Address :
41 High St,
BT20 5BE

The ‘Golden Mile’ of Bangor’s pubs must be High Street, and one of the most fascinating of these is Jenny Watt’s, about as fascinating as Jenny Watt herself. Nobody is absolutely sure who she is, and in fact, there is a list of the public’s ideas about her identity inside the bar, and an odd lot of ideas they are too.

There’s even a lengthy, romantic, and very improbable ballad about this mysterious lady whose name has been taken by Bangor’s oldest licensed premises. It casts her in the role of a noblewoman, courted by a Gaelic chieftain, but along comes a lusty Viking with lecherous designs upon Jenny.

Battle ensues, and the Gaelic Romeo is defeated, whereupon Jenny hides from the victorious Viking, in a cave on the shore near the foot of Strickland’s Glen. Sadly, she has forgotten to check high-tide times, and is washed away in a salt sea of emotion.

Another story has Jenny as a smuggler using the cave to avoid the excise men, while yet another presents her as an old hag practising witchcraft in the cave. The most likely story by far is the one which links her with the 1798 United Irishmen uprising.

Jenny is seen as a minor figure on the fringes of the insurrection. She fled to the cave to escape from English yeomen, and was drowned by the incoming tide. There are two certainties in all this welter of supposition.

One is that the bar/ restaurant named after Jenny Watt is among the most interesting in this selection of pubs.

It is an Aladdin’s cave of intriguing items, especially upstairs.

The downstairs bar, half carpeted and half stone-flagged, boasts such attractions as a literary selection of great Irish writers, a complete Singer sewing machine table, an old mill time-clock for clocking in and out regular customers, and a beautiful ornate mahogany over-mantel, complete with the Bangor coat-of-arms.

You can also find a recessed cupboard with bottles, thick with cobwebs and dust, and old photos of Bangor’s “Gentlemen’s Bathing Place” and, quite separately, “Ladies’ Bathing Place”.
Upstairs, though, is a wonderland.

First of all, at the top of the stairs, you find yourself outside an Edwardian grocer’s shop.
The explanation for this is simple – this was at one time a grocer’s shop, and the shelves, marble counter, brass cash 49 register, scales and products have been preserved.

The writing along the top informs you that this grocer was an “Importer of foreign wines, teas, coffee, spices and cheeses” and elsewhere a “Purveyor of the finest hams, catsup, wines, ales and porter”, not to mention “foreign herbs and spices”. On the shelves, you’ll see Fry’s Cocoa, Borax salts, Zubes for congestion problems, and Ogden’s Robin cigarettes, perhaps to give you the congestion problems.
Scattered about the “shop” are the strangest implements imaginable – a machine for rolling out sheets of toffee, a child’s wooden rocking chair suspended from the ceiling, an absolutely ancient hairdryer – surely one of the earliest, a wooden wicker sidecar, a harp, a bus conductor’s ticket machine, a large glass bottle for making butter, an air-pump organ, diver’s wooden air-pump apparatus, a huge brass ship’s compass, and scales/ weighing machines of all sizes and types, from 3 hundredweight capacity down.

Best of all, though, is an early artificial limb, a wooden leg, hanging from the wall, and maybe intended for those going home half-legless! All of this is illuminated by a superb round stained glass window, which would be the envy of many a cathedral.

Jenny Watt’s legend lives on, in the diverse stories concerning her life, in the unparalleled collection of items in the ‘grocer’s’ lounge restaurant, and in the excellent food, drink, and hospitality of the popular establishment.