October 27, 2015 by Evin
In this great land, there is a pub on wheels that travels from kingdom to kingdom, bringing merriment and refreshments to special festivities. It sounds like a myth or fairytale for grown-ups, but it’s real. Very real, not just a thing of bedtime stories.
The Dungloe Baravan is a traditional Irish-themed mobile bar, designed and lovingly decorated in traditional style. Visitors are greeted by a welcoming old-style half-door, painted in Massey red. Once inside, guests relax in fully-upholstered seating or gather around the hand-crafted Irish pine bar. It has all the comforts of the country pub you want on your doorstep from its cosy stove, with a basket of turf by the fire, to the old net curtains from the 1950s. The Baravan even has an old lantern hanging from the dark nutted roofing rafters to illuminate the antiques adorning its walls. The place is a timeless tribute to old Ireland.
As you’d expect, something this thoughtfully-crafted could only be a labor of love. Mark Mooney is the man behind the vision, mission, and Baravan. It all started once upon a time in the faraway land of Mullaghmore in County Sligo during a weekend away with friends in his family-owned holiday mobile home. To accommodate a small party with their friends, they temporarily converted a section of the vehicle into a bar area, complete with a beer keg and draught tap. They even set up a number of optics for spirits! These lads were serious about their parties. It was after it was set up and they realised what a transformation it was that Mark realised the potential. “The thought of having this more often was appealing and sparked the idea of a vintage Irish mobile pub,” he said.
As a professional civil engineer born in County Tyrone, Mark works full-time for an international firm in Dublin, but holds the Irish culture close to his heart. The idea to craft a classic Irish-themed mobile pub seemed like something that could embrace both his engineering expertise and his passion for the fireside chat and pint embraced by country pubs the country over. Having had a natural flare for design and working with his hands, this was the ideal project that he could incorporate all his skills. Of course, with a full-time job in Dublin, the project meant Mark managed his time carefully and spent every weekend in Tyrone to work on his Baravan.
The journey began when he found his mobile home. He wanted something old enough to have its own stories to share. The five-berth Lunar Van is about 25 years old and was owned by an elderly man in his home county of Tyrone. He had been using it for extra storage and spray painting projects, so it was in very poor condition. “When we saw the old caravan first, I thought this ragged old thing (‘before’ photo below) should be going to the skip, rather than home with me.,” Mark admitted. He, however, saw its bones and his vision imposed itself on the reality so he knew THIS was the mobile home that would become his Baravan. The purchase was made and the renovation adventure began.
Mark had a vision, but needed to translate those ideas into a design that would work for the frame of the mobile home, maximising the use of space and weight distribution. “I mulled over it for a few days, thinking about what might be involved in the transformation and then I just got on with it,” he explained. Mark used engineering software packages to come up with a design and from there he was able to move and adjust size and positions of the features inside the Baravan. Immediately, the work started. He treated the rust, stripped out the interior, and welded and strengthened the frame. With Mark’s extensive experience of working with wood and in construction-related projects, there were only three months between buying the caravan and having a finished product ready for its first event. The efforts were not just Mark’s though, he employed tradesmen and solicited assistance from friends who also believed in his Baravan vision. The installation of the bar itself was a turning point in the project when it went from mobile home to a local. The smooth and solid hand-crafted Irish pine bar counter lends an authentic pub feel to the interior. It has a mirrored bar surround with shelves and two taps for draught beer. There’s even a cooler box for ice, a drinks fridge, and a special place for the spirits. “It was great seeing all the work coming together. In essence, it’s not really like building a house since we had no blueprint, just what was in our imagination. It was exciting seeing the project evolve, including all the mistakes that we made along the way, which seemed to add their own character to the Baravan.” Mark reflected. He credits Terry O’Niell from Dromore, Co. Tyrone, and his amazing tradesman ship for helping make the Baravan look as cool as it does.
The Baravan functions privately as a venue for special events or parties, celebrations, corporate launches, and even weddings. No licence is required, provided drink is not charged for. With modern weddings moving towards a bespoke and quirky style of outdoor marquee-type functions, rather than the traditional hotel and meal package, bookings have been brisk and Mark has been pleasantly overwhelmed by the amount of interest shown in this special venue on wheels.