Set in the sleepy town of Courtmacsherry on the wild water’s edge in the West of Ireland is your typical local pub, Anchor Bar.
One massive difference though is that in an age where it seems mobile phones are permanently glued to our hands, all of its patrons are engaged in conversation.
The cause of this: a newly imposed ban on the use of mobile phones.
Anchor Bar in County Cork hit the headlines this week with its latest law that eliminates the use of mobile phones – a bold move given the cultural zeitgeist – which (unsurprisingly) triggered a wave of mixed reactions.
In the midst of a smart-phone obsessed, social media savvy and tech thirsty generation, it is a fair assumption that someone would eventually stand up and say “put the phone down!”
Little did we know that it would be a small-scale family-run pub in Courtmacsherry, County Cork.
Having run the bar for over 50 years and being members of the parish for anywhere between 800 and 900 years, the Flemmings believe that phones are “killing conversation”.
This imposed new law comes in the form of an extremely understated piece of paper which is placed over the fireplace in the pub.
Hand-written, on-paper, the sign reads, “Perhaps you could refrain from using your phone”.
The coverage by Cian McCormack for RTÉ offered first-hand reports from the Flemming brothers, Padraig and Billy who run the Anchor Bar; their collective opinion is that if we don’t use our phones, we’ll talk instead, “usually starts off with the weather, you know, the usual, and then we’d move on, what we’re doing over the weekend, and there was a local funeral, and we’d deal with that”.
It was Billy who formally instated the phone-ban after realizing the effect of people’s relationship with their phones and the bar atmosphere, “the first thing people say is ‘do you have wifi?… that is not what a pub is about, pubs are places where you come in, and you engage.”
The newfound pub rule has triggered mixed responses in the community, albeit mostly positive; local John Brosnan agrees, “It’s getting to a point where I look at my kids, and anywhere they go, whether it’s the dinner table, whether it’s the bar, they have the mobile phone out in front of them…I just think they’re just losing their personalities through social media.”
Another member of the community, Dolores Hegarty also sees a reason to the rule, “I mightn’t turn off my phone for various reasons… but if I had to take a call, I would go outside.”
Local Fine Gael Senator, Tim Lombard, also supports Anchor Bar’s decision, “I think it’s a great example of what it’s all about… people [will] engage because they have to, they haven’t got the ability to look at their mobile phone.”
However, when the question was taken to the streets of Cork, a range of responses was met.
Anonymous interviewees insisted, “I live with my phone to my hand”, and another declared, “I don’t agree with that now, walking outside to answer your phone”.
A third member of the local community also disagreed with the new rule stating a relative argument that “It’s the generation…I think it has to be accepted”.
Watch the RTE Report of the ban below: