PUB OF THE YEAR: O'Hare's Bar, Newcastle
O’Hare's bar in Newcastle is like a tardis — a huge one in a stunningly beautiful location in the country. Not only do you have a great view across the promenade and the ocean but behind the pub is the backdrop of the Mourne mountains — and that’s a pretty spectacular sight.
I say it’s like a tardis because you go into one part of the bar and it’s connected onto a whole entire other bar (Hugh McCann’s), yet it’s the same establishment, just different parts have different names. There’s also a very spacious bar and restaurant area upstairs called The Loft with a beer garden out the back.
Manager Niall Carolan told Sunday Life just how fortunate they are. He said: “We are so lucky to have such brilliant views from all sides of the bar — with the golf course and millions having been spent on the promenade, you just don’t get a better location.
"It’s a family-run bar so we try to appeal to families during the day. We’ve kept it fairly traditional in the bar areas with the old exposed red brickwork and roaring fire which is lit every day, then we have the contrast of our nightclub Coast, which attracts a younger crowd.
“It has a capacity of over 1,000 and we’ve had the likes of Judge Jules and Lisa Lashes play here. We have live rock music on during the week, jamming sessions and groups so when I say we’ve something to cater to all tastes and age groups, I’m not lying.”
Local man Sean McCullough believes the food is a good draw for people. He said: “This is a very family-orientated pub, especially at the weekends. The food’s great and families love to come here and get their Sunday dinner.
“They’ve a great beer garden too and when you’re sitting out there on a sunny day with the view of the Mourne mountainswell, you just can’t beat that.”
Firefighter Gerard McKay and his wife Denise from Warrenpoint had been at Castleward caravan park for the weekend and were making their way back home when they decided to stop off with their three young daughters for a bite to eat.
“The food was excellent, they have a superb children’s menu and it’s great value as well — oh yeah and their portions are mighty,” Gerard laughed. “Even I struggled to finish all of mine.”
Paul Yam owns the local Chinese restaurant in Newcastle. He’d popped in to get some drinks and coffees with family and friends and said: “It’s a family-run, nice traditional bar suitable for all age groups.”
His friend Helen Lau agreed: “Yeah, there’s a great atmosphere, lovely staff and of course you have to mention the great view."
My aunt is currently visiting from California so I brought her and my mum along for the drive to Newcastle. We had a great lunch in O’Hare's and took our coffees outside. Sitting out the front, ‘people watching’ along the promenade and listening to the sound of the sea, then glancing over our right shoulders to take in the view of the Mournes and you realise you just don’t get better scenery anywhere else in the world.
This well-located, family-friendly tardis certainly gets my approval in Pubs of Ulster’s hunt for the country’s Pub of the Year!