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PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 4:32 pm 
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Number Twenty-One differs from the other premises in Church Street. It is the only Public House, (there were once five on
the street). Whilst the hustle and bustle number - one remains relatively dormant – for its front doors cannot open until 11.30 a.m., and, whilst most other premises on the street cease trading at 6p.m., number twenty-one must continue to trade through the specified licensing laws to 11.00 p.m. And so it has been that those doors have been opened for licensed trade by the same family since Patrick Cunningham first opened in 1854. Since that date, it has been the family home, with some been born there, a few waked there, and some customers have even held their wedding breakfasts in the bar.
I 1848, Patrick Cunningham moved from Attical to set up business in Warrenpoint. His first premises were in what used to be the cocktail bar of the Crown Hotel. In 1854, (the same year that the Crimea War started), he purchased the licensed premises at twenty-one Church Street, Warrenpoint. His wife Bridget, was a marvellous cook and always had a large pot of broth on the open fire in the kitchen, and served meals to the cart men and sheep men on nearly every day of the week.
Their son Patrick, bought 23 Church Street from William H. Pedlow on 19th of December 1889, (the same year as Hitler was born!) was he merchandized in hardware and toys, and managed a restaurant. With both premises, in the family, the name Cunningham appeared over both buildings. The facades of 21 and 23 were in unison, with similarly proportioned and detailed windows, doors and a matching roof structure (see whisky label) which no. 23 still retains to-day.
In 1937, ( when Hitler was in power in pre-war Germany!), 23 church Street was sold out of the Cunningham estate to Mick McCarthy, who carried on a business as a fresh fish/fruit merchant, whilst in no. 21, Thomas Sylvester, son of Patrick Jun. continued trading as a publican.
Thomas Sylvester Cunningham, great –uncle of the present proprietor, Hugh J. Bennett, was a life time ‘pioneer’ and a very popular character. He used to keep a parrot called Polly by the window of the bar (now part of the front lounge). Polly lived for 30 years, and was notorious for whistling out at passing dogs in the street, summoning them into the pub. Another novelty of Thomas Cunningham’s was his famous cuckoo clock, which he kept in the front lounge window... At noon every day, children would gather outside to watch it perform. (Do you remember it?)
In its earlier days the pub was known to many as ‘The Mourne Embassy.’ Thomas had a bona fide proviso with the local constabulary until 1927 that he could open early morning and on Sundays, to travellers who lived over 3 miles away! This was a convenience for fishermen and farmers travelling from Kilkeel to Newry Market to sell their wares. They would call for a hot ‘tot of whisky’ to ‘warm their toes’!! Another event, which earned Cunningham’s its name the Mourne Embassy, was the Warrenpoint Fair Day when the Mourne farmers, who brought their sheep to the fair, would drink in Tommy Cunningham’s.
May, the last living Cunningham, aged 82, who is a direct descendant of Patrick, recalls no. 21 being known as a ‘Half-way House,’ to those who travelled regularly by horse and cart. The foot of the gable end of no. 21 boasts one of the last remaining remnants of horse and cart traffic in the town. There lie five granite stones placed at random against the wall. Their function was to stop the hubs of the cart - wheels from scraping against the wall. May Cunningham also recalls the Cunningham family owning 3 licensed premises in Warrenpoint at one time, namely Cunningham’s at 21 Church Street, The Liverpool Hotel and The Bay Hotel, (now Cooper’s Amusement arcade.)
Although the roof has been raised and an extension has been added to the rear along King’s Lane, much of the original building fronting into church Street remains intact. The two feet thick rubble stone walls rendered with block course lines and stucco quoin stones remain and the original window openings with their stucco keystones at the first level matching those of no. 23 remain untouched.
The front door of Number Twenty – One may have been changed since Patrick Cunningham first opened in 1854, but, five generations and 130 years later, the hospitality and ambience remains the same.

Neil J. Bennett.
August 1984

This article has been taken from the Warrenpoint Historical Group Magazine Autumn 1984 edition.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 11:16 pm 
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Well done Neil for giving us this very concise account of Cunningham/Bennetts Pub and restuarant ,Tommy Cunningham I remember and the clock in the window as well as Mrs. Bennett ( your grandmother ? ); was she Tommy Cunningham`s sister
and thanks once more Dukestreet for resurrecting another very interesting article from the Warrenpoint Historical Magazine...........


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2015 1:23 pm 
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End of an era?

http://www.lawlessestateagent.co.uk/index.php/home/show/487

~x(


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2015 2:39 pm 
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Brian wrote:


Pity. Great place.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2015 4:46 pm 
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It will be missed I'm sure.
Eat there a few times when
we were back.
Always pleased with what we got.

Just a co-incidence and a small
World.
Don, before he retired, was doing
a job in the Kitchen at a College here.
He recognised the accent of the Chef,
who was teaching the Class, as Irish.

They got talking about restaurants and
food back in Ireland.

Bennetts came up in the conversation.
He said he was taught by Hugh, and said
he was a terrific Chef.


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