The House of McDonnell, 71 Castle Street, Ballycastle, Co. Antrim BT54 6AS Northern Ireland. Tel: 028 2076 2975

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The House of McDonnell: History!

The House of McDonnell is a traditional Irish pub in BallycastleCounty AntrimNorthern Ireland.

Established in 1766, the pub is noted for the quality of the traditional Irish pub interior (Grade A listed), which has remained largely unchanged over the years (the last major refurbishment taking place in the mid-19th century). The pub has been described by CAMRA as "a great classic among Irish pubs".


Established in 1766. The House of McDonnell was first established as a spirit grocery and stabling facility to provide passing travelers with refreshment and rest. To this end the pub was built with complete stabling facilities for both horses and coaches. The stabling operation was so large that it occupied fully 3/4 of the ground upon which the pub now stands. As the horse is no longer the primary means of transportation in Ireland, the stable blocks, although still standing, are now redundant.
The pub itself occupies the ground floor of its original building and the present interior dates from around 1870. It is one of the few pubs in Ireland to retain its original traditional interior, and both the interior and exterior of the bar are now among the few pubs in Ireland listed on the National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors.
From the end of the nineteenth century, the pub was known locally as "The Store", a name which was in use until the 1960s, when the glass window above the front door bearing the name was accidentally broken. "The Store" was used because at this time the pub was a "Spirit grocery", a type of business unique to Ireland which supplied, as the name suggests, both spirits and groceries. The license of a "Spirit-Grocer" was that of a "wine, tea and spirit merchant".
Here's a link to a Session in the House of McDonnell, known affectionately by local folk as Tom's
 Session in the House of McDonnell, 1986 
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Here's Fiddler John McGill checking out a Fiddle at the Lammas Fair, Ballycastle.

For more information on John and many more of the old Fiddlers of North Antrim, check out this page.

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To end this section, here's a video which includes two of those fine musicians who were involved in the early Anchor Bar Sessions: Ciaran Kelly & Ciaran Curran
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