Isn’t it amazing how expressive – how illustrative – indeed how thoroughly familiar are the old black-and-white photos of our childhood? The central figure in this poignant tableau is Ann Boyle of Castle Street. Her proud father Louis Boyle – Newry taxi-driver when there were no more than a half-dozen of them altogether – shows off his girl in her beautiful First Holy Communion dress. Ann is now a retired schoolteacher (St Patrick’s, The Meadow) dramatis persona and leading light of the Newry Drama Festival Committee these decades past.
I understand from a friend that her sister featured here in the doorway of their home is recently deceased. On Journal a short while ago we lamented the passing of Ann’s famous brother Kevin. And your editor remembers fondly her late younger brother Jim. The scene here is the pavement outside their home in Castle Street of old, just across the road from McCanns Bakery.
Next door neighbours Mary and Brendan McSherry are also featured. Mary has the ubiquitous (of that period) bow in her hair, a ball in her hand (ball games were a favourite girlie street pursuit, always accompanied by the chanting of rhymes and songs) and the casual, legs-crossed, curiously camera-shy attitude of the twelve-year-old little girl. Her brother Brendan (now of McManus Court, Arthur Street) is dressed in the common short trousers of the period, with attached ‘braces’ that fastened with two buttons at the front, a wooly top and shoes with short socks.
He is walking past the ‘entry’ which gave access to the backs of these homes, at the top of Hyde Terrace. These people were all part of that great community which was uprooted in order for the authorities to drive an ugly dual-carriageway through the oldest and most character-rich district of our town.
PS Ann got 12/6 for her Communion!