One of Castlewellan's most popular eating houses in the 1900/1940 period, was Miss Murphy's, in the Lower Square. Apart from the local trade, this Boarding House and Restaurant did a thriving business from the crowds who frequented the horse fairs on Murphy's door step, with dinners at one shilling and teas at sixpence.
When this old lady died, in 1939, a small stout man (almost twenty stone in weight) bought the place. Jimmy Cunningham, one of the Hauliers from the Town, continued serving fish and chips, till he died in 1963. At the rear of the Restaurant, and facing onto Mary Street, was a large shed belonging to Jimmy, and it was into this that Patsy Mullen moved his garage, in 1951. Everything was made there - small lorries from cars, caravans and boats. He carried out all kinds of motor repairs; his motto - "No job too big - none too small".
With this in mind, Jimmy Cunningham, his landlord, after failing for some time to get his sweeping brushes up the chimney, called in Mullen, to run up the ladder and push the brush down from the top. When something llke fifty yards of rods had disappeared down the flue and still no word from below, it was evident that something was amiss. It turned out that the rods had gone down the wrong chimney, wormed their way across a sitting room, through a door, up a hallway and crept through another entrance into Charlie Shields's Bar. When the large black hairy thing was spotted by Hugh McGreevy, the Bar-man, he was stunned for a moment but soon saw the funny side. Meanwhile, the man on the roof retrieved the rods and was really amused by the note he found tied to the brush. It said, "All darkies may enter by the front door!" Mullen moved his garage in 1961.
After Jimmy Cunningham died, the shop was let to Gerry Macken, who dealt in and repaired old furniture. It was also possible, now and again, to pick up an old ornament or two very cheap, while eating the fish and chips he cooked in the old but still serviceable equipment. Gerry Macken left there about 1975, and the place has been private accommodation since.
Between Jimmy Cunningham's and Hannity's, is a large two storey house, built about 1898, for Andy Tuft, who later moved across the street. It was then occupied,in the early 1930s, by Micky Burns, the Butcher, who also moved across the street beside Tuft. The next owner, Micky Sawey, and his wife, Margaret, opened a Cafe and Boarding House. Micky, a small, light, very quick-tempered man, previously drove a delivery lorry for Pat O'Hare of the Furniture Store and, knowing a little about this business, started selling second-hand furniture on his own account, using a loft behind what they had named "The Cosy Cafe".
Micky bought a small green Austin A35 car, which he kept polishing to a dazzling perfection, but sadly this wouldn't describe his driving. Every time he came to a crossroads or traffic lights, Margaret would advise him to stop, as another oncoming car had the right-of-way. But Micky had his car taxed and insured and nobody had any more right on the road than he, so he would just drive straight on. One day, when they were on their way home from Newry, they met a man with a large billy-goat, which was leaping about the road. Micky wasn't in favour of this so he stopped to complain. However, before he got the door opened, the goat charged and, with a massive head butt, nearly put the little car over the body. This infuriated Micky, but an attempt to get out brought another bash. Realising he had at last met his match, Sawey sped off while there was still some of the car left.
Micky died in 1963, and his wife in 1976. The present owner, Raymond King, bought the Cosy Cafe in 1966, kept a Boarding House for two years and has lived there privately since. Hannity's Butchers was in the centre of the row of buildings in the horse trading square. Built of red and yellow brick a lifetime ago, it still looks extremely well today.
In 1927, Willie Hannity and his partner, Tommy Steele, started a Butcher's in this shop and, together with their families, lived in the dwelling part of the building. In 1934, Tommy Steele moved to the Upper Square and opened his own business. During that period, the butcher sold meat around the country from a pony and flat van, and it was common enough in the 1930s to see a visiting stall on any market day, selling fresh meat.
As well as the shop, Hannity had a dairy at the rear in the 1950s and sold the milk to the central dairy. In one front room in the dwelling, Willie's daughter, Cissie, had a Hairdressing Salon, but closed on her marriage to Harry McAlinden, the Grocer. When Willie Hannity died in 1966, the business was carried on by his two sons, Tommy and P.F. Tommy later moved to Belfast, and P.F. worked there until he retired in 1982. In 1983, Paddy Finnegan bought the Hannity property and his son, Bartley, is in the meat business at the present time.
In the shade of one of the largest and most beautiful chestnut trees in Ireland, was a little pub and dwelling, owned by Ned Doyle, from Kilcoo. On his retirement, Ned sold out to Peter Quinn, who was assisted by his niece in later years. Peter was a quiet man who kept very much to himself and had a good countryside custom. One morning in 1951, there was a 1935 Morris Eight car, in pristine condition, sitting at Mullen's Garage, which was behind Peter's pub. While the garage man was admiring the car, Peter called to tell him that it belonged to a fellow, Sam Watt - a customer of his, from Ballyward. Sam, who had been in Peter's pub the night before, would collect the car later that day but, whatever happened, neither Peter Quinn or Mullen ever heard or saw Sam Watt again and the car rotted away and was thrown in the dump, after sitting for fifteen years.
When Peter Quinn died in 1959, Mary Cosgrove, his niece, took over and, in 1966, became Mrs Tom Doherty. The name of the pub was then changed to 'The Old Tom'. It was a pity to see the chestnut tree being removed in 1976, to make way for alterations to the Squares, but its absence left a better view of The Old Tom, which had a new owner in 1979 - Mick Masterson. He retained Mrs Doherty, whose husband, Tom, had just died, to manage the pub and new off-licence. Mick deals in blood horses as a side line and was one of the men who restarted the Horse Fair in the Lower Square, in 1982. He is also a force behind the pony and horse trotting exhibition through the Demesne and round the Town, in aid of charity.
Across Mary Street and belonging to the Old Tom pub, is a fairly large twostorey building and access to the loft is by a set of stone steps built in the most peculiar place - right in Mary Street and blocking the half of the roadway, as they have done for over one hundred years. It is thought the loft was used as a clubroom, concert and dance hall, in the early 1900s and, probably, by Hibernians. It is notable that in more recent years, a lot of young people can play all sorts of musical instruments while, in the 1930s, there were very few musicians in Castlewellan. One man in constant demand was "Spin", Tom Toner, who worked as a blacksmith for Alex Rodgers. Spin played the melodian and was a man to get a hooley really going. Another was the son of the Rev. Kidd, who lived in the big house beside St. Malachy's High School and, being a member of an orchestra, could have been heard practising on his clarinet - a treat for those who sat outside on a summer's evening and preferred good music. This was before radio or television. That house, the property of the Annesley Estate, is occupied in 1987 by Amos Cromwell, the Game-Keeper. Amos rears thousands of pheasants which are released in mid-autumn, to be ready for the winter shoots in the Demesne, and costing any man about £250.00, for one day's shooting, with a take- home bag of two birds. He reckoned it took £20,000, to rear the season's birds.
The Grocery and General Provisions Store on the corner of the Newcastle Road belonged, in the 1900s, to Dan Graham. Dan was a country man and was more at home dealing in calves. He always had a few in a shed at the rear and one night in the early 1930s, a tramp sleeping there set fire to the place, killing the calves and was lucky to get away with his own life. Around that time, Ena McCartan thought to be related to Dan, took over the running of the shop and carried on the Grocery, till she died in 1979. Ena's assistant, and niece, Irene McCartan like Ena, came from Backaderry. She continued with the business, became Mrs Doyle, and trades under that name. Her husband, Jimmy, is a Building Contractor, and leaves the running of the shop to Irene.