Hugh didn’t follow the call of the sea, there is little about it or the men
who went down to the sea in ships in his lifetime that he doesn’t know I was most impressed in hearing
about the old long line fishermen of a past generation.
serious side of the fishing industry has been exhaustively dealt with but the
present generation knows little or nothing about the long line fishermen of olden days. They
were a gallant band who faced death many a time when they left the shore.
They fished from the Wreck Port at Annalong, so called because
of a boat called the “Troubador” which was wrecked off there
At the Wreck Port - Mr. Arthur Cunningham (left) with
Mr. R. Horton beside the winch
which replaced a former one at the old watchhouse (in background)
Hugh talked about them
and mentioned that there was one of the old hands left, Mr. Arthur
Cunningham, of The Rocky Hill, near Annalong. So we went along and contacted
Arthur, who is aged 77 and got a lot of information from him. The
fleets consisted of about 14 small boats. The boats were twelve to
sixteen feet in length and from four to six feet beam. The fishing
generally started in January, so you can imagine these men pushing their wee
boats down to the sea at midnight on a dark winter’s night
not knowing if they ever would see their homes again. They very often had
to pull their craft with the oars to the fishing ground three or four miles
out. Sometimes a storm would break before they got their lines
shot and they had to run before the wind to shelter, often as far as
Newcastle or Killough, or the Bar of Carlingford. Nothing these
hardy men dreaded as much as a snowstorm. About 100
fishermen were lost in a snowstorm off the Mourne coast about the year 1825 and 75 were
1855, and there were different disasters in later years, one
one in the year 1904. So
you see what danger these men risked for very small rewards. From
half-a-crown to five shillings a man would be their average return when they got a decent catch of
fish. Why did they call it long line fishing? Because they used
lines baited with mussels, the lines were 400 fathoms long and there was a
fathom between each hook. Every man of the crew of seven in each boat had
a line and there were seven bags of sand in the weather side
of every boat for ballast. There was a mussel to every hook and if the
mussels were small two were used for a bait. The mussels
were drawn by horses and carts from Narrow Water, Warrenpoint, and
from Dundrum Strand.
Here are the names of some of the fishermen who
operated from the Wreck Port: Harry Burden, Longstone, and his
sons Hugh, Tom and John (all dead); Henry Young,
Longstone and his sons Charlie and James and Sammy Young, a cousin (all
dead); Robert Burden and his three sons and his brother Harry
Burden, Ballyvea (dead); Johnnie, Pat and Willie
Cunningham, Rocky Hill (dead), Arthur Cunningham, a brother (happily still
alive); Eddie Harrison (Ballyvea), Pat Trimble (Rocky Hill),
Joe Moore, Back Brae (dead); Johnny and Willie McCartan (Tom’s),
Longstone (dead); Richard McCartan (Wee Dick), Valley Road and his
sons, James, Johnny and Arthur (all dead); John Heaney and his
two sons Willie and Johnny, Ballyvea (all dead); James Heaney,
Annalong (dead); Willie Purdy, Annalong (dead); James
Quinn, Leestone (still alive and well); Johnny McGlue, Torlis
Hill (dead); Jim Rogers (Den.), Ballyvea (dead); Ned Quinn, Ballyvea
(dead); James McConnell, Ballyvea (dead); Dominick McAlinden, Moneydarraghbeg (dead); Bob
Cousins, do. (dead); Robert Young,
Ballyvea (dead) and his sons (three sons still alive), Francis
Doran, Ballyvea (dead); George Nugent and John Nugent, Ballyvea (dead);
James Clugson, Wreck Port (dead).
are the names of some of the old long line boats and their skippers:-
“The Star of The Sea” (Johnny McCartan)
“The Bonny Jane” (Jamey Heaney),
“The Molly” (Johnny Gibson and Jamey Heaney),
“The St. Bridget” (Pat Trimble),
“The Dingy” (Hugh McStay and his brother
“The Mary Alice (Johnny Cunningham—
“The Star of Bethlehem” (Johnny Carr and W.
Morning Star” (Pat Trimble),
“The Lizzie J. Bell” (J Boyd),
Eliza Jane” (Richard McCartan),
“The Ellen Jane” (George Nugent),
“The Annie Annett” (James McCartan and Johnny
“The Valley Boat” (Johnny O’Reilly and Ned
“The Jane Moore” (Joe Moore),
“The Mary Ellen” (James McCartan) (Dick).
reproduce some verses about The Wreck Port fishermen, composed by the late
Mr. Henry Purdy, N.T., Newcastle,
about 30 years ago. Mr. Purdy was a native
Bengullion” foundered about 40 years ago coming from Birkenhead to
Annalong with a
of coal for Mr. Bob Cousins,
Annalong. The crew of three were
lost, viz., skipper James Campbell and his son James, and a
man from Skerries named Hughes.
SCHOONERS AND THEIR CAPTAINS
Annalong may well feel proud of the great tradition of its sailors and its
gallant fleet. The Annalong schooners of a bygone age and their captains were familiar in almost every
seaport in the four Kingdoms and indeed in many Continental ports as well.
What memories their names arouse. Who has not heard
“The Nellie Bywater” and her master Captain William
“The Volant” and her master Captain W. Purdy;
Howard” and her master Captain J. McKibben;
under the guidance of patriarchial Captain M. Caren;
and Captain S. Chambers;
“C. S. Parnell” and her
master Captain J. McConnell;
“The Lough Ranza Castle” and her master,
Captain James McKibben;
“The Maid of Irvine”, captained by Wm.
