, unassuming man, it is unlikely that he ever realised that his photo in PV’s Bar on a quiet Tuesday afternoon in June 1986, was seen by millions all across the USA.
Whatever happens to PV’s now is anybody’s guess, but it is hard to see it ever rekindling the magic and appeal that belonged to the PV (Paddy) Fallon years.
Longford Auld Fellahs is a popular Facebook page with regular doses of nostalgia and photos from Longford town during the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s.