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125 years behind the bar in Ballintubber

  • Written by Dan Dooner
  • Published in Lifestyle
Featured Eileen and Jim Kenny and Arlene Feeley at the original Kenny’s pub in Ballintubber. Eileen and Jim Kenny and Arlene Feeley at the original Kenny’s pub in Ballintubber.






Kenny’s was first established over 125 years ago by Elizabeth and James Kenny before it was taken over in later years by ‘Fergo’ Kenny and his wife Bernadette. It is currently owned and operated by Fergo and Bernadette’s children, James and Eileen Kenny.

  Kenny’s has always been well known in the village of Ballintubber and surrounding areas and when first established provided a comprehensive service to those within a twenty mile radius, offering agricultural supplies and even providing accommodation for farmers attending fair days.

  Current owner, Eileen Kenny, said that residents in the locality still remember the business in its early days.

  “We are often told by the older generation how accommodating Kenny’s was in the old days and how much it was appreciated at the time,” she said.

  Eileen described her father’s ownership of the business as a time of major change.

  “Fergo and Bernadette carried the business forward when he took over from his father James and mother Elizabeth.

  “In 1964 he decided to build the present day bar on the opposite side of the road adjacent to the shop. There was an orchard there at the time”.

  According to Eileen, Fergo was a man of many talents and decided to operate a hardware store in the old bar following the new development on the opposite side of the road.

  “There was no B&Q or major hardware stores back in those days so Fergo provided all the materials required for DIY and other manual labour.

  “One lovely memory I have of those days was when my father was selling a gas cooker and in order to try out the grill he would make some toast. I always had the slice of toast as a treat – God weren’t we easily pleased back then!”

  Fergo didn’t stop there and would later build the first live music venue with singing and dancing in the area. Such venues came into their own in the 1970s and Kenny’s is still a renowned venue for live music today.

  Eileen remembers another renowned Ballintubber venue: “Of course, Kenny’s also owned The Moonlight Lounge, which closed in the late ‘60s due to a priest at the time who didn’t permit music or noise after midnight. From then on there were only dances on Sunday afternoons, which I only vaguely remember.

  “In memory of my late father and mother I had murals painted on the windows of the Moonlight. One is of my mother and father dancing together as the Moonlight Lounge is where they first met”.

  Eileen says she can’t remember selling drink in the old bar but can recall the sale of tobacco on Sundays.

  “I remember selling cigarettes and hand-cut tobacco – Bendigo and Condor – on Sunday mornings before 11 o’clock Mass. We also sold the Sunday papers in the shop adjacent to the bar. The bar wasn’t permitted to open until 12 o’clock of course, but people would still arrive at ten in the morning for a chat or to read the papers. It was like a rambling house on those Sunday mornings, or a pub with no beer!”

  The arrival of the big hardware stores to Ireland signalled the end of Kenny’s Hardware and when the current owners took over the business, there was another change of direction, according to Eileen.

  “James and myself decided to do a little revamp and we replaced the old bar, which is now a listed building. It’s still there and the hatch on the wall which opened into the RIC Barracks nextdoor can still be seen. I’m sure many a pint was passed through in those days!”

  Eileen and James are looking forward to the 125th anniversary celebrations on July 22nd.

  “James and myself have many good memories and stories to recall from down the years and so we find it fitting to mark this special anniversary of 125 years. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our family neighbours, friends and customers as for their continued support.

  “We would also like to invite everyone to what promises to be a wonderful celebration on Sunday, July 22nd”.

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