“The Pious” and her captain James Campbell;
“The Edith” and Captain Wm. Doran;
“The Excel” (skipper in 1901 Robert Gordon).
“The Excel” was dismasted off Wicklow
Head about 1900 and the crew of three were drowned: Jack Gordon, Annalong and his
son, and Sam McKibben, Annalong, also a young man from Connemara.
“The Lily” (Jack Orr),
“The Phyllis” (Robert McCartan, Annalong,
aged 86, still alive and well).
Robert was cook on “The Phyllis” when
he was 12 years old and later became he skipper. He also skippered the “Mary
Ann Jane” for years. He was also
skipper of “The Four Brothers” for a considerable time.
“The Mary Grace” (J. McKibben),
“The Goldseeker” (James Caren),
“The Princess Louise” (Charlie McBurney),
“The Progress” (Hugh Chambers),
“The Flora” (Harry McCullough),
“The Orion” and “The Arrabella”, (skipper
“The Busy Bee” (John Gordon),
“The Young Hudson” (Harry Caren),
“The Waft” (Charley McBurney),
“The Plus IX” (Sam Skillen and Johnny
Ethel May” (Johnny Kearney),
“The Busy Bee” (W. McClelland),
“The Hunter” (W. McKibben),
“The Christina Shearer” (T. Chambers),
“The Useful” (Joe McKibben)
were others as well which used to call at Annalong, whose skippers were
not from the village, such as
“The Yacht” (Capt. J. Kerr);
“The Perseverance” (Capt. J. Rooney);
“The Richard Cobden” (Capt. T. Lowe).
schooners were based on Annalong and Kilkeel and up to about thirty years ago
they plied a regular trade between all the main ports of England and Ireland. Their
principal cargoes were potatoes, coal and granite. They gave the local
granite and potato exporters a much better service than they are getting now
when the products have to be hauled by road in the U.T.A. freight lorries to the
docks in Belfast and exported from there.
What a lovely
sight it was to see that brave little fleet when they “hauled down their
riggins and reefed their top-sails”, or put out to sea like stately swans moving serenely over a
placid lake. Now, alas, their day is done.
The day of sail and square rigged ships has passed. They served their day
and generation well and those old schooners’ crews were no gingerbread
sailormen, but hard-headed horny-handed sons of the sea who learned their
trade the hard way the type of men who formed the nucleus of the
crews of merchant and battle fleets in peace and war.
is the song of The Wreck Port Long-Line Men by the late Mr. Henry Purdy,
PORT LONG-LINE MEN
long-line men of Wreck Port fame,
Are past and gone, except the name.
That their prowess be known in years to come,
I’ll recount some names on “finger and
was Billy Heaney and old William Sloane,
Transmigrated as cormonants for ever to roam;
Joe Moore—”Now-ow” with Back Brae slang,
Had sheetsman bold in “Gomity Dang”.
Alex, John-the-Phyllis and William, “Be-Gad”,
Talked of sailing their freighters when the
weather was bad.
This John and Wee Alex and one or two more
mackerel, for pleasure, close in to the shore.
Dingy Cutter fished down in the “Bay”,
With gallant helmsman in Barney McStay.
The “Crank” in the bow taft, who made the
Perhaps it was Bernard—the well-known
Purdy, “The Frenchman—I’ll do the best I can”,
With Tullyusker as his right hand man,
Wee Dick and his sons had many a rally
With Jamey Heaney in the clipper Mally.
Big Harry, with sonorous voice,
Had Irish Harry as his captain choice,
If the morning looked bad and some thought long,
Hilarity reigned with Clugson’s song.
boats pulled up—that’s another story,
The fish were bought by Willie McGrory;
For the very last penny each skipper strove,
And “divided it fair” at the foot of the
to the watch-house, as sure as you’re born,
On wooden leg stood Tammy Corn.
Other names are forgotten, so now bye-bye,
Perhaps you can get them from Johnnie McQuiy.
VERSES BY Mr. PURDY WERE:— THE
repairs were essential with oakum and with pitch,
“Scowl” John pulled his beard and came
without a hitch.
Connor’s down in the dock, you can hear the
As he works at the bilges up to knees in the mud.
knew from experience John was honest as proved steel,
For he tested every seam from covering plank to
With deep tackle for carp on well-known Brown
This fishing, so exciting, yet brimful of fun,
Had an expert exponent in Master McCrum.
were necessary to indicate the best fishing grounds and from time immemorial
these hills or hillocks were noted:—
due east, or rowing begum,
You come to the whiting ground on the Long Hill
If this “spot” is abortive, go
out further still,
Till the south mark is the church and the north
the Blue Hill.
Dogfish are plentiful, and nowds of a sort,
When southward you go to the “Two Hills” off
If your boat is truthworthy, then risk out afar,
Till out comes Tullybrannigan and the Big Lump of
THE OLD FREIGHTERS
Monaster and Orion - with Captain “Ah! Ah!” Tammy,
Sailed deep granite loaded with the Ellen
There was also the Venture and the Cambrian
With bluff rounded bows that made a big racket.
The Christiana, the sloop, low waist and round
With rudder protruding like an overgrown fern.
“Best-of-My-Eyes” is Catherina in all kinds
Had a rival in the Pius with the “King”—
The Busy Bee, sold by Gordon, later came to grief
And another little schooner— Skillen’s leaky
Other names may come to memory ere Christmas
So I’ll wind up this list with the Mary Ann
THINKIN' OVER OUL' TIMES
was joost afther lightin' the oul' pipe at the *greesha the other night to take
a pull afore A went to bed,
when A began thinkin' over oul' times. * Dying embers of the
Mr. Marks (left) with Mr. and Mrs. Fegan
suppose ye think A toul’ ye a brev bit already but, man dear, sure
A cud niver tell ye the half of the pieces A min’ in me time.
