Almost 100 years ago, Jeremiah Gilhooly opened a spirit grocery store at Dungiven Road, not a stone’s throw from where Gilhooly’s is today.
The establishment earned the said Gilhooly a good livelihood and, perhaps more importantly, a reputation as one of the most convivial hosts in the town.
Leading Ulster cartoon artist Rowell Friers has created the 19 Gilhooly figures in a number of humorous and inventive paintings for the bar.
It’s questionable if the great old founder of the place would be all that flattered if were to come back and see his portrait, but he certainly would be amused by the collection of Friersian customers around his bar.
The present proprietor, Bernard O’Kane, holds the British Wine and Spirits Diploma, and his enthusiasm for his business would match that of even the redoubtable Gilhooley.
As you sit up to the big honey pine counter you feel that the old fellow would approve of this tavern and feel very much at home in it. He would find the toilet facilities very different indeed from the old yard his clientele used in days gone by, and the hitching-post outside for passengers arriving by pony and trap superseded by extensive car parking space, but all in all the spirit of the original proprietor’s philosophy still exists: “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you can do it all over again” Incidentally, Gilhooly’s at the bottom of Dungiven Road, is one in a remarkable row of six pubs side-by-side.
Step next door into The Gallery and you can see at a glance why the Derry drinker is spoiled for choice.
You’ll come back out of the Gallery not sure if it is a pub for those who like the great works of art or an art gallery for those who like a drink.
We enjoyed both, and so will you in these luxurious surroundings.