Renamed : The Battery Bar
201 Battery Road
No two people can seem to agree about where exactly Ardboe begins or where it ends.
There’s also confusion about whether it’s a village, a townland or simply a place on the map.
Two things are certain, though.
The famous high cross, the best of its kind in Ireland, has made Ardboe as well known as any place of its size in Ireland; secondly, if you follow the road which goes right down to the very edge of Lough Neagh, and which then decides to go no further, you will have reached the Battery and its popular pub, The Boat Inn.
Further disagreement now arises, this time over how this lough shore area got the name of the Battery.
Some say it’s because there was a battery of stones out into the lough exactly where the new jetty has been built, right opposite the Boat Inn.
Others claim that just round the lough edge a little there used to be a gun emplacement and its battery of cannons was the reason for the district’s unusual title.
All of this is academic anyhow because once you take your seat in the bar and look out over the lough and its wealth of wildlife, you’ll not care how the place was named. Herons here seem as common as house sparrows, and the swans as tame as chickens.
This is the pub of the local eel fishermen, the men whose little boats come right up to the jetty a few yards from the inn door. They catch pollack and trout as well, by the way, but it’s eels that seem to interest the tourists most of all.
The pub itself is a brand new one, built to replace the old Boat Inn that accidentally got burnt to the ground.
Its counter was clinker built, and in the shape of a boat, and it had boating implements and accessories decorating the whole interior. In time the new one will have similar features, but at present it’s still establishing itself after the tragic death of its owner.
The original building was the Battery Hotel which, by coincidence, also got burnt to the ground.
In its day, it would put up overnight some of the lighterman who came in from Portadown, Antrim and Portglenone with coal, and went out with corn, potatoes, and so on. Most of the boatmen slept in their boats, though, so the hotel’s accommodation facilities were little used.
The little harbour area beside the jetty was dug out by manual labour, the most sophisticated tools being spades.
Today’s inn boasts a lounge and function room that can for three hundred. It’s the meeting place of many of the fishermen who man the 212 boats that fish the lough, two families per boat. Their season is from the beginning of May to September, and this is the main employment in the Ardboe area.
The final chapter in this tale of pubs that have come to fiery ends concerns the burnt-out shell on your left, after you have passed the high cross landmark on your way down to the Battery.
It too was a pub which got burnt down accidentally, and the interesting thing to note here is that it belonged to the parents of the authoress Polly Devlin.
You see, when you’ve been to the cross at Ardboe your sightseeing tour is really only beginning.