The pub is as old as it looks, going back to 1846, and has been in the energetic and hospitable ownership of Fergus and Patricia O'Mahony since 1988; they have loved it and maintained it well (it is not unusual to find Fergus up a ladder with a paintbrush in his hand), but any refurbishments at Mary Ann’s have left its original character intact.
The O’Mahonys have built up a great reputation for food in both the bar and the restaurant, which is split between an upstairs dining room and The Vine Room at the back, which can be used for private parties; alongside it there is a paved garden which has been fitted with a retractable awning over the tables, allowing for all-weather dining.
Seafood is the star, of course, in both bar and restaurant and it comes in many guises, usually along with some of the lovely home-baked brown bread which is one of the house specialities. Another is the Platter of Castlehaven Bay Shellfish and Seafood - a sight to behold, and usually including langoustine, crab meat, crab claws, and both fresh and smoked salmon.
With the exception of the early dinner menu, which is keenly priced but naturally offers less choice, much of the menu depends on the catch of the day, delivered from the nearby fishing port of Union Hall - although, even here, the universal tiger prawn has managed to insinuate its way in alongside all the beautiful local produce.
While Mary Ann's is essentially a seafood destination, other tastes are also well catered for and you'll find the local poultry speciality, Skeaghanore duck on offer, also good steaks and roasts such as rack of West Cork lamb, served with delicious local potatoes and seasonal vegetables.
Desserts are good too, but local West Cork cheeses are an excellent option that may prove too difficult to resist. One of the most appealing things about Mary Ann’s is that such a wide choice is available in the bar as well as the restaurant and that includes daily blackboard specials, which may offer real treats like lobster thermidor or lobster mayonnaise. Some bar food, indeed!
The O’Mahonys are hands-on owners and almost always present but, whether they are there or not, their outstanding friendly and helpful staff are always on hand and do an excellent job in making visitors feel at home and well looked after.
An extensive wine list frequently offers monthly or weekly specials - which sometimes include half bottles and fine wines and can be great value - with some offered by the case. The O’Mahonys also have a very successful art gallery on the first floor.
*Mary Ann’s was our Pub of the Year 2012, and also our Seafood Bar of the Year in 2008.