John McCullagh March 31, 2008
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The last cottage in the Brown’s Yard row, number four was the home of the Hamill family. After the houses in Brown’s Yard were condemned and demolished, the Hamills would move to the newly renovated housing at Linenhall Square.


I believe that the Mr Hamill from Brown’s Yard was the grandfather of Brian Hamill, the young man who died so tragically in the fire at Radcliffe’s shop on Hill Street Newry in 1972 (a tragedy unfortunately observed first-hand by your helpless editor, by the way).

At the bottom of the yard on this warm June day in 1929 two little girls were playing. They had a little house marked out in the dust and were playing there with their dolls.  One of these young girls was the young lady wearing her communion dress in the photograph and the other was her friend.  Her friend didn’t live in the yard proper but she was almost a resident because her house fronted on to High Street and the gable end of the friend’s house formed one side of the entry leading into Brown’s Yard.

The yard was a great place for the local children to play in, as the land behind Brown’s Yard was just one long tract of overgrown wasteland that stretched all the way back to Lindsay hill.  It was a virtual adventure playground with its long grass, whin bushes and clumps of stinging nettles.  Adults rarely ventured into this space; it was the sole preserve of the children and a few goats.

Two other old residents from Brown’s Yard deserve to be mentioned here; at least like the young girl whose friend was in the photograph they also were almost residents.  To meet these two luminaries we shall have to climb back into our time machine and go back another seven years, to 1922 this time.

Ireland in 1922 was a much-troubled place; as well as this period being post-Great War Ireland also had her own home-grown problems.  Civil war stalked the land: death, destruction, hard times and of course we had the infamous Black and Tans.

At that time two itinerant women were to move into the public spaces in Brown’s Yard.  Where those two ladies came from no one could tell.  They were just two displaced people with nowhere to go.  A pair of sad and lonely souls they were the flotsam and jetsam of those depressing times. These two women were called Mary Grant and Maggie McCrudden.  All day long those two women would travel around the local area trying to find a little work just to earn a few shillings.  There was no social security payment for these two women.  And at the close of the day they would return to Brown’s Yard to take up residency in the yard’s public areas.

Mary Grant would spend the night wrapped in an old blanket in the entryway and her companion, Maggie – well she would spend the wee small hours huddled in the yard’s outside communal toilet. 

What was the eventual fate of these two poor destitute souls, I have no idea. 

And like Brown’s Yard itself they would also fade into obscurity to live on only in the memory of the few individuals still alive who remember Brown’s Yard and those hard times. 

 

……. Memory of Walks ………      

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