[The following story is uploaded now in response to yesterday’s request from my friend Peter Hughes, Warrenpoint Librarian! – Editor)
Years ago during the summer seasons Newry parents had various ways of treating their family. A particular favourite, usually on Sundays, was a ‘day trip’ to Warrenpoint.
The obvious transport in those days was the ‘old steam engine’ which departed from Edward Street, then to Dublin Bridge Station (our boarding point being the latter).
On the station we eagerly awaited the train. The short journey lasted only fifteen minutes but in that duration, the craic was always great.
On arrival at our destination, the hordes would surge towards the station exit, to hand the tickets to the ‘collector’ (in some cases not all had tickets) and then dash towards the sea front.
I’ll never forget that marvellous whiff of sea air which hit you on entering The Square; nor the sight of the boats moored in the harbour and the boisterous sounds of the scavenging seagulls hovering above.
Now to pick a spot on the beach. We had a choice of three favourites. The small inlet at the beginning of the shore, a site further on adjacent to the swimming baths and a little further still there was ‘Sandy Bottom’.
Older people usually opted for the ‘small inlet’ but even at a young age I liked this particular spot.
Located here were the children’s amusements, a sea food stall and also the boarding and alighting points for the boats ferrying passengers across Carlingford Lough to and from Omeath.
On Sundays a group of local church people would congregate to preach the Gospel and sing hymns. This service was relayed to the day trippers by means of a P.A. System mounted on a black car.
This for me enhanced the whole wonderful atmosphere of this favoured spot. The sounds of the sea, the boat engines and even the slight smell of diesel fumes emitted from them, made it unforgettable.
After your swim and having dried off, it was time to tuck into the food and drink. Later the children would entertain themselves by skimming stones and ‘crab catching’.
For catching crabs we had a simple but effective technique. A cockle was cracked open, attached to a piece of string and lowered into the water at the side of the boarding pier. In no time at all, drawing in the crude line you’d have four or five crabs feeding on the bait. Some kids took them home in their buckets but most returned them to the sea.
Then it was time to pack up your gear and rubbish, and head for the beautiful park located not far from the swimming baths. There the children occupied themselves with various games while the parents just relaxed. Soon an older child would be selected and accompanied by a helper, sent to fetch the usual treat of ice cream pokes or wafers. This would be the finale of a most enjoyable day. Back to the station we would trudge and the homeward bound journey would inevitably be more relaxed, and sometimes – at least for the adults – sleepy.
After our day at The Point, our mum would often remark;
‘God childer, yez luk a picture of health.
That Point sea air has done yous a power of good’.