I read with interest the Linenhall Square article by Dickie Rodgers. I was born there and lived all of the early part of my life in and around the Linenhall Square area.
Our house was number 74, a little single-storey building between the old fire station and the Bosco club.
The house we used to live in was one of the first to be demolished in the Square. My brother John and his friend happened to be playing amid the rubble, as children always do, when they discovered – a revelation for all of us in that family! – that the old house actually had a basement beneath it. Even my Mum, and her Aunt and Uncle who lived there from the time that the Barracks was first converted to housing, were taken by surprise!
It is really a weird sensation to find out you have been living in a house with a basement that has been closed off to you! We certainly did not have an entrance to the said basement from inside the house. Perhaps the entrance was from the old fire station next door, or maybe it was just completely sealed up, who knows!
Now my mum always maintained that our house was haunted. She always told the story of seeing a little woman who would walk through the wall from outside, then across the living room before disappearing through the bedroom door at the other end of the room.
This tale takes on an even more spooky aspect when one appreciates that the door to our living room had been relocated in the refurbishment that changed these buildings from Barracks to individual homes. When that house used to be part of the old Barracks, the door to that particular building used to located exactly where the apparition entered through the wall.
My brother David always maintained he also had a ghostly encounter. He recalls the time that he saw the ghost-like figure of a man in the front bedroom! Now I have a clear recollection of the aftermath of that incident! David came out of the room like a bat out of hell, and to say he was quite shocked would be to understate it considerably.
That particular bedroom is the same one that featured the ghostly apparition of the little old woman. It is also the room adjacent to the old fire station next door.
The old fire station of Linenhall Square had one time been the Officers’ Mess of the Linenhall Barracks. Anyone will tell you it always was haunted! Even the firemen on duty were uneasy about it. To quote from the Newry Fire Brigade’s Centenary book Newry Aflame 1877-1977, ‘the atmosphere in some of the rooms was chilly to say the least. Then there were strange nocturnal noises: things happened there – nothing you could put your finger on, just small inexplicable and unexplained things.’
The two pictures accompanying this article show the Officers’ Mess in Linenhall Barracks at the turn of the century, and the same building from a different angle, taken sometime in the early Fifties, perhaps c. 1953/54.
Note that the front door of the Officers Mess in the first photo has been replaced by a window in the second photo. If you look closely you will notice that it is different from the other windows in the building. Our house is the building you can see just abutting the Officers’ Mess [The old Linenhall Fire Station].
The two little girls in the second photograph are the Morgan Sisters [whose family moved to High Street]. The three boys are, my brother David [the one who saw the ghost] and his pal Kevin Lennon, and the little boy to the front is your writer, Martin Payne.
… Pre-nursing class 1968/9 …