Kirby’s Brogue Inn on Rock Street has long been a landmark building in Tralee. Opened by Bill and Mary Kirby in 1978, it soon became one of the most popular eating and drinking establishments in Kerry.
However, the pub trade became difficult in 2008 when the recession had an impact on business. The pub closed for a time before it was bought by Bill’s daughter Fiona and her husband Kevin Cotter in 2014. They have since done all they can to restore the pub to its former glory days.
“We’ve tried to run it as a house of hospitality as my parents did,” says Fiona Kirby.
[pull_quote_center]We haven’t deviated much from what they did. All we’ve done is renovate and drive the business on a little.[/pull_quote_center]
The Kirby family had already diversified their pub business and Fiona and Kevin have continued in this vein. The pub area opens from 9am to closing time every day and in order to attract customers, it serves food from 4pm every day and offers live entertainment every night of the week during the summer months.
Kirby’s also has a food court which opens from 9am to 5pm, serving breakfast and carvery lunch. Cobbler’s Restaurant is located upstairs. It seats up to 100 people and it serves dinner from 5.30pm to 10pm.
“We may have an iconic building but it’s absolutely vital for business that we diversify,” says Fiona. “It’s very hard to survive if all you have is a pub these days.”
Fiona and Kevin have noticed an upturn in business since they took over. Fiona thinks there are several reasons for this. “The Wild Atlantic Way has been great for Kerry,” she says. “It’s brought more visitors our way.”
She also thinks the Tralee Chamber Alliance do a fantastic job in promoting the town. “They represent everyone,” she says. “They run a kiosk in the middle of town during the summer. It’s manned by volunteers who give visitors an overview of the town and all its businesses and attractions.”
She doesn’t fail to mention the town’s annual festival. “It’s getting bigger and bigger,” she says.
[pull_quote_center]We’ll have 70 different Roses competing this year and I think RTE are staging an additional show. That’s fantastic advertising for the town.[/pull_quote_center]
Ultimately though, she recognises that she, Kevin and their team of up to 50 staff have put a lot of work into improving the range of services in Kirby’s. “Kevin is a chef by trade and he’s made big changes to the baking and food side of the business,” she says. “We continue to use lots of local suppliers and everything we serve is made in house.”
However, Fiona doesn’t see this as a reason to rest on her laurels. She and Kevin are always thinking about ways to make Kirby’s Brogue Inn even better.
“We’ve done some work in the bar over the winter,” she says. “We’ve made it a much cosier place to be. And now we’re renovating the upstairs restaurant in time for summer. We know that you have to invest if you’re to stay ahead in business.”
[quote_box_center]For more information on The Brogue Inn, visit their website.[/quote_box_center]