The History of The Rostrevor Inn
We can’t say for sure but it’s believed that the 18th century building that hosts the Rostrevor Inn may have started life as a police station and village gaol. We do know that in 1853, when Rostrevor was fast becoming one of Ireland’s favourite tourist resorts, Michael Crawford opened a family grocery store here and, later, a hardware store.
Horses would take groceries from the store around the local area. At that time the back of the pub was open and the horses would be kept in the stables area, which is barely changed today. In subsequent years, the Crawfords added a bar and, eventually, it became so successful that it took the place of the grocery store, with the store’s low counter used for the bar. Though sadly it was disposed of some years ago, that much loved low bar was famous around the county.
Michael’s widow Catherine took over the running of the establishment after his death, in turn passing on the bar to her son Patrick and the hardware store to her other son, Edward. You can still see the window pane from this time over the entrance to the main bar.
Patrick acquired a licence to bottle Guinness and now, instead of groceries, the horses would carry cartloads of Guinness bottles, all bearing the Crawford label, around Rostrevor, Warrenpoint and further afield.
Crawford’s BarWe believe the photo was taken in the early 1900s. C Crawford stands for Catherine, the mother of Patrick and wife of Michael. Following Patrick’s death, the bar and hardware store was run by Aquin Crawford and then his son, the late Seamus Crawford. We are indebted to Aquin’s children - Breege, Maura, Eamonn, Catherine, Evelyn and Helen – for giving us permission to use the family name for our traditional bar, Crawford’s.
Film setNow stripped back to its original 18th century stone walls, with an original Victorian fireplace from upstairs, Crawford’s Bar was once the family’s hardware store. In 2007 it was turned into a film set for the film of Maeve Binchy’s ‘How About You’, with Vanessa Redgrave and Brenda Fricker. The film was shot in Rostrevor at the request of Maeve Binchy, who had lived here for some time. We’ve kept the bar counter specially made for the film set and we think Crawford’s – a regular venue for sessions and storytelling - is now one of the most inviting traditional bars in Ireland.
The StablesEamonn Crawford recalls bottling Guinness with the Crawford label as a child with his brother Seamus in the Stables area as late as the 1970s. We’ve barely changed a thing since the horses stabled here took groceries around the village, just adding two atmospheric snugs (made from the building’s original joists)! We’ve even kept the two mangers.
18th century stone wallsIn our main bar you can also see the original 18th century walls, made entirely of local stone, as well as the original timber beams. As you can see from the photo, the original iron railings are still in place outside, while the door to the accommodation and Crawford’s Bar are also original.
We’d like to thank the amazing work of local builder David South and his extended team for their loving restoration of the building. We would also like to thank the McAllister family who ran the hugely popular and equally atmospheric Glenside Bar here for many years, following the Crawfords, for their advice and support. Finally, we’d like to thank the people of Rostrevor who have made the building a vital part of the village again.