1 Comber Rd,
Newtownards BT23 6P

Picture a homely farmhouse kitchen, with a stone tiled floor, seven-foot high ceiling, 59  large range stove, an Irish pine dresser with a row of china plates, country-style wooden chairs and tongue and groove wooden clad walls. Got it clear in your mind’s eye?

Now add a bar along one wall, and you have a complete picture of Balloo House, the well-known pub in Killinchy, equally popular with farming locals and yachting yuppies from Whiterock.

The original bill-of-sale, framed on the wall, will show you that Balloo House, formerly a large farmhouse, was bought in 1893 by the McConnell family, and has operated as a licensed establishment ever since.

Any changes made in recent years have retained the feel of the farmhouse scullery tiles, indistinguishable from the original ones, were brought from an old mill to match in with the existing ones in the kitchen bar, and the new lounge bar face is a church pulpit because the timber matches exactly that of the other bars.

A fireplace in the dining room was acquired from a nearby cottage to go with the character of the room, and the hall porter’s chair, with the drawer for his boots, is exactly in keeping with the authenticity of the whole place. A talking point in the dining area is the huge, sprawling, and flourishing vine, a Black Hamburg, which produces a grand harvest of grapes each year, but unfortunately they taste like nicotine.

Next door, the original McConnell family sitting room has been converted into an additional dining area, but so discreetly and tastefully that the McConnells, were they to return, would hardly notice the difference. This is a bar loved and respected by all, even those within the trade, which is perhaps a rarer phenomenon than one might imagine.

Evidence of this is the large pike in a glass case, presented by Gilbey’s. On the opposite wall is a 1930s advertisement for Ross’s Ginger Ale, showing a modest girl sitting on a rock by the seaside. It’s amusing to learn that her 60 pose was considered provocative, scandalous, and shocking when the ad. first appeared – she had nothing on her feet! Don’t leave without taking a look at the large framed map of the pub and its environs on the back wall of the dining room, a map dated circa 1871, and restored to fine condition by the Ulster Museum.

As with much in Balloo House, someone took the time, patience and care to preserve it for succeeding generations.