An, min’ ye, there’s nobody can say
that anything A tell ye’s a lie or a
kerried story. Soul naw,
some o’ them’ll say 'Dang all
ye’re doin’ only pullin’ the
Observer” man's leg. Sure
ye niver wint through the half of
what ye spun them’.
man, that fairly gets me goat and onybody that says the lek
o’ that to me A up and
says, ‘Well ken you prove that onything A sed’s a lie. If ye ken well there’s £5
in Hanna’s bar for
the first man that ken prove that
onything A sed is false’.
A houl' ye that put the wun’ up them. The lek o’ that wud
sicken ye. An' then some o’ them’ll say A don’ know how it comes they’re
givin’ ye so long in the paper be onybody else that wuz in it’. ‘Well,’ A says.
‘maybe A hiv
more to tell than the most o’ them’. No harm to ony o’ them but
it’s only an odd wan went through the same drill as me. ‘Ach ye only think that’, wan fella says.
I, ‘ me brave buck, when ye harrow what A ploughed ye’ll hiv room to talk and yer
harness’ll be showin’ signs o’ the wear too’!
“But they’re not all lek that, far from
it. Man alive, there’s people A didn’t know from Adam stapped me
in the street an’ had a great ‘shankie’ for me over me story in the paper.
as A was sayin’, A wuz thinkin’ about oul’ times, o’
weddin’s an’ funerals times ago. Many’s the weddin’
an’ funeral wint over that bridge. (Kilkeel bridge).
Weddin’s them times wur not lek what they’re now. The weddin’ers
walked in pairs an’ it was a purty sight after getin’
the knot tied in the Church or the Chapel when they all made their way to some
houl’in’ groun’ for refreshments. Hanna’s on the Bridge was a great rendezvous. There
was a big parlour off the bar an’ the longer they stayed in the parlour the
more sociable they got. A was at many’s a weddin’ in me
time and many a weddin’ party A min’, but A think Hugh Fegan’s
weddin’ was the best A was iver at.
FEGAN'S WEDDING AND THE DAY OF THE APPEARANCE
always thought a lot o’ the same Hugh Fagan. He’s wan o’ the
finest, big heartedest men A iver met an’ a fine lookin’ man too. He has it ivery way. Well, A min’
the time Hugh was married: it was on the 9th June, 1917, and
as A wuz sayin’ there wuz great stur at weddin’s in the oul’ days. Most o’
the weddin’ parties from Mourne went away for the day to the ‘Point and put
up at Biddy Cunningham’s in Church Street. That wuz
because Biddy wuz a Mourne woman herself: she come from Brackney.
Biddy Haughian wuz her maiden name. She was a sister o’
Daniel Haughian’s that lived beside Moneydarragh School. A fine,
dacent oul’ woman she was and she wud ha’ done anything for anywan that
hailed from Mourne. If ye wor a Mourne man ye wur sure o’ a great
welcome in Biddy’s o’ the ‘Point. People in them days wudn’t a
thought they were right married at all unless they went to the ‘Point and put
up for the day at ‘Biddy’s’. She kept a public house
and an ain’ house as well and there wud
a been all kin’s o’ stir - singin’ and dancin’. The weddin'ers them days travelled on a wagonette and if it
wasn’t a wagonette it wud ha’ been a couple o’ coaches an’ the horses in
them wud be shinin’ and dancin’ mad for the road. Och, them
wuz the times! But A’m goin’ in front o’ me story. A wuz
talkin’ about Hugh Fagan’s weddin’. It was, of course, at a later time
o’ day, and they didn’t go to the ‘Point, but went to Newcastle
instead. “They wor married in Atticall Chapel. Hugh’s wife wuz Rose Hughes,
a daughter of Larry Hughes o’ Ballinran - as nice a girl as iver went into
Atticall Chapel. The mornin’ she was married, she had her four
cows milked afore she made ready to get married, and man she was as purty
a bride as iver walked up the aisle. Who o’ them wud ye
get now to milk an cow on their weddin’ mornin’, niver min’
four. They’d be thinkin’ more about how their hair wuz set - how many waves wuz in
it. In dangbut some o’ them has that many waves on them now that if they had
wan more they’re lek a boat in a heavy say - they’d
day o’ the appearance A wuz drivin’ the car. It was James O’Hare’s
car and there wuz a bottle o’ whuskey hid in the well o’ the car for drinkin’ on the road.
“Well, didn’t some o’ the boys get to know about the bottle o’ whuskey
an’ drunk it while the weddiners
were in the Chapel and when the ‘groom went to
broach the cargo on the road there was nothin’ but an empty five-naggin
bottle. What a laugh the boys had: Ned Quinn, Danny
Trainor and Barney Sloan, an’ the joke was that the cork came out o’
the bottle. ‘Well’, Hugh sed, ‘there’s plenty more where it come
from’, an’ we called in ‘Wee Roney’s’ at the Royal and got
another bottle. Ye had no bother gettin’ a drink on a Sunday them days!
worked a while for Hugh. He was the water caretaker for the Rural Council
and then for the Urban Council, and there wasn’t a hydrant he didn’t know and un’erstand far
better than ony o’ the engineers, an’ a fine
to work for. A suppose he’ll kill me for sayin’ this, but he deserves it an’ a bit of a
lift disn’t do onybody a bit o’ harm when it’s the truth ye’re
tellin’. “A always say: if ye kennit say a good
word about a body don’t say a bad wan,” continued Hugh, “an if
ye kennit do a good turn
never do a bad ‘un to onybody. Ye’re supposed
to love yer neighbour as yerself, mankin’ o’
‘every description wi’out ony exception o’ persons. That’s what the Good Book says and that’s
what the clargy preaches, and if ye go be that ye’ll not be far
out. No later than Sunday last it was preached up above.
we landed at The Donard in Newcastle and Mr. Brady was the manager there
then. He bought the Royal in this town after that. A min’ well he said that Hugh Fagan
was about the finest specimen o' a man iver entered his hotel, and
that they wur the best-lookin’ bride and ‘groom he had iver set eyes on.
