Leo's Tavern in 2007
|Current owner(s)||Leo Brennan (founder)
Bartley Brennan (proprietor)
|Food type||Irish traditional, European|
|City||Meenaleck, The Rosses|
|Other information||Pub, restaurant, music venue, tourist attraction, Hotspot (Wi-Fi)|
Leo's Tavern (Irish: Tábhairne Leo, original and official name) is a restaurant and pub in the Donegal Gaeltacht, best known as the home of music artists Clannad, Enya and Moya Brennan. The pub opened in 1968 and held Irish traditional music sessions nightly, becoming the musical starting block for the children of Leo Brennan, the pub's founder. The current proprietor is Bartley Brennan, one of the youngest of the Brennan siblings.
At the end of Ireland's showband era, musician Leo Ó Braonáin settled with his wife Máire "Baba", opening Tábhairne Leo in 1968. The pub became a gathering place for musicians and singers to take part in Irish traditional music sessions. While working shifts behind the bar, Leo's children Máire (Moya), Ciarán and Pól Ó Braonáin and Noel and Pádraig Ó Dúgáin would regularly accompany their father on stage to tell old Irish stories, or seanchas, to the locals.
The siblings would often sing songs by Joni Mitchell, The Beach Boys and other bands of the era, usually translated to Irish Gaelic. While touring in later years, the siblings and their uncles, as Celtic/Folk band Clannad, their younger siblings Brídín, Eithne (Enya), Olive and Deirdre would perform.
Since Clannad, Moya and Enya's success, the pub has welcomed guests such as Bono (who recorded the music video for In a Lifetime close-by with Clannad), The Edge, Paul Brady, Christy Moore, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh and Mary Black to perform. Tour busses of tourists from Japan, Britain and the United States began to visit the pub to hear Leo sing and tell stories.
Tábhairne Leo was renovated 2003 under proprietor Bartley Brennan. The pub now also has a restaurant and features Gold, Platinum and Diamond discs by Clannad, Moya and Enya as well as photographs and memorabilia since the artists' beginnings to the present day. The pub was reopened by Moya Brennan with her parents and siblings with music from the family, Cormac de Barra, Sinéad Madden and local musicians.
The tavern was celebrated during the 2005 Errigal Arts Festival at which Leo and Baba were awarded the Freedom of Donegal by Donegal County Council on 14 July among Donegal members of both Seanad Éireann and Dáil Éireann. The special series of concerts in the days before and after the civic reception, called Oidhreacht (Irish for Legacy), featured Leo and Baba's daughters Moya, Brídín, Enya, Deirdre and Olive performing during an invitation mass at St. Mary's Church in Derrybeg where Baba has choirmaster for over four decades. A jazz concert was held, featuring Pól Brennan, Paddy Cole and their bands. The majority of the events were televised for Irish language television channel TG4 and Ireland's state broadcaster, RTÉ.
Leo's Tavern celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2008 and held a three-day celebration. A concert featuring Clannad, Brídín Brennan, Deirdre Brennan, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh and Manus Lunny was also held, with music from Leo himself.
In 2010, the pub was to hold a series of concerts in aid of environmental groups opposed to pylons being used in rural County Donegal. The first concert of the series (May 2010) was to feature Glen Hansard, Paul Brady and Sarah Siskind, and was to be hosted by Moya Brennan.
- Leo's Tavern. Official website
- Leo's Tavern at DiscoverIreland.ie
- Moya (Máire) Brennan interview at Rambling House
- Irish Examiner USA interview with Moya Brennan
- Brídín Brennan. MDM Artist Management
- Clannad ón Ardán from TG4
- Annual Report 2005 – Donegal County Council
- News Archives at MoyaBrennan.com
- Save Our Scenery Gigs begin with Ireland's top performers! at LeosTavern.com
- Official site
- Leo's Tavern on Facebook
- Leo's Tavern on MySpace – with music by Leo Brennan
- Brennan Family Tribute Photo Gallery – from Errigal Arts Festival 2005 at MoyaBrennan.com
- Leo's Tavern on Twitter
- Leo's Tavern at Donegal Direct