Morrissey’s, Main St, Abbeyleix, Co. Laois
Visited: March 2017
For any lover of traditional Irish pubs, Morrissey’s is not to be missed. The pub is located in the small heritage village of Abbeyleix, which is easily accessible from the motorway that links Dublin and Cork. Morrissey’s has an imposing presence on the Main St of Abbeyleix. Its original frontage is intact in all of its late nineteenth century glory and the retention of the old order extends to the inside of the pub which feels like a great living museum. Morrissey’s began its life as a grocery shop which opened in 1775. The shop later began trading as a public house. In the 1880’s a single storey structure was replaced with the beautiful two story building with a large bar and grocers that still stands today.
I’m lucky to have friend’s from Abbeyleix and also nearby Portarlington. As a result I have been a regular visitor to Morrissey’s since the early 1990’s and every time I visit, day or night, I feel a buzz of excitement. I love it here. The pub comprises a large room which is subdivided by low wooden panels, so a cosy environment is created while still retaining a great sense of space thanks to the very high ceiling above. The bar stretches across the entire back wall and also extends along the two side walls. Behind the bar from floor to ceiling, dark wooden shelves are stacked with bottles of spirits and groceries. Framed photos and prints mainly featuring equestrian images hang from every available space. In the seating area, ancient dusty shop cabinets remain with old grocery packaging and photographs of the people who worked here more than a century ago. A pot-bellied stove glows amber in the dim centre of the room. It looks like it has provided warmth to the people of Abbeyleix and beyond for a least a hundred years.
As for the here and now, four of us arrived on a wet Saturday afternoon in early March. We positioned ourselves in one of two snugs located at the front of the pub, but left the door open onto the bar for the best of both worlds. The lady serving behind the bar, whose name is Mary, commented on how awful the weather was. I agreed, to which she replied “and it’s going to get worse you know”. At that point I secretly hoped for a torrential downpour – any excuse to extend our visit to the inviting confines of Morrissey’s, I thought. As it turned out, I got my wish.
Nearby: Abbeyleix is a heritage village and the old market hall had been remodelled into a great public library with two upper mezzanines and a small gallery space, it’s worth visiting if you are interested in seeing a well designed small public building. The Gallic Kitchen, located directly across the road from Mossissey’s, does great food at very reasonable prices. If you plan on staying, accommodation is available in the village of Abbeyleix and also in the next village of Durrow (see Durrow Castle). There is a long riverside and forest walk loop walk which starts in the grounds of Durrow castle, which is worth exploring for those spending a night or two in this part of the world.
Directions: Exit the M8 motorway at Abbeyleix/Durrow. Morrissey’s is on the Main Street.
Ph: +353 (0) 57 863 1281