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Longnancy’s pub famed in song and story

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Longnancy’s pub famed in song and story thumbnailA painting of Longnancy’s pub when it was thatched. After being damaged by fire in the 1950’s it was rebuilt. It had been in the McKenna family name for at least five generations

A painting of Longnancy's pub when it was thatched. After being damaged by fire in the 1950's it was rebuilt. It had been in the McKenna family name for at least five generations .

THE naming of Longnancy's public house, that famous landmark on the busy cross-border route from Armagh to Middletown has undoubtedly generated much debate and discussion down through the years.

Situated in the townland of Tamlaght it is sited just a few yards off the the main A3 Armagh to Monaghan route at a K junction where the A3 meets the old Monaghan Road (Hanslough Road) and the road to Keady (Madden Road).

On old road maps the crossing is known as 'Norton's Crossroads', a reference to a family who owned the property hundreds of years back.

Longnancy's' is a widely known location that even appears on Ulsterbus destination plates and whilst quietly nestling in a tranquil rural area it is convenient to quite a few towns and villages. It is approximately 7 miles from Armagh, 10 miles from Monaghan and 5 miles from Keady.

Middletown, Madden, Derrynoose, Killylea and Caledon are also relatively close by.

So how did the name come about? Famed in song and story Longnancy's has a long and fascinating history having been in the McKenna family ownership for at least five generations.

The name was nickname given to Ann McKenna (nee Smyth) who was reputedly over 6ft 2'' tall. She married Hugh McKenna in the early 1800's and couple became the licensees of the premises. Both are interred in St Joseph's graveyard in Madden (Nancy in 1893). It was a name that became familiarised down through years.

The McKenna's were an old local family and the pub remained in that name until the death of Seamus McKenna in July 2001. The property was then sold the following year thus breaking the longevity of a historically proud family affiliation.

In the early days Longnancy's was a spirit grocer's, one room used as a pub and another as a grocer's shop, both attached to the McKenna family home. The property was a thatched roof one and a half storey building up until the early 1950's when it was damaged by fire. It was completely rebuilt and renovated in the late 1950's.

Longnancy's has long since entered the annals of folklore, a friendly meeting place for local people of all creeds and persuasions where points of views could be openly aired and debated.

Still very much in circulation are some thoroughly enjoyable stories and yarns pertaining to memorable evenings spent there. It would have been crammed to the rafters on the evenings of Keady Fair.

In former years the opening hours were from 10.00am to 9.00pm. It became a favourite rendezvous for local sportsmen where games and events would have been previewed and reviewed and no doubt the odd wager laid down.

It became the focal point of the local community to where the news of births, deaths and marriages would have swiftly winged their way. No doubt many a glass was raised to a new born or bride-to-be.

Then there were those unforgettable assemblages of fun and camaraderie when the hunting and cock fighting fraternity from around Madden, Middletown and Derrynoose would gather there.

Hunting the hare had always been synonymous with this famous watering hole. Annually the Tynan and Armagh Horse Club met up at Longnancy's to ride on horseback with their hounds. Such occasions were fittingly augmented by the attendance of folk singers from far and near, including the renowned Geordie Hanna, armed with their repertoires of hunting verses.

Stories and recollections of the cock fighting are manifold, when devotees from far and near would meet up early in the morning before setting off to Ward's Cross to begin their battles.

All that seems in the far distant past yet very much in living memory. The pub had never a shortage of visiting tourists many of whom had been told to seek the place out. Yes, indeed, Longnancy's was that famous.

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