Renamed : Lanyon Hall
23 Molesworth St,
Ancient Cookstown prophecy: “And the horse shall grow out of the dog and the palace shall be eaten by the cat.” To decipher this cryptic, prophetic riddle you need to go to Molesworth Street in the town, and all will be clear because there you will enter the Black Horse Bar and learn that it was at one time the Greyhound Bar, a smaller public house but with basically the same exterior.
A large mural photograph of the street many years ago shows the Greyhound Bar with four lamps illuminating its name board. Today the Black Horse has four identical reproduction lamps, so that nothing much has changed outside but the name and the horse sandblasted into the front window’.
Inside it’s a different story, with the public bar large, modern, and extending right down to the back of the building. There’s a lovely little private enclosed snug at the head of the counter, called Rosie’s Den, named after the publican’s wife. High bar stools, comfortable snugs, red concealed lighting, and an open gas fire are other features that contribute to the congenial atmosphere of the place.
There are a number of interesting drawings and photos of local places and characters on the wall, including an eye-catching one of Joseph Greer, described to us as the town’s resident musician.
It’s about 15 years since the greyhound made way for the black horse, the new name given in recognition of the owner’s affection for the equestrian breed.
So much for the first part of the “ancient prophecy”, but how has the cat managed to devour the palace?
Well, adjoining the public house is the famous Pink Pussy Night Club, a disco bar with one of the best light shows in all the land.
The pink-coloured cat has swallowed up anything that remained of the old picture palace that once operated here, the cinema which we think was once called The Royal. It’s possible this movie house played 2001, A Space Odyssey, or even Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and if so the images and sounds of these great space fantasy epics live on in the breathtaking, eye-boggling light show, which includes a triangular “space ship” centerpiece that descends right down to the glass dance floor while a fog machine billows out dense clouds round the dancers’ feet, or hurls coloured smoke rings at individual targets.
The whole fantastic display recalls the moment in Spielberg’s film when the huge mother ship appears from behind the Devil’s Tower and bombards the onlookers with dazzling lights and stereophonic sound.
The DJ in charge of all this miracle of aural and visual effects is like a kind of crazed scientist, a Rotwang from Metropolis.
Things are a little more soothing around the balcony seating areas that look down upon the dance floor and its kaleidoscopic colours and movements. Here each seated recess is softly spotlighted and the unusual green Tivoli lighting has a relaxing effect, welcome after the technical wizardry of the sci-fi world below.
Finally, if you have enjoyed the explanation of the old, obscure Cookstown riddle, we can make up a few more for you on request.