John McCullagh June 25, 2004
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‘Once’, Fabian went on, ‘my father ordered me on to Hill Street with the handcart laden with herring, to catch the shoppers who mightn’t make it as far as the market.’


‘Pat Phillips, my cousin, who was also selling herrings, protested to the town inspector Mickey Short.  He banished me from the scene.  Pat’s brother, Larry is still selling there!

The Newry Market, John Mitchel Place, Mary Street area, derelict for most of the week, would suddenly spring to life on Thursdays and Saturdays.  The skeleton wooden stalls donned their grey canvas covers as the Belfast traders piled in.  They carried huge wickerwork baskets filled with new and second-hand clothes, and shoes, kitchen utensils and haberdashery.  Willie Rafferty trundled these from Dublin Bridge Station on his wheel-barrow.

Among the personalities who enthralled the public with their banter were Geordie McGivern with his jaunty hat, and of course Hector. 

He’d gather a profusion of goodies from the rear of his lorry and emerge overburdened into the sunlight, expounding the impeccable quality of his wares.  He’d order his helper to return to the Aladdin’s Cave behind and bring forth even more riches.  He’d pick on one – the most valuable – item, and explain how it retailed in England and exotic places far beyond for as much as ten pounds. 

‘I’ll not charge my Newry friends ten pounds. 

No, I will not!’   he’d insist, as if someone was arguing his foolishness with him!

‘NOT ten pounds! NO.

Nor even nine, eight, or seven pounds.  NO. 

I may be feeling a rush of blood to the head today, but you are my friends.  Aren’t you?’

Frantic nods all around, with the occasional trace of a smile thrown in.

‘I’ll not charge you six pounds.  Nor five.  Not even four. 

Here.

At this point he’d smack one palm down hard on his other open palm with an explosive sound to emphasise his madness!

THREE pounds the lot.’ 

He’d again smack one hand into the open palm of the other, startling his listeners with the severity of the echoing sound.

‘I’m throwing all the rest in free. 

Quick, now, before I come to my senses!  Who wants ? …

this young lady over here..’

 ……..  he’d point to some stooped pensioner at the front. 

She’d blush like a teenager, but reach for her purse just the same.  Her friends gathered round, roaring and laughing at the compliment. 

But their purses were out too.

Within seconds the crowd was surging forwards, anxious to grab the incredible bargains before Hector would either run out, or come to his senses! 

They’d have plenty of time to rue their rashness later, when their man would wonder why there was no money left to put food on the table for the children!’


…….  see Gallery:  Video:  Hector, Memories 5 , 30.12.07  ….

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