The day has finally come and the last section of the new Dublin/Cork motorway has opened in County Laois, by-passing the towns of Abbeyleix, Durrow and Cullahill. Most people who travel that road on a regular basis will have developed an intense dislike to the town of Abbeyleix particularly on a bank holiday weekend. Sitting in traffic the patience of those commuter is pushed to the limits, and probably most never were calm enough to take in the true beauty of the town.
As someone who grew up in Laois I have seen how traffic has diminished the quality of living there over the years. Abbeyleix is by far the prettiest town in County Laois, the town was laid out in the 18th century by Viscount de Vesci and contains many fine preserved buildings along a wide street. There once was a carpet factory here that produced some of the carpets for the Titanic. For me it took some years away from Laois to see the real beauty of the town.
One of the greatest treasures of Abbeyleix is Morrissey’s Pub situated towards the end of the town on the right hand side. It first opened as a grocery in 1775, when it started life as a thatched one-storey house. In the 1880’s it was rebuilt as the two-storey premises we see today. This is not one of your Temple Bar ‘traditional’ 1990’s pubs. Morrissey’s is the genuine article, with high wooden shelves lining the walls filled with artefacts and products from bygone days. This Pub is dimly lit and has a pot belly stove surrounded by a warren of partitions and snugs, every part of this establishment is a step back in time. The Pub has been in the same family for generations, and the staff today still serve you in white pharmacist type overcoats. On the wall you will find a list of all people who have served their time at Morrissey’s since 1850, since then it has managed to stand still in time, I hope it will continue to do so. Recently I heard a plasma TV has been discretely installed in one of the many cabinets, even Morrissey’s could not resist the pressure.
Now that Abbeyleix has been by-passed it will provide people with a real opportunity to admire the architecture of Abbeyleix and step back in time an enjoy a pint in real authentic surroundings of Morrissey’s. If you have yet to visit, the next time you are travelling through Laois make that stop, you will be well impressed.