John McCullagh July 12, 2008

But as the political situation in the North worsened after 1969 with the burning of Bombay Street and the arrival in our town of refugees from Belfast, estates in Newry – such as Derrybeg – began to feel vulnerable from possible attack, not just from the British Army and the RUC but from loyalists from Bessbrook, Kilkeel and other parts. 

The Catholic Ex-Servicemen’s Association appeared and offered advice and support. Various Defence Associations appeared at the same time. Often barricades were erected at the entrances to our estate. 


I recall at one well-attended public meeting at the Community Centre the late Joe Henry addressed the audience giving instructions on how to prime a bomb and to assemble a Bren sub-machine gun!


Another night, arriving home from the night-desk at The Irish News where I worked I discovered a hijacked lorry, now manned by masked men, blocking the entrance to the estate. I parked by car above in Hospital Road and walked across the Camlough Road into the estate. I was very conscious that hidden British soldiers were probably at that moment training their rifles on me from the top of the Egyptian Arch – and also that the estate’s residents were keeping an eye on everything. 


On reaching the barrier, I offered a hearty ‘Good morning, gentlemen’ to the masked men and proceeded on my way to my home at Fifth Avenue, some 50 metres onwards. 


… more later ….

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