Irish pub faces licence challenge over ‘nightclub’ marquee

Irish pub faces licence challenge over ‘nightclub’ marquee

Tom Tuite

A south Dublin suburban pub’s licence is at risk after loud noise from revellers, music and match screenings in an “outdoor dining” marquee gave neighbours sleepless nights.

The sizeable temporary structure was erected last summer in the car park of Buglers pub at Ballyboden House Rathfarnham, Dublin 16.

However, the Dublin district licensing court heard on Wednesday that it became "more of a nightclub scenario".


The marquee was set up after the Government introduced regulations allowing pubs have awnings, coverings, canopies, parasols, shades, windbreakers, heaters or other similar structures to facilitate outdoor dining.

It was a measure to assist pubs in response to Covid-19 and didn't require planning permission.

Judge Marie Quirke adjourned the case for six weeks for further information to be provided about the management structure of the pub, the terms of its existing licence, if it included singing and music, and the interpretation of the outdoor dining regulations.



Eight locals, long-term residents in four neighbouring houses on Glendoher Close, lodged an objection to the renewal of the pub’s licence, held by Mary Bugler, who is in her 80s.

However, the licensee testified that she was not involved in the pub's day-to-day running, but that was left to a son-in-law. The court also heard evidence from a manager who started work there last year.

The judge heard the objectors had never complained about the local pub before. But after the marquee came, their barrister Padraig O’Neill added: “it later evolved into more of a nightclub scenario".

Dorothy Collins BL, for the pub, submitted that a leading planning expert had given his professional opinion that the marquee was compliant with the new regulation.


Judge Marie Quirke heard evidence from six objectors complaining of “constant chatter of people drinking as the evening progressed”.

She noted they claimed music was piped into the marquee, and on occasion, there was live singing with speakers and amplifiers. She said witness Catriona Byrne detailed how she slept with earbuds and told the court, "I cannot have my windows open", and she had "enough of it".

When a match was screened, "if there was a goal, the whole tent roared", and people could not sleep. Paul Gleeson told the court he had to change his job because he was not getting enough sleep.

Mother of three Natasha McGill described "hooping and screeching of girls roaring at each other", which was "crystal clear from her bed".

Judge Quirke noted that the regulation, introduced in a statutory instrument in April 2021 by Darragh O'Brien, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, runs until June. It was unknown if the government would continue it, however.

She also remarked that it was not to be used for a pub to extend its premises to serve alcohol.