That wuz a lift for ye, and he put up the drink for all haun’s. Well,
right enough it was the truth: the Fegans wur all a flne-lookin’ family and
very smart. The father was John Fagan, who lived beside Lisnahilty
Forth on the Carginagh Road, and his wife Sally was called up to
be wan o’ the best- lookin weemin in Mourne.
as A was sayin’, It’s wun’erful the way things comes hack to yer
min’. A’m no saint, A know A’ve me faults and failin's lek
most people, but,
thank God, A don’t think A iver done much harm to onybody. Av coorse A
always liked a bit o’ fun an’ wud a played a joke as well as the next. “A was only wanst at the Bench in me life and
that was for bein’ drunk wan Hallowe’en-tide fair night. A fell in wi’
a few ould friends and A had wan or two too many. It was a
policeman called World that got me and the Sergeant’s name was Duffy that
summoned me. A min’ the day well. The R.M. was an oul’ Army
man, a Major Bull, an’ he roared like a bull too. He wore a
long white beard and a castor hat:
that sits upon the Bench,
His face is round and fat;
His name is Major Bull
And he wears a castor hat’].
“Mr. Alex. Gordon and Mr. John Orr wur the
local magistrates and of coorse they knew me well, and put in a good word
for me. A got away wi’ a caution and only had to pay a
shillln’ for the summons.
AN ATTICALL WOMAN AT COURT
“There wuz some quare pieces at the Bench in the old’ days. There was
an oul’ body livin’ up at the tap o’ Atticall an’ wan time she was brought to Coort over a right-of-way or
somethin’. It was Mr. Boyd that brought her to Newry. The oul’
wan had niver been no farther than this town in her life and o’ coorse she
was all put about when she seen the inside of the Coort. The Judge was a
very oul’ man - an’ not a very good lookin’ wan ayther! When
the oul’ dame from Atticall seen him wi the long white wig on his head she
took him for an oul’ woman an’ she whispers to Mr. Boyd: ‘Mr.
Boyd, dear isn’t that an ugly oul’ targe o’ a woman? She’s
the tightest-lookin’ case A iver seen in me life’.
know what ye’re talkin’ about, Mary’, says Mr. Boyd. ‘That’s
the Judge that’s goin’ to try yer case, an ye must be respectful to him’.
“An what dis me
boul Mary say? ‘Och, Mr. Boyd, dear,’ says she, ‘Sure
A didn’t know. She’s a purty craythur
entirely: she hes a face on her lek an
angel’. “Mary still thought the Judge was a woman!”
HUGH MARKS TELLS ABOUT JOURNEYMEN
"TAILYURS", AND THE
STORY OF "THREE GEESE A-GRAZIN'"
of a change, Hugh narrated a very amusing story. “It’s
wan”, he said, “A heerd a very oul’ man tellin’ nearly
seventy years ago when A wuz a caddie. “It’s
about a tailyur the name o’ Danny Dornan, that lived in the ‘back
side’ roun’ be Castlewellan. Danny was a journeyman tailyur. In them days,
journeymen tailyurs went roun’ the counthry doin’ jobs here an’ there for
different people. A min’ wan meself, John the Tailyur. He
hailed from aroun’ Mullartown, a big long rake o’ a man foriver
smokin’ a long clay pipe. John waz all right if ye had the way o’ him but as thrawn as
a bag o’ weasles if ye crossed him. He got hes pick o mate in the hours
he worked in, an’ he was desperate hard to plaze in the line o’
“kitchin”. If the woman o’ the house had a nice bit o’ bacon an’
kebbege for his dinner he’d say:-- “That’s wan plesther A niver cud
relish; joost roast me a wing o’ fish on the coals”. That waz
the sort o’ John an’ ye had to humour him or he’d pack up 'hes alls’ an’ clear.
“Well, to go ahead wi’ me story, wan evenin’ this oul’
tailvur Danny Dornan was sittin’ in hes own wee thatched cabin away up in the mountains, busy stitchin’ away wi’ hes
legs crossed. Isn’t it funny the way a tailyur cud manage to keep hes
legs that way so long. Ye’d wun’er he wudn’t take cramps in hes legs.
“Well, the first thing Danny heerd wuz
hes wife Betty lettin’ a screech out of her that wud ha’ wakened the dead.
“‘Ah, ye good-for-nothin’ oul scarcrow ye, there ye’re sittin at
yer aise, an’ a hun’er geese tramplin’ down the wee lock o’
corn. Get up ye lazy gammeril ye an’ drive them away’. “‘My patience’,
says Danny, ‘ye’re more at leisure yerself;
rether than have a scoldin’ match, here we go’. “So he got up an’ went out, an’ when he
looked into the field - 'Woman dear’, says he ‘what’s on your
eyes at all? A see only two geese.’ “‘Two geese, is it”, sez
Betty, “there’s no less than fifty there, onyway’. “‘Fifty! A wish A was as sure o’ fifty guineas as that there’s
only two in it’. “‘Ah, goodness
help poor craythurs o’ weemin wi’ their keldres’ o’ men,’ says
Betty. ‘A tell ye up to yer teeth, there’s forty geese there destroyin’ the lock o’
corn, as sure as there’s wan’.
well, two or forty, or a hun’er, A’d better drive them
aff”, sez Danny. And so he did. When dinner time came she
the spuds and laid a drap o’ milk an’ a bit
o’ butter out for him; but went and sat in the corner herself,
an’ threw her apron over her head, and began to cry 1ek a bayin’ shee.
