The Hobbies in town

Long ago and for many years in Newry we had the pleasure and indeed excitement of an annual visit of a Travelling Fair that was more popularly referred to by locals as ‘The Hobbies’ or ‘The Hobby Horses’.

The allocated site was the Market in John Mitchell Place: in earlier days prior to the erection of the Medical Clinic at the William Street end, this encompassed a much larger area.

At the arrival of what seemed an endless convoy of trucks and caravans the excitement mounted and the somewhat impatient looks on the youngsters’ faces was plain to be seen.

Local young men were hired to assist in the mammoth task of off-loading and erecting the gargantuan construction. The work was indeed difficult but – for these locals at least, seeing the children’s expressions as the Fair gradually took shape compensated for the hard labour.

Then after what seemed a lifetime came the big day, the ‘Opening Night’. In no time the Market Place was packed as a mass of people had already been queuing outside the locked gates.

The owner, a Belfast man named Billy Erskine and his team of regular employees were known to most Newry folk.

Here not only did we have a fairground but a wonderful venue for parents and their children, friends meeting and young boys and girls getting acquainted. Many a romantic relationship developed there. The community spirit was brilliant as many people from all walks of life congregated there. All in all everyone certainly had an enjoyable time.

In addition to all this it was also an opportunity for some young people to earn some money doing various jobs. The usual weekly wage was thirty bob

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