Johnny Joe’s Cushendall
A pub has always stood on this site, The origins of the current building are in the Early 19th century. In the 19th century it was used as a public house and coaching inn. The notable arched entry in the Georgian facade gave access to a yard with stables. In 1856 the landlords were John & Margaret Barry. John Barry died in 1866 and his widow re-married John McAllister of Glenbush. They were no children.
John’s niece Annie (Nancy) married Joseph McCollam of Armoy & the young couple came to live in Cushendall and took up ownership of the business. I am sure this young couple would not believe the pub would remain a working business in the same family lineage five generations later into the 21 century.
Joseph died in 1908 and his widow took over the licence. She was known as ‘Nancy Joe’. Her son John inherited the business and was the original “Johnny Joe” from where the pub’s local name “Johnny Joe’s” hailed from. Nancy Joe built up a thriving business with the help of her daughter Grace Mary Ann and ran it as a very popular hotel, catering for residents and non-residents alike.
Charabanc tours ran by McNeill’s of Larne lunched there on the popular coast road tour. The Glasgow & Paisley Fairs saw a very large number of Scottish people descend on Cushendall. So many in fact that the ‘hotel’ (Johnny Joe’s) had not enough capacity & guests were apportioned rooms in other houses in Mill Street, though fed in the pub.
The building has remained largely unchanged. The bar has the original shelves and counters. The kitchen range was installed around the turn of the century, dated 1896, when the catering was almost exclusively done on it. As horse-drawn vehicles were replaced by mechanised ones the stable buildings were used to keep pigs and hens. The open fire in the bottling store was used to boil potatoes to feed the animals. The bottling store is now the back lounge.
In 1983 Joe and Sheila married and Shiela ‘of Claremoris’ started work with Patrick Joseph (Jonny Joe) McCollam in that same year. Her husband Joe being a son of Annie McCollam, a sister of Patrick Joseph McCollam’s, married to William Blaney.
On different nights of the week throughout the year you may meet the cream of the local musical talent: Ciaran Dempsey, Ciaran Graham, Ciaran, Martin & Helen O’Kane, James McCurry and Leo Brown, Jenny Connor, Julie Graham, Ciaran & Joe Mulholland & Dave the Rave, PJ Hill and Alex Fyfe, plus many fine singers…