I have described elsewhere on this page how I literally only spent a couple of hours in Holyhead whilst going to and coming from Dublin on the ferry. Having sampled two other hostelries in the town, one pretty good and one simply awful, I decided to visit a seperate place on the return journey, purely in the interests of VT research you understand.
I picked Bar 79 on a whim and it turned out to be a good choice. A clean and tidy bar with a good selection of real ales,many local, and a very obvious sports theme. There were several big screens showing sports channels. The service was quick and I sat down on a comfortable bench seat to watch the football results, it being a Saturday evening. Well, a winter Saturday in Wales means only one thing and that is rugby and the local rugby club duly appeared. The place had been lively enough before but it was absolutely bouncing when this lot turned up. In stark contrast to the Geroge where I had felt vaguely uncomfortable on a Friday lunchtime, there was absolutely no sense of menace here. The lads were very well behaved if noisy and I ended up in a rugby conversatio with a couple of them. Great fun.
OK, this place may not be to everybody's taste but if you like your sports in a comfy and welcoming bar, give it a go.
On another tip on this page I have described how I was left with a couple of hours on my hands in Holyhead due to the cancellation of my ferry by a Force 8 gale that was howling at the time. I had had a drink and a snack in a rather nice little pub called Gleeson's and, having some time left thought I'd try another hostelry, just for the purposes of comparison, you understand!
I happened by chance upon the George Hotel and decided I would try a pint there. As the image shows, it looks great from the outside, so in I went. I'd probably have been better admiring the exterior. this was a weekday lunchtime in filthy weather in November and yet the place was very full. Dance music was blaring from a jukebox at almost ear splitting volume. I went to the bar and was promptly ignored by the bar staff. When they eventually deigned to serve me the service was, how shall I put this, surly.
People were shouting all over the place, probably to be heard above the din and the pool table seemed to be the centre of attention. Shame the people playing appeared to be on the brink of physical violence towars each other. This place is what is described as "a rough house" where I come from, I really didn't like it. Give it a miss.
Finding myself with a couple of hours to spare in Holyhead following the weather cancellation of my ferry, I decided to have a brief wander round the town. I have mentioned the weather and it was foul, a Force 8 gale howling and an icy rain coming in sideways. Hardly surprising then that I decided to forego the other pleasures of the town and find a place for a quiet pint. It was still pre-lunch and not all were open so I was glad to see light on in Gleeson's. I wandered in and enquired whether they were open and the friendly lady behind the bar took a look at my slightly bedraggled and windswept appearance and took pity on me. I am not sure whether they were actually open or not but I was very grateful.
Having secured my pint, I had a bit of a look round. It is a pleasant little place with a vaguely Irish theme as the name may suggest. There was a newspaper on the bar and music playing quietly. People came and went and it is obviously a vey locals type of bar. I had heard stories, probably apocryphal, of the North Welsh being a bit funny about outsiders and reverting to the Welsh language when English speakers are present. I found no such behaviour here and ended up engaged in conversation with several friendly locals.
Feeling a bit peckish i enquired about food. There was no kitchen as such but a good selection of filled rolls at £1:50 each. The cheese and red onion pictured certainly filled a hole, simple but tasty.
There is nothing remarkable about Gleeson's but it is a decent, friendly pub so just my kind of place really.
the Iron Age Caer y Tŵr Hillfort on the summit of Holyhead Mountain in the care of Cadw;
Cadw is a Welsh word which means 'to keep'. Cadw is the Welsh Assembly Government's historic environment division. it aims to
improve access to
the historic environment of Wales. This includes historic buildings, ancient monuments, historic parks, gardens and landscapes, and underwater archaeology.
The Trefignath Burial Chamber is over 6,000 years old and is located between Holyhead and Trearddur Bay.
This impressive monument has recently been excavated. It is a Neolithic chambered tomb constructed in three phases, estimated to be from the 4th to early 3rd millenium BC. The first phase was at the western end of the tomb, that would have been covered with a circular cairn. The next chamber was a rectangular chamber with two stones marking the entrance. The eastern chamber was the final phase with it's dramatic entrance stones. The long cairn was extended to cover the new chamber. This last addition was dated by late Neolithic pottery of southern English type left as offerings at the entrance. There was some interest in the tomb in the Iron Age when a pit was dug at the east end.
This breathtaking cliff-top site on Holyhead/Holy Island is a 3 mile drive out of the town.The South Stack lighthouse is located on a small island reached via a descent of 400 steps down the steep mainland cliffs. The 28 m (91 ft) lighthouse was designed by Daniel Alexander. Visitors may tour the former engine room and exhibition area before climbing to the top of the lighthouse.
