Lonan Teach an Conais

Lonan Teach an Conais, or Tan Open, or Customs House Avenue as it is now known, was a seven house cul-de-sac under the shadow of the gaol wall. I first saw the light of day in Number 5 there. I had sisters Maeve and later Carmel and Anne. We shared a yard with Number 6 – Dolly (Kearns) and Jamsie Duffy and their son Pat (Sock). Not just the yard (too small to contain a baby Austin car!) but we also shared the water tap and box toilet.

Yet these were happy days – until Dolly died aged just 24! Pat went to live with his Granny Kearns at the Gasyard gates while Jamesie went back to sea. He married again to a nice woman from Kernan in Guildford and they had one daughter, Imelda. We kept in touch for many years. 

Dessie Keenan who married Annie Turley moved into Number 6. They reared their first two girls there, Kathleen and Rosina. 

At the bottom of the street next to Paddy Rice’s lived Mr and Mrs McBride. Their son Kevin later married a Miss Fee and reared a family in O’Neill Avenue. Kevin is fondly remembered as a staunch Forester (INF) and he was a good friend of the late Tom Daly.

Michael and Bridget Turley lived next and had three children, Harry, Michael (Junior) and Rita. The latter two sadly succumbed to illness in their first teenage years. Harry we believe still lives about the Blackpool area, from where he makes the odd visit home to Newry.

The Tan Yard separated the Turleys from the Carrs. Luke and Bridget Carr had sons Pat, Jimmy, John, Davey, Noel, Luke and Willie and daughters Lily (Meehan) and Marguerite (Burns). Leontia died when just a toddler.

Minnie, Charlie, John, Kate and Bridget Smith resided at Number 4. I will always remember Minnie for, when she sent you a message, no matter what time of the day or night, she always rewarded you with a hot spud and a clump of butter!

On past 5 and 6 there lived Annabella Kearns. She was a spinster who must have read every book that was ever written! Her house boasted a half-door that was seldom closed and she always wore reading glasses on her head. I can still picture her.

Neighbours like these – you could not have asked for better! My first neighbours will always be fondly remembered! 


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