STAFF at the Spirit Store were celebrating last week after landing a prestigious IMRO award for the Best Live Venue in the Rest of Leinster, an area covering the entire province with the exception of Dublin.
The George's Quay venue, which is jointly run by local Senator Mark Dearey and Derek Turner, collected the prestigious prize at the IMRO awards in Dublin on Thursday night having beaten off stiff competition from other venues.
They were awarded the gong based on the result of a poll of 7,000 IMRO members and 4,000 members of the public, who voted online.
Local public representative Dearey, who has been running the Spirit Store since 1999, attended the ceremony on the night but admitted it was a huge but welcome surprise for them to come out on top.
"I knew we had been shortlisted but I thought to myself 'it'll not be us'.
"It was great to win though and it meant a lot given how difficult a year it has been for musicians and for customers.
"Thankfully the place is still busy and we'd like to thank all the people who supported us because without them we wouldn't have got this award."
This was the second time that the Spirit Store has won such an award but Mark insisted it was a sweeter feeling the second time around.
"To win this a second time was possibly a bigger achievement. Reaching a standard is one thing but keeping standards is harder."
Rather than resting on their laurels though, Mark and Derek have big plans lined up for the Spirit Store this summer when they plan to extend the venue.
"We hope it will become like a mini Vicar Street," said Mark.
"It will become a properly fit-for-purpose venue with a bigger stage and a green room for the artists. We'll also have a tower block for a lift," he said.
Making it a Louth double at the IMRO awards on the night was the TLT Theatre in Drogheda, who picked up a special commendation.