There were things to be said for and against growing up in Newry in the war years. There were shortages but our fathers weren’t enlisted and we weren’t bombed. Belfast was different. I learned as much, as a seven year old boy, when a family of four suddenly arrived at our door for lodgings.
Why us? Well, apparently the father and some aunts of this family had originally left Newry to seek their fortune in Belfast, and they were known to my mother.
Paddy, his wife, their two sons and a daughter sought refuge with us until the Jerries stopped bombing Belfast. My mother and my three sisters and I dwelt in a pokey little two-up, two-down in Tan Open. My Da was away in England doing his bit for the war effort. We also had a tiny yard that contained a tinier lavatory that was shared with the next-door family.
Of course we had room for them and delighted to be of service! Now we too were doing our bit for the evacuees!
I was over the moon! Two boys to play with, and boy, did we play? Our status on the street was suddenly raised with ‘city people’ in our house.
From early morn to late at night, all that long, hot summer, we three explored, fished for spricks in Lizzy Walsh’s quarry and gambolled in the cemetery that was just a few hundred yards up the road!
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