46 Glenone Rd,
Did you hear the one about the Northern Ireland Tourist Board official who was worried about granting aid to a pub that had Teagues Bar written up outside it? He needn’t have been concerned; the bar in question has no political or religious restrictions in operation and welcomes customers of all persuasions.
Indeed at one moment in its long history, it saw the formation of an Orange Lodge within its walls.
The Teague referred to on the sign was the name of a previous member of the McErlean family, also known as Teady, both names being a contraction of Thadeus.
The present licensee is Thomas McErlean, also an archaeologist and genealogist, whose enthusiasm for the history of the pub, village, and area is infectious.
The premises have been in his family for nine generations, since 1790, but are much older than that.
When the building was severely damaged by fire in 1974, some of the oak beams that were retrieved were dated as early as 1690.
The original building was made of basalt (whinstone) and locally made Bann brick. It is indisputably the oldest pub by far in the Bann Valley.
The McErleans, among other enterprises, started bottling their own liquor in 1912, and you can still see the stoneware bottles they used and samples of their old Guinness and whiskey labels. They are among Guinness’s oldest customers in the north.
The lounge bar upstairs was the TEAGUESPAR Old meal store, and the opening to the meal chute is still to be seen. Eighteenth-century purlins and tongue and groove timber were rescued from the village houses when they were being demolished for a new road system, and these have now been introduced into the structure and finishing of the upstairs lounge.
You can also see in the same bar a discreet little snug at the side of the counter, which was used almost exclusively to serve the local priests.
Old maps on the walls and yellowed advertisements (including one for Seven Towers Whiskey, said to be drawn from the face of George V) testify to the owner’s love of things old and his sense of history.
This last trait may have been inherited from his grandfather, who in 1922 buried in a wall a “time capsule” bottle containing photos of the village, names and descriptions of its inhabitants, details of building designs and sample coins of the time.
The downstairs bar is a Pandora’s box of bits and pieces. Literally, hundreds of matchbox labels from all corners of the world are on display in framed glass cases. These were presented to the pub by a Merchant Navy man who was about to emigrate.
Emigrants are also among those who have sent car licence plates from the various states of America.
It is hoped that all 51 states will, ill time, be represented in this unusual way. There are simply too many conversation pieces to mention here, but look for the old 1908 and 1915 photos of the pub and village, and the mirror frame that was once a spinning wheel.
If history, roots, and the past are your bag, don’t hesitate to visit McErlean’s in Clady, and while you’re there make an appointment with the publican for one of his weekly genealogy classes.
Your five-minute call may well take you centuries.