John McCullagh April 23, 2005
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Like yesterday I can visualize the neighbours of Chapel Street.

On the left-hand side coming out of Boat Street was Neilly Hartes. Next we had the Downeys – Danny, Lizzie and Mary, where Noel Mathers, Lizzie’s grandson was reared.

The Hogans next door had a large and much-respected family. Sarah and Jamesie Carroll were next. In my pre-teen days Sarah was often my financial saviour. For whatever reason there was no water tap in their house. Often when I was broke (and that WAS often) I’d rap her door.

Sarah, do you need any water?’ I’d enquire innocently.

The door would open just enough to pass out the aluminium bucket. With this I’d hightail it up to Minnie Kelly’s pump which was at the bottom of the High Walk. Upon return to Sarah’s with the now-filled bucket, the hand would emerge with four pence payment.

Only another halfpenny and I’d be off to the ‘first house’ in the Frontier ‘Picture Palace‘.

A seven-foot wall separated Carrolls from their neighbours Toners at Number 11.   They were very quiet neighbours and shared their home with the McKigneys. May McKigney was the mother of Father Tumilty of the Dominican Order. Paddy McKigney was wed to Phil O’Hanlon of Boat Street, sister of Frank. Another sister Jean, who was married to the TV engineer Tommy Teggart, died recently. Paddy McKigney later lived at 30 Slieve Gullion Road. The son Colum still works for the Post Office.

At Number 13 lived the Gribbens of whom my mother was the eldest, followed by Kathleen, Lydia, Willie Joe, Chrissie and Patsy. The great thing about Number 13 was that there were gooseberry bushes and pear trees in the back garden. I can guarantee you that every boyo of the area was in that backyard at some time in his life. Why, even I trespassed now and again!

My granny Gribben was the unofficial midwife of the area. And she was called also to prepare corpses for laying out. As they say, ‘she saw them coming and was there too at their laving’. She’d be sent for at all hours of the day and night.   

The unfortunate Frank McIlroy, a bachelor who was a carpenter by trade and in the related business of making coffins for A&E Byrne, lived next door. Frank was an avid reader and historian. Like many’s another one he was fond of a Woodbine and a drink of porter. One night his abode caught fire and despite the gallant efforts of Willie Gribben he perished of smoke inhalation. 

Next door was the Jennings, but we’ll resume there later!!

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