Chapter 1


The first name the Visitor would have noticed on the left was Henry Devlin, Spirits, Grocer. This was one of those original old-fashioned shops where nothing was prepacked. A brown bag was lifted, blown up by 'the Topper,' as he was known, and then scooped full of rice, barley, sugar or tea, all from little steel bins. Like most grocer shops then, it had its small dark snuggy pub at the rear, and Henry, being a Kilcoo man, depended upon support from that area. The Topper was a stocky little man, who had never sat beside the wheel of a motor car. He himself had a pony and flat van for making his deliveries, but surprised everyone by buying a car in the 1940's, when petrol was rationed to two gallons per month.

Henry's chaffeur was a young fellow, who had just got his Driving License, and was keen as mustard to do the job. The Topper and he fought all through their weekly half gallon trips. The driver maintained the owner should pay the one shilling and two pence (about 6p) for the petrol. He, in return, argued that the driver was getting equal pleasure and should fork out. The whole problem was solved when the price of petrol rose to half-a-crown (12-1/2p) a gallon, and the Topper decided the car would have to go, and go it did.

Devlin bought the little Drapery and Confectionery next door, when the owner-occupier, Miss R. A. Doran, died about the middle forties, and closed that business altogether. The Topper died about the mid fifties and the whole premises got a new owner, Mick Clarke, who used it as a private residence.

Mick hailed from Backaderry and ran, between 1927 and 1930, with his father, also called Mick, a sand delivery and one bus service from the Backaderry area to the nearby towns. The old fellow was also a sewing machine agent and was quite good at repairing these troublesome articles.

In the early thirties, the Clarkes rented a large shed belonging to the hotel which was situated along the Newcastle Road. They opened a Motor Repair garage with petrol pumps and did good business under about 1950, when they built the new garage in the fork of the Banbridge/ Rathfriland Roads.

In the early sixties, Paddy Finnegan, from Belfast, bought all the old Topper's property, moved the pub from the rear of the building to the front, and named it 'The Mourne View Bar'. The adjoining shop was rented to Nurse Peggy Duggan, from Burrenreagh, from the early 1950s until her retirement about 1976, and then to Vincent Brennan, for the sale of car parts. Vincent came from Loughinisland, remained three years, and moved out in 1985.

After a vacancy of one year, the premises were opened as Hairdressing Salon, called 'Talking Heads', by Angela McNally from the Circular Road in the Town, and although Paddy Finnegan carried out major repairs, the entire property remained virtually unchanged.

Two old ladies, Miss McShane and her sister, Mrs. Murphy, lived in the third of this block of three shops. They let the business part of the premises to two other women, the McEvoys, who were dressmakers at that time--the early 1920s. On the retirement of the McEvoys, William James Guinness, a local ex R.I.C. man, moved in with his family, opened a gents tailoring and worked there till the middle 1930s, when he built a new house and workshop on the Newcastle Road opposite the Presbyterian Church. Willie died in 1962, and his house and shop are no longer used for business.

McShane's empty shop was then rented by Harry McAlinden, a Rathfriland man who had served his time to the grocery business in Mooney Brothers in Castlewellan. After one year in Hugh Savages, he decided to go it alone. Following the death of Mrs. Murphy and Miss McShane, harry McAlinden bought the whole place, in 1952. he sells cigarettes, confectionery, groceries, toys, ice-cream and stationery, seven days a week but always manages to follow his favourite sport, G.A.A. football, having won a few medals in his earlier days.

Henry Devlin's, Miss Doran's and Harry McAlinden's
Henry Devlin's, Miss Doran's and Harry McAlinden's.
Little or no change to the buildings in one hundred years.
 
Harry himself.
Harry himself.

Between McAlindens and the next block of buildings is the R.C. Church, carved from one of the hardest known granites hewn from a mountain in Ballymagreehan, two miles outside outside the Town. This building stand just the right distance back from the Main Street to allow an observer to appreciate the fine detail from the ground to the peak of the 175 foot high spire. Built in 1884, and of a design which probably will never be copied, it stands as a monumental credit to the men who made it.

The Interior of the R.C. Church.
The interior of the R.C. Church. The old lampstandards, pulpit and altar
railings have been removed by 1984.