By Gordon Deegan

A farmer-publican, who sold after-hours alcohol to patrons at Liam O’Riain’s pub in Ballina, Co. Tipperary, on two separate occasions in 2021, was fined €200 at Killaloe District Court.

Liam McKeogh (53) of Cragg, Birdhill, Co. Tipperary pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawfully allowing his premises to serve alcohol at a time prohibited by the Intoxicating Liquor Act.

In evidence given by Sgt. Louis Moloney, Judge Mary Larkin heard that on August 28, 2021, after entering the pub, gardaí carried out an examination of till sales between midnight and 12.44am. They found that €85.80 had been spent on alcohol.

On September 4, 2021, at 12.45am, gardaí, while on mobile patrol, could hear people shouting loudly within Liam O’Riain’s pub, Sgt. Moloney explained.

He described how a garda knocked at the door “and loudly identified herself as a garda”. The noise stopped and people could be heard “shushing” inside, he said.

The garda knocked a second time “and then went to the side door and observed a large number of people – between 25 to 30 – leaving via a side door”.

Sgt. Moloney stated that, on entering the premises, gardaí observed glasses of drink on the tables and observed that other glasses were full.

A clean record

Solicitor for Mr. McKeogh, John Casey, said that Mr. McKeogh was 31 years in the pub trade, with a clean record.

He explained that Mr. McKeogh, who is also a farmer, has now stopped operating as a publican and has handed the lease back.

“He does a small bit of farming and that is what is sustaining him at the moment,” he explained.

He added:

“Mr. McKeogh had gone through a very difficult time himself emotionally, financially that included everything in relation to the pub being closed due to Covid.”

On the two nights in question, Mr. Casey said: “The difficulty was that they were all local people. This wasn’t stags or hens. It is the publican’s responsibility, obviously, to get people out and it was a case of ‘one more pint’ and that is what happened.”

Mr. Casey said: “Mr McKeogh’s 31 years’ clean record has to stand to him and this has effectively put an end to that career.”

Judge Larkin convicted Mr. McKeogh on each count, and fined him €200 in total.