Chapter 2


Almost invisible and situated well behind the Church stood the old Parochial Hall, built shortly after 1890 to raise funds for the building and running of the new Church. About the 1930's a two storey Billiard Room was added to the front of the Hall which was to become one of the more memorable spots for entertainment. In the ground floor a small Library was started by a few locals and was well stocked with novels to suit all tastes. Books could be exchanged on any Sunday morning. A game of Billiards was so popular that, it was necessary to book in advance by writing one's name on a blackboard on the wall. Such was the demand for the two tables. The hours waiting were well spent watching and listening to the town's old male residents playing cards in a corner. The highest stake was a penny and as four of these bought a loaf, the old boys were in deadly earnest, cheating and arguing all night. Once, the half doting and supposedly stupid Pat (Soady) O'Hare the furniture man, asked the very old and not so supposedly stupid, Dan Jennings The Blacksmith, to change a shilling (12 Pennies) this was readily done and soon brought a reply from Pat "You're a penny short Dan". Dan who had a bad shake in his hand and the same in his slow drawling voice, lifted the money and after recounting it replied "I'm - afraid - Pat - it's -you's - the - penny - short". This brought an immediate cry from everybody "Pay the man" which Dan very reluctantly did.

Section No. 1 Main Street

In those days people conversed more with one another, especially the old timers and the young. If a youngster was walking down the street old Dan Jennings would stop him or her and mutter *'Infirtaris, inoaknoneis, inbogeelis". The answer was often the same "Sorry Mister I can't speak Spanish" and it was quite a while before the penny dropped for the youngster. When the Parish bought the larger premises, (The Corn Crane) the old hall was used by the Scouts but eventually fell into decay. Together with the Billiard Hall it was demolished in 1984 to make room for the new Primary School. The herculean task of having this School built and opened in 1986 fell on the shoulders of the Rev. Patrick White, P.P. At the time, this School fulfilled the peoples dream, first mentioned about the 1930's. One man delighted with the new School, is Gerry Brannigan the Head Teacher who was born and reared in the town and is eager to do his best for the locals. For recreation, just hand Gerry a fishing rod and he's on his way.

Tucked in the corner adjacent to the R.C. Church is Bustard's Boot, Shoe and Clog Factory with dwelling attached. About forty people were employed by Bustard at the turn of the century and every market day a glass case, containing samples of the footwear they made, was carried to the Main Street and locked to an iron post on top of the wall surrounding the corn crane. Mr. Bustard was a small lightly built man fond of shooting. When he retired he bred pointer gun dogs for sale. He also made and sold a herbal concoction which he swore would cure any form of rheumatism.

*There is tar in a fir tree, none in the oak tree, an eel in the bog.

In the 1930's a stranger called Noel McClelland, who was then head electrician in the local power house, known as the Castlewelian Electric Co., married a girl from Burrenbridge by the name of Stewart. The newly weds then moved into the small house where the Charity Shop is at present. Sadly McClelland was killed in a motorcycle accident at Aughlisnafin a short time later.

Two men who had worked for Bustard, carried out boot and shoe repairs in the old factory in 1935 / 40 but later continued this business in their little home next door. They were John Tumelty and Willie Kearney. Another man P.F. McCabe who had served his apprenticeship as a clogger in the factory before becoming an Insurance Man, returned and carried on a part-time clogging business in the 1940's. However this style of footware was out-dated so P.F. closed in 1950. This whole block was bought by the R.C. Church about the 1940's and was then rented to a young Vet, from Downpatrick, Brian McEvoy who lived in and worked from the dwelling house. He in turn sublet the shop to a Kilcoo man, Mick Greenan, in 1941 who opened a Green Grocery and Food Store. In 1947 Mick handed over to his brother Peter who added furniture sales to the business. Peter moved out of those premises in 1957 leaving the shop empty until 1986. It was then taken over by Don Corrigan from Newcastle for the sale of knitting wool and accessories and he calls the shop "The Knitters Knook".

Bustard's Old Show Factory, now the
Bustard's Old Show Factory, now the "Knitters Knook

Brian McEvoy is still operating his Veterinary practice in 1986 and the small house next door where the two old shoe repairers worked and lived, has been occupied as a Charity Shop for the Foreign Missions since 1976. Two ladies from the New Row, Miss Kitty Magorian and Mrs. Annie Brannigan devoted all their time to running the Mission Shop, (shown overleaf), since it opened. They raise as much as 4,000 per year in this small place. In the early 1930's this was the home of Noel McClelland at the time of his fatal accident.

The little Charity Shop
Kitty Magorian and Annie Brannigan in front of the little Charity Shop

The Corn Crane is a large two storey building standing in the Lower Square and was used, at the turn of the century, for storing, selling and weighing grain. It was also bought by the R.C. Church from the Annesley Estate around the same time as the purchase of Bustards and was used for a variety of Parochial functions. The upper storey was used as a Dole Office for a few years until 1986, and the lower for a temporary school in the 1970's.

A very early and rare photo of the Corn Crane, around 1890
A very early and rare photo of the Corn Crane with the wooden weighbridge hut in front. Note the absence of the corrugated veranda and the surrounding wall. Thought to be around 1890.

Since the 1920's three spectacular Road Shows have appeared in Castlewellan, these were a "one-off" and almost certainly will never be seen in the Town again. The third was beside the Corn Crane in 1937 / 38 and was called, The Wall of Death. This consisted of a wooden bowl twenty feet high and about fifty feet in diameter. Round the top was a platform where the spectators stood to watch the performance. "Dare Devil Ena" and "Cyca-Lone Chris" were the names of the two stars, who, each in turn rode a motor cycle at speed round the inside of this vertical wall. Both then rode in a criss cross fashion followed by both riding blindfolded. To finish off the nights display "Chris" drove an Austin Seven Sports Car at forty miles per hour round the same wall and almost shook everybody off the top. The two bikes were old American machines known as "Red Indian Motor Cycles". On the Saturday the last day of the Show a competition was held among the local "would be" Push Bikers.However only man, a Club Racer Victor Cordiner from Lisburn (then serving his time in the Co.Op) managed to do a half circle of the vertical part of the wall, something never achieved before on a Push Bike, but a slip at the finish robbed him of the prize. Pat McCavera from Bunkershill and a Pal of Cordiner made no mistakes and was the winner. This show was packed to capacity every night.