Moving to Linenhall Square

My people, the Rodgers, originally came from Church Street, and that’s where I’ve ended up!

After the Great War many of the town houses were very old – some were ancient white-washed cottages – and in great need of being replaced. Not just Church Street but Cowan Street, Monaghan Row and other places. Many of the dislocated residents eventually ended up in Linenhall Square.

First we were allocated a home in Erskine Place. We were there a while when the Military Barracks beside us were refurbished for homes for the working class. There were 76 houses in five blocks. It was because of an old army buddy of my father Billy that we moved in. They had been friends in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers.

‘If Baasy’s moving, so are we!’ my father decided.

By then about sixty of the houses were already occupied. We were in the second-last Block, number 50. Some years later we moved – but only within Linenhall Square, to Number 10, which was the first house on the left as you came in from Erskine Place.

Sonny Casey was next door at Number 11. Sonny was an old army veteran too. Sonny’s father had been warden of the disused Barracks and Sonny got the job on his death. It was natural then that he got one of the first homes.

We were all Old Newry families and the best of people. We were in and out of one another’s houses all the time. And what facilities we enjoyed. The Barracks was a huge area and a natural playground for all us children. We had a full-size football field when this was unknown anywhere else in town. Our houses had running water (a real luxury then) and wooden floors. There was the disused Hospital to play in (later a home for the Loyes), the Showers and Wash-Rooms, the Canal and tow-path beside us, trips up the Canal on barges (our neighbour Geordie McCrum worked there, leading the great Shire horses that towed the barges)… ah, just everything!

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