The now derelict site of the beloved Loafers bar on Douglas Street in Cork is expected to be sold under auction next Thursday, February 17.
The historic site, which includes the bar and an upstairs apartment, has been allowed to fall into a state of disrepair since it closed its doors in May 2015.
Ireland’s oldest gay bar Loafers set to go under the hammer https://t.co/6DdHw7UhiR
— Property District (@PropDistrict) February 7, 2022
The bar was first opened in 1983 by Derek Gerrity, making it one of the country’s longest-running LGBTQ+ bars and a crucial part of Cork’s queer community.
It attracted all members of the LGBTQ+ community as well as other alternative groups. By dedicating the back bar as a women-only space on Thursday nights, it played a key role in creating a safe and inclusive space for the entire community.
In a conversation with Orla Egan for the Cork LGBT History website, Derek explained his reasons for opening the bar. “I just wanted to have a bar where I felt comfortable myself. Not necessarily a gay bar, that wasn’t the plan, but a bar that was new but kept old-style elements.
“We played good music, sold bottled beers like Becks and Stella Artois, sold gallons of tequila and orange, and all for a reasonable price. So we got loads of art students, funky stylish kids and, of course, gays. It was about 50/50 gay/straight in the beginning. Quite an atmosphere for the early 80s in Cork.”
Loafers Bar was opened in 1983 by Derrick Gerety. It closed in 2015 making it one of the longest running gay bar in Ireland. It is one of the stops on the @CorkLGBThistory Interactive Tour @OrlaEgan1 @corkpride See the Loafers Exhibit herehttps://t.co/lddVTdXPZX pic.twitter.com/PxD0dLyQxp
— Cork LGBT Archive (@CorkLGBThistory) November 1, 2020
Derek continued to run the bar for 16 years until it was later managed by Rena Blake and subsequently by Ted O’Connell. Speaking to Cork’s Evening Echo at the time of the bar’s closing, Ted said, “We have just had one of our busiest weekends with the Women’s Fun Weekend but overall I would say we are down 35% to 40% from when I first took over six years ago”.
Although its closing was viewed as a loss for the city, he pointed out, “It’s the same for gay bars everywhere, in London, New York, everywhere. I suppose in a way it is a positive thing that gay people do not feel ghettoised to drink in certain premises.”
You can read more about Loafers on the Cork LGBT Archive here.
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