Historical Origin And Design Inspiration
The Crown Liquor Saloon is a public house in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Located in Great Victoria Street in Belfast city centre, it is probably Northern Ireland's best-known pub.
Originally opened by Felix O'Hanlon and known as The Railway Tavern, the pub was then bought by Michael Flanagan. It was Flanagan's son Patrick, however, who renamed and renovated the pub in 1885.
The Crown owes its elaborate tiling, stained glass and woodwork to the Italian craftsmen whom Flanagan persuaded to work on the pub after hours. These craftsmen were brought to Ireland to work on the many new churches being built in Belfast at the time. It was this high standard of work that gave the Crown the reputation of being one of the finest Victorian Gin Palaces of its time.
The exterior is decorated in polychromatic tiles. This includes a mosaic of a Crown on the floor of the entrance. Local legend tells that the pub's Catholic owner argued with his Protestant wife over the name of the pub. His wife won and it was named the Crown, signifying an allegiance to the British Royal Family. The husband exacted his revenge by building the crown mosaic so that his patrons would step on it as they entered.
The interior is also decorated with complex mosaics of tiles. The red granite topped bar is of an altar style, with a heated footrest underneath and is lit by gas lamps on the highly decorative carved ceilings. The most famous features of the Crown are its ten booths, or snugs. Built to accommodate the pub's more reserved customers during the austere Victorian period, the snugs feature the original gun metal plates for striking matches and an antique bell system for alerting staff. More privacy was afforded by the pub's etched and stained glass windows which feature painted shells, fairies, pineapples, fleurs-de-lis and clowns.
Almost all visitors to Belfast inevitably make a visit to the Crown and it is seen as one of the most genuine Irish bars in existence. Its popularity with tourists is enhanced by the fact that one of Belfast's main hotels, the Europa Hotel, is located directly opposite. However it still remains popular with locals and together with the adjoining Crown Dining Rooms, is a popular lunchtime and after work haunt with the city's office workers.