If Percy French had ever written about this pub, there’s only one title which would fit:

The Star of the County Down

Dying For A Pint

Dying For A Pint

Murder in the Maghera Inn

As always in this part of Ireland, there are several interpretations of what happened on the night of 28 January 1832. But one thing is clear. Marcus Annesley went into Thomas Newsam’s Public House (now The Maghera Inn) and shot two people – William Kerr and John Gribben.  Gribben died one week later. The bullet struck the wall behind the bar and the mark is still there, if you look carefully.

But why on earth would Marcus Annesley have done such a thing? Well, it was a time of religious tension in the north of Ireland (when isn’t, of course!) and Annesley was the leader of the local Orange Order, a protestant organisation not always well inclined towards the catholic church. Whether or not he shouted “...to hell with the Pope and popery” before firing the fateful shot is debatable, but he was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to transportation to Australia for life.

Annesley’s wife later joined him in Australia. Somewhat ironically, their eldest daughter married a catholic there in 1852 and brought her children up as catholic.