When Katy’s first opened in 1987, it was known as The Dome, and the owners back then Danny Mcguigan and Pat Lennon, wanted a Dublin-style Irish bar.

Danny was a builder by trade and his attention to detail was on display throughout the two-tier bar, with hand-turned wood, black and white tiling, mirrored pillars, and finally the leaded glass Domes, a gentle nod to the nearby City Hall.

When I first visited in 93, I hid away in one of the booths on the left-hand side.

In a few months, I will be a frequent visitor because of its connecting door to its neighbouring limelight club and its good mix of people

The bar soon changed its name to Katy Daly’s, but the interior was relatively unchanged the domes still watched over you.

Over the years the neighboring nightclub expanded into the old garage with the new venue taking its name from it ‘Spring and Airbrake’

Katy Daly’s sat comfortably between the two venues as a warm-up bar or in the absence of gigs a quiet place to have a pint of listen to a local musician.

As time wore on they opened a huge beer terrace and reconfigured the toilets. But still, Katy’s (as it was known by then) had weathered the storm of expansion and a bit of polish here and there.
The last time I visited in October 2022, I was comforted by how little it had changed, the bar back had changed a bit but it was still the bustling Katy’s I remembered.

For 37 years that bar interior had survived, which was no mean feat during the dark days of The Troubles thankfully ‘progress’ has achieved what The Troubles and Licensing committees never could – they have ruined it

The hand-turned ash balustrades?
The dark wood bar?
The leaded glass Domes?

All nonchalantly fucked into a skip

And for what?

A large bare bricked ‘space’ with a soulless bar and neon ‘Limelight lounge’ sign. It now looks like the bastard child of 00’s theme pub and a student’s union with none of the charm of either. Everything is gone, the only discernable feature that remains is the Fire exit.

I’m not against progress, but I am vehemently opposed to progress for progress’ sake, and this abomination is not progress

The reasoning behind such a drastic refurb is to allow for a greater variety of touring bands and events. I don’t know what niche they are trying to fill(I’m no promoter and I hope there is demand for it)  Though I would hazard a guess that it’s now too big for bands just starting out and not big enough for more established acts.

I can’t help but think that it would have been easier and more cost-effective to make one of the existing venues more adaptable, but then I remember that gigs are secondary to the owners and the club nights are what brings in the coin.

Everything about it is already dated Neon Signs, Stripped-back brick, and uncomfortable seating.
Sadly this Soulless, empty, bland, and characterless space is symptomatic of the wider issues of Belfast’s built heritage being systematically annihilated by insensitive thoughtless development