Supreme Accolade For Newry’s Internet Entrepreneur
(Part 2)

“We alighted at Dublin Bridge Station, and prayed that no one we knew would see us. I had to lead the turkey down River Street to our house. My brother, Jim, who had worked for Murphy’s the poulterers of Abbey Yard, and Brian, who had been a messenger for Downey’s butchers in Monaghan Street, would soon be home from work at the factory.

“My brother Liam and I tried to get the turkey into the back-yard, but it had other ideas! It started flapping its wings aggressively and clucking loudly. We turned tail and ran out of the house, quickly followed by our mother. It was a cold December night, so we sat on the tide wall, huddled together to keep ourselves warm, until the two boys came strolling along.

“Mammie explained the situation, and they went into the house. A few seconds later, we heard ear-splitting laughter that must have been heard all over Newry. Brian came running out, reporting that the turkey was asleep on the armchair in front of the fire. Sure enough, that was the case.”

The Newry emigrant went on to report that “when Jim was told to do what he had to do, this brought opposition from Brian, an animal-lover. But Mammie had had enough and gave them the sharp edge of her tongue, saying that `it won’t be the turkey that will be hung up at the back of the door.`

“Our cousin, Nurse Phyllis Kearns, always said that it was like a pantomime in our house. She would certainly have got her money’s worth that night. Whenever I relate that story to friends in London, they look at me in disbelief. Well, you can’t really expect them to understand, never having lived in Newry!”

Maura Maguire from Dromalane, now Mrs Mallon, who resides in Bangor, Wales, “enjoyed growing up in the 50’s. The music was terrific; we had live bands at all our dances, and also ceili bands. I went on scholarship to the Gaelteacht in Rannafast for the five years that I spent at Our Lady’s Grammar School.

“Then my schooldays slipped away, and many of my classmates I never saw again. Some have gone away, and others are still living in Newry. I see a few of them whenever I go home. We are all grandmothers now, watching another generation grow up.”

Recalling that there were few motor-vehicles in her youth, Maura reported that “bakery carts, drawn by horses, were a common sight. As my aunt’s house was opposite Willis’ Bakery, we could see the horse-vans lined up, being loaded up. The street was often awash with manure. Also, the electric tram ran from Edward Street Station to Bessbrook, carrying mill-workers and goods. It was unreliable, so that workers often had to walk, losing time and wages as a result.”

Meanwhile, John McCullagh stated that he was six months old, when the family set up home on the Meadow estate. While some of the clan still live there, very few of the original inhabitants now reside on the estate. At first, only portions of Orior Road and Slieve Gullion Road were completed, followed by Iveagh Crescent, Derrybeg Drive and Killeavy Road.

“We were a bunch of young ragamuffins, who pestered the workmen with offers to help. They usually found some little task with which to amuse us, - they had children too. All the houses on Killeavy Road and half at Derrybeg Drive had their living-rooms facing their rear gardens, and backs to the road. Most tenants were grateful for the extra privacy, except when something was a `buzz-buzz’ in the neighbourhood, and you had to show your face to find out all the gossip!

“Those lucky enough to live on Iveagh Crescent or Slieve Gullion Road could observe the goings-on from the safety of their living–rooms, with half-drawn curtains.

But one woman regularly planked her chair outside the front door for a better view. Some regarded her as `above her station.` Instead of telling her family that `dinner is ready`, she would summon them `for cocktails!”

John McCullagh spoke fondly about Pat (Sticks) Morgan, “a great character and a soccer enthusiast, who was instrumental in getting the first league going in The Resi (now Jennings Park). He was a founder of our first juvenile football team, Meadow Rangers. My one claim to footballing fame was that I once scored a winning goal against the league champions, Rockview Rangers from High Street.

“We changed in the tunnel that led to the back field, where McClellands had a chicken coop. Many football stars learned their trade in The Resi, the most famous being Pat Jennings. I often played against him, and could claim to have put several shots past him, - but you’re unlikely to believe that tale!

“Beyond the Line was an extensive orchard; the temptation was great, and we haked it, swinging and roaring among the branches like Tarzan. I never tired of confessing this sin in the Cathedral confessional. Favourite game was `Tig Around the Block`. This involved dozens of boys and sometimes a few girls. It was as far afield as the Pighall Loanen, Derrybeg, Sandys Field and Bricky Loanen.”

“One esteemed personality was Brian Donaghy, a teacher who leased the Clanrye Avenue shop. The only other teacher was Anthony Russell, who taught in the Tech`. He would help us dam the Derrybeg River in McClelland’s field and teach us to swim. There was a teenage Protestant girl who also swam there, using only her knickers as a costume. Though her `extra bits` were barely discernible, she was still the centre of attention.”

Certainly, that progressive entrepeneur has come a long way from those boyhood days, with a spectacularly successful career on the frontiers of technology. Now John McCullagh can claim that “our customer base is enormous. Within two years, we have had almost a million hits, and over 250,000 `unique visitors.` Truly, the sky is the limit for this unique and flourishing enterprise.

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© Fabian Boyle 2001-2008