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Taking the Crooked Glen to Crumlin

TEAMWORK: The Burns brothers in the Crooked Glen in Crumlin, Laurence and Damien TEAMWORK: The Burns brothers in the Crooked Glen in Crumlin, Laurence and Damien
By Michael Jackson

THROUGH a process of Anglicisation, Crumlin is among the thousands of Irish towns and areas whose place names are virtually lost in translation. Situated in Antrim’s hills, the Crumlin derives its name from the Irish ‘An Cromghlinn’, meaning The Crooked Glen, which is the name adopted by one the town’s most exciting new pubs.
Headed up by North Belfast businessman Laurence Burns and his brother Damien, The Crooked Glen is bringing the original meaning of the name Crumlin back into everyday use in the town and breathing new life into one of the Main Street’s most prominent buildings.
Laurence has spent the last 11-years leading operations at the popular city centre nightclub, Thompson’s Garage, and has also worked on a number of the city’s biggest events and festivals, including our own Best of the North awards ceremony. However, when the opportunity to run his own bar and restaurant arose he jumped at the opportunity, and while aiming to bring something new to the area he said paying homage to the town’s Irish-speaking heritage was vital.
“I was always trying to keep my ear to the ground so that when a pub came up I would be in contention for it,” he said.
“I had done that through Jeeves Limited and then the opportunity came up just before Christmas.
“There was an opportunity for me to take it on – along with my brother who is my business partner – and give it a wee bit more care and attention.
“It had been O’Connor’s twice before under two different businesses. The previous owner was O’Connor and the guy who took it on firstly was O’Connor, so I didn’t want to be the third O’Connor’s and that’s where the Crooked Glen came into it. There’s a big Irish speaking community up in Crumlin and I just thought they would appreciate that the name came from Irish origins. That’s where the name came from and it has gotten a really good response.
“I got a logo and then used the boys from North Belfast Graphic to implement the artwork outside on the walls, the menus, and all the rest of it.”
He continued: “I fell in love with it the first time I came into it. I just loved the character of it.
“The first time I came in was as a customer, I sat downstairs and had a bit of craic with a few of the locals who are now my regulars. They were giving me a bit of stick and saying that if you’re eating in here you have to keep the fire filled up. We were just having a bit of banter – I actually did get up and put a bit of coal on the fire. I hadn’t even seen upstairs at that stage, but I had my lunch and said to Damien that I had a really good feeling about the place. I knew I liked it right away, I had a feeling for it and I could see the potential.”
In terms of its space, The Crooked Glen has it all – a cosy fireside bar, a beautiful upstairs restaurant and a fantastic outdoor area. In the short six weeks since taking over the venue, the Burns brothers have implemented an exciting new menu, improved service standards and have lined up a number of talented artists for their weekly live music sessions.
“The responses and reviews that I’m getting is that we’ve taken a bit of creativity from Belfast and brought it up into Crumlin – that’s no disrespect to anything that was already up here,” Laurence said.
“It’s the first time that things have been done in this way up here. In the restaurant it will be a bit more of a service led experience, downstairs is your good hearty pub grub with the music, the fire and the pints, upstairs you have a bit more of a refined dining experience.”
By offering everything from food to live music and sports, The Crooked Glen aims to have “something for everybody” in the town.
“I don’t think Crumlin has had that calibre of musician here on a regular basis. We want to bring the best of what we can afford here, we can’t charge on the door, but we’ll put on the best music possible with a varied selection on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”
He added: “Crumlin sometimes feels like you’re in Donegal because it has that country village feeling, but you’re also on the doorstep of Belfast, so people are used to going in and out of the city and sampling what it has to offer.
“We’re trying to take the good things that are in Belfast and the good things of village life in Crumlin and combine them into what should be a strong brand in the Crooked Glen.”

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