Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Another wound to Northern Ireland music scene as last orders called in Auntie Annie’s

Auntie Annie’s
Auntie Annie’s

It has seen the likes of Gary Lightbody and Paolo Nutini perform.

Now the closure of Auntie Annie’s bar on Belfast’s ailing Golden Mile has been described as another wound to the city’s pub and music scene.

Countless record stores have been forced to close over the years. And now this stalwart of the live gigging scene will call last orders at 4pm tomorrow.

Over the last 15 years a diverse range of up-and-coming local bands and famous acts have performed at the Dublin Road venue, including Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody, Scottish singer Paolo

Nutini and ex-Beautiful South frontman Paul Heaton.

Meg White, from legendary American rock band White Stripes, even turned up unexpectedly one night.

Once part of the CDC Leisure chain, Auntie Annie’s had been operating under the control of administrators since June 15, 2010. Administrator John Hansen of KPMG explained that no buyer has been found for the business and it is no longer economically viable to trade.

Last night, Stuart Bailie, chief executive of the Oh Yeah Music Centre in Belfast, shared his memories of the lively bar.

“I’m grieving,” he said.

“Sadly Belfast is losing another venue and it’s another little wound in our music story.

“Some great bands have played there; it was the perfect size and great for up-and-coming acts.”

Belfast DJ Patric Baird and his wife Andrea McVeigh, both journalists, ran club nights at Auntie Annie’s every Friday from 2000 to 2008. “In its day it was a brilliant wee venue,” Patric said.

“It was just the right size, nice and dark, and there was always a great atmosphere.

“In a way it’s sad it’s closing, but it’s been in administration for so long; it was treading water ... and it was a shadow of its former self.

“All good things come to an end, but hopefully someone will take it over and make it bigger and better than ever.”

Meanwhile, on Twitter, Omagh-born BBC Radio 1 presenter Philip Taggart said: “I lived in that place when I was living in Belfast. Gigged, ran a club and had fine times in it.”

Story so far

Auntie Annie’s pub opened in 1999 on Belfast’s Dublin Road. It was once part of the CDC Leisure chain but had been under the control of an administrator since June 2010. No buyer has been found, so on Tuesday the decision to close tomorrow was made public.

The rest of the CDC chain was sold in 2011 to Belfast-based Shine Productions, in partnership with the Dublin firm MCD. Shine Productions does not own or run Auntie Annie’s but a number of its gigs due to be held there will now go ahead at other venues.

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