Occasionally town boys who were not afraid of horses could earn a penny or two for looking after the animals for farmers whose stay in the town of Kilkeel would be brief, or who wished to retire to the nearest hostelry.
Experience though, is a hard master! Fellows soon learned that they had to be choosy as to which farmer they would mind for! One could finish up with a pat on the head or a couple of brandy balls for all one’s trouble, instead of the hard cash that would buy a penn’orth of glass marbles or a stick of liquorice at the local shop!
The men who used Mountain Road while they sold their ‘bastes’ on the front street found a hitching place (often beside a water trough) that would be close to one of the public houses. Having completed their deal on the front street they could enter the public house. There were fifteen public houses in the town of Kilkeel in pre-war days and there is no record of any of them closing for lack of business.
As a child my knowledge of what went on in public houses was gleaned from quick glances snatched as the doors opened. It never occurred to me that women would venture there! I was astonished the first time I saw a lady enter one. I loitered near to the door to see how she would fare in this noisy man’s place. Someone eventually left the door ajar and I could see her sitting alone in a little glassed-in cubicle away from the bar where men were gathered two-deep, glasses raised and slapping one another on the shoulders.
As I looked the man (supposedly her husband) came to the small room with two glasses of whiskey. He held one out to her, sat down and I heard him saying that she should drink it up for it would ‘keep the ‘hate’ in her’.
… Kilkeel Square ……..