ONE of Larne’s oldest public houses is set to call last orders for the final time this weekend.
The Eagle Bars, which has been a presence at Station Road in the town since the late 18th century, has become the latest local casualty of the economic downtown.
The pub, currently owned by cousins Andy Liddle and Alan Young, has been a family-run business since William Liddle took it over in 1969.
“It is a sad day for Larne, but it is also a sign of the times,” Alan told the Times.
“I remember a time when there were four pubs on this road. But the current trading conditions have changed and there seems to be a lot fewer young people going out to pubs. There are very few people below the age of 35 coming in here to drink nowadays.
“More and more young people seem to be buying alcohol from supermarkets and drinking in the house, and it is hard for pubs to compete with that.”
Alan, who has worked full-time in the pub since 1984, told the Larne Times that local people had been shocked by the news, but added that the closure had been a long time coming.
“We have tried our best to keep the pub open in recent years but we just can’t sustain the business any longer. I want to apologise to all our loyal customers who have stayed with us over the years and thank them for their support,” he added.
The Larne man added that he had been moved by the reaction of local people in the wake of the announcement, with many leaving messages of condolence on social networking sites.
Dozens of comments were posted on the Eagle’s facebook page, including:
n “Sorry to hear the sad news. I had some good nights in the Eagle. Good luck to you all for the future.”
n “These things happen but very saddened to hear of this. Nice bar with nice folk.”
n “Total tragedy. I’ve so many good memories of this bar from having my first ever aloholic drink in it to playing in the pool team many moons ago. What a shame.”
n “As a loyal customer I would also like to express my sadness at the terrible news. Good luck in the future to Andy and Alan, I’m sure they won’t need it though.”
n “All four of my kids had their first legal drink in the Eagle - so sad.”
n “It was a great bar for everyone, both sides of the divide. A loss to the town really. I wish the whole bar, owners and staff well because they carried it stoutly through four decades. End of another wee part of Larne’s history.”
Sunday will mark the final day of trading at the Eagle Bars, and both Alan and Andy are hoping for a big turnout this weekend to bid a fond farewell to their beloved pub.
“For a lot of people growing up in Larne, the Eagle was a big part of their lives.
“We hope to see a lot of old and new faces this weekend so we can have a big send-off and say goodbye to the Eagle in style,” Andy concluded.
The Larne Times understand that the licence for the Eagle will be transferred to a Londonderry-based supermarket.
Do you have fond memories of the Eagle Bar? Perhaps you have some old photographs which capture the pub in its heyday? Send your pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org or bring them into the office at 8 Dunluce Street, Larne, BT40 1JG