| One hundred and thirty-seven years later and the Old
Railway Hotel as it looks today under the management of the fifth generation of the Armstrong family. E3642.
Railway Street in the late 19th century, with the Railway Hotel (today the Robins Nest) on the corner.
Visitors to the Robins Nest in Bachelors Walk, may or may not be aware that on entering, they are actually crossing the threshold of one of the town's most famous historical buildings.
This year, the popular bar and restaurant celebrates its 137th birthday in the hands of its present owner, Mr. Keiran Clancy, the fifth generation of the family of John Armstrong who established the building in the year 1848.
Originally known as the Railway Hotel, the establishment almost immediately took on a very good reputation for the high standards of hospitality and cuisine provided for its patrons.
From John Armstrong, the managing of the hotel passed into the hands of Annie Armstrong, who was proprietress for over 60 years before passing it on to her brother, Michael.
It was when Michael's daughter, Helen, took over that the long-established Railway Hotel took on the new name of The Robins Nest and its new image of bar/restaurant.
Passing into the hands of the fourth generation, Helen's daughter, Maura, was the next to take over and from Maura, the present owner, Keiran Clancy now manages the business.
Of the many memories that have been cherished down through the years by each generation of the family, a copy of the maids' duties in the late 19th century is, perhaps, that which to Keiran gives the most insight into the hotel, as it was when his ancestors first opened it.
A far cry from what his employees today are occupied with, the maids in the late 19th century had to rise at an early hour to fulfil their first duty of lighting the fires by 7.15 a.m.
The rest of the duties were as follows: sitting room brushed and dusted, grates polished every morning and washed on Friday mornings. Stairs and hall dusted and polished every morning. Step cleaned. Milk skimmed. Breakfast prepared between 8.30 and 9.00 a.m. Hens fed after breakfast, hen the dishes were to be washed, boots cleaned, bedrooms done (washed on Fridays), potatoes washed, dinner ready by 2.30, water on, dishes washed, hens' feed steeped, porridge made, kitchens cleaned and range done. Phew! Most of the old character of the building has been preserved down through the years, although a fire in 1978 led to the destruction of the rear.
A new function room was built which has since more than compensated for the disastrous effects first felt by the fire in the late seventies.
Discos, private functions and live entertainment have made the present-day Robins Nest one of the liveliest and most popular entertainment spots in the town.
The traditional policy of striving to meet the needs of their customers is as apparent today as it was in the days when John and Annie Armstrong made their mark.
The recent introduction of live music from some of Ireland's leading bands has added a new dimension to what are otherwise, dull Saturday afternoons in the town.
However, it is, perhaps, the high quality of the food and bar service, which has made the Robins Nest capture such a large slice of the booming bar trade in the town.
The plush surroundings of the bar lounge create the ideal setting for a relaxing midday meal. A five-star menu at affordable, lunch-time prices and the prompt waitress service give a new meaning to what is traditionally termed `pub grub'.
Providing for private functions is another of the many services available at the Robins Nest.
Weddings, birthday parties, anniversaries, etc., can all be celebrated in the spacious function room at the Robins Nest.
Now celebrating 137 years, the fifth generation of the Armstrong family has maintained the traditional customer care policy which was firmly established by the founder of the business in the mid-19th century.