By Robyn Quinn
An era will end in Morristown on Dec. 30, 2012, when Hennessey’s Washington Bar will have its last “last call.”
Jim Hennessey is selling the tavern he has owned for almost 30 years to a man named Paul Haley, whose request to assume Jim’s liquor license is scheduled for consideration by the town council next month. Preliminary plans call for fewer bar stools and more dining tables and food services, according to town Clerk Matt Stechauner.
“Hennessey’s is the oldest neighborhood pub in Morristown. It is the last neighborhood bar where we discuss politics, religion and women,” said Jim. He was quick to add:
“There have been as many weddings here as there were divorces.”
Jim and Anne Hennessey purchased the Washington Bar from Vincent Keys and opened the rechristened Hennessey’s Washington Bar on Jan. 1, 1984.
The path that led Jim to the profession of barkeep started in Catholic school, where he taught for 12 years. That’s where he met his wife Anne, also a teacher.
Next, Jim was a social worker in Morristown and founding director of the Morristown Youth Shelter from 1974 to 1978.
“You name it, I did it,” Jim said of his many jobs. These included bartending at the Washington Bar to supplement his income. When Vince decided to sell the pub in 1983, Jim jumped at the opportunity and never looked back. Anne and Jim worked hard over the years, making the pub near the train trestle on Morris Street one of the local favorites.
After all the years at the bar, Jim plans to enjoy some leisure time visiting his grandchildren. An eighth grandchild is due in December.
“I will get up in the morning, read the paper and have my coffee,” he said.
Jim also intends to do some work on history projects. Friends know him as a treasure chest of local lore, especially concerning the impact of the Irish on Morristown history. Jim’s grandfather and mother both were born in town. Jim and his children were born and raised here, too.
Anne Hennessey was very active with the Irish American Cultural Institute until two year ago, when she lost her battle with leukemia.
Jim said there won’t be any big party on Dec. 31 to close out the era. He has never opened the pub on New Year’s Eve and he won’t this year, either. But he does plan some “wind down” in December, he said, so he can thank his many friends and patrons.