“‘Betty dear,’ says Danny, What’s this for? Come over
and take yer dinner lek a good woman, and let us be thankful, instead of flyin’ in
God’s face.’ ‘Now indeed, I w-w-w-wull’ not’, sez
Betty. ‘To say such a thing as that there wuz only two ge-ge-geese ther when A seen a whole
score’. “‘Oh, t’ hell wi’ the geese; let them go and
be shot, woman, and sit for’id to the table’, siz Danny. “Indeed and A’ll not till
you own to the truth’, sez Betty. “Well not a bit did she ate,
and next mornin’ she didn’t rise at all, but when Danny spoke kin’ly, and brought a
bit o’ breakfast to her
she asked him to go for her mother and relations till she’d take lave o’ them afore she’d die, as there
wuz no use livin’ ony more, when all the love was gone out o’
him. “‘But Betty dear, why do you go on this way? What have A done’? sez
Danny. ‘Don’t you say there wuz only two geese there, and at the very lowest
there cudn’t be less than a dozen. Cen’t ye admit the
truth, ye conthrery Christin’ an’ let us hiv peace’.
makin’ her answer, Danny walked over to her mother’s house,
an’ brought the oul’ woman, who was about ninety, over, wi’ two or three of her family; and they
laid siege to Betty, but they might as well be preachin’ to a stone
wall, an’ she nearly made them believe that Danny was to blame. “‘Now
call him’, says she, ‘an’ A’ll let ye see who’s
wrong. Danny, If ye don’t intend to send me to me grave, spake the truth like a
Christin, an’ don’t be heapin’ sins on yer miserable head. All
lave ye no back dure, for A’ll only insist there was three geese, but A’m
sure there was six at the very laste. Wasn’t there three geese in the
field when A called ye out?’ “‘Och’, Betty dear, ‘niver min’; let there be
three-an’- thirty if ye like, but don’t let us be idlin’ and
tormentin’ our people here. Get up in the name o’ Goodness, an’ ate a bit’, sez
Danny. “‘But wasn’t there three geese there, A say,
Danny?’ sez Betty. “‘Ah, deng the wan but two if ye go to that’, sez Danny.
‘Ochanee! Isn’t this a purty story’, sez Betty.
home, go home all of yez, and get me coffin out o’ the town and
bring it over about dayli’ goin’, an’ joost gi’ me wan
night’s dacent wakin’; A won’t ax the two, for A don’t want
to gi’ much trouble to the neighbours, an’ indeed A think A culdn’t stan’ the
ungratitude and conthrariness o’ them that ought to know better, an’ feel for a body. Efther all
that A done an’ slaved for him, an’ give up
Neddy Murphy for him, that was six inches bigger an’ a carpenter
besides’. “Well, thinkin’ it might gi’ her a scar’, they went an’
coffin from Castlewellan that was ready made at the time, wi’ some fresh
shavin’s in the bottom; an’ the weemin’ that gethered as soon as the
coffin arrived ordered out the men till they’d wash the corpse. “She
said nothin’ till the men wuz outside; but then she gi’ a yell out
o’ her an’ asked how dar they think that she wanted washin’. It
might do well enough for a rale dead body, but she was thankful it hadn’t
come to that wi’ her yit, an’ if she seen fit to die it was no concern o’
theirs; and if anywan tried to lay a drap o’ water on her hide she’d lay
the marks of her ten nails on their face!
Well, she was
got some way into the coffin, an’ a clean cap and frill put roun’ her
face; an’ as she wasn’t pale enough, a wee hussy shaked a lock o’ flour roun’ her face.
But afore the men an’ boys wur lit in she asked for a lookin’-gless,
an’ when she seen what a sight she looked wi’ the flour on her visage she got
a towel and rubbed ivery bit of it aff again. “She bid Danny be called
in, an’ put her sister an’ her mother in charge, in his
hearin’, to be kin’ and look efther poor Danny efther she wuz
gone; Until such times as he’d get another to take her place, which she supposed
wudn’t be very long. For although he was hard and conthrary to put up wi, thank goodness she knowed her duty, and she supposed he
cudn’t help his nature, and it wuz better as it wuz afore they’d grow
too ould and she might get peevish and loss her temper, and they might
become a botheration to the neighbours be fightin’ an’ scouldin’ day in
and day out. ‘A’ll bet ye now efther all’s said an’ done,
he won’t give in to the three geese’.
“Well, the minit the geese wuz mentioned, Danny put on hes hat wi’out
a word, and walked out. “So night come on an’ the kennils wuz lit, an’ the tobaccy an’ pipes wuz laid
out, an’ the poor dead woman had to listen to a good dale o’ discourse
not at all to her lekin’, an’ the talk went on this way: “‘My-a-my,
disn’t the corp look mighty well? When did she die,
poor woman? What ailed her, did ye hear?’ ‘Indeed A believe it wuz gusopathy the
schoolmasther called it joost now, somethin’ wi’ goose’ in it onyway: ye know the way the skin
goes all of a sudden coul’ wi wee white
risin’s on it—they call it a goose’s skin. Mabbe she had it
bad, an’ Danny cudn’t bear it, an’ so she died wi’ grief’.
man, hel’ll feel her loss for a week or two: she wuz a savin’
woman’. ‘Ah, but hadn’t she a bad, bitter tongue in her head till herself maybe toul’.
