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200-year-old pub for sale in Northern Ireland - Downshire Arms on market for undisclosed sum

By Rachel Martin

A Northern Ireland pub which is almost 200 years old has hit the market for an undisclosed sum.

The 193-year-old Downshire Arms in Hilltown first opened to the public in 1824 and comes up for sale as a going concern, along with a drinks licence.

The distinctive Georgian building was once used as a coaching house and includes its own working clock tower.

One of the old stories surrounding the building was that revellers would hide in the tower to continue drinking after hours.

The business has been run by its current owners for more than a decade and includes six furnished guest rooms, a commercial kitchen, a bar, restaurant and function room.

Agents said that while it's a busy concern, the 0.6 acre site also offers space for redevelopment.

Estate agent Brian Nixon said: "It's in a wonderful location, just off the Mournes, in the perfect place for ramblers and workers in that area.

"It's very busy for all sorts of parties between weddings, confirmations, christenings and birthdays as well as with locals going to its events.

"The property would be suitable for someone with experience in the hospitality sector as it will involve running what's essentially a small hotel, a restaurant and a bar - it's likely this will appeal to buyers looking to move back to Northern Ireland."

In the 1880s, around 60 years on from when the Downshire Arms was first established, The Handbook Guide to Carlingford Bay described it as a 'comfortable, well-kept Coaching Inn'.

But by the 1970s, the building had been allowed to fall into dereliction.

However, it has since been rescued and restored by its current owners Harry and Pauline O'Hare.

It's understood the couple aimed to refurbish the building in keeping with the charm of its past, while also providing modern facilities for guests.

Mr Nixon added: "The current owners have been running the business for around 12 years now, and now have a young family - it's been a husband and wife team working on it every day so I think they feel the time has come for them to move on to something new.

"It was renovated as part of a joint community venture but it wasn't doing its best until the current owners took it over.

"The owners have invested substantially in the property over the last 10 years and the kitchens have been upgraded over the last three to four years."

The main bar has seating capacity for up to 80 people and features a timber bar, timber-boarded floor, a feature open fireplace and toilets.

It has a capacity for 170 people for entertainment events.

The establishment also comes with ample car parking space to the rear.

The 60-seater restaurant includes a corner bar and windows overlooking the courtyard, while the function room has capacity for 80-100 people.

The building also includes a basement which is currently used as extra bar space.

The Downshire Arms in Hilltown is not to be confused with the identical-looking Downshire Arms in Banbridge, also a former Georgian-era coaching inn.

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