An Old Pub with A New Purpose at Herlihy’s Farranfore

Proprietor, Proprietor, Marie O’Sullivan pictured in her re-awakened, re-imagined business at the former Herlihy’s Bar in Farranfore during the week. ©Photograph: John Reidy
Heritage and history on tap at the new Airbnb at Herlihy’s Bar, Farranfore, Co. Kerry. ©Photograph: John Reidy

In January 2017, we reported here with photographic evidence that yet another of Kerry’s historic pubs, Herlihy’s Bar, Farranfore had called time finally on Women’s Christmas, January 6th.

But now, phoenix like, it has risen from the ashes and with some style and a bold and brilliantly new sense of purpose. Herlihy’s Bar has been reborn and is definately ‘open for business’ – albeit in a totally different and unique way.

History and Culture

Bearing in mind the history and culture of the premises and her own professional background in the world of archaeology, Marie, who ran the pub from 2006-2016, hit upon a novel way to carry on or perpetuate the life of the pub and its traditions in a 21st century style.

With a regeneration project which has taken just over 18 months to complete, Marie has transformed the bar and ancillary areas into guest accommodation without compare.

Quirky Meets Traditional

Marie describes the transformation as ‘Where Quirky Meets Traditional’ and she has provided, for those wishing to sample, Irish pub life, an opportunity to holiday in a traditional village pub.

“Yes you will live quite literally in the pub. Since Herlihy’s Bar ceased trading as a licensed premises in 2017, the bar and associated areas have been re-commissioned as wheelchair friendly accommodation, suitable for up to four people,” said Marie.

The original bar counter is now home to a bespoke fitted kitchen, featuring all the mod cons and the bar-floor area has been transformed into living/dining space.

Up-Cycled Furniture

This area contains up-cycled bar furniture to provide a quirky dining space. The cosy living area features a fireplace, a sofa-bed, television, coffee tables, dresser etc.

The entire ‘pub’ is decorated with bar memorabilia collected by three generations of female publicans where Marie, her mother and grandmother were custodians and hosts over a period of 106 years!

In contrast with the traditional bar ambiance, the remainder of the unit is ultramodern and encompasses a double bedroom, bathroom and utility area. Guests will be able to relax in Marie’s large garden, or indeed if this fine spell continues even enjoy an alfresco barbecue meal.

Local Holiday Information

As Marie continues to live in the house, she will be on hand to provide a wide range of local holiday information to her guests.

Marie confesses to having explored a number of options in her search for a new way of utilising the space and generating an income.

Given that her family had been trading there for well over a century and that it had been a hostelry right back into the 1830s, she was anxious to continue this tradition one way or another.

The historic business at ‘the pike’ or crossroads at the top of Farranfore village owes its origins to the construction of the mail coach road between Tralee and Cork in the early 1900s.

Turnpikes or Toll Gates

This toll road was interspersed with turnpikes or toll gates, where money was collected for the upkeep of the road, horses changed and refreshments provided for weary travellers.

One such toll gate was cited at the junction of the Tralee- Killarney/Currrow-Firies road at Farranfore.

In the 1830s the gatekeeper was John Smith and he lived in a house, the site of which is currently occupied by Herlihy’s Bar.

Marie believes that the tradition of providing refreshments in the premises at the crossroads dates back to John Smith and his family. His daughter Sara continued the family tradition. She married a Currans man Daniel Donnelly, who became the village’s first postmaster.

Business at the Crossroads

Sara and Daniel did not have a family. Therefore after Sara’s death, the premises was sold to Mary ‘Patsy’ O’Sullivan, later Daly.

Then in 1912, Marie’s grandaunt Minnie Collins, and her husband Daniel F O’Sullivan purchased the business at the crossroads. Marie’s own grandmother Kathleen Collins and her husband Richard Herlihy acquired the property in 1925. Kathleen died in 1962, when Marie’s mother Maura Herlihy and her husband Pat Sullivan took over the running of the business.

The 1960s were difficult times in rural Ireland, therefore in an effort to augment their income, they set up an overnight stop for Slattery’s Horse-drawn Caravans. This was a very novel type of holiday, where people predominantly from Germany and France rented ‘gypsy caravans’ for a week or longer.

Spin-off for the Village

Their holiday commenced at Farmer’s Bridge, Tralee, so Herlihy’s was their first port of call. Marie remembers up to 40 tourists, being camped at the back of the pub and many great sessions in the bar.

Obviously not only her parents benefited, as there was a spin-off for the shops in the village. Marie believes that Farranfore is the transport hub of Kerry and is the ideal base for a holiday in the county.

It’s situated mid-way between the towns of Killarney and Tralee and so adjacent to the Wild Atlantic Way.

Walk to the Airport 

“The village is within walking distance of Kerry Airport and has a superb train and bus service. There is also an excellent, local taxi service and car rental is available,” said Marie in praise of her neighbours and their ways of life. And she’s not done:

“A first rate supermarket with hot/cold deli counters, laundry facilities and an ATM, a filling station, bar/restaurant, pharmacy, post office and two doctors practices ensures that the village has every conceivable service ‘on tap’ for a discerning holidaymaker,” she convincingly concluded.

For further details you’re invited to contact Marie at


The Maine Valley Post has, is and always will be a free resource for the people of the locality and its wider diaspora.

When we started in 2013, the intention was to be a weekly, online newsletter. Over time, the site has evolved into a much different beast with multiple updates on a daily basis.
Because of its nature as a digital publication, it brings with it certain expenses: computers and cameras that require updating and maintenance; internet hosting and access; to say nothing of the time and hard work that goes into the site. It all adds up…
Our online community has always been our greatest asset and a vocal supporter of the Maine Valley Post since day one.

Please take a moment to click on the link below to see how you can directly contribute to our continued growth and success.

Thank you for taking the time……..John Reidy.  Email: / Tel: 087 23 59 467.

Patreon Banner