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Q&A: The Sky & The Ground, Wexford

We recently spoke with Enya Barron of The Sky & The Ground in Wexford town.  Billed as a traditional pub with plenty of character, Enya's parents have owned the premises for over 20 years and have certainly kept up with the times - introducing craft beers, and often hosting gigs and traditional Irish music nights.

FFT.ie: How many staff do you have?
Enya Barron: 12.

You're also a bit of a venue.  What entertainment do you offer?
At the moment we have traditional Irish music every Wednesday and the odd gig here or there. We've always been big supporters of original music though, especially local stuff. Booking bands was pretty much my main focus when I first left college and came back to the bar full time.

Unfortunately, it was kind of set aside as I became more involved in other aspects of the business; it's pretty much a full time job in itself. We've had some really amazing gigs here over the years (James Vincent McMorrow, The Villagers, Bell X1, Paul Heaton, Booka Brass Band and many more) so it'd be great to get it going again.

Where do you guys stand on craft beer?  Which ones do you stock?
Craft beer is big for us. We have 12 craft beer taps at the moment and a rake of bottles/cans, Wexford is mad for the stuff. We're massive supporters of YellowBelly Beer, not only because they're local (it's brewed just up the road from us) but because the product is consistently great! We sell a tonne of it. Aside from that you'll also find beers from White Gypsy, Kinnegar, White Hag, Stone Barrell, Galway Bay and a few other Irish breweries, we usually rotate a few international brands too (Brewdog, Lagunitas, Founders, Sierra Nevada, some Belgians for good measure).

What challenges are you currently facing?
Staff! We have a great team at the moment but it can be extremely difficult to replace staff if they move on.

Tell us about the history of the building.
My parents bought the building about 23 years ago. I use the term 'building' loosely as it was actually just the shell of a previous pub called "The Kingdom" which had burned down years prior. They pretty much built it from scratch aside from a few structural walls. Over the years we've expanded up, sideways and backwards. Our side bar was once a butchers shop and our beer garden an old abattoir.

What plans do you have for the future?
Honestly, I have no idea, we've never been ones for planning, most of our ideas come after a bottle of wine or over dinner. We bought a whole load of old snooker tables last month and the following day my dad was knee deep in saw dust turning them into new seats for the side bar. It looks like a completely different bar now, none of that was planned.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of working in a family business?
Disadvantages, that's a tough one. I guess the boundaries between home and work are pretty blurred but that's just the way family businesses are, I've grown up with it so i'm pretty used to it at this stage.

Advantages spring to mind a lot easier, there's plenty of them, but I'd say the best thing is knowing that no matter where I go or what I do there's always a job at home to come back to, that's a comfort not many people have and I've definitely always felt privileged in that sense. I guess the fact I can never get fired is pretty good too.

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