The finest pubs from across Northern Ireland gathered at Belfast City Hall to toast the best the industry has to offer as the search to find our top pubs came to a dramatic conclusion at the annual Pub of the Year Awards 2011.
The Pub of the Year Gala Awards Night celebrated the excellence that exists in our local pub trade by presenting top awards to the winning pubs in a range of categories, including the coveted Northern Ireland Pub of the Year Award which was presented by Sorcha Wolsey, chair of Pubs of Ulster, to Dorman’s and The Opera in Magherafelt.
Dorman’s and the Opera is owned by husband and wife team Henry and Teresa McGlone. Speaking about winning the Northern Ireland Pub of the Year award, Henry said:
“We are honored and delighted to bring the prestigious title of Northern Ireland Pub of the Year 2011 to Magherafelt. We felt great after winning the regional title, but to go on and claim the overall award is a tremendous bonus.
“All our staff show dedication and work hard to make sure that customers enjoy a great service. The recent introduction of a new menu, including stone-baked pizzas and handcrafted burgers, has really completed the whole dining experience, and for this combination of food, drink, entertainment, service and atmosphere to be recognised as the best in Northern Ireland is just fantastic.
“With Christmas around the corner, we are really looking forward to welcoming existing and new customers to Dorman’s.”
The Pub of the Year Awards is the culmination of an extensive search for the best pubs in a range of categories across Northern Ireland. Finalists were selected following an extensive judging process and were judged, depending on their category, by written submissions, interviews or by independent mystery shoppers. An independent judging panel comprising of Martin Breen, Editor of the Sunday Life; Gary McDonald, Business Editor of the Irish News; Adrienne McGill, Business Editor of the News Letter; Paul Connolly, Managing Editor of the Belfast Telegraph; Robert Cully from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Louise Murphy from Hospitality Review then decided on the overall winners.
The Pub of the Year winners in each category are:
Northern Ireland Pub of the Year: Dorman’s and the Opera, Magherafelt
Best Neighbourhood Pub: Rafters and Friel’s Bar, Swatragh
Best Food Pub: Dirty Duck Ale House, Holywood
Best Family Friendly Pub: Wild Duck Inn, Portglenone
Best New or Improved Pub: Horatio Todd’s Bar and Restaurant, Belfast
Most Innovative Pub: Ryan’s Bar, Belfast
Best Tourism/ Visitor Pub: The John Hewitt, Belfast
Outstanding Bar Person on the Year: Liam McEldowney, Jack’s Bar at Walsh’s Hotel, Maghera
The Sunday Life Readers’ Choice Award was also presented on the night to The Head O’ The Road in Portadown. The Pubs of Ulster Chairman’s Award was presented by Chair Sorcha Wolsey to Joe McDermott, Pubs of Ulster Treasurer, who was honoured for over a decade’s worth of service to the industry during which time he has worked tirelessly for the development and enhancement of the local licensed trade sector.
Commenting on the awards, Colin Neill, chief executive of Pubs of Ulster, said:
“The Pub of the Year Awards celebrate all that is good about the pub trade in Northern Ireland and are our chance to recognise and reward the excellence that exists in the industry. This year’s awards have once again seen an extremely high standard of entries which shows the quality of our local pubs. I would like to thank all the pubs who entered this year’s awards and congratulate all the winners, especially Dorman’s and The Opera, for showcasing the very best that the local pub trade has to offer.”
As the only competition to focus solely on the pub trade, this year’s awards were sponsored by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Britvic, Coca-Cola, Diageo, Dillon Bass, Heineken Northern Ireland, Molson Coors, Richmond Marjeting, Tennent’s NI and Drinks Inc. The awards are also supported by the Sunday Life, Hospitality review and U105.
The Pub of the Year Gala Awards were hosted by top local comedians Dan Gordon and Tim McGarry and after the awards, guests celebrated in style at the exclusive Pub of the Year Awards after party at the Merchant Hotel.