• Deirdre’s Diary

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A day in the life of a Harvey’s Point Barman

Deirdre’s Diary

Colm Kelly

On my drive in to Harvey’s Point from Frosses where I live, I always find time to remember how lucky we are to live in such privileged times and say a little prayer as I pass Killymard Church for all those who went before us and created my world for me. Working in Harvey’s Point is so varying in the kind of jobs you may have to do but also at what time of the day or day of the week that it might take place. As with all hospitality work it tends to be very varied and the challenges are very often different. I work in Harvey’s Bar & Terrace which is used by both guests and locals, who want to eat, drink and find entertainment. When I came to work in Harvey’s Point there was the bar which is now Isobel’s gallery, a collection of very nice paintings by the owners mother Isobel. This bar was quite small and intimate and was a great place for guests to meet up and get to know each other. There were many long-time friendships built in that small area. What we have now is a very modern bar with the hexagonal counter area at the centre of the room which gives it the unique circular feeling. It is very colourful with great displays of all the different drinks which we offer to our guests. Another unique feature of Harvey’s Point is the connection between the owners, Deirdre, Marc and Jody with the guests and the staff; this is rarely witnessed in today’s business world. The latest addition of a glass front looking on to the lake makes it one of the greatest bars in Ireland to enjoy the magnificent views of the Blue Stack Mountains and Lough Eske. The outdoor patio area also looks over the lake and is sheltered by glass paneling.

Enough about the bar and more about the work, that old four letter word. I will take a day shift today. The first thing I do is to say hello to everyone I meet on my way through the clock in, Kitchen, wash-up and restaurant. Eileen who has been in Harvey’s Point since near the beginning thinks I’m crazy but it’s good to talk. Then I will get the bar ready for the day; check that the floors, tables, ice wells etc. are all clean. We work a system that at the end of night shift you leave the place as you would expect to find it for the start of your shift. The wines have to be put in ice, fresh fruit cut, cream prepared and the money for the days shift is then collected. I always check that the fire is good and the stock of turf and briquettes is sufficient for to last the day. Did you know that there are four open fires burning in Harvey’s Point every day of the year? Harvey’s Bar & Terrace doors open at 11 am. It never ceases to amaze me how many people call to Harvey’s Point in the mornings to have a look around and see what is available to them if they decide to come back for a break. This is also a great time to see Samantha or Joanne, our wedding co-ordinators helping couples organise their wedding day with us, it’s always nice to meet young people who are starting out on a new life together. Of course I can give them great advice as I am married to my better half, Margaret for twenty nine years.

At around 12 o clock I will check with the chef what soup he/she is serving and if there are any specials on the menu. Marie our bar manager, Rebecca, Louise or Leanne will come in around now to help with the food service. This is very different to bar work but in Harvey’s Point it is very important to be able to do both to a very high standard. As with the serving of drinks you need to have a good knowledge of what you are serving to your guests. There always tends to be that extra rush at lunchtime and on a day that there is a conference it can be extremely busy. Of course with forward planning Harvey’s Point tries to have plenty of staff to look after whatever numbers of guest that is on the premises at any time. On wedding days we often host the wedding drinks reception in Harvey’s Bar. These are always great occasions where the bride and groom get to formally mix with their guests for the first time as a married couple. Weddings are fantastic occasions for old school friends, neighbours and families to socialise while celebrating new beginnings. At around five o clock the wedding party make their way to the Garden Suite or the Ballroom to continue with the festivities and the bar will be turned around to meet the needs of our guests for the evening.

Many of our guests who stay in the hotel come to Harvey’s Bar & Terrace from seven o clock onwards to eat their evening meal, locals I think tend to come a little bit later but that’s the way it is here in Donegal, “Up here we’re different”. This is usually the busiest time of the day for the bar staff as we have a wide variety of drinks on offer. There is a great whiskey collection and a very varied gin list, our wine menu is specially selected by our sommelier, Orhan, we serve many cocktails and will endeavor to make up any we don’t know if our guest can tell us the ingredients (Google). As with my forty years’ experience working in the bar trade we should never be afraid of change and the opportunity to learn new things but it’s important to remember the basics. Many of our guests who are dining in The Lakeshore Restaurant will come into the bar at this time also to have some pre- dinner drinks and a chat. On a number of nights there is music in the bar.

Harvey’s Bar & Terrace is a great place to work. We don’t have a television and this encourages conversation. I get the opportunity to inform our visitors how truly great our County Donegal is and why we are so lucky to live here, there are so many different characters coming through our doors, we are witness to many great occasions, many of our guests have become great friends, there is a calm atmosphere that is not to be found in many places, the views are just the best you can get and the people you work with also become your friends, Kevin the other senior barman in age with me is a great Elvis impersonator. What more could a barman want? I am now in my sixth year working at Harvey’s Point and can safely say that as a place to work it doesn’t get any better than here.

Best wishes to everyone,

Colm Kelly

July 2017

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