Famous old Waterford pub gets new owners
One of Waterford’s most historic bars has new owners.
The Moondharrig House in O’Connell Street, better known as Tom Maher’s, is now being run by Moondharrig Ventures, a partnership between Sarah Jane Hanton, owner of The Parlour Vintage Tea Rooms in Waterford city, and returning Waterford emigrant, Claire Lalvani.
The pub first opened in 1886, under the name of John Britton’s. Tom Maher, who died last year aged 92, inherited it from his father, who had married John Britton’s daughter.
Tom ran it for more than 77 years. He is thought to have been Ireland’s longest serving publican and was certainly one of the most unusual.
He set his own opening hours and refused to increase drink prices in line with other pubs. After a dispute with Guinness, he banned their products from Maher’s. He was also known to advise customers to go home to their wives with their wages and was careful not to serve anyone with one too many.
Tom ran Maher’s as a ‘men only’ pub and despite pressure from feminist groups he refused to break his golden rule that no woman would ever be served at his counter.
The policy continued even after his wife Mary started working there. Her presence prompted a famous newspaper cartoon which showed two men in the pub reading a report about space exploration.
“There’s a man on the moon,” said one.
“That’s nothing,” said the other. “There’s a woman in Maher’s.”
The new owners plan only some small changes, including music and extending the opening hours. They then intend to sensitively modernise the business and building in the near future.
A director of Moondharrig Ventures, Sarah Jane Hanton said: “We are delighted to retain this historic pub as a locally-owned business. Tom Maher’s is globally renowned, and we intend to respectively honour its memories as we forge a new path to ensure its continued success.”