Grace Neill’s Pub, Donaghadee
As Donaghadee began to develop as a port inhabited by incoming Scottish families from the early 1600s onwards, commercial opportunities arose. Not only did landowner Sir Hugh Montgomery make his fortune here, but other business-minded Scots did too. A hostelry known as The King’s Arms is said to have been established in 1611, serving visiting sailors, arriving settlers, and local farmers. A nearby shop has a date-stone inside with the year 1659 carved into it.
Grace Jamieson was born in 1818, married John Neill. As a wedding present her father Hugh Jamieson gave her one of his pubs – The King’s Arms – which was eventually renamed Grace Neill’s in 1866. Grace died on 7 July 1916, leaving five sons.
A narrow lane called ‘Murder Lane’, originally ‘Murder Row’, is close to Grace Neill’s. The story is told that a group of sailors who had spent many hours in the pub were on their way back to their lodgings. They were lured into Murder Row where they were killed and robbed, their bodies buried in the sandy soil. In 1858 during excavations in Murder Row, some human bones were dug up – apparently confirming the gory tale’s place in local folklore.
Today Grace Neill’s is an award-winning licensed restaurant and a must-see on any visit to Donaghadee. The street entrance retains all the character of an historic pub, and the sign over the door lays claim to its reputed origin – ‘Established 1611’.
33 High Street Donaghadee Co. Down BT21 0AH
0044 28 9188 4595
Open all year round.