Chapter 15


At the extreme end of the Town, on the other side of the exit from Mary Street, was a block of four houses. The furtherest one, now the Funeral Parlour, was in previous years occupied by Mrs. McNeil and her son Willie, "Ma's Willie" as he was universally known. This was one man who put a lot of life into the community. Next door was Mary Ann McCartan, who had a small Confectionery Shop there for a lifetime and it closed on her death about the 1940's. That place is now a Hairdressers, owned and run by Mary Hazlett, trading under 'Mary's Hair Fashions'. Between Mary's and the shop situated on the corner of the back way, was another small dwelling and the people who lived there were Latimers. Jim Latimer put a car on the road to sell fruit, but soon fell foul of the McFaddens, in the 1930's, and had to quit. He then worked for the U.T.A. on the Haulage side for that concern. When the Latimers moved from Castlewellan in the early 1940's, their house was bought by James Magill Sen. who worked as a Hardware Assistant in the CoOp and as the same in the Supply Stores. Magills opened a Confectionery and Tobacconist, and it was run by Mrs. Mary Ann Magill. They later bought the remaining building in that row and together with the Latimers House, it comprises a modern Grocery and Confectionery. The end shop taken over by Magills had previously been a Milliners owned by Miss Gracey who made and sold her own hats for 30 years. On the death of James Magill Sen. and his wife, the business was passed on to Jim Jun. the Manager of the U.T.A. Bus Depot in Newcastle, the Castlewellan shop is run by his wife Betty.

Magill's at the lower end of the town.

Magill's at the lower end of the town.

 

A 1902 Advert.

A 1902 Advert.

Below the Market House, on the right and almost at the end of the Town, stands a small place of worship. The descriptive stone above the entrance is carved with the words "Primitive Wesleyan Methodist Chapel built in 1869". Now, the Castlewellan Gospel Hall, it was once the property of the Annesleys and is one of the Town's historical buildings.

Pat "Soady" O'Hare started his own business, towards the end of the last Century, in premises at the low end of the Town facing John Maginns. He sold groceries, delph, newspapers, and spirits and also had a large showroom for the furniture he manufactured a1 the rear. When Pat died, his son John and daughter Anna carried on for a few years and then sold to Peter Greenan the Grocer in 1957. John O'Hare's main recreation was football and as a goalkeeper would play soccer on Saturday and Gaelic on Sunday. At one time he played for Portadown United and Belfast Celtic and eventually moved to live in the City. The Furniture Showroom was used as a Dole Office from the late 1930's. It then moved up Town after which Greenan took over. Peter slowly ran down the Furniture and Grocery business and concentrated on Drapery and the Pub. He also closed down a Petrol Station out front which he had operated during the 1960/70 period. This place was and is an agency for the Belfast Telegraph. Peter named his Pub the "Four Arches".

Peter Greenan selling his wares from his V.W. Van about the 1960 period.

Peter Greenan selling his wares from his V.W. Van about the 1960 period.

 

O'Hare's Shop as it is today
O'Hare's Shop as it is today

A lot of shops had life long occupants, but once they changed hands for the first time, there seemed to be no end to the variety of traders who moved in and out, trying their luck. Such a place was James Collins's, the centre of the block of three shops between Mooney Bros. and the little Church. Collin's was a Hardware, Tobacconist, Stationers and known locally as the Beltie Collins. On the retirement of Collins, Miss Gribben moved in from the shop next door (on the upper side) and sold all the weekly comics and story books, such as the 'Rover', 'Hotspur', 'Filmfun' and a host of others as well as the usual daily papers. Toys were also stocked and confectionery sat in boxes on the counter away from the loaded shelves. God help any youngster who called and asked for something and put their hands on the counter anywhere near the sweets! They got a sharp wallop across the knuckles with the nearest thing she could find, very often a large pair of scissors which always hung at her side. After entering a main single door at the front the shop divided in two, with two doors one right, into Miss Gribbens and one left into the other. In 1944 the upstairs was rented to Miss Maureen Breen from Kilcoo as a Hairdressers, and later, Susan Armstrong, a sister of Robert the Draper, also had a Hair Salon in the same place. Previous to this the upper floor was used as a Cafe by Mrs. Joe Guinness. On Miss Gribben's death the main shop was taken over by Jack Hudsklns, from Maghera, for a Cycle 'Sales and Repairs' employing Pat O'Hare from the Circular Road. Pat had served his time in McKelvey's Cycle Shop in the Town and had worked for a number of years in Skillens. Jack Hudsklns ran the business for a year or two (around 1948) while being Manager of the Downshire Store in the Town. In 1959 he sold the Cycle Business to Pat O'Hare who carried on until 1969 and then closed. A few other men, including a son of Francy McCabe, from Dundrine, tried a Fishing Tackle Shop but packed up after a short stay.

