125 years serving pints on New Street
Charlie Foley’s is Killarney’s oldest family run public house but will have to wait a little while longer to enjoy official celebrations. In the meantime, Colm and his staff will continue to provide an ever changing high standard of service to Killarney locals and tourists for the foreseeable future.
I visited in the morning time and getting left in the side door out of hours was a novelty in itself!
It was evident the magic Christmas fairy Norma O’Donoghue had visited as the bar was twinkling for the festive season ahead, whatever COVID restrictions might bring.
“I can’t take any credit, Norma is fantastic at what she does,” Colm Foley told me.
In November 1896, Charlie Foley and his wife Ellen, on returning from Liverpool back home to Kerry, purchased 101 New Street from the estate of Lord Kenmare, a ‘local bar’ that still proudly bears the Foley name over the door.
Ireland of that time was a place of political and social turmoil, rebellion from the old order, growth in industry and expansion of tourism and communications. This was the birth of what became known as Foley's of New Street.
Charlie and Ellen were the opening Foley chapter. Charlie Junior soon stepped into his father’s shoes as master of the house, having married Noreen Lyne of the famous Kerry footballing family, together they continued the operation of the public house and grocery and raised their own young family.
These times were of an infant country, fresh from the troubles of 1916, the Civil War, birth of a new republic, and a third generation of Foley's began their lives in 101 New Street.
Tragedy struck the family with the sudden death of Charles, the eldest son of Charlie and Noreen. Eileen, their next eldest child, returned from nursing in Cork to help with the running of the family business.
“Sure I never had the grá to run a pub Marie but it came naturally to me,” Eileen said. Eileen went on to marry Colm Foley from Killorglin. The birth of their first born coincided with a change of direction for Foley's. The old ways of combining grocery with public house was coming to an end, and Eileen and Colm lead the change.
Charlie, Eileen’s father, passed away in 1984. Together, along with rearing a young family, Eileen and Colm moved with the times and brought 101 New Street forward to cater for a growing Killarney town and more discerning customer. Unfortunately Eileen’s husband Colm passed away tragically in 2003. With a young family to rear she also kept the doors of Charlie Foley's open to the public. Eileen’s son, Colm Foley, took on the challenge at the age of 17 to continue what his great-grandparents began, and it has continued seamlessly through to the generations.
“I ran the pub under the watchful eye of my mother, bringing in local DJs like Kevin Sul and DJ Gaz attracting a younger clientele, but sustaining an atmosphere for our long-term customers also. A new era with an older feel," Colm added.
“The plan was to celebrate this year, 125 years at Foley’s, but COVID has played havoc with many celebrations across the board. On making my initial enquiries about our 125 year celebrations, I knew that COVID would curtail my imagined festivities. I didn't think Mass in the bar with my family would be too much of a hurdle, but as it turns out Fr Kieran was unavailable regardless of COVID as Austin Stacks are due to play Kerin O'Rahillys in the county final on Sunday," Colm joked.
ADAPTING TO CHANGING TIMES
“Overall Colm, how has adapting to COVID over the past 20 months been?" I asked.
“It was a trying time and serious uncertainty but everyone is the same. Over the past 125 years Foley’s has survived the Spanish Flu, the Civil War, two World Wars and the War of Independence and it’s not going to sink on my watch! Our staff, Gerry, Samantha and Courtney, suggested we operate Foley’s like they used to as a team in New York. A system was put in place and it’s worked wonderfully, as well as we can do in COVID times. I am lucky to have great staff and great customers. We continue to welcome locals and tourists alike to Foley’s in a safe but atmospheric environment. We are thankful to have welcomed back live music with Donal Lucey and Cathal Flaherty in recent months which is great.”
I commented on the many photographs throughout the entire bar which are seeping in history, smiles and atmosphere within the Foley family and their customers, local legends and special occasions at the pub. An heirloom of memories, character and authenticity is not something that can be bought. It’s no wonder Foley’s on New Street has been a popular place to socialise at for the past 125 years.
Strong connections made at tourism tradeshow
Many significant business deals were signed at this year’s Meitheal – Ireland’s largest and most important trade event for the tourism industry. Held in the INEC, 450 Irish businesses pitched to over 230 international […]
Many significant business deals were signed at this year’s Meitheal – Ireland’s largest and most important trade event for the tourism industry.
Held in the INEC, 450 Irish businesses pitched to over 230 international buyers from 17 countries at Fáilte Ireland’s flagship trade event.
Running since 1975, Meitheal is organised in partnership with Tourism Ireland to provide Irish tourism businesses with the opportunity to sell directly to top international buyers and tour operators.
The best of what is on offer across Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, Ireland’s Ancient East, the Wild Atlantic Way and Dublin, were showcased with the aim of being scheduled on the itineraries of the global tour operators.
Key themes and trends emerging this year are sustainable travel options, immersive outdoor experiences and festivals.
Speaking about the importance of developing a future pipeline of tourism business, Paul Kelly, CEO of Fáilte Ireland, said that “creating a strong pipeline of future business is key for the recovery of tourism”.
“Seeing the demand for the Irish tourism product with international buyers at Meitheal is fantastic. Each international buyer represents tens of thousands of possible visitors to Ireland, and their business will be hugely important for tourism and hospitality businesses, communities, and destination Ireland as we continue to work towards recovery,” he said.
Outdoor dining area officially opens in town
A new outdoor dining space at Kenmare Place was officially opened today (Wednesday). The project, which was supported with €605,000 in funding from Fáilte Ireland under the Local Authority Weatherproofing and […]
A new outdoor dining space at Kenmare Place was officially opened today (Wednesday).
The project, which was supported with €605,000 in funding from Fáilte Ireland under the Local Authority Weatherproofing and Outdoor Dining Infrastructure Scheme, provides an attractive outdoor dining option for locals and visitors to Killarney.
“This is a really wonderful addition to Killarney’s tourism infrastructure and will prove a great asset throughout the year and particularly during the forthcoming tourist season,” said Cllr Kelleher, Cathaoirleach of the Killarney Municipal District, who did the honours.
“One of the effects of the recent pandemic was the need to utilise and maximise outdoor dining options and this infrastructure shows what can be achieved in an imaginative way. It will greatly enhance Killarney’s reputation as a destination for top quality tourism experiences.”
The project has been operational since last October but the official opening was timed to coincide with the Meitheal 2023 tourism industry showcase that was organised by Fáilte Ireland at the INEC this week.
“It is fantastic to see Killarney’s outdoor dining infrastructure being so well received by trade and visitors alike,” Miriam Kennedy, Head of Wild Atlantic Way at Fáilte Ireland, said.
Councillors in the Killarney Municipal District approved planning permission for the infrastructure which was completed by Daniel Canty Construction.
Strong connections made at tourism tradeshow
Many significant business deals were signed at this year’s Meitheal – Ireland’s largest and most important trade event for the tourism industry. Held...
Outdoor dining area officially opens in town
A new outdoor dining space at Kenmare Place was officially opened today (Wednesday). The project, which was supported with €605,000 in...
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