My late friend Donal Monaghan, who sadly departed this life last week used to reminisce with us on what life was like in the
‘It seems hard to believe now, when it is virtually impossible to cross that main thoroughfare without the benefit of traffic lights, that then it was quite safe to play children’s ball games right there in the middle of it. It was towards the end of the 50s before motorised traffic came to dominate. Petrol rationing left it uneconomical to invest in motor cars.
Our ball games included some that later came to be seen as girls’ games; Queenio, Queenio; there was also the McShanes, Pat, Brian and Kevin, Jim and Mickey Hollywood, Seamus Sands, Teddy McAllister, the O’Keefes and many more.
there was also the McShanes, Pat, Brian and Kevin, Jim and Mickey Hollywood, Seamus Sands, Teddy McAllister, the O’Keefes and many more.
Though this now might be considered one of the busiest and least safe areas of Newry Town Centre, then we had no problem about leaving our front doors on the latch. It was up to the last in at night to put the snib on the lock. In front of our house –
The Brook – of Brookside – was the
The Old Distillery – of which building a wall stump survived until recently where The Quays have now extended their car park – was another adjoining play area. It was covered in ivy that lent a mysterious air to ‘Our Castle’.
We had Fishers and Haldanes close by where we could beg or flinch a plank of wood to build our own ‘buggies’ or ‘go-carts’. Wheels came in the shape of ball-bearings given to us by sympathetic garages. Old pram wheels were a good alternative but didn’t offer the accompanying metal rumble which drew welcome attention to us as we careered from Glen Hill towards the Railway Crossing. There was a skill to attaching the axle, the wheels and the guiding rope – a skill that few boys and not all parents had acquired! The hole through the plank and axle had to be bored with a red-hot poker.
The proximity of the Railway meant we could watch the comings and goings when, most of the time, we ourselves didn’t get to travel. Though we did get the odd trip to Omeath or Warrenpoint by train, something that many kids in Newry since have not enjoyed. Adults used the occasion – and the kids! – to smuggle alcohol and butter, readily available in the
The Loyes had a sweet shop next to the Railway. Winnie Loye worked as Manager in the Imperial Cinema on The Mall and had a soft spot for her neighbours from
One of my nicest early memories is of the Christmas crib in the Dominican Chapel and the special effort those priests made at that time of the year. On reflection it might have occasionally been considered a little tacky, but not to us as children!
Sometimes known as Sailortown (because of the numbers of people who earned their living from the nearby Docks) that small network of streets centring on Bridge Street, including Pool Lane, Thomas Street, Queen Street and King Street constituted my world before we later moved to a house in High Street.’