Plenty of room at the Crosskeys Inn as bedroom extension approved
Visitors to one of Ireland's most historic pubs will soon be able to stay to make the most of its unique atmosphere.
Regulars at Crosskeys Inn near Toome in Co Antrim, have welcomed the fact that the extension will not interfere with the historic part of the old bar - which dates back to 1654 -and that the famous thatch will remain very much in place.
The pub is on the tourist trail for people seeking to find a real old-style bar. It is also well-known for its traditional music sessions, with many of the top names in Irish music from across the island having played there at some stage.
Visitors cannot bed down for the night in the listed building after sampling the surrounds.
Plans have now been approved by Mid & East Antrim Council for seven new en suite bedrooms and function facilities. Regulars have welcomed the fact that the current old building - and the thatched roof - will remain the same, with the extension out of sight from the road at the front..
Senior planner, Kyle Patterson, told a meeting in Ballymena that the application, by owner Vincent Hurl, was for a two storey extension to the rear to provide an additional function area on the ground floor and accommodation, comprising seven en-suite guest bedrooms, on the first floor.
The committee supported a proposal to accept the planners' recommendation to approve it subject to conditions.
Crosskeys is stone-built with whitewashed walls and was once a coaching stop on the old Belfast to Londonderry road. It was also a shop which sold everything for a rural community in the old times, a Post Office and, of course, a bar.
Yesterday, one regular said: "Currently visitors can't stay and people often ask if they can but although the pub is very much on the tourist trail they cannot stop here overnight so the plans are exciting.
"People come here from far and near and even today we had some people in from New Zealand looking around. They want to see what an old Irish pub would have looked like. But it is good that the plans will not impact on the old part of the building and the famous thatched roof is very much staying in place."