Dog Tracks

There were no factories or offices on Greenbank Estate in my youth. There was The Showgrounds, or soccer ground, but there also was – wait for it! – TWO dog tracks! Owners, bookies and punters would travel from far and wide to ‘go to the dogs’ in Newry.  During the summer, race days were Wednesdays and Sundays, leaving Jack Mullan’s track after the first meeting and then into Matt O’Hare’s. In the winter months it was Sundays only but both tracks, so again it was out of one and into the other. 

Greyhounds were always in my blood from a very early age. Indeed I have a snap of me on my mother’s knee at just six months old, holding a greyhound on its lead. As soon as I came home from school every day, I walked my Uncle Willie Joe’s dogs up the road. One was named Common Luck and the other was Cloughogue Bridge. I played with Tomas Mallocca in those days. I well remember one day he and I took the dog out for a walk and we ended up in his Uncle Jack’s track. We were young and boisterous and began to feel the dog a bit of a hindrance. We kennelled the dog in one of the boxes at the track and went off to play ourselves. We went up to where Paddy Oxo McAteer, the hare driver sat in his box. The next thing we knew was that dogs were being placed in their boxes for a trial and the hare was started. Out leaps our bitch like the wind and didn’t she go and win the race by a distance! 

I couldn’t wait to get home to tell our wans the ‘good news’. Well, I can tell you now it wasn’t very well received! I was ate without salt! The bitch was due to be entered in a competition the same Sunday. The ‘connections’ well knew her value and had intended to ‘pull a stroke’. In my innocence I had ruined their scheme!

Still on Sunday down went all hands hoping to get their few pounds on her. But the market was taken by the track management. The bitch won the race but I was in the proverbial doghouse! Now sixty years later I’m still trying myself to ‘pull the odd stroke!’

 Under the tutelage of Dame Dehra McNabb, the Sunday Observance Society campaigned successfully to have our dog-tracks closed! The Stormont Government of the day was happy to oblige!

… Cranfield? …

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