To the people who lived in the Linenhall Square area of old, the canal and the towpath will always hold a fond place in their memories.
Within a short walk from their front door the canal towpath enabled them to take a leisurely stroll out into the countryside. To parents it was somewhere to take their children for a walk on a sunny afternoon, and to the children themselves the canal and its associated towpath was an adventure playground, albeit an out-of-bounds one to some of the younger, unaccompanied kids.
The good folk of the Square always looked upon the towpath as their own special domain. This mindset was probably brought about by the fact that Linenhall Square and its adjacent streets are the nearest housing-estate to the beginning of the towpath.
To some of the people who lived in Linenhall Square (The Barracks) a generation before me – that is, those folks who lived there during the Second World War – the canal towpath was their escape route following the sounding of an air raid imminent-warning siren. It was the considered opinion of those persons that during an air raid it would be a lot safer to be out in the countryside and away from any built-up area.
This particular belief was made more poignant following the horrific air raids on Belfast in April and May 1941, and also following the alleged radio broadcast by William Joyce (Lord Haw-Haw) that the Luftwaffe might bomb Lindsay Hill (well, at least knew how many steps there were up to St Clare’s Avenue!).
The unfortunate truth of the matter is that free-falling bombs released from aircraft travelling at speed on a dark night are not the most accurate of weapons; so therefore the people who favoured exodus from the Square, to Brady’s field, would most probably have found it a lot safer and more comfortable to endure the claustrophobic confines of the Linenhall Square Air Raid Shelters. Fortunately this was never put to the test as Newry escaped the war free from aerial attack.
…. the weir …