John McCullagh December 2, 2009
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I was born in July 1938 in a rented house which was situated in a place called the Blind Fields …


By reason of financial and family problems I was raised by my grandmother in a little rented house at the Carnegat Rail Bridge owned by the McQuaid Family,  then later by Doctor Sunshine Mallon.  This little house is long gone……
 
I started school in Altnaveigh.  The teacher was a Miss Grace and the head master was Dick Donnelly, a wild man at times.  Other teachers  that came along were Mr Rooney,  Mr Hamill and a Miss Duffy.  It was a two-room school……  I walked to school past McGlades farm, turned left towards Correnchigo Cross Roads.  There were no houses along that road.  On reaching the cross roads there was Mullans little shop….then there were two other homes  owned by the Kinneys and the Reillys.   Kinneys were farmers and Johnny Reilly was a coal man ….. The Protestant School with a caretaker’s  house was also at the cross roads … a lovely family called the Watts lived in this house …  there was only one little house between the crossroads and the Altnaveigh School … Up the road from the school was Jenny Little’s farm.  Up a lane from the school was Gene Clarke’s farm …..

Life was very hard in those days and like many others I saw more dinner times than dinners…..
 
From my home in Carnegat I could go to town in three ways – one past Tom Connelly’s farm,  past the back of the nursery …. towards  Ballabot and the Dominican Church:  or I could down toward the Camlough Road past the pauper’s graveyard, past Daisy Hill Hospital and down Monahan Row – or I could walk down the main Camlough Road past the Meadows … there were no houses there then! – and past Mallon’s pub and up Monaghan Street …. I can remember a horse trough and air raid shelter across from the pub where Hollywoods later built a garage.
 
After school I worked as a message boy for Tommy Crawley,  also for Joe Belton who had a shop near the canal bridge.  I also worked for Edna’s Bakery in Hill Street.  One of my best jobs was working for Dick Fallone in his fish and chip shop down near the markets, cutting chips up and selling ice cream out of the back of his van on a Sunday …
 
I finished my schooling at the Newry Tech….situated over near the Town Hall …. this was the first time that I mixed with people that was called ‘the other side of the house’.   I became friendly with Eric Barton,  Hunter Murdock and a fellow called Revels who came from a farm somewhere near Mullaglass.  Also in our group was a fellow from Linenhall Square called McCann.  We seemed to hit it off very well.  The French teacher was a Miss McNamee whose parents had a clothes shop in Monaghan Street.
 
Most of us boys fell in love with her but she knew nothing about it …. before leaving the Tech I did an exam to join the Ulster Bank.  I was successful but I decided to work for Jack Fletcher on his farm in Altnaveigh …. I learned a lot on the farm and was well treated during my stay there and if there was one thing I learned it was how to work,  and Jack used to work harder than anyone…..

I left the farm to work for PJ McCann and sons on the Armagh Road… I drove a little blue Austen Truck.   I can remember a lot of people,  some more than others:  The Meehan’s of  the Lissummon,  the Morton’s of Drumbanagher and the Whitesides of Jerrets Pass.  I had a great time in that job working with Mick Devlin of Camlough and Pat Campbell who lives in Poyntspass.   The McCanns were good to work for but I decided to move on.  I went to England for a short time.  Then in 1960 I came to Australia in which I made a career out of mining  …. in 1963 I joined a flying school and became a pilot but I did not follow that career path …
 
My main pals at home were the Quinns of Carneget,  Raymond Kinney and Pat Joe Kennedy who lived at the back of the Daisy Hill Hospital … I come back to Ireland occasionally to have a good look round the countryside and observe what changes there are  ..

Well if asked between the Newry now and what I call ‘my Newry’, I would reflect …

well,  no doubt the people today are better off: they have better housing and plenty to eat and a much better diet ….

alas my Newry is gone:  the Newry of the ‘second house’ of the pictures at the Savoy,  chips at one of the fish and chips shops afterwards …
 
but you could walk anywhere in Newry at any time day or night quite safely then …

and Newry girls were all the style …

well in some ways I am a yesterday’s man so I would have to think a lot about my answer …
 
 
Regards

Tom Wharton
Queensland
Australia

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