The Abbey Inn Is 50 Next Year And A Book Is In The Pipeline

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Patrick McDonnell and Danny Leane outside The Abbey Inn on Friday. Photo by Dermot Crean

THIS has to be the most hotly anticipated book of 2018 in Tralee!

A native of the town is collaborating with the Leane family to produce a history of the most iconic music bar in Kerry, The Abbey Inn, in time for the 50th anniversary of its opening next June.

And you can play your part by supplying your own anecdotes and photos.

Patrick McDonnell, originally from Ard Na Lí in Oakpark, is the man behind the project and he is collecting stories from the Leane family, including clearing up that story about when U2 played in the late 70s before they hit it big.

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Patrick was a regular in the Abbey Inn, especially when he was working for Radio Kerry in its early years. He has a great grá for the bar and got to know the Leane family well over the years.

Danny in the old bar back in the 80s.

Since he left town he has worked for RTE, acted with theatre companies in Dublin and London and worked in San Francisco and Los Angeles, but he returned to town last year.

After meeting with owner Danny Leane’s son Kerry, who told him of the upcoming anniversary, he decided to write a book about the bar.

Patrick is no stranger to writing having published a novel and a number of plays so is relishing the job of putting the book together.

The book will cover Danny Leane’s childhood in Killarney, moving on to when he started the bar with his wife Tess in 1968 and its rise into Kerry’s premier rock bar, attracting the likes of U2, the Boomtown Rats, Noel Redding (The Jimi Hendrix Experience), Henry McCullough (Wings) and many more, through to its revamp in 2008 to the present day.

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The bar back in the 90s before the revamp.

There’ll be the story of Bono sweeping up in the bar when the guards raided and how he daringly moved from the back of a pick-up van into the passenger seat while travelling at 60 mph, on the way out to Danny’s mobile home at Seven Hogs in West Kerry.

One false move and the history of Irish rock would have been very different!

The Leane family has a load of photos over the years from customers in the bar (which might strike fear into the hearts of many!!) but they are looking for more.

The book is set to be launched in time for the 50th anniversary of the opening of the bar on June 8, 2018. Hopefully, somebody will get the word to U2 and they might launch it!

If you have any photos, videos or great stories about the Abbey Inn from years gone by, you should contact Patrick McDonnell on email mcdonnell.patrickc@gmailcom or call him on 087-3331751. To find out more about Patrick’s work see

Oh, and if anyone comes across a photo of back in the 90s with an Ohio marching band, a shaman, Matthew McConaghy, several tuxedoed monkeys and lots and lots of alcohol, I can explain. Research…re-search…ok?!!!

One Comment

  1. karl o leary says:

    oh I can’t wait to read this knowing menus leane there will be some photos..a walk down memory lane.the good old days…best of luck with it lads.and DuPont forget to keep me a 50 as well…