Owner of historic Wicklow pub puts it on the market

The Mary B pub and the adjoining Mary B's off licence are up for sale.

Former Mary B's off licence manager Jimmy Farrell with owner Brendan McGuiness, displaying their 2021 'Leinster Off Licence of the Year' award.

Eoin Mac RaghnaillWicklow People

The historic Mary B pub, and connected off licence, on Lower Main Street in Arklow has been placed on the market by owner Brendan McGuiness.

The 6587 sq. ft. property has existed as a pub for over 100 years and had been an extremely popular venue, particularly in the late 1970’s and 1980’s.

Queues of punters would line the streets outside The Mary B to see some of the best bands in Wicklow play. It hosted a variety of highly popular dance and singing contests and, in later years, welcomed famous acts like Ireland’s leading drag queen, Mr Pussy.

Brendan, who is originally from Dublin, purchased the property from the previous owner, Galwegian Ciaran Hoban, over 26 years ago. Brendan ran the pub quite successfully for a time, but after business took a downturn, he decided to focus his efforts on the adjoining off licence instead.

“I shut the pub down about 15 years ago because it was heading for ground zero,” Brendan said. “When the smoking ban came in, I could see the direction things were heading in.

“We didn’t have an outdoor area and there was no real possibility of having one. So, I was at a disadvantage from the start.

“We didn’t have a kitchen in the pub either and, as you well know, that’s an absolute necessity these days. I didn’t have any training in food, and I wasn’t going to jump into that blind.

“So, I chose to concentrate on the off licence instead and it was the best business decision I have ever made. Having the extra space in the pub gave me the warehousing facility to buy in large quantities, and thereby make the off licence more profitable.”

Over the following years Brendan turned the off licence into a highly lucrative and commercially successful business. So much so that, in 2021, his small shop was awarded the grand title of ‘Leinster Off licence of the Year’, an accolade Brendan said he is particularly proud of.

“I love the business, but I’m of an age now where it’s time to start thinking about retiring, going away on holiday and that kind of thing,” Brendan said. “I’m 67 years-old now and I’m ready to retire... if I get a half-decent offer that is!

“In many ways I feel privileged that I have the option to remain non-retired after the age of 65, but I’ve thought long and hard about it. While I see the financial benefits of staying, family is just more important to me at my age. That’s all there is to it.

“Sure, I have an extensive garden at home and I have two daughters who also have extensive list of requests,” Brendan joked. “So, although I'll be retiring from business, I’ll probably be busier than ever looking after my family!”

Brendan anticipates that the majority of prospective owners will look to renovate the larger, C. 332 M² licensed premises with a view to creating new accommodation. In his opinion, a “clever” developer would re-develop the larger existing property around his already thriving business.

“Now, it’s just my opinion, but I think anyone would be foolish not to keep using the property as it currently functions,” said Brendan. “The off licence is a little honeypot, and you’d be hard pressed to find the volume of space here for storage anywhere else.

“In saying that, I’m not going to be picky. If the numbers look good, the new owner can burn the place down for all I care!”

“Honestly though, it’s a thriving little shop. I think anyone that would dismiss it outright, would want to be very confident about their plans. It has a great track record.”

The Lower Main Street property is available immediately, with price available on application. Off licence turnover is also available on request.

Raymond Gaffney, of Raymond Gaffney & Sons Ltd in Arklow is the agent in charge of the sale. For more information contact 087 2583729.

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