The Crosskeys Inn County Antrim is the oldest thatched pub in Ireland. Renowned for its traditional music offering the Crosskeys Inn is a unique, authentic Irish traditional pub. Welcoming visitors from all around the world, famous for its Guinness and Irish Whiskey offering, it's a must see for all visitors. When enjoying a Guinness by the fire we invite you to tap the button below and post your photos to our "Guinness" Facebook page.Share Guinness Photos
The Inn is a stone built cottage which was once a coaching stop on the route between Belfast and Derry. The building until recently was thought to have dated back to the 1740's. In 2010 Queens University Belfast completed the dating process of dendrochronology and confirmed that the building was actually much older and in fact dated back to pre-1654.
The Crosskeys Inn stands at a crossroads on what was in the early 19th Century a coach route that ran from Belfast to Kilrea via Portglenone. The road is marked on a map of County Antrim prepared by John Lendrich in 1780 and a map of lands around Lough Neagh of 1785, and may be that shown on Herman Holts 1714 new map of Ireland. In 1666 Hearth Money taxation records list 16 dwellings in total within the land of Ardnaglass (then known as Carnaglass) all with a single hearth one of which is the Crosskeys. In 1771 the Crosskeys Inn is also referenced within the townland in an advertisement for the lease of land within Ardnaglass which mentions the “noted publick house where Misses Boyds live”, the word 'noted' would suggest an establishment of long standing. The 1832 ordnance survey (OS) map shows what is undoubtedly the present building with its distinctive (and highly unusual in vernacular terms) L shape.
The first valuation of February 1837 lists the occupiers as Patrick McAlane (undoubtedly McErlean) who paid an annual rent of £8-£9, probably to a Mr Shiel, who held three-quarters of Ardnaglass at the time, or a Mr Drew, who held the remaining quarter. The rateable value at the time is shown as £5-3-3, a considerable amount at the time which would indicate a building of considerable worth.
On the revised OS map of 1857 the building is shown as Crosskeys Post Office and the revision name book of the following year tells us that the property belonged to a Dr. Henry Purdon of Wellington Park, Belfast and that the occupier was George Neeson. At this time the building is described as a “comfortable dwelling house... and over the door is the likeness of two keys crossing” hence the name Crosskeys. It is thought that the name may be derived from the Papal insignia, and is possibly a link to the fact that prior to the early 17th Century the parish Grange of Ballyscullion belonged to the Augustinian Abbey of St Peter and St Paul of Armagh.
(Photo above of The Crosskeys under the ownership of John Kennedy)
The second valuation of 1859 also lists George Neeson as the occupant and Dr Henry Purdon as the lessor. George Neeson continued to occupy the Crosskeys until his death in 1882. In his will Mr Neeson styled himself as farmer, publican and grocer. After this the valuations state that the pub passed to his only son, Daniel, who held it until 1888/1889 when it was acquired by John Kennedy, a local farmer. Mr Kennedy’s son bought the freehold in 1929 and the property remained in the family until 1966.
(Photo of John Kennedy outside The Crosskeys)
In 1966 the premises was purchased by Sean Stinson and passed to his son Eamon Stinson after his sudden death in 1979.
(Photo of previous owner Sean Stinson)
In February2000 tragedy struck the Crosskeys Inn when it was partially damaged by fire. When it reopened a year later in May 2001 after being restored by Eamon Stinson it was purchased by the current owner Vincent Hurl in July 2001, Vincent completed the restoration of the Inn and brought it back to its formal glory. The Crosskeys Inn can be seen throughout the world featuring in Tourism Ireland marketing campaigns.
With a keen interest in tourism development Vincent has been involved in developing the Whiskey tourism offering in the North of Ireland with his research leading to the design and development of the first whiskey tourism trails in Northern Ireland. The interest in Whiskey is evident trough out the Crosskeys with the selection of Irish whiskey available and just recently the Crosskeys has partnered with a local distillery and will soon be launching their own brand of Irish Whiskey.
The Crosskeys is now passed for development to add dining facilities and accommodation.