John McCullagh May 8, 2005
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Unlike today, when everyone expects a week or two away, in the 1940s holidays were unknown. So when the Bosco Club in Kilmorey Street decided to arrange a week’s holiday in Cranfield for its senior members (‘senior’ as in youthful but members of some years standing!), pandemonium broke loose. The arguments began as to who was and who wasn’t going! 

When things were eventually settled I think everyone was ecstatic and the happy throng set off for their holidays. For those unused to it, a week seemed a long time to be away from home. Some parents arranged an evening bus trip to the holiday camp to reassure their boys. They were pleasantly surprised with what they saw: the boys were housed in Army Nissan huts (with corrugated roofs) and were enjoying the experience of sea, sand and a Mediterranean tan to boot! After some refreshments the parents returned home happy.

Needless to say, this holiday became an annual affair for some years after, but unfortunately my pals and I were too young to attend them.

On the last Monday in July all of Newry closed down for the Newry General Holiday. Trips were organised by many organisations to all arts and parts of the country. Men, women and children all got involved. The one our family looked forward to most was the Mitchel memorial train trip to Dublin. For weeks – aye and maybe months before, every penny was a prisoner with everybody saving for the big day. I recall that the fare was in or around 4/6d. People from our end of town caught the train at Dublin Bridge Station. Being at the terminus we had a better chance to ensure a good seat in a nice carriage. If the train had a corridor, so much the better and so we proceeded to Edward Street Station where suddenly the train became packed with day-trippers. 

 Joe McCrudden would blow the whistle, wave the flag and so we were off for the day. First stop Goraghwood where sometimes the Northern Customs men would parade the train, knowing of course that they were wasting their time! It was on the return trip that there might be contraband goods to be seized! At Goraghwood too the engine would unhitch from the carriages and go to the turntable to be turned, before the pull uphill towards the Ring of Gullion and on to Dundalk and Dublin.

Superstition was strong in those days and as we passed over the Boyne Bridge in Drogheda many of the passengers would throw a penny into the Boyne. Some saint or other had apparently prophesied that a Catholic excursion would end up in the river below because of a curse put on us by, of all people, King Billy! We didn’t want it to be us!!

 

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