Advert for James Collins.

Next, in 1977 was Leo Murphy, from Leitrim, with Drapery but he also found the competition too stiff and changed to a new modern type of business, renting out video tapes and accessories. Leo moved out altogether in 1983. The Video Shop has since been kept open and run by Tom McCann, a son of the Chemist in the Town, and seems to be doing a lot better under the new management.

The Video Shop.

John Foster with his newly stocked shelves, 1986.

John Foster with his newly stocked shelves, 1986.

Between the end of the last, and the beginning of this century, the shop and dwelling next in line to Mooney Bros. on the Main Street was a confectionery, tobacconist and paper shop always known as Miss Gribbens. In 1934 she moved next door and the place she vacated became private for a number of years. It was then purchased by Sean King the Draper in the Town, who rented it to John Foster to open a Green Grocery. After a few years in business, John bought the whole property from King. On the morning in 1939 when John Foster first opened his doors, he had just arrived home from Belfast with a car loads of goods. However, before he even reached his shop, four men surrounded the car and bought most of his stock. They were Mick Lamb, the Manager of Mooney's, Pat O'Hare, furniture, grocery and pub, along with John Maginn the Horse-dealer and Publican across the road and a fourth man, Hugh Savage, the Grocer and Publican. This gesture of goodwill passed unnoticed by the majority of the town people but is still vividly fresh in the mind of John Foster. The small shop which adjoined, and was also part of Foster's, was tenanted by Annie Kirkpatrick, a Dundrine woman who started her business around the beginning of the Second World War in 1939. She sold confectionery, groceries and tobacco, but died suddenly in 1972. This little place showing nos. 30-32 has been used, since, as a dwelling by John Foster.

The name 'Foster' rings a bell for Patsy Mullen, and he tells a true story about local strangers who accidently met and remained friends for life. During the War years when Patsy travelled daily to Belfast to work at repairing bomb damaged houses, he met two Belfast men - carpenters who were about 30 years old and had spent their previous working years in the Shipyard. There wasn't a story, trick or near cut in the book that those two didn't know off by heart. One was Foster; the other's name is now forgotten. However despite all the rubble and tragedy in Belfast, the day was one long hilarious experience. After two years, Mullen decided to start working at cars in Castlewellan and never forgot the day he parted with his friends. As the years passed, he often thought of Foster, a dedicated cyclist who often rode from Belfast to Dublin and back in one day. In 1980, almost 40 years later, Patsy, who was working at an old banger in his garage was wondering why on earth he ever started to work at cars, looked up on hearing footsteps, and saw an old man leaving his bike against the gable of the house. The very look of the back of this man made him call out, "Foster" and sure enough it was him. There was little work done that day, for, Foster had cycled through Ballynahinch, Downpatrick, Dundrum and Newcastle, before he found his friend. The day went far too quickly and sadly Foster, then over 70 years old had to cycle back to Belfast. When bidding each other, what was to be a last farewell, Patsy who was amazed at Foster's health and agility, asked him for the secret. "Certainly"! said Foster. "Do you remember how well fed me and me mate were - the lovely big thick, pure white, soft soda farls with country butter and you with your old black war-time loaf and margarine? Well, the soda farls were your mother's home baked bread - we swopped your lunch for ours every day for two years and I must say, we could hardly get it down our throats for laughing at lunchtimes! I have ridden about 75 miles today just to see that look on your face. Now I can die content". With that he was astride his bike and was gone forever.