BY HELEN RIDDELL
CASTLETOWNBERE locals flocked to Cronin’s’ Hideaway Restaurant last week before the popular takeaway restaurant closed its doors for the last time.
Husband-and-wife team Sean and Anne Marie Cronin, who had run the restaurant since both were 18-year-olds, hung up their aprons after 34 years in business.
The couple met when Maynooth-born Sean came to work in Murphy’s Restaurant, Castletownbere which was run by his sister Joan and her husband John.
Anne Marie was also working there for the summer, and just months after finishing their Leaving Cert, Anne Marie said they heard a chip shop was up for lease in the town and decided to take it on themselves.
‘A local man, Teddy Black, was leasing it and we rented it from him two years before purchasing the building, renovating it and putting in a small restaurant, and over the years increased the size of the restaurant. The original restaurant was hidden away at the back, that where was the name Cronin’s Hideaway came from.’ Over the years the couple’s daughters Amanda and Jennifer also played a big part in helping to run the restaurant.
As well as the restaurant, the couple also operated a mobile catering unit and were a familiar sight at local festivals throughout Beara, and will continue to be, as they plan to keep this side of the business going.
The restaurant was also frequented by the occasional celebrity, with Colin Farrell paying regular visits while filming Ondine in the area.
Anne Marie says the secret of their success was ‘good quality, fresh, locally-sourced food.’
The decision to close says Anne Marie was a hard one: ‘We’d been thinking about it for a while. It was long hours, we were open seven days a week, and as any self-employed person will know, bureaucracy and red tape is getting worse, plus I had a health scare in March and that was the final catalyst, we really wanted a better work/life balance.’
Anne Marie said the final days were very sad and emotional.
‘And last weekend was surreal. Weekends are always so busy, but myself and Sean were sitting at home not used to not having anything to do!’
Anne Marie added: ‘We’ve always had such a loyal customer base, and I want to thank all of them for their support over the years.’