Belfast Telegraph

Major renovations at Kellys Portrush

By Margaret Canning

Portrush bar and nightclub Kellys - one of the best-known names in the hospitality sector in Northern Ireland - has carried out a major renovation, unveiling the new Deerstalker Bar and Bistro..

Peter Wilson - a nephew of Kellys co-founder James Kelly - has carried out a major refurbishment on the seaside site, including a revamp of the 17-room Golf Links Hotel.

The new 120-seat Deerstalker Bar & Bistro will employ 35 people.

The original was founded in 1972 by brothers James and Desmond Kelly.

Mr Wilson, who is managing director of Kellys, said: "I wanted to create a comfortably traditional bar with a countryside-inspired feel while introducing some new and updated features.

"The new bar will offer guests a relaxed space for enjoying a drink and traditional pub grub snacks as well as streaming live sport while the refurbishment of the complex's existing bars and hotel allows us to continue to provide the highest level of hospitality and entertainment."

Kellys has become one of Northern Ireland's best known night life names since it the first venture of the Kelly brothers in the early 1970s. The brothers moved to Portrush in the 1960s when their parents bought the Cloghorr Hotel.

The family also owned a farm, and following the death of their father the brothers ran the hotel and dairy farm, holding barn dances for Ballymoney rugby club in their cow sheds.

Under the original agreement for the purchase of the hotel, the sale of alcohol was forbidden. But some time later, the restriction was lifted, and the brothers were able to open the White Pheasant Lounge.

Desmond Kelly passed away in 1973 - leaving James to continue in business. And the disco revolution visited Portrush as the showband era closed, so James began holding discos and live events.

In that era, the complex played host to live acts such as legendary Irish rockers Thin Lizzy - and as disco gave way to dance music, Kelly began attracting big name dance DJs, such as Carl Cox and FatBoy Slim. Its main nightclub then became known as Lush!

James' nephews Peter and Nigel Wilson had by then taken over the business.

The complex - three bars, the Golf Links Hotel, Lush! nightclub and a caravan park - now employs 120 people.

The renovation was carried out by Co Down designer Drew Henry, As well as building the Deerstalker, the project also involved the refurbishment of the Boat Bar and Study Bar in the complex, as well as the revamp of the Golf Links Hotel.

Belfast Telegraph