Wednesday, January 25, 2023

The welcome, as always at the Rhu Glenn Hotel, was as warm and inviting as the nearby N25 was busy.

Leaving the hum of traffic behind me for a cup of tea in the dining room with General Manager John Mooney, the lunchtime trade had come and gone as the hotel geared up for new guests and locals popping in for a pint that evening.

Liam, John’s father, had offered a friendly squeeze of the arm in reception just beforehand and by the time I’m pouring my tea, I instantly feel at home. That’s the yield which arises from decades of great customer service.

With 31 rooms and, including seasonal hires, 50 staff on the books, the Rhu Glenn has built up a reputable and respected trade since August 15, 1969 when the late Tom Stephenson opened the doors of his new pub and restaurant for the first time.

“At the time in rural Ireland, the pub was generally located in the village so Tom had a vision that was clearly ahead of his time,” said John.

Six years later, Tom sold the Rhu Glenn to John Ramsbottom who ran it for the following 13 years. John added: “In 1988, Liam bought the premises and we’ve been here ever since, maintaining and expanding a trade that we’re very proud of.

“By 1992, by which time we had established live music as another of our major selling points for the wider area, the need to create a bigger venue became clear to us and that’s what led to the development of the Function Room, which has a capacity to accommodate 600 people. That then created a space in which we could host weddings and a variety of other functions and with the demand for weddings came the need for bedrooms so the accommodation was added in 1996/97 and we initially developed 19 bedrooms. By 2004, we expanded again, refurbished the entire front bar and lounge and built a further 12 bedrooms on top of that and that’s where we’re at today. We’re continuously updating the hotel and the (breakfast/dining) room we’re sat at was refurbished last October, having converted two rooms into a larger single room and we’re getting increased use out of this space as a result of that.”

The adjacent N25, with both the new Rose Kennedy Bridge/New Ross Bypass and Waterford City Bypass a matter of minutes away, provides a steady stream of customers. “We’ve got passing trade here every day and our relationship with that passing trade has to be very adaptable between events,” said John.

“For example, you could have a match on in Ennis that’ll bring many Wexford supporters into us on the way home and the same applies when you’ve Waterford and Kilkenny supporters using the Coast Road to go to Dublin so we always have to be on our toes on days like that. We serve breakfast from 7:30 every morning and then we’re straight into carvery at 12pm and then our bar food runs from 3pm up to last orders (for food, that is) at 8:45pm.”

Entertainment nights

The Rhu Glenn is synonymous with big entertainment nights, with promoter Richie Halpin consistently securing an array of musical talent to perform at the venue.

“Richie has been fantastic when it comes to getting the top country music and social dancing acts into us,” said John. “We have dancing on the majority of Saturday nights throughout the year and that brings in customers from up to an hour and half’s drive away from us. Concerts wise, we had the ‘Remembering Joe (Dolan)’ night last October and that was a concert full of nostalgia given that Joe himself had played here many times over the years. Dan McCabe is coming back at the end of February and that’s a guaranteed full house so it’s great to see the appetite for live music is as keen as ever. It’s a niche market that we’ve built up really well over the past 30 or more years, with acts like Smokey, Big Tom, Paddy O’Brien, Declan Nerney, Lisa McHugh, Derek Ryan, Michael English and so on – they’ve all been here.”

Reflecting on how the business fared during the height of the pandemic and all the restrictions that went with it, John commented: “Hard and all as it was at the time, we did pretty well all the same. We started doing take-away lunches and on Sundays, we were cooking up to 200 lunches, with meals going into the boots of customers’ cars. When we were in a position to do a little more outdoors, we fully embraced that and having all the staff back was brilliant. And there’s no doubt that what we did during Covid has really stood to us.”

John added: “Our level of food is excellent thanks to a great kitchen team led by head chef John Nolan , all of whom are doing a brilliant job for us. The carvery has gone through the roof and we’re really pleased with the bar food we’re serving at the moment.”

Staff wise, John acknowledged how well served the Rhu Glenn is in that respect. “We’ve great retention here on that front,” he said. “And that familiarity is a huge positive for us as a business. We still offer that old Irish style of hospitality where a customer comes in through our door and someone at reception, the bar or the restaurant will know your name. There’s great continuity here, be it John in the kitchen, Breda with the carvery, Bar Manager Marek Newiesniak and Senior Barman Damien Mooney, Food and Beverage Supervisors Rachel, Niamh and Paul, Front Office Manager Melisa and our wonderful Accommodation Team, we’ve always been big on the personal touch here.”

The 24-kilometre South East/Kilkenny Greenway, which has reached an advanced construction phase (with hopes high that sections of it will open in the coming months), literally runs right behind the hotel.

Between Waterford and New Ross, the Rhu Glenn Hotel is the only established business situated alongside the new greenway and will undoubtedly provide a new wave of customers for John and his colleagues.

Said John: “We’re really excited about the opening of the greenway. Geography has really worked in our favour and it’s got huge potential for us. We have direct access onto the greenway from our car park and we can’t wait to see it open. When you see how Kilmacthomas in particular has benefited from the Waterford Greenway, sure you can’t be anything other than optimistic about what it could mean for us. It’ll create new challenges and opportunities and we’ll have to ‘gear up’ (no pun intended) before it opens. To have an amenity like this on our doorstep is fantastic for us and for this part of South Kilkenny is just huge. So all in all, it’s a very exciting time for us.”

For further information, visit, email [email protected] or call (051) 832242

[Sponsored Content] 

Contact Newsdesk: 051 874951

More Sponsored Content

Walton Institute at SETU

More by this Journalist

Bus Éireann diversions on St Patrick’s Day

New Memorial Garden launched in Lisduggan