West Cork pub goers asked to step outside to take calls

The Anchor Bar
Image caption The Anchor Bar in Courtmacsherry

A pub in west Cork is hoping dialling down technology will help ignite conversation among punters.

Located in the seaside village of Courtmacsherry, the Anchor Bar has asked customers to step outside if they do want to take a call.

"Obviously, it isn't something we can force people to do," proprietor Billy Fleming told BBC News NI.

"But we would appreciate it if people would refrain from using their mobile phones in the bar."

A sign outlining the policy hung above the bar reads: "Patrons: Perhaps you could refrain from using mobile phone."

The 66-year-old publican, who has been involved in the trade for his entire adult life, hopes the gentle prompt will improve the atmosphere in the bar.

"The idea of whipping out a mobile phone and everybody looking at a mobile phone, I feel it could kill conversation a bit," he said.

"There is the thing also that if someone takes out a phone in the bar and begins to have a conversation, it is almost as if other people may have to stop and allow the conversation to go ahead."

Image caption The sign in the bar announcing the policy

Since the pub was featured in a package for RTÉ, Mr Fleming says he has been inundated with media attention about the policy.

He says his enthusiasm for a mobile phone-free bar could be "a generational thing" but "it is something [he] would like to see".

"I think it is something a lot of people would like to see come back as well," he added.

The move by the Anchor Bar is in step with an anti-technology trend in the hospitality industry in other parts of the world.

In October last year, Helsinki cocktail bar Chihuahua Julep won the support from most of its customers when it imposed an outright ban on mobile phones, requiring them to be placed in a box on arrival.

In 2016, the owner of the Gin Tub in Sussex went a step further, installing foil in the walls and copper wire mesh in the ceiling to block the mobile phone signal.

Fine Gael senator Tim Lombard has spoken out against the use of smart phones in pubs and restaurants, citing the damage they are causing to Ireland's hospitality culture.

Mr Lombard has said he plans to put the issue of the adverse effects of the overuse of smartphones in front of the Oireachtas Committee on Communications, of which he is a member.

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