ONE OF the most famous pubs in rural Ireland is on the market.
Mary Willie’s in Graiguepaudeen near Thurles in Co. Tipperary is a well-known hostelry, particularly favoured by hurling fans travelling to and from Semple Stadium in Thurles or Croke Park.
It is up for sale with a price tag of €450,000.
The name of the pub comes from an old Tipperary legend. It seems that Mary Stapleton and Willie Wiley, early last century, eloped from their native parish and settled in a property at a busy crossroads.
The marriage flourished, and soon the couple opened a roadhouse for weary and thirsty travellers.
The name survives and is now part of local folklore.
But there’s more history associated with the pub. Éamon de Valera and Michael Collins met there, three weeks before the latter was killed at Béal na Bláth. It seems that word got out about the meeting, and Anti-Treaty forces mounted an ambush. The clash was so violent that there are bullet holes in the walls to this day.
The event is covered in Eoin Neeson’s book The Irish Civil War.
Another episode concerns Con Houlihan the renowned Irish Press reporter, who regularly compiled his account of hurling matches taking place at nearby Semple Stadium from the barstool at Mary Willie’s — without ever setting foot in Thurles.
As well as a popular GAA watering hole, the pub has always been well-regarded for its traditional seisúns.
Music festivals at the pub have also been a regular part of summertime at the pub.