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A toast to O’Toole’s as Armagh pub wins title

A Co Armagh pub has raised the bar after securing the accolade of Northern Ireland Pub of the Year.

O’Toole’s Bar in Armagh beat off competition from hundreds of rivals to win the Federation of the Retail Licensed Trade (FRLT) title.

It also clinched the Co Armagh Pub of the Year award while other regional winners

included  |McCracken’s Café Bar ( Belfast Pub of the Year), Molly’s Bar, Ballymoney (Co Antrim Pub of the Year), White Horse Inn, Saintfield (Co Down Pub of the Year), Blake’s of the Hollow, Enniskillen (Co Fermanagh Pub of the Year), Mary’s Bar, Magherafelt (Co Londonderry Pub of the Year) and Sally’s, Omagh (Co Tyrone Pub of the Year).

Going The Extra Distance

Colin Neill, FRLT chief executive, said: “Whilst we recognise that everyone in the licensed trade is putting a great deal of effort into making pub visits an enjoyable experience, this is the federation’s opportunity to recognise the extra distance that the management and staff of our very best pubs have gone to make the customer experience something rather special.”

The winners of Northern Ireland’s top pubs were announced at a ceremony held last night at the La Mon Hotel and Country Club in Gransha, east Belfast.

The other winners were: Neighbourhood Pub of the Year: Connolly’s Bar, Ballymena; New Pub of the Year: Muriel’s Bar, Belfast; Pub Innovation of the Year: The Bank Bar, Newry; Tourism Pub of the Year: The Nook, Bushmills; Food Pub of the Year: Grace Neills, Donaghadee and Pub Employee of the Year: Michael McKeown, |Lavery’s Bar, Belfast.

The chairman’s award for outstanding contribution was presented to Margaret Scott of the FRLT in recognition for over 30 years of service to the local pub |industry.

The winners were chosen from more than 250 entries.

Mystery Shoppers

Each establishment was visited by independent mystery shoppers with the winners being chosen by a judging panel.

It comprised of Lindsay Fergus, business editor of the Belfast Telegraph, Adrienne McGill, business editor of the News Letter and Gary McDonald, business editor of the Irish News.

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