26 Waterloo St,
There can’t be too many publicans who can boast that the walls of their premises are a part of history, preserved from change and protected by law.
Visit the Castle Bar and you’ll see at a glance that it has been built right up against the old City Wall which now forms the outside and inside walls of the bar.
Whoever built it this way well over a century ago had probably thrift in mind, figuring that it was simpler and cheaper to build only three walls of the house when there was one there already.
The result is that today the outstanding feature of the Castle Bar for visitors, tourists, and regulars is the very imposing presence of a massive stone wall, highlighted by concealed lighting and almost comically at odds with the modern decor and properties of the other three sides.
Rigidly guarded by the historical monuments people, the wall is safe from any kind of drilling or digging, a stipulation which can present problems for a licensee intent upon improvements: everything must be built against the wall, not into it, which, as the owner says, is good for tourists but not for toilets.
There’s something delightfully incongruous about the delicate pink vanity units in the ladies’ toilets set against the huge stone blocks of the ancient wall.
In the downstairs bar the lower part of the stained glass front window depicts Waterloo Street (look closely at it), while around the bar canopy, all the gates of the famous city wall are shown in coloured glass.
It’s in the Castle Bar that you’ll find the prize-winning cocktail-shaking barman, and probably Pat Logue formulating yet another set of questions for one of the pub quizzes, which by now are an established tradition in Derry City.
Maybe one of the questions will be ‘Which famous historical monument is now part of a ladies’ toilet?’