Newry as Border Town

Newry was always a ‘border’ town – at first as a monastic settlement …. 

…   then under Bagenal on the border of the Gaelic chieftains’ territory.  Thereafter it was on the border of the English Pale – and in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, on the border with the Irish Free State/Republic. In every instance it was able to exact taxes – or customs – from its hinterland, its imports and exports.

As a consequence there were over time a variety of Customs buildings in different locations. Some reflect the different modes of transport over time.


The oldest of living memory was the large Customs House on

Kilmorey Street
, below
Quay Street
– it later became the Bridewell prison – that catered for goods carried by river. There was another on Merchants Quay for goods carried by canal. In more recent times there was a Customs Post at the border at Carrickcarnon. Later the huge facility at Carnbane was built – quickly becoming redundant as the European Community harmonised tariffs. Today it is workplace for a small number of VAT collectors.


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