Encyclopaedia of Ireland

Professor Lindsay Proudfoot is responsible for the Newry entry in the otherwise wonderful reference work, The Encyclopaedia of Ireland (Gill & Macmillan 2003). 

It is difficult to comprehend why the compilers would overlook Dr John McCavitt for this task (indeed, they asked John to write the entry for the Battle of the Yellow Ford – and it is fair and accurate), or indeed Tony Canavan, author of Frontier Town, and instead, turn to an Englishman who knows nothing about our town!

It’s enough to make your blood boil!

‘Newry’, he asserts, ‘remained ‘a collection of mud cabbins’ until the early eighteenth century’.

The much-vaunted and highly expensive developments of the Bagenal century – then just ending – are totally ignored. Indeed there exist a number of maps Proudfoot could have consulted to disprove his stupid assertion!

Just as stupidly and inaccurately, he asserts that Muireartach Mac Lochlainn ‘established’ the Cistercian abbey around which the town of Newry grew.   

He refers to .. ‘further improvements to the Newry Ship Canal in 1830-50’ when everyone knows the Ship Canal didn’t exist before these dates, in order to be ‘improved’.

‘More recently’, he asserts, ‘the town’s fortunes have depended on the state of cross-border trade and the relative strength of the English and Irish currencies’.

Wrong twice over, professor! There are no English or Irish currencies. The former ought to say British, and the latter European.

Proudfoot concludes:

‘In recent years redevelopment and bomb damage have significantly eroded the town’s built heritage.’

As an implacable opponent of the recent ‘armed struggle’ campaign, I find myself in an invidious position refuting the above assertion, but I for one have no knowledge of any notable architecture in Newry Town that was destroyed by bombs. 

And, with the exception of the (officially sanctioned) North Street demolition of half a century ago, I know of no redevelopment programme that has failed to clean up and improve the town’s overall appearance.

There is little architectural merit – I agree – in the Buttercrane and Quays developments (but the Canal Court Hotel?) but these were derelict sites to begin with.  To what can he possibly refer?


But this is surely bound to spark some controversy on the Threads pages of this web-site.

Go ahead, folks, lay into me!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.