Mary St Characters

Fabian spoke of one courtly, well-spoken old gentleman, unshaven and wearing a shabby black overcoat who sold second-hand pots and pans in Newry market of old.  He also had other rusting kitchenware. 

After a while when he got hungry himself, he’d hoke out one of his grimy pans, wipe it with the sleeve of his coat, place a few rashers and sausages upon it and fry them over an old oil stove.

Hugh McKeown, another trader, was a noted entrepreneur, raconteur and Newry maritime historian. 

Mary Street in those days was a sleepy little enclave, a far cry from today’s busy shopping precinct jammed with traffic.  This humble community of 22 homes and two shops produced a plethora of traders and tradesmen, joiner, journalists, an M.P. and councillors, three priests, a Christian Brother, teachers, civil servants, engineers and bookies, a chemist, a bakery manager and a BBC executive.   

A list of former residents reads like a Who’s Who of leading professional businessmen and politicians and includes furniture magnate Liam O’Reilly, chemist Felix McNally, bookmaker Larry Hand, former M.P. and Councillor Max Keogh, Councillors Gerry Mulholland, Owen McKevitt and Gerry Hand and his son Rowan who for a time edited Radio Ulster’s news programme.   We had Fathers Teave Carroll and Gerard McKenna, Brother McKenna, teachers Malachy and Kathleen Delahunt, the ebullient Pascal Kearney and the jovial Jackie Devlin. 

While we boys were playing football on the streets or ‘cowboys and Indians’ among the market’s deserted stalls, the girls, who included Mavis McKeown, Bridie McCabe, Mona Kearney, Madge Boyle, Iris Hillen, Dympna Lundy, Marie Keighery and Susannah Cunningham, were swinging from ropes on lampposts or playing hopscotch on the pavements.’

…. more later …

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