The long awaited re-opening of Fennellys, Callan has uplifted spirits after months of pitiless lockdown.
Diners are back and the venue had its first evening musical gig of the summer.
Fennelly’s received an unexpected boost when Minister Heather Humphreys paid a flying visit to the establishment.
Ms Humphreys had just unveiled plaques at the sites of local cultural projects when she was invited to have a look at another exceptional enterprise.
She then discovered what many a passer-through has found since it opened as a café and cultural hub: that no trip to Callan is complete without a visit.
Etaoin Holahan was thrilled that the minister got to see the café, winner of prestigious Lucinda O’Sullivan Great Places to Eat Awards, with its quaint old Irish pub-like interior (the bar counter is still there), and the courtyard that resembles a Hollywood film set.
While the re-opening has delighted locals, Fennells wasn’t entirely out of action during lockdown.
It found other ways to keeping the flame of hope alive. The courtyard, once part of Mrs Fennelly’s farmstead that echoed to the sound of clucking hens and busy wheelbarrows, played host to the highly successful Neighbourhood Callan initiative which offered a luscious range of locally produced vegetables.
For many people it was the only social outlet as restrictions hit hard. They mightn’t be able to have a tipple in a pub or play bingo, or even go to Mass, but they could chat (at safe distances) in Fennelly’s courtyard on Neighbourhood Callan Day as they gathered to inspect the organic carrots and cabbages, freshly dug spuds, or the mouth-watering assortment of fruit laid out on tables and stalls.
It was a sure sign that normality was on the way back in Callan, as elsewhere, when the courtyard came alive to the sound of music.
Robert John Ardiff, a Dublin-based singer/songwriter, captivated patrons with his original zany presentations.
For locals and visitors, it was like being in Heaven after a long stay in Covid Purgatory. The Fennelly’s success story had resumed, with further gigs and the usual top class cuisine set to regale visitors.