I would like to submit this short article in response to Tom Wharton’s query about Newry’s Columban Hall…
Fairy Tree, across Patrick Street from Columban Hall
This hall was situated on land which now holds the premises of Kehoe’s garage, Patrick Street. I lived in Kilmorey Terrace, Needham Street and I heard many stories about the Columban Hall.
In the early 1950s it was owned and run by the Newry Labour Party. The driving force in the Newry Labour Party at this time was Tommy Markey. It was run on the lines of the Indo, the Catholic workingman’s Club and the Foresters.
Saturday night was the big night for the Labour Club with, as you say, many local bands including Jackie Hearst. Dances continued until 3am. There was a bar.
Mrs Sally Brady now aged 102, who lived directly opposite, told me today about the ructions and the fights that regularly occurred outside the hall. Sally is still a mine of information about that period and before.
The premises were also known as the Labour Club. I remember Gerry Mulholland being harassed as doorman by queues trying to gain entry at a late hour.
From the 1930s to the 1950s the hall was known as the Columban Hall where the Knights of Columbanus regularly held their meetings.
It was of course at that stage tee-total. Sally tells me she frequently danced there and also in the Minor Town Hall which was a hall to the rear of the present Town Hall.
In the 1920s and 1930s it was a school premises.
Sally remembers the children playing out in the street on their way home from school.
Before that again, it was the Newry (Armagh) Courthouse.