Revealed: New owner to revive iconic Donegal pub!

written by Cronan Scanlon May 7, 2023

A prominent hotelier has confirmed he is the new owner of one of Donegal’s most iconic pubs.

Tommy Gallen, of the Gallen Group, purchased Heeney’s U Drop Inn in Ballybofey in recent days for an undisclosed sum.


The long established complex extends to around 1,442 sqm and comprises a bar and lounge, restaurant and function room on the ground floor. The former Stampys Nite Club is included as a self-contained night club. The property also includes a spacious five-bedroom two-storey townhouse. 

When contacted by Donegal Daily, the publicity shy Mr Gallen would not be drawn on his future plans for the property. However, a sports bar and restaurant are believed to be in the offing.

The famous hostelry was put on the market in October 2020 with an asking price of around €520,000. The sale marked the end of an era for the local Heeney family, who retired from the hospitality trade after 59 successful years. 

The founding owner of the pub, Mrs Brigid Heeney, was a cousin of Mr Gallen’s late father, Paddy. A hugely popular and influential figure, she passed away in August, 2020, at the age of 95.

The Gallen Family who are all involved in the family business. From left – Karol, Laura, Bridget, Tommy, Rosemarie, Christopher and Nicole.

The sale of Heeney’s sees the business transfer from one well-known local family to another.


The Gallen Group started off when Tommy and his wife Bridget opened a small B&B, Roseville, on Glenfin Street in 1992. Initially comprising just six bedrooms, it soon grew to an eighteen-bedroom guesthouse and paved the way for everything else that was to come.

Over the next few years Tommy could see an opening for another hotel in the town. He secured a site on Ballybofey’s Main Street where now stands the Villa Rose Hotel which opened in 2000. In 2006 he added a major extension including two floors of bedrooms, function suites and spa facilities.

Fast forward to 2016, the famous Jackson’s Hotel came on the market and, by this time Tommy, had gained the knowledge and experience necessary to add a second hotel to his offering. “He relished the challenge of taking on such a vast property and the potential that came with it,” states the Gallen Group website.

In 2021, Tommy realised his lifelong dream of owning three hotels – this was made possible by the addition of An Chuirt in Gaoth Dobhair, located in the heart of the Donegal Gaeltacht.

“With over 300 employees today, Tommy enjoys being in the position to employ so many people from his local community and to help with local charities and sponsorships and to give something back,” they concluded.