Friday, 22 April 2011

Historic McHugh's

Timothy Belmont was out on the prowl last night. Ha! I cycled down to the railway halt at five forty-five, in the glorious, summery weather; tossed the trusty two-wheeler into the foliage; waited patiently for the train; jumped aboard and met BP thereafter at so-called "Central" station.

We walked along the River Lagan to our destination, the Odyssey Pavilion, at Queen's Quay, where we had a curry in the Indian Restaurant (the whole complex, including the restaurant, was eerily quiet). BP complained about his iced Tennant's beer, which he considered a touch "chemical"; so they duly replaced it and the second offering was an improvement, though still imperfect - the excuse was that they don't sell a lot of this brand.

From the Odyssey, we ventured over the weir footbridge and crossed the road, over to Queen's Square (near the Albert Clock) to McHugh's bar, an establishment reputedly established in 1711. Seemingly historians noticed the second-floor windows with small pane sashes in exposed sash-boxes, thus indicating some antiquity.

In 1711 a prominent and enterprising merchant called Isaac Macartney was successful in leasing a tract of unreclaimed land between what is now St George's Church and the River Lagan. Macartney then began work on reclaiming the area, intending to build on it.

Macartney created a new residential area called Brunswick Square [Queen's Square] and what we now know as Donegall Quay.

McHugh's remains one of only two buildings that still survive from Macartney's development.

It's quite an atmospheric bar and they have endeavoured to replicate some of the 18th or 19th century features. The floor is wooden. Would any experts know if bars and taverns had wooden floors in those days? Or stone floors?

We stayed in McHugh's till after eleven; then I had to catch the last train home at 11:27.

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