Luminary of the Arts in Newry, the Music & Orchestral Society and Newpoint Players in particular, Sean Murtagh is one of the earliest residents of Ballinlare Gardens and, with his wife Marie, is thankfully still living there. He afforded us the benefit of his early recollections.
‘I worked then in the Civil Service. Strange – there were many such, professional people, police – well-employed, you could say, who were allocated these excellent Housing Trust homes back in the ’50’s and ’60’s. By contrast ‘Council’ house allocation then was more ‘political’, shall we say, more open to award by ‘influence’.
I recall we had to pay a deposit to guarantee ‘respect’ for the house’s fixtures and fittings.
It was August 1953 when my wife and I were first allocated a flat in Killeavey Road, next to the field that would later be the site of the first (‘mobile’) St Bridget’s Chapel. Did you know that building, in later life, had a second incarnation as classrooms in St Anthony’s Primary School, Craigavon?
Those were (ARE) very good three-bedroom flats. We lived there for nine years during which time the houses on the east side of Killeavey Road – and Ballinlare Gardens – were built. These included ‘the flats’ and the homes facing the playing fields where Luke Burke (for example) has lived ever since.
The Meadow was designed as a varied but integrated estate, the flats catering for smaller family groups, single professionals, childless couples, the retired and so on. The principle was good – indeed is followed to this day. The reality rarely lived up to this. The common public entrance created an unforeseen problem when non-residents encroached, and children included it as part of their wider play area.
The result was that through all the succeeding decades, there were few long-term residents of these flats on Killeavey Road – or those on Clanrye Avenue.
Marie and I raised our family, since 1962, here in Ballinlare Gardens. Our only son Gerard lives on Hospital Road. We have three daughters. Ita, veronica (who is married and lives now in South Africa) and Lillian, now Mrs McGonagle (her husband is from Derry) who settled twenty-six years ago in Texas, USA.
I’ll tell you now about our good neighbours in Ballinlare Gardens.
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