At the heart of a community

Trevor and Roisin McCann’s Corner House bar in Lurgan has a truly symbiotic relationship with the surrounding community.

LCN reported in 2013 on the huge changes wrought by Trevor and Roisin McCann to their new charge, the Corner House bar on the Derrymacash Road at Lurgan.

Since then, the couple have worked hard to further enhance the iconic venue and to re-establish it as a popular community hub.

And the success of those efforts was marked at the end of June, when Trevor and Roisin collected the Community Bar of the Year title during the LCN Gala Awards at the Europa in Belfast. The award, which is run in conjunction with media partner, Q Radio, seeks to reward a pub that has worked hard to establish itself as a useful and valued resource at the heart of its own area – a real home-from-home for its regular customers.

In the five years since their initial refurbishment of the venue, Trevor and Rosin have instigated a second phase of improvements – the Parlour Room can now be used to cater for functions of up to 120 guests – ideal for community christenings, weddings or public meetings.

And planning for phase three, which will involve a community-orientated development in the space outside the Corner House, is already well advanced.

Speaking after the LCN Awards, Trevor – who comes from Derrymacash – said that he and Roisin had been overwhelmed by the amount of support they have received from their local community since taking over the Corner House in 2013:

“Before I opened the pub, I hand-delivered letters all around the households here, just telling them what I was doing and appealing for everyone’s support and ideas. Since then, there has been a lovely community spirit around all of this and when the LCN Awards came up, people just rallied around….We brought a team in and we made a video about the bar and everything that goes on here and we also encouraged people to cast their vote for us, which I am very glad to say, they did!”

The Corner House often finds itself at the centre of community activity. A recent litter-pick started and ended at the pub, where those who took part enjoyed their lunch courtesy of Trevor and Roisin.

“I just like to feel that we’re able to give back to the community as much as we can,” added Trevor. “What is really lovely here is the atmosphere, even if you are outside brushing up or whatever, people passing by are beeping horns and asking if you’re OK, it’s a great community spirit and that kind of thing just gives you the confidence to go forward and go in for this type of award.”

Before Trevor took on the Corner House in 2013, he was best known locally as the proprietor of the town’s long-established Cellar Bar. When he and Roisin decided to invest an undisclosed sum to refurbish the Corner House, it signalled a new era for the venue.

The bar had been a popular haunt for revellers from all over the country when The Embankment nightclub opened its doors in 2001. Prior to the arrival of its new owners, however, and as part of the ailing Diamond Group portfolio, the Corner House had seen its trade fall completely away.

Trevor’s decision to take on the bar marked a sea-change in his personal and professional life:

“With the Cellar Bar in Lurgan, we had become king of the clubs in the area, but I felt we had taken it as far as it could go,” recalls Trevor. “I really wanted to change the pace so I decided to follow my heart. I came back home to the place where I grew up and I opened a new bar in an area that really needed it.”

As a result, the Corner House now sits at the heart of its local community. From the moment it opened, says Trevor, it received the good will and support of those in the area and he is now very excited about phase three of the rolling improvements at the Corner House and building an even stronger relationship with the bar’s growing customer base.

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