The Low Ground

A popular ‘photograph’ of Old Newry carries the image on women in 1828 washing clothes in the Mill Race which continued past the site in Trevor Hill into Water Street to Mill Street and Seymour‘s Green – a swamp then.

The original is actually a lithograph presently held in the Ulster Museum. Today the remains of that Mill Race empties instead into the Clanrye River just beyond the Stone Bridge.

Newry’s old market was of course open-air and in the Market Street/Market Square area, an area which stretched from the bottom of High Street (named not for its appropriate hill but after St Patrick’s High Church at its summit) to Mill Street/Castle Street and part of North Street. There was a ‘smoothing iron-shaped’ red-brick building in its centre that was the Butter Market, until its demolition in the 1960s.  It also traded in other farm produce such as eggs and vegetables. This also was the vicinity for the quarterly ‘Hiring Fairs’ where poor people hired out their sons and daughters for six months at a time to farmers from a wide catchment area.

Our neighbouring city of Armagh still has an area known as The Shambles. Newry too had such a designated area, which was in the Castle Street area near to McCann’s Bakery/Bagenal’s Castle. On the lower ground below that were many (10 in number listed in Bassett’s Directory of 1886) tanneries stretching from Marcus Square to the beginning of Chapel Street. 


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