Tommy Fletcher outsisde Fletcher's Pub, Naas. Picture: Aishling Conway
Naas pub Fletcher's has sold for €1.14 million at a public auction in Lawlor's Hotel this afternoon.
The pub, which was placed on the market at the start of June through Paddy Jordan, fetched well in excess of its guide price of €600,000.
An estimated 120 people turned out for the public auction which started at 3pm this afternoon - but just two serious bidders emerged to make offers on the property.
The new buyers are well-known local businesspeople Vincent O'Leary and Camilla Grey, who are behind the Lemongrass restaurants in Naas and Citywest. They were not at the auction but were represented by Alan Redmond of Redmond Auctioneers in Rathcoole.
The other bidder, who was also represented at the auction, did not identify themselves.
A large crowd gathered to witness the auction in Lawlor's Hotel earlier today, but it became very clear early in the bidding that all but two of them were there to witness the historical event of the sale of what auctioneer Paddy Jordan called "probably one of the most iconic pubs in Naas".
Solicitor Cairbre Finan gave a run down of the legalities of the sale, including vital details such as that the vendor was Thomas Fletcher and that the building is a protected structure.
Paddy Jordan started things off at €600,000, and the bidding crept up slowly, initially by €50,000 at a time and then down to €20,000, €10,000 and €5,000.
Gradually it ground its way past the million mark, as the two bidders pushed it bit by bit. The drama stayed high while each had to consult their buyer on the phone, which delayed the bidding just long enough to keep the tension high!
An old colleague approached this reporter. "Hi Conor," she said, waving slightly.
"Oh Jesus keep your hand down!" I replied.
As the bidding crept agonisingly past €1,100,000, Paddy Jordan and Mr Finan went out of the room to consult Tommy Fletcher.
Once back inside it pushed up to €1,120,000 and then finally reached €1,140,000.
At that point one of the bidders, his phone still clued to his ear, shook his head. His client wasn't prepared to go any further.
"Going once at €1,140,000, going twice."
Mr Jordan looked around the room
"Third and last time............. €1,140,000," he looked to the man on the phone.
"Hammer is up!"
The hammer came down, and Camilla Gray and Vincent O'Leary were the new owners.
"And I hope it'll be very lucky for you," Paddy Jordan said.
The Leinster Leader approached the man with the phone. After introducing myself I asked: "I don't suppose there was any chance you'd tell me who you were bidding for?"
Outside, a relaxed Tommy Fletcher sat in a corner, accepting the congratulations of well wishers.
He said he was happy with the outcome, he said, but didn't know when he would be moving out.
However he assured the Leinster Leader the pub would be open this evening.
Tommy Fletcher's retirement marks the end of an era in Naas.
The pub was purchased by his father in 1931, and was for many years a grocery and a pub. It reached legendary status through the tale of how Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones, in middle of an impromptu jam session in the pub several years ago, was told to stop playing.
Several Naas traders held a surprise party for Tommy Fletcher in the pub last night, in advance of the sale.
Cllr. Vincent Martin was present at the auction and speaking to the Leinster Leader he said that “since the announcement was first made that Fletchers was going to be sold, I have been inundated with numerous representations from members of the local community who have an interest in and fond concern for the building.
“Local people have a special affinity with and appreciation of the intrinsic beauty and design of Fletchers pub - a jewel in the crown of local heritage.”
And he hoped that the building and its interior integrity would always be retained and secured.
“I wish Tommy, an absolute gentleman to his fingertips, happiness and success as he commences the next chapter of his life.
I am delighted that this iconic building has been purchased by a local business couple with a local respected business track record and wish them the very best of luck.”
Tommy Fletcher with Cllr Vincent P Martin, Kim Kelleher (Jingles Boutique & Hat Hire), Rev Philip Heak, Mayor Carmel Kelly, Christabel Clifford, Cllr Seamie Moore, Mairead Darcy and Ger Lanigan (St Vincent de Paul, Naas) at the pub on Monday evening, July 15. Pictures: Aishling Conway