You could say it was ‘down in one’, because one day is all it took for Heineken to blot out the pint of stout that dominates an iconic mural in Macroom.
The act was not a case of Dutch courage, but a response to new laws banning alcohol advertising within 200m of a school, creche, or local authority playground.
Failure to do so would have exposed Heineken to hefty fines or even a spell in jail as the new laws kicked in at midnight last night.
The 20-year-old Murphy’s mural, painted on the gable end of a private home on Castle St, was visible to anyone crossing the bridge, including pupils of schools such as De La Salle College and McEgan College.
It depicted a giant pint of Murphy’s looming over crumbling brickwork, and a white cat sitting in a window, surveying passersby.
It was painted by two well-known local artists, Denis O’Reardon and Cormac Shiel.
“Anyone travelling from the Killarney side would see it on their way over the bridge. Only the other day I saw busloads of tourists running back from the square to take pictures,” said local councillor Martin Coughlan.
A spokesperson for Heineken confirmed that they inspected this site, and all of their advertising sites, in the context of the new legislation.
“This site is within 200m of a school and we had no other choice but to remove it,” said the Heineken spokesperson.
The mural was painted in 1999 following an arrangement between the Flynn family, who own the house, and brewing company Murphy’s. It was maintained by Heineken after it took over the brewery.
James Flynn, who lives in the house, said it was the end of an era.
“Unfortunately there is nothing we can do,” he said.
However, he said: “If anyone wants to discuss taking the advertising space they are more than welcome to contact us — the rates are negotiable.”
While the pint glass element of the mural has been painted over, it is understood that workers are due back next week to complete the job.
Mr Coughlan is hoping the artists who painted the mural may be invited to once again use the gable end as a canvas.
He says Denis and Cormac recently completed four other murals in the town that have been a hit with townsfolk and tourists alike.
Eunan McKinney, head of communications and advocacy at Alcohol Action Ireland, said the act follows “10 long years of conflict with the alcohol industry over the need to curb the marketing and promotion of alcohol in Ireland”.
“This battle continues, as the major measures with the act have yet to be commenced and face the constant pressure from industry to Government to postpone or delay their implementation,” he said.
Drinkaware, which is funded by donations from the alcohol and retail industry, welcomed the new rules and said they represent “a positive step forward to tackling Ireland’s serious underage drinking problems”, but also warned that a collective approach was required.
“We need to look at all aspects of the environment, including the ones we can control ourselves, such as children’s exposure to alcohol in the community and in the home,” said CEO of Drinkaware, Sheena Horgan.
“We know that 62% of drinking occasions happen in the home, and that 27% of first drinks are provided by a parent or relative, so we need to redress that.”