The History of the Pillar House
The Pillar House was originally built in the early 19th Century and operated as The National Bank of Ireland until the end of the 1880s. Indeed the “National Bank of Ireland” is deeply engraved and clear to see on the limestone lintel on the front of the building. When the National Bank of Ireland moved to what is now Bank Chambers on Society Street, the Pillar House was bought by Mr Timothy Dolan who continued to operate a family-run Grocery and Public House. In September 1956 the business was sold to Godfrey & Evelyn Gibbons. To this day it has operated as a family business. After Godfrey & Evelyn’s retirement in 1992, the business was taken over by their sons Raymond & Godfrey and has developed into a renowned town centre Bar & Restaurant now run by Raymond and his wife Claire.
National Bank Ballinasloe
The Pillar House was originally built in the early 19th Century and operated as The National Bank of Ireland until the end of the 1880s.
Situated on Society Street, The Pillar House is located close to the Fair Green where the famous Ballinasloe Horse Fair takes place during the first week of October. It is one of the oldest fairs in Europe and was renowned historically as the largest fair of its kind in Europe.
The Pillar House is a listed building built in c. 1830 and is one of the finest architectural buildings in Ballinasloe town centre. There are six elaborate Tuscan columns that flank the two doorways and support the engraved fascia which pays tribute to its former history as a bank with a deeply engraved “National Bank of Ireland”. The stone carving is clearly the work of skilled stonemasons and carvers. The Stained glass sidelights on either side of the red panelled doors and traditional spoked fanlights hark back to a more traditional era. In the late 1800s when the National Bank moved premises, its use was transferred to licensed premises and grocery and was an agent for W&A Gilbeys, a well known Wine & Spirit Merchant in London & Dublin. The banners which were painted in Red & Gold Leaf over the windows and doors at this time have now been restored to their former glory.
Operating as a licensed premises since the late 1800s, The Pillar House is a traditional bar with a Lisacannor Stone floor and a listed cedar wood latted ceiling. A large W&A Gilbeys mirror takes pride of place inside the bar counter while outside the bar is a collage of all of the UK & Ireland National Bank Managers of 1884. The Tack Room, to one side of the main bar, with its solid fuel stove is a cosy room and is perfect for small dinner parties & get-togethers. Its back bar and restaurant area is the perfect venue for private parties and functions.
The town of Ballinasloe
Ballinasloe has always served as a meeting point, situated as it is on the River Suck and was commonly a hosting area, for clansmen from local tribes. Indeed its name derives from Béal Átha na Sluaıghe, the Irish for “Ford-mouth of the Hostings”. Evidence on the date of the fair’s origin is scant but the town’s traditional role as a meeting place justifies the local traditional belief that this is an ancient event. By the late 18th century, the fair was being reported in “The Times” as involving the sale of “65,758 sheep, and 6,565 bullocks” while in the early 19th century the paper reported it as “the largest of its kind in Europe” (1804) and “the greatest in the British empire” (1816).
A local land-owing family, the le Poer Trenches, who received the Earldom of Clancarthy shaped much of the 18th and 19th-century history of the town. They exercised control over the fair owing to their ownership of the land around the town, coming known as the “Baron of the Fair”. They sponsored the housing of the Farming Society of Ireland in Ballinasloe and in 1840 the Ballinasloe District Agricultural Society was formed. An Agricultural Hall was opened on Farming Society Street now renamed Society Street.