“‘Deed, A think Danny will bear her loss wi’ Christin’
patience. He’s a young man for hes years: he disn’t look
fifty— he’ll be gettin’ hes pick o’ weemin. A think poor Betty
was very savin’ an’ laid by a lock o’ poun’s. Won’t the new
woman feel comfortable, and maybe put win’ un’er the money. A narrow
getherin’ always takes a wide scetterin’. “‘It’s my notion Betty
was in too big a hurry to die’, sez another oul’ huzzy. ‘From her looks
there, she might bury two tailyurs yit, an’ maybe get a big lump
of a farmer for her third husband. Well, it kennit be helped, but A
wudn’t lek to be warmin’ a bed for the best woman in the townland if A was
Betty. She’s at peace at last, the craythur; an’ mighty hard she foun’
it to keep the pace wi’ her neighbours whun she wuz alive. Who’s that
ye sed used to be goin’ wi Danny on odd Sunday evenin’s afore he got
married to Betty? If ghosts are allowed back on Sunday evenin’s,
poor oul’ Betty’s wull ha’ somethin’ to fret her in a short time, A
“Well, all this time the poor dead woman’s blood was rushin’ lek mad
through her; an’ somethin’ was swellin’ in her throat the same as if she was goin’ to be choked, but
still she niver opened her eyes or her mouth. Poor Danny come up efther a
time, an’ leanin’ over her face he whispered, ‘Betty,
isn’t it time to be done wi’ all this foolery? Say but wan rasonable
word, an’ A’ll sen’ all these people about their business’.
ye wee good-for-nothin’ crather, ye haven’t the spirit of a
man’, sez Betty, ‘or ye wud niver bear all they’ve been sayin’ about yer poor neglected wife these
last hours. Wuz the three gees there? A’m askin’ ye’. “‘Not a goose but two if ye
were to be waked for a twelvemonth’, sez
Danny. An’ aff he went, an’ sut in the corner till
daylight. He tried her again the next mornin’, joost as the lid was goin’ down on the coffin,
an’ the men were goin’ to hoist it on their showlders, but not a fut
wud she move unless he’d give in to the three geese.
So they come
to the graveyard, an’ the
coffin was lowered down into the grave, and joost as they were preparin’
to fill It up, poor Danny went down, an’ stoopin’ to where
he had left some air holes in the lid, he begged Betty even efther the
holy show she made o’ the pair o’ them to give up her thickness and come
home lek a sinsible woman. “‘Is the three geese there?’ wuz
all he cud get out of her. An’ be this time hes patience got so thin an’ he
was so bothered for the want o’ sleep, and torment o’ mind, that he
lost hes head, an’ jumped up, an’ began to shovel the clay lek mad
down on the coffin. “The first rattle it made scared the wits out o’
the buried woman, and she shouted out: ‘Och let me up! Sure
A’m not dead at all; let there be only two geese, Danny darlin’
if ye like’. “‘Oh be this and be that’, sez Danny. ‘Ye spoke too late.
People have come from far and near to the funeral, and we kennit lit them
loss their day for nothin’; so for the good name o’ the family don’t
stir’. An’ down went the clay in shovelfulls, for the tailyur
had lost hes senses.
“Of coorse, the people who wur there wuldn’t lit the poor woman be buried
against her wull, so they reached for Danny an’ hes shovel, an’ he fell in a lump on the sod.
“When poor Betty was brought back to life, the first sight she seen was
her man Danny lyin’ wi’out a kick in him, and wan o’ the neighbours
sez to her to let
Danny be put down in her place, an’ not give so many people a
disappointment after comin’ so far. An’ wi’ that
Betty giv the man a slap across the face, and not mindin’ the figure she
cut in her grave clothes, reached for poor Danny and roared and bawled for him to
come to life, an’ she’d never say a conthrary word to him again as
long as she lived. So some way or another they brought the tailyur
roun’; but how her and him cud bear the
o’ others afther that is more than A know Howanever they soon got into their ould ways o’
goin’ again, an’ whenever Betty foun’ a tart answer comin’ to her
tongue, she thought o’ the rattlin’ o’ the clay on the coffin,
and the three geese that wuz only two efther all; an’ if they didn’t
live happy .
. . That’s the tail end the oul’ people used to put to their fairy
stories, but as the oul’ man said this wan was true, it ken afford
to do wi’out a tail!”
OUL' SONGS AND OUL' YARNS
"A wuz joost listenin' the
wireless the other night an' man there wus a gran' programme
of oul' songs on that 'id lift the cockles o' yer heart!
a party of Belfast ladies touring the Mournes called at Kilkeel two of their
number made enquiries about Hugh Marks,whose reminiscences they had been reading in the “Mourne Observer”.
On finding Hugh they congratulated him on his stories,and here they are happily posing with him for a photograph. They are Mrs.
