History: Looking Back

Looking Back history feature: The flash Irish publican and cabman

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Looking Back

The Fermanagh Hotel when it was known as the Kiama Hotel in 1880 (circled).  The Fermanagh Hotel when it was known as the Kiama Hotel in 1880 (circled).


DESCRIBED as a “flash looking little cab driver”, Irishman Jimmy Barton and his wife Elizabeth established what is today considered Kiama’s oldest operating business.

Trading as the Kiama Hotel on the corner of Teralong and Shoalhaven Streets, the Bartons licensed ‘The Fermanagh’ on April 6 1853 making it the seaside village’s third public house.

Less the Bartons would realise at the time that the watering hole they opened would continue to flourish for another 160 years (2011).

Barton named his pub after his birthplace, the county of Fermanagh in Northern Ireland. It was a wise choice for the inn’s ‘sign’. The majority of the population of Kiama was of Northern Ireland origin and the familiar name of Fermanagh, no doubt, attracted many an Irish settler for a ‘long beer’ or two. Barton wasn’t…

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About Mick Roberts

A journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of Australian pubs and associated industries for over 30 years. He is working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick managed several community newspapers. He has been editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), the Sydney city newspaper, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW.


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