About Courtney's Bar
Courtney's is one of Killarney's oldest and most popular bars, it has been operating as a public house since 1891 and remains in the ownership of the Courtney Family to this day. The classic and much photographed frontage is now under a protection order whilst the bare wood interior retains the old world atmosphere of the traditional "Teach Tairbhne". Located on Plunkett Street (renamed after Joseph Mary Plunkett one of the executed leaders of the 1916 Rising), the bar is deceptively big, stretching all the way to the Ross laneway in the shadows of St. Marys' Church of Ireland. Brewery Lane is adjacent to the rear of the bar so we can only surmise there was a fermenting if not distilling tradition in times past!
The bar has been managed over the last 18 years by Brian Murphy, a long time friend of the Courtney family. Brian has an enviable knowledge of and passion for Irish whiskey, having previously worked for Irish Distillers. Courtney's offers a Drinks Menu which lists over 60 Irish and 30 Scottish Whiskies as well as a smattering of Bourbon and Japanese Whiskey. Brian's favourite whiskey story to date centres around a former American footballer on a weekend trip to Killarney who famously ordered six Dungourney 1964 (at a very reasonable €65.00 /measure) and proceeded to knock back in double quick time! Suffice to say the exultant local who benefited from this largesse was still nursing his wee dram two hours later! Courtney's also has a very impressive range of Irish craft beers (again, about 50 different types), including three offerings from the Killarney Brewing Co, so it's an excellent place to discover both Ireland's distilling and brewing traditions. Brian will also offer tutored whiskey tastings on demand for groups of 6 or more. Please contact him by email or phone in advance to book.
No piece on Courtney's would be complete without a reference to Live Music which is almost synonymous with the premises. A favourite watering hole of many local musicians, the bar has hosted many famous (and not so famous!) musicians over the years, including Johnny Fean, John Spillane, Sean McCarthy, David Gray, Stephen Travers, Tim O' Shea and many more. You can enjoy live contemporary music every Friday throughout the year, with Traditional session Wednesdays and Thursdays in season. Some memorable Gigs have also been hosted in the upstairs bar which comfortably caters for up to one hundred guests.
Killarney Tourist Attraction
Killarney is of course noted a tourist destination and not without reason, sporting some of the finest sights in Ireland. The local Tourist Office on Beech Road will be happy to assist in guiding you to the more prominent amongst them, however an hour spent chatting to your friendly barman.woman may open up some hereto undiscovered gems!!
We will let the last word to one Richard Stanihurst(1547-1618), a noted Irish alchemist, poet and novelist who described whiskey thus: "Being moderately taken.....it sloweth age, it strengtheneth youth, it helpeth digestion, it cutteth flegme, it abandoneth melancholie, it relisheth the heart, it lighteneth the mind, it quickeneth the spirits........."
We could'nt have put it better ourselves!
The Irish Times - Barfly
This family-run bar feels like a place that’s moving with the times
There’s a riot of wood in Courtney’s. It seems like every shade of Irish tree has been incorporated into the floors, walls and furniture, while the bog oak hanging in chains above the fire remains a hostage to the day the fuel runs out. In a town as tourist friendly as Killarney, it’s refreshing to find a bar so fixed on locals, and recommendations from Kerry people came with a reservation about making it too well-known. Regulars seem happy to chat though, barstaff nod hello and the message builds that this is a place that demands you find your place.
The open fire is pumping heat into the room as the crowd swells on a midweek night. Dark shadows and dim lighting mask couples while groups of friends cluster around tables throughout the long space. This is a music house and while we’ve come on the wrong night to enjoy it, it’s not hard to get people talking of the trad and contemporary sessions that have people dancing in the bar.
The chalkboard over the countertop signals this is a bar with a future. It might have been serving beer in three centuries, as its slogan suggests, but the range of great world craft beers on offer is a terrific twist on the Irish craft beer scene. It’s a vote of confidence in our own brews to see them scratched in chalk alongside greats like Duvel and Framboise and they’re doing a roaring trade. You’ll find Courtney’s on the Irish Whiskey Trail too, with a menu that celebrates the best of Ireland, Scotland and world whiskies.
Despite its age, this family-run bar feels like a place that’s moving with the times and while it might always have maintained its elegant looks and traditional demeanour there’s always something new on the boil.