The whole area around the lighthouse is lovely. It boasts lovely coastal and hill walks, the visitor centre with cc TV to view nesting birds. (In summer over 4,000 pairs of seabirds nest at South Stack cliffs). You may also see porpoises and dolphins.
From Ellin's Tower visitor centre you can watch puffins, fulmars, guillemots and razorbills. The nearby cliffs contain some of the oldest rocks in Wales, dating back nearly 600 million years to a geological period called the Precambrian.
Car parking available at the South Stack Kitchen Cafe. Or the no. 22 bus runs from Holyhead, Summer Hill stop to South Stack Kitchen at 10.45, 14.30 and 17.00. Return times from South Stack are 11.00, 14.45 and 17.15.
Senior Citizens £3
Children (up to age 16) £2
The Breakwater Country Park is a 106 acre site well worth the visit if you are in town and kicking your heels for something to do. As well as an amazing variety of wildlife, the scenery is breathtaking, set against the backdrop of spectacular Holyhead Mountain and views of the Irish Sea.
Information Centre, Shop. Land Train around the park and harbour. Free entrance and parking.
To while away time whilst waiting for the ferry, you can step back in time at the oldest lifeboat station in Wales (circa. 1858). There is a wonderful collection of exhibits that tell the fascinating maritime history of this coastline.
Discover how life at sea was in days gone by, and how people lived (and died) during war as well as peacetime. Find out about the technologically advanced modern-day ferries that sail from Holyhead to Ireland. There are large models and exhibits from the past, as well as many interactive modern exhibits.
The museum is also accessible by wheelchair.
The Harbour Front Bistro offers hot or cold meals, homemade cakes and drinks.
Open every day 10.00am - 4.00pm, closed Christmas & New Year holidays.
Concessions - £1.50 / Family ticket - £6.50
NEWRY BEACH in HOLYHEAD is very pretty, and just minutes walk from the disappointing shopping area, and the Port/Train station. There is a tourist train there from June to October which runs every hour, taking trips along the promenade out along the break water and to the country park.
This is where the HOLY ISLAND FESTIVAL takes place each year. Also located in Newry Beach are the Maritime Museum, the Sailing Club and Marina and the Boat House hotel and restaurant.
Holyhead or Holy Island Marina is located on the north west tip of Wales which is itself part of the Isle of Anglesey. The marina is protected by 24 hour cctv, covering all marina berths and the harbour.
Holyhead and the island of Anglesey have hundreds of miles of amazing coastline with fabulous award winning beaches. It is a sailor's paradise.
Right...got a couple of hours to waste when you have missed a ferry ? I suggested spending the time in Lidl as it would be more interesting than Holyhead. The family decision was made to see what delights the metropolis of Holyhead held.
One motley collection of run-down shops later we stumbled upon the Roman fort. It sits just off the main street and is open to wander about. If anyone in Roman times was posted here then they would realise that they were right at the bottom rung of Roman society. Being sent here meant you would be at the right outer edge of civilization, the Siberia of the ancient world. Not much has changed.
The site area also includes the parish church and a chapel that was converted to Holyhead's first school. The church and the restored school are both supposed to be worth visting, but both (in a useful addition to the local tourist industry) were also firmly locked.
We also saw sighns to the maritime museum, but didn't get time to visit. I believ that it covers the history of the port and covers the huge numbers of shipwrecks in the area. Sailors who presumbly would rather allow their ships to be smashed against the rocks rather than have to call into Holyhead port.
I've noticed Skinners monument every time that I passed through the port. It stands proudly on a small hill directly behind the port (presuming you are approaching it from the Irish direction). He was somewhat of a local hero, who amongst other things led an inquiry as to why the steam packets plying from Holyhead to ireland were losing so muchg money and why much of the traffic was tranferring to Liverpool. The goverment agreed with his analysis and agreed to spend money updating ships and facilities on the route.
It cxame too late for Skinner, who was knocked off steam packet by a massive wave. His body wasn't recovered for several weeks. Locals suspect that he was found earlier, but his valuable were knicked and he was thrown back into the briony.
Freinds and locals raised the money to remember his life. I guess I ight have helped in this small way too.
In an effort to give Holyhead a 'landmark' structure and to try and encourage more people to spemd time (and money) in the town of Holyhead itself, rather than just hanging around the ferryport departure lonnge, a footbridge was built to connect the two. It cost some six million plus quid, with the tubular steel being imported from Italy. It is a sad indictment of the state of Welsh heavy industry that they couldn't make it themselves.
It's an impressivly curvey construction, which I thought somehow reminded me of a woman's genitalia. My wife claimed that I must be wrped and must have looked at too many ink-blot tests. I won't tell you my rejoinder.
Either way, an impressive bridge has just one main failing : namely that it delivers you to Holyhead town centre. I think all places look alot better when bathed in spring sunshine. Not Holyhead.