Cork's legendary gay bar Loafers up for auction

The site of Cork’s longest-running LGBTQ+ bar, Loafers is set to go under the hammer later this month.

Photograph of the front of Loafers gay bar in Cork from the 1990s. The front of the bar is painted cream and burgundy with the swirly Celtic style designs.
Image: @AlanHealy

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

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.”

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.

© 2022 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

Support GCN

GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.

During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.

GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.

0 comments. Please sign in to comment.