5 years in the past, Louis Fitzgerald was troubled by persistent again ache and sought assist. He turned to a pal’s son, physio Eamonn Ó Muircheartaigh, whose father, Micheál, is the legendary GAA commentator.
Eamonn mentioned to me, ‘Louis, haven’t you a pool at house? In the event you have been swimming, you wouldn’t be coming to me. It will loosen you up’.”
The pool had been put in for his kids after they have been younger, and whereas most of them are concerned in operating the household’s hospitality empire, they’ve lengthy since flown the nest. The pool remained idle.
“I went house, acquired all the children’ stuff that had been mendacity round, armbands and inflatables, put it over my physique and began to be taught to swim. After two or three weeks, I used to be swimming and by no means stopped,” Fitzgerald mentioned.
Ache-free and wholesome, he reveals little interest in retirement. The strolling stick he’s pictured with above just isn’t his. That belonged to republican chief Michael Collins. Fitzgerald paid €60,000 for it at an public sale in Belfast final week.
It was delivered to him final Thursday and was being hung in his favorite pub, An Poitín Stil on the outskirts of Dublin, whereas he spoke with the Sunday Unbiased on Friday.
It now stands prominently contained in the bar, surrounded by different historic relics he has collected throughout 50 years in enterprise. The gathering features a soccer from Bloody Sunday, data referring to the Titanic and certainly one of Michael Flatley’s Riverdance sneakers.
“The stick goes to be there for everyone to see, reasonably than having it locked up,” Fitzgerald mentioned.
Whereas work has prompted him some complications of late, it appears the pandemic just isn’t on the forefront of those.
“We’re in a wholesome place financially, so we have been capable of spend money on our companies throughout lockdown,” he mentioned.
“The Authorities did job in tough circumstances. It’s higher that they’re supporting folks than combating with them. However the pandemic has had a big impact on our trade. The help from the Authorities would have been important in maintaining companies afloat.
“We should preserve the highest requirements of customer support within the hospitality trade. It has been via the mill earlier than and it has bounced again and I consider it’ll accomplish that once more.”
He’s much less complimentary in regards to the Authorities’s dealing with of crises within the housing and insurance coverage sectors. He feels errors have been made up to now decade, contributing to a housing scarcity that has a major influence on among the individuals who work in his bars, eating places and resorts.
“The Authorities is not any totally different to anyone else who makes errors, and typically they could be a little bit gradual, however total with the pandemic I used to be proud of them,” he mentioned.
“But when I’m going again to 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and also you have a look at the housing disaster now we have at this time, the errors they made then have been completely ludicrous. They threw the perfect builders on the planet underneath the bus and what have we acquired now? No homes.”
It’s the insurance coverage points that trigger Fitzgerald most private fear. Three of his kids — Louise, Eddie and Barry — visited An Poitín Stil final Friday, and all nodded as he spoke in regards to the harm fraudulent insurance coverage claims create of their trade.
Modifications have been made to fight it. Fitzgerald mentioned he needs to battle all harm claims any further. Employees have been skilled to assist restrict accidents and the group has employed a brand new well being and security skilled to supply recommendation.
Refurbishments throughout among the group’s pubs in the course of the pandemic have been accomplished with insurance coverage claims in thoughts. Eddie and Louise mentioned the Penny Hill in west Dublin will now be a restaurant as a substitute of a late bar.
“There was practically extra insurance coverage claims than cash coming, when it comes to late evening exercise,” Louise mentioned.
Her father added: “We have now a brand new coverage. We’re combating every part.
We aren’t settling any extra claims. We’re going to battle every part tooth and nail from right here on.”