John and Nora Joyce became owners of the premises in 1923, and established a thriving hotel, bar, grocery and undertaking business. In those days it was known as Joyce’s Hotel, and it was hugely popular amongst commercial travellers.
The hotel served meals, especially on Fair Days, which were very frequent in those times. Fair Days were occasions where local farmers brought their sheep and cattle to the town and sold them on the street.
“Refreshments” for the men were then served in the bar until the small hours of the morning (bars were places for men only back then).
The grocery trade was a busy as the bar, with fresh local products such as butter and eggs in high demand. During the Second World War, food was rationed and people were given ration books for buying basic foods like bread, sugar and tea. Tobacco was also in short supply, and Woodbines – the working man’s cigarettes – were in high demand. After the war, life came back to normal and it was business as usual for Joyce’s pub. The porter, which was bottled, corked and labelled on the premises, was as popular as ever.
The undertaking business was also prospering. A horse-drawn carriage was used and was kept in the coach house in the yard. Horses’ hoofs were polished black for funerals, and the coachman dressed elegantly for the occasion.
In those times, Joyce’s were also involved in livestock trading. In the 1960s, Cunninghams of Waterford paid weekly visits to Joyce’s to buy pigs from the local farmers. Another common sight to be seen was the sheep dipping in the adjoining dipping yard. This annual event was marked on the calendars of farmers.