This short rambling has been in the making for several months. Since the early part of the year, in fact. We're taking a trip across the water for this post, to part of the United Kingdom that I have yet to visit. I've been south of the border a couple of times but have never been to any of the six counties of the north.
How did I get to make this virtual trip? Back in the dark days of January, still shielding, with nothing to do and nowhere to go, I spent a bit of time perusing musical offerings dating from the time of my youth on YouTube when its algorithm threw up the video below.
Sisters Mollie (bass) and Mamie (drums), along with friend Orláith, have a love of rock music from the '60s and '70s and Google's video hosting service suggested that I might like to have a look at them busking Fleetwood Mac's Oh Well to the Christmas shoppers in Belfast.
Further digging threw up that the sisters' dad was also into music and was a member of Tiberius' Minnows who had a minor success (or a not too minor success across the Irish Sea) with Time Flies in the early 1990s. He's the long-haired guitarist in this video filmed on a Super 8 cine camera in Derry/Londonderry to support the single's release.
I did wonder at the time if any of the city's bars shown were still in operation, or had they in the intervening thirty years become bygone boozers, and I thought I'd try to find out. I put that little project on the back burner for a while or more correctly turned off the gas, removed the pot and put it into the freezer that is the drafts section on this site. It was only whilst delving around in its depths, searching for something else, that I rediscovered the embryonic post.
So it was back to the detective work. Three bars make an appearance at around 3:20, 3:25 and 3:35. The glimpse of the first is so fleeting that there's no way that I could identify it. Oh well! I thought that perhaps the others might prove easier, and so it turned out to be. The second was a bit easier but the third was even easier still, so I'll start with that.
Hennessey's used to operate at 64 Strand Road and since those 1990s days it evolved into a nightclub, firstly called Pepes...
...and later Envy.
On 9th January last year it caught fire – there's a report and short video here – and a man has since been charged with arson. The building was left in such an unsafe condition that it was demolished a month later.
The second pub suffered a similar fate, but in this case it wasn't the result of a deliberate act.
Operating from the 1920s, Alleyman's Bar was also to be found on Strand Road. On Saturday 7th August 2004 a gas explosion in Cheung's Garden, the neighbouring Chinese takeaway, damaged the building sufficiently that it too had to be demolished. The site has stood empty ever since.
Oh well, the boozers in the second video are no more, but what of the three young ladies in the first one? Calling themselves Dea Matrona they have turned down approaches to appear on X Factor as they want to keep control of the music they write and perform which varies in style and includes the Countryesque Baby Don't Leave...
...the equally gentle Hard on Yourself...
...their optimistic view of post-Covid times...
...and their most recent offering.
Now that venues are opening up again they are touring, but their only date in England this year clashes with a cardiology appointment. Oh well!
If you've read this far, then thank you. Possibly, like me, you may have some sort of interest in bygone boozers. If you haven't done so already you can subscribe to ensure that you don't miss any future posts. Simply click here to return to the home page (opens in a new tab), follow the 'Subscribe' link and complete the form to receive an email notification of any future post. Or you could simply follow the link at the top of this page.