John McCullagh June 14, 2006
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Now that renovation of McCann’s Bakery is almost complete we can expect shortly to be again bombarded with ‘evidence’ that Newry’s ‘new’ Museum is in fact the very same building that was entitled ‘The New Castell’ on the earliest known map of ‘The Towne of The Newrye’ – the same building that Canavan, Newry’s definitive historian, referred to as the Abbott’s House.

Is it? Does it matter? Are some people working to different agendas? Is that map itself authoritative?  Who drew it? When and why? For whom? With what end in purpose?

It is time for us to examine the evidence critically and indeed to formulate alternative hypotheses. The central portion of the ‘map’ is reproduced here and we would like your critical appraisal of it!

You will note that some second hand has deliberately scored out the caption beneath the ‘Castell’ and replaced it with the ‘signature’ of H Bagnall. This handwriting, it is said by those defending the multi-million pound investment, is that of Lord Burghley, a Queen’s representative in Ireland. Why would he do such a thing? What purpose would that serve? When did he vandalise the map?

Indeed, can anybody accept, in an era when accurate drawings were required for military reasons that these crudely drawn houses scattered almost willy-nilly over the page constitute a map to be taken seriously?

Is that Castell on fire? Or has someone interfered with the original drawing to erase or obscure some other pre-existing building?

Wait!!! Just off our portion is a crudely drawn tiny ‘tower’ entitled The North Gate (the only portion  you can see is the last two letters). 

Was this the original Newry Castle that later became known as Crilly’s (Creely’s – the spelling, like that of Bagenal, often changes) Castle? The very same one whose ruins were bull-dozed in the 1960’s by an earlier Council, along with practically all of ancient Newry (Upper and Lower North and Water Streets, Market Street and Market Square and part of Castle Street) to make way for the traffic chaos that became Newry’s New Road?

Free tickets to the upcoming Ryder Cup at the K Club for those who supply all the definitive ‘correct’ answers to these questions.

We will shortly take a further close look at this whole matter!

The same H Bagnall was killed by the forces of Hugh O’Neill at the Battle of the Yellow Ford about a decade later. Above we reproduce an almost contemporary map of the battle site and suggest you compare the two maps.

Which one has a greater air of authority and authenticity? 

No prizes for this one!!

… Abbott’s House – or Castle ? …

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