DID you know that the oldest thatched pub in Ireland is in County Antrim?
Well, believe it or not, it is! The Crosskeys Inn dates back to 1654 and is located near Toomebridge, at the northwest corner of Lough Neagh.
It is a traditional Irish pub and is famous as a traditional Irish music venue, with musicians travelling from far and wide to take part in impromptu sessions. The thatched roof and the whitewashed walls make it look very quaint from outside, but that belies the atmosphere and the buzz inside.
Proprietor Vincent Hurl meets and greets his guests, providing a warm welcome and some very interesting facts about the pub’s history. His enthusiasm and his desire for guests to enjoy their Crosskeys experience shines through, assisted by his pleasant and efficient staff.
The Crosskeys Inn is famous for its Guinness, with some saying the pub serves the best Guinness they have ever tasted! The pub also carries a wide range of whiskies – soon to be added to, as their own brand of whiskey has been developed and is soon to be brought to market!
This may be a traditional pub, but that doesn’t mean the variety of beverages it offers is limited … quite the contrary! Alongside the Guinness and the whiskey, it serves everything from Prosecco to cappuccino, as well as some rather intriguing craft beers.
Although the pub doesn’t serve food in general, it lives up to its traditional Irish name, with plates of sandwiches being served to patrons for supper – just what is required before the journey home! Food can also be provided for groups and tours by prior appointment.
Crosskeys Inn is located at 40 Grange Road, Toomebridge, Antrim BT41 3QB, website www.crosskeys-inn.com
The Crosskeys Inn has recently become more accessible, as Lough Neagh Tours is running bus trips to the pub during the summer months, allowing over 18s the opportunity to visit the pub, experience the famous music sessions and sample a pint of Guinness, should they so choose!
If you are fortunate enough, your bus driver may give you a bit of history, a few interesting facts and a bit of banter on the area as you pass through!
Buses will run on the last Saturday night of the month, with forthcoming dates on July 28, August 25 and September 29. Buses leave Chichester Street in Belfast at 8pm, departing from the Crosskeys Inn at 1am to return to Belfast. The cost is £15 per person and includes return transport, traditional music session and a brief history of the Crosskeys Inn.