It is with great sadness and regret that I announce the death of Mr. Eamon Benedict (Benny) Hughes, one of Newry’s great ‘High Street’ characters.
Ben died following a short illness at Daisy Hill hospital on Sunday 21st March.
Many people knew him as just Benny or Ben but we his family knew him by many names …..daddy, dad or just plain da! ……. indeed in the case our dear departed sister, Valerie, it was The Bendick !!
Although it was a most sorrowful occasion, through this column I would like take time to reflect on the long and full life that Benny led.
In many ways we can celebrate the life and times of Benny through his three great passions his trade as a carpenter, his family as a husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather and of course his love of music. As many people will know, Benny in his time cwas a very accomplished musician.
Benny was a hard worker: he followed in the tradition of his father before him and went into the woodworking trade as a carpenter. He took great pride in the quality of his work and had a keen eye when it came to shaping a new piece of wood into an article of furniture, or mending and restoring broken doors or windows. I remember, with my brothers and sisters, growing up in High Street, the smell of freshly cut wood, and the sawdust and wood shavings in the air when the workshop was at full tilt. In later years Benny, like the man he was, turned to providing employment for his family and built the family shop which we were to run for many years until eventually all of us left the family home to follow our individual careers.
Another great passion of Benny’s was music. He played the clarinet in most of the great marching bands in the area, St Catherine’s, Camlough and the Plough band of Newry. The older members of our family will remember well him sitting practicing in the kitchen in the evenings – then spending almost as much time cleaning and caring for the instrument he played so well.
His biggest passion though was his family and as a husband, father and provider he certainly did us proud. His entire life revolved around our mother, Rosie, and all of us, his children. Rosie passed away in 1992 which was a great blow to the family and to be honest, I don’t think he ever got over her loss. As with all families we had our highs and lows: the other lows in family life at High Street were the death of our baby sister, Angela in 1963 and a few years ago (2005) the second eldest Valerie. Throughout these times Benny was the rock and the strength that carried the family through.
Of course as a family we had our good times as well and Benny was always there sitting quietly with his pipe nodding approvingly and always ready with friendly advice or one of his many witty stories or jokes. This is how we will remember him and although he has passed from this world in body his spirit will always be with us his family.
[Additional notes from Editor, Newry Journal]
For Flo and I, our fondest married memories are of Saturday nights spent in the congenial company of old friends in St Catherine’s Club on Merchant’s Quay in the 70s – 90s. Many have passed on to their eternal reward. A few years ago when I first started this website I visited one old friend, Ben Hughes to share fond memories of his dear departed wife Rosie and all those others.
Ben entertained me in his home and gave me useful material – for example, on the old Butter Market that was just yards from his door. He also gave me the Titanic poem that can be found here.
I shall always hold fond memories of Ben Hughes in my heart.