Curfew in Linenhall Square

August 12th of this year was the fiftieth anniversary of the introduction of a curfew in the Newry area.  The then Stormont government introduced the curfew as a measure to combat the IRA’s border campaign of 1956-1962.

To the people of the town the curfew must have been an inconvenience to say the least; all movements after a certain time of night were severely restricted.

I had just turned seven years of age at that time so the wider political and social issues involved with this 1956/62 campaign and its socially restrictive countermeasures meant nothing to me – except for the fact that we were not allowed to play outdoors after a certain time during those summer evenings.

We children were tcowed to submission with the usual horror story – to the fact that, if you were caught out on the street after curfew, then the dreaded B-Men would throw you, and all your family into jail.  To a seven-year-old boy this was a very daunting prospect and one to be avoided at all costs. Put more simply, it scared the hell out of me.

At that time we lived in Murphy Crescent, which was a street situated just outside the Northern perimeter wall of the old barracks (Linenhall Square).  It was just after the death of my father the year before, that we had moved from Linenhall Square to that address, so a lot of our playmates still lived in the Square.

To the older boys of Linenhall Square, the introduction of a curfew could be likened to a red rag to a bull! As far as they were concerned they were not going to be told when they could or could not go outdoors, so these intrepid youths decided on a policy of non co-operation with the powers-that-be.

This Bolshie attitude by the youth of the Square would manifest itself in a number of ways – one of them being that they would block up all the entrances leading into Linenhall Square and by doing so deny entry to the police or B-Specials.


……… more curfew ………….

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