Doherty, Erskine Street (left), and Mrs. M. Howard, Gawn Street.
hard to bate the oul’ ballads an’ the oul’ yarns. A heerd wan wan
time: A’m sure it’s over a hun’er years oul’. It’s all
County Down - some man that knowed County Down
well put it together an’ d’ye know what A’m goin’ to tell ye, it
puts me in min’ o’
what A done meself times ago. Wud ye lek to
put it in?” Well, when I heard the Words of “My Own County
Down”, I felt it was indeed well worth putting in. ‘Different
wans wus at me to put in some more o’ Harry Purdy’s pomes about
Annalong”, continued Hugh, “but sure A don’t know no more”. Well, in view
of the interest aroused by the publication of Mr. Purdy’s rhymes in the “Mourne Observer” we were able to secure
some further Verses from the same pen,
which we print below with a few explanatory notes.
ye want another story or two?” Continued Hugh. “Well, A
heerd tell of an oul’ woman wan time. She wuz a tarrible hard
lookin’ case, but her looks didn't put her a bit about and divil the
hair she cared what onybody thought about her. She always claimed that she wuz the ugliest woman in the County
Down, and wudn’t a bin a bit plazed if onybody conthradicted her about
that! An English
gintleman that wuz visitin’ in the town called to see her wan day.
Indeed, she had lots of callers, for she wuz good crack and cud ha’ toul’ yer fortyin in the
cards. Well, durin’ the coorse o’ crack it come roun’ about
funerals, and d’ye know what she toul’ yer man? ‘Whin A die’, says
she, ‘Ad lek somebody to put me lekness up on the back o’ the hearse
and when the people sees it divil the man, woman or wane’ll walk behin’ it, and
damn the wan A want ayther! Be good to me whin A'm livin’,’ sez
she. ‘an’ don’t be botherin’ about me whin A'm dead’. “An’ then she sez
to yer man, Wud you say now, sir, that A wuz the ugliest
lookin’ woman in the whole County, sir?’
‘In the whole wurl’, mem,’ sez
he, ‘in the whole wurl .
. . An’, man dear,
that plazed her all to pieces, So it disn’t take much to plaze some people. Wan word makes the difference wan way or
the other, but it’s not iverybody that that wan wurd’d suit.
Many’s the body got a slap in the mouth for sayin’ far less than that wurd! “Well, this same oul’ body hud a sister called Fan Jin, and she
was a wee knowin’ saft. Well, wan Sunday Fan Jin walked into the Church in the middle o’ the sarvice cerryin’
two buckets o’ wather on a wudden hoop. “She niver drew bow till she
wint up to the front o’ the pulpit where the clargy was prachin’.
An whun she did she left down her two buckets and puts her two han’s on her
hinches, an’ afther weighin’ up the clargyman for as good as five
minutes, she yells at the tap of her voice: Well, the Lord
direct our pasthurs, but ye’re about the ugliest-lookin’ man A iver laid me
two eyes on’. An’ wi’ that she reached for her hoop and her two
buckets and walked out o’ the Church! “Och, there wuz some
dhroll kerakters times ago. There wuz
an oul’ fella up in Attyecall an’ he wuz always late for Mass.
“Wan Sunday mornin’ he wuz slitherin’ along
whun a naybour man shouted at him: ‘Put an inch to yer step,
Mick, ye’ll be late’. ‘Och, they’re far behind that kennit folly,’
sez Mick, ‘Sure A know the first of it onyway!’ “An’ then
there wuz another oul’ fella wan time, an’ he wuz workin’ at a big
farmer’s place ‘down the counthry’, puffin’ flax. Well, this
wuz Saturday and the boss wanted change to pay
the workers, so he sint a wee fella away to get the change of a poun. A poun’ wint a long
way them days. The lad come back and said
nobody wud give him change. ‘Houl on,’ sez Pat, ‘All get
it for ye, boss’. ‘Don’t forget to come back’ sez the boss, reachin’ yer
man the poun’. So aff Pat wint an’ right enough he come back an’
handed the boss the change. But whun it wuz counted it only come to nineteen and
sixpence. ‘There’s a sixpence short,’ sez the boss, ‘where did ye get the change?’
‘Och,’ sez Pat, ‘A called in at
Pat Smith’s pub and ordered a half-un’ o’ whuskey, an’ whun A
drunk it A handed Pat the poun’ note. A knowed well enough he wudn’t change it unless A
wuz buyin’ somethin’. He wuz boun’ to change the poun’ or gi’ me
trust, and ye know well enough, boss, Pat’s not a man
that wud do that’.
there wuz wan time Pat had a brev drap o’ drink on him an’ wuz lyin’ as
full as the Baltic in Pat Smith’s yard. Well, there wuz a funeral on that day, and the hearse
stapped at Pat’s dure comin’ back and the driver wint into the bar for a
drink. Now, some a’ the boys thought they’d play a joke on the hearse
man an’ what d’ye think they done but reach for Pat and put him into the
hearse and close the dure on him. A while afther the hearse
man come out an’ got up on the hearse and headed for home. Well, wi’
the joultin’ o’ the hearse along the roads, for there wus no tar Mick
Adams them days, didn’t me boul’ Pat come to himself and started meel
a murdther inside. Well, the life and sowl wuz scared out o’
the driver, but he whipped up hes horses an’ they wunt gallipin’
mad, but the hardther they went the hardther the yellin’ and shoutin’ wuz
comin' from the inside o’ the hearse. Iverybody thought the hearse man
wuz away in the head an’ whun he got to the town a crowd gethered an’ he
kept shoutin ‘The Divil’s in the hearse! The Divil’s in the
hearse!’ “Well, the unmarciful yells that wuz comin’ out o’ the hearse wud
ha’ wakened the dead, an’ the divil the man wud go next or near it to open the
dure. At the last o’ it
somebody wint for the clargy to get the Divil out o’
the hearse, for there’s no two ways about it, iverybody thought it wuz the Oul’ Boy hiself
that ‘wuz in it. Well, along comes the clargy, a brave age
o’ a man, wi' his Book in un’er hes oxther, an’ he started to read
Scripthure, iverybody wuz stan’in’ speechless, an’ whun the clargy had
done readin’ he goes up and pulls the dure open an’ out draps Pat! “Well,
from that day till the day he died all Pat got wuz ‘The Divil’
or ‘The Divil in The Hearse’, but ye dar’int ha’ lit him hear ye sayin’ it or he
wud ha kerried the head o’ ye”.
