IWD 2021: Meet The Quayside Queens

Imagine that first day out of lockdown (3.0). We’re firmly into spring. The sun is shining. And you’re meeting your mates for drinks outside a pub on the quay for a cheeky pint of a G&T. Life is good.

Behind the bars of our favourite Okell’s Inns quayside pubs are some incredible landladies that would put Peggy Mitchell to shame. Amy Bennett and Jemma Mulhern are the ladies behind the British, while Amy Fargher and Tammy McNeice take the reins behind the bars of The Saddle and The Railway.

The ladies behind The British

The British is an all-round solid pub. The vibe is as perfect for post-work drinks, as it is for a sunday lunch. However, if you’ve been in since summer 2019, when Amy Bennett became the landlady, you’ll have probably noticed the explosion of music coming from the pub. The Embassy Room has perhaps been the most vibrant live music venue in Britain, thanks to ‘Lava’s Sunday Night’ and ‘Sound Records Presents’ events. 

It will come as no surprise, then, to find out that Amy has a musical background. Having studied music at both college and university, Amy became a hotel entertainer in the slightly sunnier isle, Cyprus.

On return from Cyprus, Amy and her partner, Antonello, fell into hospitality. Initially, they were helping out a local landlord in Suffolk, but soon realised they loved the industry, especially as they became part of the community and got to know the locals. This led them both to seek out management training on island and go on to run their own pubs. 

Amy’s right-hand woman, Jemma Mulhern, has an equally international background. She has worked at a campsite in Italy, a boutique hotel in Cornwall, and right here, on the island, at Manx National Heritage, where she worked at some of the island’s most iconic historical sites. She had worked on and off in hospitality for about 10 years, with her first job as a teenager being at the former Waterfall Pub in Glen Maye. She enjoyed the job so much that she decided this is the industry for her. So, when she gained the opportunity to progress in her career, she jumped at the chance. 

The best part of the job for Jemma is the social side. She has a great connection with her team, who are also her friends, and with her customers. As a senior member, she has a voice within the team.

It’s not always easy being a lady in hospitality. Jenna notes that “Occasionally you can find yourself in awkward situations, such as if there is any argy bargy between male customers. It can be quite daunting having to wade in to sort it out. Or when Office Pete finishes his 9 to 5 and mistakenly thinks he can handle eight jager bombs and you have to cut him off, give him some water and make sure he gets home safely.” If there’s any two ladies that can handle the odd obnoxious customer, it’s Amy and Jemma.

After a day behind the bar, the ladies like a gin: which makes sense, considering the British’s impressive gin selection. Amy is currently enjoying Brockmans, while Jemma enjoys a Malfy Lemone with soda.

The Ladies behind the Saddle/The Railway

Who doesn’t love a Thursday sesh at the Saddle? Have a few-post work drinks, get a little tipsy, try and convince one of your colleagues to do a duet of WAP with you during Saddleoke, and then roll up to work the next day, riddled with hanxiety.

We all love the Saddle and The Railway for a bit of a musical night out. But did you know that one of the ladies behind the bars, Amy Fargher, is a manx-music legend? Before becoming a landlady, Amy was a member of the island’s greatest girl band, Twisted Angels (anyone else tempted to sing ‘LA’ at Saddleoke?). 

After her musical career, Amy ran the Clarendon and the Ship Inn, but left the hospitality industry to work in security. However, she made a return because she missed it so much. She loves every part of hospitality, however the social side is the greatest part for her. 

Likewise, Tammy McNeice, the assistant manager, loves the social aspect of the work. She has worked in the industry for 9 years, having only briefly worked in a bank and realising she was less about working 9 to 5, and more about listening to tipsy punters singing 9 to 5 on a Thursday night. She has a great relationship with her punters, and finds that being a woman can be an advantage: she finds that people can be less aggressive and violent towards a woman when she is in a position where she has to assert her authority. After a hard day at work, Tammy occasionally enjoys a tipple: a nice, refreshing cider in the summer, or a warming whiskey in the winter. 

Both ladies have had so many great moments working on the quay, but they have both emphasised that they have enjoyed seeing the quayside become a safe and inclusive place for the LGBTQ+ community. The Saddle has been central to this, with their LGBTQ+ Rainbow nights: something the managers are truly proud of. The events include some cheesy music and frequent performances by the fabulous drag queen, Vida LaFierce. There will undoubtedly be an incredible, OTT post-lockdown Rainbow night: check out The Saddle’s Facebook page for more information close to the time!

This International Women’s Day, we’ll be celebrating the incredible ladies that work at our favourite pubs! We can’t wait to see them again, when the queens are back ruling the quayside.

Advertising Feature in conjunction with Gef’s International Women’s Day Series

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