Our Commandos are adamant you should always get change from a fiver when you’re drinking Guinness, especially outside Dublin, but it was €5 exactly for the pints of stout in this boozer.
ONCE the Old Commando knew we were going to Abbeyleix there was only one thing on his mind — Morrissey’s pub.
He loves it and told some of our Commandos who had never been there before that they were in for a treat.
“You could travel to the four corners of the island and you’ll struggle to find a better boozer,” he told our troops as we arrived in this business town in Co Laois.
“You won’t find anything too fancy in it either that you young ’un’s like but for my generation it’s like taking a step back in time. Not to mention the Guinness is quality,” he added.
We arrived in Morrissey’s just in time for the evening trade and while it was reasonably quiet when we arrived, it was booming by the time we departed.
We were steeped to get stools at the counter and the barman was on hand quickly to pull our pints of cream. Our Commandos are adamant you should always get change from a fiver when you’re drinking Guinness, especially outside Dublin, but it was €5 exactly for the pints of stout in this boozer.
“Do you know what? I don’t even care. €5 for five star pints in a five star pub — sometimes you’ve just got to live a little,” the Old Commando joked.
Most of the bar staff were dressed in long white coats and our Young Commando couldn’t understand why that was part of the uniform. He quizzed the young barman on duty.
“It’s a link to the Morrissey family who ran the grocery shop here for generations. That would have been what the staff wore in them days and we like to keep the traditions going and their memory alive,” the barman told us.
Our Commandos had noticed there were a lot of items on the shelves that were not alcohol related, such as the packets of sugar, cups of soup, bags of flour, spam, custard, cornflakes and tubs of “penny sweets” as the Old Commando called them.
Everything in this pub has been maintained in pristine condition and it was no surprise to see the framed award that had been presented to the owner in 2004 when this boozer won the Leinster & National Heritage Pub of the Year award.
The crowd began to filter through the front door as we swallowed our second and third rounds and we noticed it wasn’t just locals who were arriving for their evening pint.
There were plenty of tourist accents, including some German folk who were extremely interested in the background of this pub.
With the exception of the Smirnoff Martini cocktail tap, the cash register and the hand dryer in the gents, we doubt there is anything from this century in the bar and we loved that.
“Imagine having this place on your doorstep,” the Old Commando said.
“I’d have to rinse out my liver on a daily basis,” he jokingly added.
The toilets were spotlessly clean, just as we expected, with two urinals and two cubicles and the exterior is also well maintained. Some of our younger Commandos prefer pubs with multiple TV screens, dart boards, pool tables and jukeboxes, but even they could appreciate there is something special about Morrissey’s pub in Abbeyleix.
We don’t even know if they have a TV, there certainly wasn’t one on in the bar during our stay, but you don’t need it. It’s exactly how Irish pubs used to be and it’s a huge pity there aren’t still more like it.
We love visiting Morrissey’s and so did everybody else we met that evening, and we vowed to return.
Rating: Five pints out of Five
One for the road…
Benny’s – Abbeyleix
THE front bar of Benny’s is a nice snug area, somewhere the Old Commando could have got very comfortable had we let him.
We moved him on to the bar area where there was an all male clientele and two barmaids behind the counter, both very welcoming and both engaging with the locals who were perched at the counter.
The wine coloured barstools were all in good condition and there was plenty of golf talk too, mostly surrounding Shane Lowry’s great win.
The cream and orange coloured floor tiles were spotlessly clean and there is a large screen TV at the end of room, as well as a dart board. There was a nice atmosphere in Benny’s and the locals were the friendly sort we expected them to be.
The toilets checked out fine.
Rating: Three pints out of Five