Chapter 18


At the centre of the row of buildings in the Upper Square between the Bookies and Mooney Bros., there was a pub and dwelling known as "the Farmers Friend" and eighty-six years ago it belonged to Frank Cunningham. Frank was the father of "Old Rosie", Jim Cunningham, a well known man from the 1920's to the 1970's. Jim was a butcher by trade and delivered by flat van and pony. He could be heard constantly shouting, "Get up there Rosie", hence the nickname. Jim's sister married Charlie Darby, who came from the Kilcoo or The Square Area, and on the death of Frank Cunningham in 1918, the couple moved into the pub and spent their lives there. The Darbys had two daughters, Annamarie and Cissie who opened a confectionery in a front room about the 1930's. In 1946, Charlie Darby, then a widower, died and the business was carried on by his daughters. In 1950 the entire premises had been sold to a coloured man, known only, in the town as 'Silvo'. This man moved in and after a look round, renamed the pub, "the Wreck". This wasn't the town for Silvo, so before he had the last of his bags unpacked, he was gone again, having sold to James Herron.

The Featherbed Norton of the 1950's, 60's.

The Featherbed Norton of the 1950's, 60's.

 

Patsy Mullen astride his 305 Twin, 1963, Honda.

Patsy Mullen astride his 305 Twin, 1963, Honda.

James a Leitrim (Co. Down) man, bought the place in the Upper Square always known as Charlie Darby's. He thought he would help the look of the old pub by cutting out all the small panes in the window and replacing them with one large one. On completion of this, his ground rent was immediately raised by another five pounds per year. He had unknowingly broken some Annesley Estate rule relating to property in Castlewellan. James was a travelling salesman for his brother 'Scott', a road contractor and owner of a lime quarry as well. They sold and spread this product all over the country for the fertilization of land. James Herron was a well known Motor Cycle Road Racer in the 1940/50's and after a crash in the Isle of Man TT. had a smashed up helmet to show how near he was to being the late James Herron. His favourite bike was the Featherbed Norton, the racing machine of that period. In 1963 the Japanese arrived with a new bike called Honda. This had a new design in engines and completely changed motor cycle racing by winning all before them. One of those 1963 type Hondas is still in the possession of Patsy Mullen. At this stage Herron gave up the road and became one of the leading figures in starting the grass track motor cycle racing in Castlewellan and Newcastle. He was a vigorous competitor in all events and retired with a large collection of trophies. James Herron sold his Castlewellan business about 1971 and moved to the mourne area.


"The Wreck" after a complete overhaul in the late 1970's.

The wreck had so many short-time tenants from, Darby's time to the present man (eight in all), that the information on most of them is scant. One man shortly after Herron was McCarron. This outsider was supposed to have bought "the Wreck" plus the small house which was once the home of Nurse Dudson as well as a Postman, 'Dick McAnallen', he also bought the adjoining Barbers Shop which had operated by Dan McCartan who died a few years earlier, in 1967. Those two places were bought by McCarron from the owner Albert Priestly. In the early 1970's this pub was sold again and the new publican was Eamon Duggan, a man who had been reared in Ballymaginthy near Leitrim. He had worked in England and returned to try and make his fortune in the town. Sometime about the late 1970's the place was completely renovated and Duggan parted company once again. The new man was Watt, and in the early 1980's one end of the building was converted and rented to Chinese to give Castlewellan it's first chinese Carry Out named 'Eastern Light'. The Pub itself and of no surprise to the locals, has been under new management since the middle of 1986. Seamus Loughrin is the Landlord now and the Pub is called The Well-Come Inn".