Chapter 7


Willie Caruth took his first staggering steps in the world of commerce when he opened a Grocery shop beside Lintons. He also joined with Fred Wright in the potato trade, in the large shed behind McCammons. This was prior to 1912, for, by that time he had bought the shop (now the Post Office, under the management of Peter Murphy, from Cabra). Willie began his grocery trade there after taking over from three old sisters, the Murrays, who were drapers. He took advantage of the motor van to get to Belfast and home again with his wares, before the town was awake in the mornings.

When he retired in 1967, the business was rented to 'Bell', from Ballyward, who stayed there till 1983. Then, on the death of Willie Caruth, in 1965, his son, Harry, converted the dwelling part of the premises into another shop and rented it to Savage, from Downpatrick, as a Home Bakery. The old vacated Grocery then became the new Post Office.

There were two shops (McCammon, Hardware and Blackwood, Tailor) between Caruth's and Ryan's Corner. It is noticeable that Ryan's property had also been a Post Office in earlier days and later owned by Caruth, from the 1950's, to 1985.

McCammon's Hardware, was established about 1911 in a building known as 'The Annesley Arms Hotel'. The old man was one of the leading suppliers of all types of horse-drawn farm machinery, as well as house building materials. When he passed on, he left the store to his two sons, Bert and Stanley, who advanced with the times and stocked tractor-drawn implements and added a petrol pump, sited on the Avenue to the Demesne. In a large shed at the rear, they made wooden huts of all sizes and shapes and, like most businesses at that time, displayed their products on the Main Street on Market and Fair days, giving the town a look of prosperity. On the deaths of Bert and Stanley, Stanley Jun. took over, and currently stocks everything for ever increasing number of "Do-it-Yourself" people. Gone are the days when the main importers of machinery share their prifit with a sub-agent; gone are the days when almost every housewife had her hen-house with a few chickens and gone are the days when petrol companies want a one pump man, leaving people like the McCammons to phase out those lines of business.

From the 1920's to the late 1930's, the Post Office was owned and run by Sammy Ryan, and was ideally situated on the corner of Castle Avenue. About 1947, Sammy moved the Post Office to a part of James O'Flynn's, further down the Town, and sold the Corner to Sam Smiley. Sam was a son of the Chemist across the street and, being of the same profession as his father, ran

Willie Caruth with Delivery Man George Bates. Around 1948-50

Willie Caruth with Delivery Man George Bates. Around 1948-50

a pharmacy for a few years before emigrating to Canada. The Corner was then purchased by Harry Caruth, who rented the shop to Desmond McMullan, a Chemist from Newcastle. Des stayed but a short time, having bought Gibson's Supply Stores, in partnership with his brother, Eamon, a Grocer. The next tenant in the Corner was Paddy Steele, who already owned a Butcher's Shop in the Town, and soon found that one more was one too many: he was out again in three years. Following the closure of the Butcher's Shop, Des McMullan returned and the Corner was yet again a Pharmacy, until Des retired, in 1984.

Sammy Ryan fought in the 1914/18 War, was a Chauffeur to the Annesleys and, at onetime, owned a Motor Repair Garage in Newcastle. He ran the Post Office in Castlewellan and taught a Motor Engineering Class in the local Technical College, which was then the upper storeys of the Co-Op. Sammy was full of life and always playing tricks on people, such as pinching the wheels of his neighbour' (McCammons') cars. He had a half crown with a hole in it, to which he tied a length of black thread, and placed it on the footpath, with the thread hidden in a crack. He then waited for that someone who would always come along, spot the coin and, after a slow look around, bend down, only to find that the dough had disappeared.

The Post Office as is is today, it was the original 'Caruth' Grocery.

The Post Office as is is today, it was the original 'Caruth' Grocery.
 

Stanley McCammon in his store, 1986.

Stanley McCammon in his store, 1986.

Once when the half dozen local postemen were being pressed to join a trade union, Sammy let them meet the union representatives in his home, on a night when he conveniently had business elsewhere. After a first-class meal on the house, a large bottle of whisky (also presented by Ryan) was found to contain nothing but cold tea.

A 1950 photo showing McCammons on the left

A 1950 photo showing McCammons on the left with ornamental upper bay windows.
Little changed today.

 

An up to date photo of Blackwood's Drapery

An up to date photo of Blackwood's Drapery.
Ryan's Post Office on the right and McCammon 's on the left.

When Sammy Ryan retired, the Post Office was moved to the shop left empty by Gibson Brothers, on their purchase of the Co-op. It remained there only a very short time before it was transferred to a part of O'Flynn's Paper Shop. Again, after a short stay, it was moved to the Lower Square (1952) under the management of Tommy Todd, a stranger to the Town. This "move and find me" game by the Post Office prompted a bit of advice from G.E Annesley:- "Put the blasted thing on wheels and move it to the middle of the bloody Square where people can see it"! And that is exactly where it did move, in 1959 - to the Upper Square.

Hugo King
Hugo King

After Ryan's death, Alfie Colgan and his wife, Marie, both Dentists, occupied the dwelling on the Avenue which had belong to Ryan. Here they worked at their profession until they both retired about 1982, and moved to Ballynahinch, the home town of Alfie's father. Alfie's father was also a dentist, who attended the Upper Square one day per week in the 1940's.

The whole empty corner block was bought, in 1985, by 'Hugo' King, the draper next door, and he gave the place a new identity by extending his own shop. The dwelling in the Avenue was made into a Cafe and rented toDamien Lavery, whose parents own 'Woodlodge' Old People's Home. The name of the Cafe, opened in 1986, is 'Tree Beards'. Damien specialises in sign writing on motor vehicles and shop fronts and seems to be artistically gifted. Hugo King inherited his drapery on the death of his father, Hugh, in 1961. Hugh King, Sen., served his time in McCrackens and bought Gardner and Blackwood's, about 1936. Gardner and Blackwood's, the building between McCammon's and the Post Office, were one of the leading Ladies and Gents Tailors and Outfitters in the Town in the 1900's, being completely up-to-date with the fashions of that period. When Gardner died 'Gordie' Blackwood, carried on the business until he retired in 1935.