Monday, December 3, 2007

The Crown bar - symbol of Belfast's survival and recovery

The Crown bar (or "Crown Liquor Saloon" to give it its proper title) in Belfast is an extraordinary place. I have been privileged to take up residence in one of its snug booths for an evening with a Irish friend, happily nudging up the share price of Bushmills' distillery.
The Independent has a feature today, written by David McKittrick, on this remarkable pub, known for its neutrality during the "troubles" (although it took quite a bit of co-lateral damage from the bombings of the Europa Hotel opposite). It has now been fully refurbished and stands a symbol of the survival and recovery of Belfast:
That it not only survives but flourishes is a tribute both to the tenacity of the proprietors and to the resilience and determination of those largely unsung heroes, Belfast's drinking classes.
Through civil commotion and terrorist bombings – which regularly reduced its colourful windows to smithereens – they drank on, only momentarily halting their consumption of the Crown's Guinness, fine ales and wines and high-class whiskey.
From my visits to the Crown, I recall that one sympbol of its continued neutrality remains. There are signs saying: "No Football colours allowed".
The writer of the article, by the way, David McKittrick, is regarded as one of the most respected journalists on the Irish affairs. He co-wrote "End Game in Ireland" with Eamonn Maillie.

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