"Today was very exciting coming back into work, my wife took a picture of me and the kids, it was like the first day of school."

It is nearly a year since Bray Bowl last opened and the general manager, Boz Quinn, was thrilled to reopen the doors to the public for the first time since October 2020.

Since the pandemic began, more than 18 months ago, bowling alleys, adventure play centres and amusement arcades have been open for just three months.

"It has been a real struggle, we thought we'd open with indoor hospitality just like last summer, but that didn't happen," Mr Quinn said.

He said the indoor entertainment and leisure industry "were totally forgotten about".

Play, Activity and and Leisure Ireland represents over 130 business in the leisure industry.

It said the sector was already under pressure with high insurance costs and the closures because of public health restrictions have left many struggling and risking closure for good.

"There are less and less in this industry now, and it would be a real shame to see another amenity to Bray close, we've been a big amenity to Bray for the last 30 years," Mr Quinn added.

Staff numbers at Bray Bowl have fallen from 21 to 15, with many part-time workers moving on.

The safety measures in place include hand sanitiser stations, perspex sheeting separating bowling alleys, pre-booking is required, and masks while moving around the arcade.

Already the phone has been busy with parents booking birthday parties.

"Before the pandemic our birthday parties were flying, our BYOB nights were great as well and everything was looking rosey, so now we just have to try and get that business back," Mr Quinn said.

The darker evenings and wet winter days ahead offer some hope of that.