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You’ve likely not been there, but if the image of the Crosskeys Inn looks familiar, it’s because the iconic pub in Northern Ireland is often used by tourism promoters, including Tourism Ireland, to represent the ideal of the pub experience on the Emerald Isle, which is a key driver of visitor interest.

But the Crosskeys, located about half an hour outside Belfast, just north of Lough Neagh and an hour from the Causeway Coastal route, is more than just a marketing image. Dating to 1654, it’s the oldest thatched pub in Ireland. Throw in a reputation for traditional music – both arranged and impromptu – and the establishment is a must-see (and drink) when you’re in the neighbourhood.

Lonely Planet calls the inn, “An absolute treasure, with tiny, antique-filled rooms, a crackling turf fire, the best Guinness for miles around, and fabulous craic (lively atmosphere).”

An impromptu music session

Indeed, the old pub has earned new awards, as recently as being named BBC Country Pub of the Year in 2017.

However, not to worry, though restored in 2001, the atmosphere is absolutely authentic, with visitors likely to feel as they’ve stepped back in time as they encounter a heritage building blessed with low ceilings, worn stone floor, and uneven walls, the latter adorned with framed photos of past patrons and performers.

Guinness would be the natural beer of choice, or an Irish whiskey from nearby Bushmills, while food ranges from sandwiches to Irish Stew and barbecue, but also, eel suppers is season.

Of course, any Irish pub worth its whiskey must have music, and as one of the most famous “trad” venues in Ireland, the Crosskeys attracts performers from far and wide; but tunes are just as likely to spill out of from the fingers and fiddles of locals in the best Irish tradition.

And really, when it comes down to it, what more could you ask for?

The Crosskeys is situated at 40 Grange Road just off the main Randalstown to Portglenone road (B52) in County Antrim. Opening hours are 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. every day except Sunday (noon-11 p.m.)

Eel meal

With glass purposefully in hand, we at Travel Industry Today continue our series on some of the planet’s best bars, patios and rooftop venues. For more articles in the series, click here:



First published at Travel Industry Today

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