History’s Footprint At The Londonderry Arms

From its connections to Winston Churchill through to its Georgian origins, the Londonderry Arms hotel in Carnlough offers an insight into the past in 21st Century comfort, featuring the best of fare and a warm welcome which has made sure locals and tourists keep coming back.

Owned by Denise O’Neill, the hotel has been in the family for more than 70 years. The buildings history and character are the key to the Londonderry Arms story but put together with the 35 individually designed, en-suite bedrooms, locally sourced food and drink offerings and a family run ethos, it creates a community feeling, whether you are a resident of Northern Ireland, or a traveller from the United States or Germany.

Part of the charm comes from the fact that the Londonderry Arms is not part of a large identikit chain so attracts locals alongside independent travellers and tour operators.

The long history goes back to it being constructed in 1848, and helps explain the name of a hotel 58 miles from Londonderry.

“It was built as a Coaching Inn by Frances Anne Vane Tempest, the Marchioness of Londonderry – hence the name,” explained Denise. “After Lady Londonderry passed away, the hotel was eventually inherited in 1921 by her great-grandson, Sir Winston Churchill who subsequently sold it two years later to help fund the purchase and development of his Chartwell estate.”

With the popularity of local whiskey, the hotel features the Arkle whiskey bar, which has a range of Northern Ireland and Scottish whiskeys, including some of the top rated in these isles. Named after the legendary steeplechaser, the bar is host to a unique collection of Arkle memorabilia, including one of Arkle’s horseshoes that can be rubbed for good luck. Here, Arkle offers a winning toast to the ‘water of life’.

“It is the actual horseshoe worn when Arkle won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1965 in the second of his three consecutive Gold Cup wins,” explained Denise. 

The dining experience at The Londonderry Arms is so renowned that it is also a featured stop on the Toast the Coast food tour. Diners are encouraged to book ahead as demand is high.

“We are a founding member of Taste of Ulster. People come here for the food – locals and visitors alike,” said Denise. The Londonderry Arms strives to include local produce within each of their dishes, from lamb reared in The Glens to the world renowned Glenarm Salmon.

Hoping to keep tradition alive with their own local artisan twist, The Londonderry Arms also offer Afternoon Tea, a treat said to have been enjoyed by Lady Londonderry back in 1848. 

As well as the range of whiskeys their commitment to local includes a range of Hillstown and Glens of Antrim craft beers and a variety of gins.

As the heart of Carnlough, staff at The Londonderry Arms look forward to once again hosting events and holidaymakers for many generations to come.

To book a stay or obtain more information on dining experiences visit www.londonderryarmshotel.com.

Tina Calder