Thursday, December 08, 2016
Pubs of Ulster
That poster (I had it postcard size) was for a Northern Ireland Tourist Board promotion and was the work of the acclaimed local photographer Bill Kirk. It dates from the late 1970s and used the olde worlde charm of our local public houses to draw visitors to this troubled province.
Now, at that time, I wouldn't have been that well-travelled around Ulster hostelries. Forty years ago my lot's idea of a night's craic would not have been sitting in some dingy, traditional pub with some sour-faced oul' doll behind the bar, looking like she'd far rather be at Mass than serving strong drink to a shower of ne'er-do-wells. We liked a young crowd, people like ourselves, disco lights, music and dancing and the chance of a pull.
Yet I know for sure that I was in one of those pubs, the Crosskeys Inn, near Toome. There are two pictures of the pub, an exterior (thatched roof) and (third one down from that), a shot of the proprietors looking just as respectable as members of the Protestant Ascendancy, which they most definitely were not.
Further research threw up the Causeway Tavern, near Bushmills and I suspect that the Crown Bar, Belfast is somewhere in there as well. I'm sure the lady with the updo at the bottom of the poster was a County Antrim publican but the rest are mysteries to me. I'd love to be enlightened.