This month, Irish pub Muddy Murphy’s is closing the doors of its iconic venue across the road from Orchard Towers and reopening at TripleOne Somerset. Muddy’s “regular”, Jade McLean, spoke about the changes with two of the men most closely associated with the pub in recent years.
As a writer (in the broadest sense of the word!) I should be objective, look at every angle and try not to get too emotional. However, when I was asked to cover the closure of Muddy Murphy’s Irish Pub this month (3 November), I knew I wouldn’t be able to distance myself from the story. After all, having been a singer at Muddy’s for around 10 years, the bar has become my second home. With its great atmosphere and excellent staff, it’s a place where I’ve made many good and long-lasting friendships, celebrated my 30th birthday (among many others), met my husband and even “wet my daughter’s head”.
Indeed, the walls of Muddy Murphy’s hold memories for many people. Relationships have been forged and broken, stag and hen parties have caused hilarious havoc, weddings and anniversaries have been celebrated, people have said goodbye to good friends leaving Singapore and hello to new ones, and wakes have been held for the passing of regulars, all to the soundtrack of rock and blues, played by the many great bands that have entertained there.
So, I admit that I write this with a tear in my eye. And judging from their responses to my questions, Irish pair Billy McDonald, former general operations manager at the bar for 14 years, and Mark Walsh, general manager for the past two and a half years, the feeling is mutual.
What are your thoughts on the closure of the original venue?
Mark: I can’t even say it’s my second home – it’s my first home! I’m here probably 70 hours a week, I’m here on my days off, most of my friends drink here and that’s how I’ve met most of my friends in Singapore. I think everyone probably feels something similar – old and new regulars definitely feel some sort of affection towards the bar. I think that’s been the case for a long time – since it opened in 1996. It’s always had that kind of atmosphere. My personal feelings are simple: I love the place.
Billy: I have a major affinity with the bar; it’s why I came to Singapore and was there for 14 years, so it’s hard to describe my emotions. I saw many members of staff and many bands start from scratch there. Muddy’s gave them a chance and watching them evolve and progress made us all proud. A lot of the staff has worked there for years, which is a testament to the place. Considering the amount of energy and attention to detail and all the good people that worked so hard to get it to what it is today, it’s a shame it has to move for business reasons. Everything in there holds memories – the tables, chairs, walls, stone floor.
How do the regulars feel about the move?
Mark: Some of the regulars think that the new Muddy’s is going to be a sparkly new bar, but when we tell them it’s not, they seem quite positive about following us over there. When you actually walk in, it will look like Muddy Murphy’s. You’ll recognise tables, your old bar stool, the “shop front”, the barn doors – quite a lot of features. You’ll walk in and say, “Oh, it’s Muddy Murphy’s”. There’s still an outdoor area and there’ll be a new barn-style area too as it’s a bit bigger than our current space. There’ll still be bands, sports, the same menu, the same staff – everything will be the same except we might have a bigger whiskey and cocktail menu because unfortunately we’re also losing Ballymoon’s in the process.
We’re only moving one MRT station away, it’s slightly more central and there’s parking, so it’s not an inconvenient move and I don’t think it’ll lose any of its charm.
Most memorable moments?
Mark: Probably my first St Pat’s Day here when local Gaelic band Gan Ainm was playing. We broke the 16-year sales record and sold just over 100 barrels of beer (55 pints in a barrel) and obviously lots of other spirits and bottles. There have been loads of great sporting occasions too – especially the Rugby World Cup when I first arrived. Christmas is always special, but my first St Pat’s Day nearly gave me a heart attack!