‘A Blood Red Autumn: Thomas Russell and the Irish Rising of 1803’ by Francis P Gallagher is designed to shed more light on a subject which till now has received little historical research. The book is available locally at Easons and Waterstones.
We finally met Peter Shea, son of the author of this book. With his wife Lynn, Peter – who hails from Adelaide, Australia now, though born in Belfast – is on a 10 day tour of Europe (Yes! Europe, no less) and called with your editor in an attempt to find his father’s grave in St Mary’s – and to get a quick look-round Newry.
‘Roll the Credits’ is a limited edition biopic of the life’s work and achievements of Newry’s Man of the Century, Sean Hollywood, and is our first book review. Hurry! There may yet be a few copies in Easons, Savages or the Sean Hollywood Arts Centre. This will be a Collector’s Item.
‘The Yew Tree at the Head of the Strand’ was published in 2001 by Liverpool University Press and, a paperback of about 200 pages, retails [or it did when I purchased my copy] at the hefty price of around
The research and writing of ‘Frontier Town : An illustrated History of Newry’ was undertaken by Tony Canavan when he was curator of Newry Museum over a decade ago. Though Canavan is a famous name in Newry, Tony is from Belfast. He returns here shortly to give a lecture in the Carlingford Lough series. I’ll be there.
I am an ardent fan of this wonderful history. It is excellently researched and reads like a racy narrative. We are very lucky to have such a tome at our disposal – that is, those of us who purchased early and have looked after our copy. I say this because Blackstaff [ISBN 0-85640-430-6] unfortunately bound this paperback volume with a brittle gum than deteriorates with time, and most copies are by now, literally in bits!
I seldom hear reference made to Canavan’s work locally – in Newry History Society, for example – and wonder if begrudgery has again raised its ugly head. Certainly any localised research must begin here. His Preface succinctly expresses the role of the town in Irish history. Personally I still prefer Frontier Town to Newry City, the former conjuring thoughts of our pivotal role so often in the past: the latter a sop – from QE2 – to aspiring ‘spinners’.
Those of us who lived through much of the twentieth century may take exception to parts of his final chapters, though it is always most difficult to assess living history. He wrongly identifies Irish Labour [I was a member and attended Annual Conferences in Liberty Hall, Dublin] on Newry Council with Northern Ireland Labour Party and casts the principled rump led by Tommy McGrath as ‘dissidents’ when they were faithful to party policies, whereas Pat McMahon – whom he extols – went on to unfairly allocate homes on the basis of ‘I want my bite of the cherry!’
He dates the Great Hunger from 1844-1849 and alleges it had no effect on the town. Readers of Workhouse History on these pages will disagree! There are other anomalies but errors are few.
If you only ever read one book about Newry, make sure it is Canavan’s!
I know nothing at all about the book I’m about to ‘review’ except that it was entitled ‘Voices and the Sound of Drums’ and it was written by Patrick Shea and published in 1981 by Blackstaff.
I came across this short excerpt and was mightily impressed. I’ll really have to make an effort to locate it (Amazon, again!) and buy a copy. I hope you conclude likewise.
During our lunch period I walked along North Street, a tumbledown part of old Newry, to the Butter Market and found myself in the midst of a hiring fair; a fair in which the merchandise was human beings. Those doing business were standing about in small groups, talking quietly; a sturdy man holding out for what he thought he was worth as a ploughman, a rosy-cheeked servant girl listening and nodding as details of the offered engagement were explained to her by a farmer and his wife, a mother handing over her fourteen-year-old son on the understanding that in return for his apprentice labour on a farm he would be kept and given three meals a day and after six months she would be paid perhaps five or six pounds.
Hiring fairs were peculiar to the northern part of Ireland.
Do any of you know this book? Was Patrick Shea a relative of Jack, our Laughing Policeman of Derrybeg Lane? And of Dorothy (Dodo to us rude and uncouth schoolboys, although I remember this dear and unassuming teacher taking us for amateur drama practice in the living room of her own home in Derrybeg Lane on Saturday afternoons, for no reward!). Gone now to her eternal reward, it’s too late to tell her how much I appreciated her.
[Yes I know the latter two were brother and sister, and were O’Shea – but that doesn’t exclude the possibility of some familial relationship with the author!]
P.S. I’ve just received an e-mail from Peter, the son of the author of this book. He lives now in Australia but is visiting us in May. And YES, Jack and Dorothy were brother and sister to Patrick.
I’d love to meet him then. Perhaps he will loan me a copy of the book, so I can do a proper review!)
STOP PRESS *** STOP PRESS *** STOP PRESS *** STOP PRESS *** STOP PRESS ***Mourne Country by E E Evans has been reprinted for Christmas 2005 market. ***
Despite endless hints, not ONE of my large family saw fit to purchase me a copy for a Christmas present. Would YOU like to make an old man very happy?