PHOTOS: After 51 Years, The Abbey Inn Prepares To Shut Its Doors

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Johnny McElligott of Sean Óg’s wishes Danny well for the future at The Abbey Inn on Friday night. Photo by Dermot Crean

THE phrase ‘end of an era’ is overused and undeserved in many cases, but at closing time tonight, it will be understatement when applied to the closure of The Abbey Inn.

The building, owned by the Leane family for over 50 years, was sold during the week and tonight will be the last night you’ll have a chance to have a drink in The Abbey, as the Leanes will shut its doors for the final time.

While we’re told the tenants in the building, HQ Tralee, will be unaffected by the sale, it hasn’t been publicly revealed what the new owners have planned for the bar and the rest of the building.

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Friends of Danny Leane Snr were invited over to the bar on Friday night under the pretence that it was his official retirement party, but as they arrived, they soon learnt that the bar was closing and it proved to be quite an emotional night.

Danny, who will turn 78 next week, says it was nice to get friends around to mark the occasion.

“Tonight is a night to say thanks after all these years. We saw the best of the bar years — fellas drinking pints and singing, we had fantastic times. That’s all gone now. You’d feel sorry for the young crowd now, looking at their phones all the time,” said Danny, who bought the bar back on June 8, 1968.

Danny’s bar soon developed a reputation as a great live venue, especially for rock music, giving local bands a chance and bringing fledgling stars down over the years, including a nascent U2.

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“After about a year and a half, we started getting bands in like Clutch and the bar started getting a reputation for rock n roll. I remember going into Mass in the Dominicans with my wife, Tess, soon after and the priest said ‘things are changing very fast. The modern music is the devil’s music and there’s a premises not far from here that has it on full time’. I said to Tess ‘right we’re off’ and we left the church,” Danny said.

For young people growing up in Tralee, especially in the 70s, 80s and 90s, The Abbey was the place to go to if you wanted to hear rock music. Times have changed over the years and lately it had changed to become a more dance-friendly venue for the late-night crowd.

The closure will also be lamented by other Tralee vintners, not only because Danny and the family were well regarded, but also for the reason that another late bar has closed.

In a culture where many young people drink at home and come into pubs later with the intention of going on to venues with exemptions, it’s one less place to attract punters to Tralee.

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Many Tralee people reading of its closure will feel nostalgic about some great nights had in the bar during its glory years — the jukebox filled with AC/DC, Zeppelin and the Stones, the sawdust on the floor, the smell of “smoke”, the heaving crowds watching bands, the catalyst for romances, the cause of break-ups. And, of course, we’ll always remember the lady that was Tess.

To Danny and his kids Danny Jnr, Kerry, Sandy and Manus, we wish them and their families all the best for the future and thanks for the memories.

Before I left, Danny said some of his best memories are of the craic had supporting Kerry football over the years and coming back to the bar after.

Echoing the sign that has hung in the bar for many years, he said, “look, there’s only two kingdoms; the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Kerry.” That may be so, but there’ll only be one Abbey Inn. Scroll down for photos…

Manus, Kerry, Danny, Sandy and Danny Jnr at The Abbey Inn on Friday night, under that famous sign. Photo by Dermot Crean


Francie Conway, Eugene Murphy, Ruairi Conway and Peter Maguire at The Abbey Inn on Friday night. Photo by Dermot Crean

Timmy O’Sullivan, Jamie Moynihan, Billy O’Connor and Stephen Leane at The Abbey Inn on Friday night. Photo by Dermot Crean


Gerard and Triona Hussey at The Abbey Inn on Friday night. Photo by Dermot Crean

Billy Browne, Norma Browne and Joe McGarry at The Abbey Inn on Friday night. Photo by Dermot Crean


John O’Sullivan, Kevin McGovern, Seamus ‘Mogs’ O’Mahony and Tim Moynihan at The Abbey Inn on Friday night. Photo by Dermot Crean

Paul Clapham and Sean Sugrue with Danny Leane at The Abbey Inn on Friday night. Photo by Dermot Crean


Danny Leane and family at The Abbey Inn on Friday night. In front; Mia and Taylor Kate Leane. Seated; Kerry, Danny Jnr, Danny, Sandy and Manus Leane. Back from left; Amy Leane, Stephen Leane, Claire Leane, Orla Stack Leane, Bobby Leane, Mark Leane and Audrey Stack. Photo by Dermot Crean

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