Where we are
The Red Door stands proudly on the banks of Lough Swilly in Inishowen, Co. Donegal. This sea inlet was made famous by the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ penned in the 1700’s by John Newton. Newton was a slave ship captain who had a spiritual epiphany after finding refuge from an Atlantic storm in Lough Swilly and later became a Church of England clergyman.
History of the House
Originally called St. John’s, the first part of this country house was built in 1789 and various extensions and renovations have brought it to its current appearance. Ownership over the past two centuries has included some well-known names including the owners of Watts Distillery in Derry, the Stewart-Libertys, (relations of the Liberty of London family) and musician Phil Coulter.
A connection remains to this day with Nell Stewart-Liberty whose parents and grandparents owned St. John’s before selling it to Phil Coulter. Nell lived in St. John’s until she was 25 and is the former publisher of Social & Personal magazine. She now lives in Château Soussac in Bordeaux, France with her husband Joe Beattie. The wine produced in the couple’s vineyard, Château Soussac AOC Bordeaux, is served in The Red Door restaurant.
Reggie and Phil Ryan bought the house from Phil Coulter in 1979 and opened its doors as a restaurant for the first time in 1980. Long before the internet and social media channels, the restaurant’s excellent reputation grew, both near and far.
Previous well known guests have included:
- John Hume, Nobel Peace prize winner and Northern Ireland politician
- Former US Senator Ted Kennedy and his sister Jean Kennedy Smith, former US Ambassador to Ireland
- Teddy Kennedy Jr, son of former US Senator Ted Kennedy
- Richard Neal, former US politician
- Former US politician, Tip O’Neill
- Seamus Heaney, Nobel prize winning Irish poet
- Brian Friel, Irish playwright
- Gay Byrne, Irish TV personality
- Jim Sharkey, Irish ambassador to Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Scandinavia and Russia
- Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland
- Former Taoiseach of Ireland, Garret FitzGerald
- Sir Alex Ferguson, Manager of Manchester United Football Club
- Mike Murphy, Irish TV personality
The Launch of The Red Door
St John’s was relaunched as The Red Door by the new management on 13 February 2009 and has retained the excellent reputation so well cultivated by its previous owners. The Red Door is a family-owned establishment, hosting many family functions and celebrations. It is extremely popular for small conferences and exquisite boutique weddings and can accommodate parties of up to 100 people with private rooms available for that special occasion.