Tuesday 15 May 2012

Pubs of Belfast 2

Last week I shared images of three fine old laneway pubs I visited on my trip last year to Belfast, Northern Ireland (hosted by Aer Lingus and Tourism Ireland). Here are three more to make up the set...

1. Duke of York (11 Commercial Ct). This pub was situated in the most attractive entry (the Northern Ireland term for alley) which I'd seen so far, dominating the space with planter boxes, colourful signage and outdoor seating.

Although I'd been endlessly warned about the Belfast weather, it was actually well behaved during my visit and I sat outside the pub for a while when the sun came out:

2. The Journos' Hangout. According to the Belfast chapter within Lonely Planet's Ireland country guide, the Duke of York used to be the pub of choice for print workers and journalists, and Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams once worked behind the bar here.

Nowadays it seems to attract a broad clientele, fitting with the Cathedral Quarter's recent reawakening as a cool nightlife zone:

3. Red Hand. Both the pub's interior and exterior are decked out with signage from now-defunct whisky and beer brands. This variant of Guinness, Red Hand, caught my eye as this legendary hand is a symbol of Northern Ireland and appears on its flag.

The legend of the Red Hand of Ulster claims that during an ancient absence on the throne of Ulster (a northern kingdom), whoever's hand first touched the shore at the end of a boat race would become king. In a grisly display of lateral thinking, one of the potential kings allegedly cut off his hand and threw it onto the shore in order to win the crown:

4. Kelly’s Cellars (1 Bank St). Not in an alleyway, this 1720 pub is located behind a stretch of modern buildings and therefore stands out like a beacon with its intact old-fashioned look:

5. Stew... or stew. I was here around lunchtime, so I asked the barmaid if the pub offered food. Turned out there was just one dish - Irish stew. Damn good though, and cheap - the stew and a half-pint of Guinness was only £5.30 all up:

6. Crown Liquor Saloon (46 Great Victoria St). My final memorable pub dramatically departed from the humble look of the likes of Kelly's.

The Crown Liquor Saloon was refurbished in insanely over-the-top Victorian decor in 1885 in order to attract the beautiful people attending the opera house down the road. The result is a riot of tiled surfaces, gleaming brass and decorative windows:

... and on top of that, it must be one of the few National Trust properties in the UK where you can order a pint, pulled from a tap. I like that.

This post was sponsored by AFerry.co.uk.

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