Everybody loves Mary Anne’s Tea Rooms - with its charming period furnishings, oilcloth or linen-covered tables and delightful mismatched chairs and china, it’s an oasis of old world gentility in the heart of Tralee.
Above and in common ownership with one of Tralee’s most popular dining spots, Finnegan’s Restaurant & Wine Cellar, the tea rooms are in a double fronted Georgian townhouse built by the Denny family (after whom the street was named), using stones from the old castle following its demolition on this site in 1825.
The house was a private residence until 1940, and it’s evident that much love and care has been bestowed upon it during recent restoration. Owner Eileen Nolan is a grandchild of Bartholemew and Mary Anne Hickey, whose photograph is proudly displayed on one of the dressers – and, as Mary Anne loved to bake, the tea rooms are dedicated to her memory.
The entrance is up the steps from the street, with the tea rooms in the two main reception rooms on each side of the wide hallway. Grand, high-ceilinged rooms, with original fireplaces and glass fronted cabinets, they are now painted prettily in cream and the palest of pinks, with matching window blinds.
Square and circular tables with charmingly mismatched cloths and china are dotted randomly around, adding to the appeal, with two in each of the wonderful bay windows.
Everything is freshly baked by Eileen herself and, if you visit in the summer holidays, her daughter - Mary Anne’s great-granddaughter – may well be there to serve you. There’s a good beverage menu, of course, and the all day baking includes timeless favourites like scones, Aunty Nellie’s lemon drizzle cake, strawberry bakewell, Hannah’s Victoria sponge, and old-fashioned apple pie...
If something savoury is called for, there will be French toast, pancakes, toasted bagels, and a choice of eggs Florentine and Benedict - or the more genteel patrons might prefer a cucumber sandwich.
Mary Anne’s is well worth a visit – not just for the delicious baking, but also to view the original late Georgian rooms in all their glory and enjoy the sense of family pride and continuity.