History of Denvir's

"There has been an inn on the site at least since 1642 when John Macgreevy built a store house, a gable which is still standing facing English Street with a stone set high up, inscribed John and Ann Macgreevy, 1642", Maurice N. Hayes, 1984. 

John had in fact been a soldier in the Irish Army of Charles, and was awarded the land on which the inn was built as payment for his military service. English Quarter itself was the first part of the town to be built, so it is quite possible that Denvir's of 1642 is the reconstruction of an earlier building - the street pattern is certainly much older than 17th century. 

The name ‘Denvir’s Hotel' has been recorded from 1881, named after the famous Robert Denvir (who lived to the ripe old age of 100!). The Denvirs were a local family of Norman extraction (probably d'Anver) and the name was largely peculiar to Lecale. In 1804, a member of the family, Patrick Denver, fled Ireland and settled in Virginia, USA. His grandson, James William Denver, in the middle of the 19th century after service in the American army, headed the ordnance survey of the Rocky Mountains and gave his name to the town of Denver, Colorado. 

As the oldest surviving coaching inn in Ireland Denvir’s was the starting point in 1809 for the first passenger coach service between Downpatrick and Belfast. Fares on the coach, the ‘St Patrick’ were eleven shillings, four pence and a ha’penny (57p) for an inside seat and seven shillings and seven pence (38p) for an outside one.

It is interesting to note that there is a tradition that the area inside Denvir’s yard and in the recess between the front door and the box room window is said to be a debtors’ sanctuary. According to local lore when the cathedral was in ruins the sanctuary was carried down English Street to the front of the building!

Sources:
1. The Rocky Mountain News, 14/02/1950
2. Maurice N. Hayes, "Denvir's Hotel, English Street", Lecale Miscellany, No. 2, 1984.
3. "Denvir's, A Brief History", Dick Oram, unknown.