OWN COUNTY DOWN
With thy back against the
ancient land, thy bosom to the tide,
gallant ship at anchor triumphant thou dost ride;
Warrenpoint to Holywood each hill and valley smiles;
Strangford bathes the margins of three hundred fairy isles;
Dear to my
heart thou still shalt be, let fortune smile or frown,
Home of my
joyous infancy, my own County Down.
thy ancient castles I have sought the earliest flowers,
lovely bleaching-greens I’ve whiled the summer hours;
launched me for Ram’s Island shore adown the River Bann,
And in an
Ardglass fishing smack have reached the Isle of Man;
From Newry to
Belfast I’ve strayed by farm and market town,
highways and the byways of my own County Down.
scaled the lofty Donard’s side, to meet the rising sun,
the wave of Lagan when my schoolboy task was done;
With blood as
pure as mountain breeze I’ve snuffed thy mountain air,
And proved in
boyhood’s golden years what boyish hearts will dare,
And now a
vigorous heart and limb such youthful pastimes crown.
shall be a wall of fire, my own County Down.
many a graceful hillock’s top the gladdened eye surveys-
Lecale, or Dufferin, Kilwarlin, or the Maze-
The snug and
sheltered cottage, the hill of waving grain,
The marks of
peace and industry throughout the fruitful plain;
The ivy on
the village church that wraps its turrets brown:
county well worth fighting for, my own County Down.
a well-known Annalong schooner of reputed speed was driven by the fury of a
winter storm into the strand at
Newcastle. Gallant efforts were made by the
local life-boat to salvage the ship and rescue the crew, but despite the
of the life-boat men the crew remained in
imminent danger until the ebb tide left the ship on terra firma.
described the event in these rhymes-
THE VOLANT MISHAP
The year ‘31, before Christmas Day,
The ship with
spent mainsail refused helm to stay;
badly battered, could now do no more,
And the ship
struck the sand at Newcastle shore.
While running due north the top-sail went flop,
And the stem
of the ship struck a devilish old rock;
streak being made of unseasoned teak,
The bow part
was splintered and the ship sprang a leak.
Captain Will on the scene, as of yore in a fuss,
in French and made Harry cuss;
The ship was
not covered by Prudential or Marine,
And part of
the cargo was dumped close to Golf Green.
“Kilbroney” was notified and did not long linger,
But with foot
to the throttle came down on the Singer;
and the post and also the tele.,
into use to warn Brown, Greene and Kelly.
Little man of Kilhorne—a shipowner of note,
giving orders till he agitated his throat;
Now what of
the crew, who were badly put out,
With no one
to offer either brandy or stout.
VOYAGE TO TROON
short time ago, before winter and snow
Had cut away
sloop, with sails to suit,
Set sail for
far distant Troon.
weeks went by, with hue and cry,
And no tale
of the ship’s long tack;
asked with bated breath,
is our brave Captain Mack?”
few are aware of the Captain’s care
that bring a bad cough,
So he sailed
her far beyond Strangford bar,
in Belfast Lough.
Sailor Joe of Kilbroney had some Curly hair,
But now the
old scalp is freckled and bare;
He is fond of
a sea-trip, as you may suppose,
And in the
Volant, in summer, he goes.
rounding the headland called Mull-of-Kintyre,
shouts out—”Is the motor on fire?”
A storm was
then blowing like thundering guns,
Campbelltown bay the Volant then runs.
the ladder Joe runs with characteristic pluck,
To find out
the cause of the trouble—bad luck;
with spanner, as motor Work goes,
He received a
hard knock on the side of his nose.
summers ago he went down to Kilkeel,
And sailed in
that ship to Isle of Man—Peel;
mackerel and herrings that came from afar,
Chambers, “the boy” all mucky with tar.
Ayr the ship sailed with a favouring breeze,
post-bag awaited, w’d make anyone sneeze,
old papers and postcards and an umbrella, too,
And to add to
his luck—an old woman’s shoe.
WELL-KNOWN DEEP-SEA CRAFT
It was the dandy little Jem that sailed the Irish Sea,
captain brought his brother to bear him company.
bold was Captain Mack as ever held a helm,
He passed no
bays or harbours safe when the clock struck ten or eleven.
wild June day, off Derry Bay,
The wind back
her out on the Atlantic deeps,
billows frothed like yeast.
the ship bowled north on the mountainous waves,
And the wind
increased to a gale,
squall, like a lightning ball,
the stout main sail.
down that sail”, Captain Mack then shouts,
As the ship
lay down on her side;
mend that rent with needle and hemp,
While we sail
on the Atlantic wide”.
the sail was down, with the brother’s frown,
But Mack was
not in a flurry,
away on the wide broad sea,
sweet Annie Laurie.
drown us all”, the brother did bawl,
crooked Mourne goubeen;”
well,” said Mack, and he changed her tack,
drown you where the water is clean”.
Billiards used to be a very popular game in
many amusing incidents frequently occurred. Keen but friendly
rivalry existed between exponents of the cue, who were locally known as— “Peep Oh”,
Man”, “Kilbroney”, “Wishey, Wishey, Wishey”, and occasionally a visitor called
“Harry”. A game between the latter and “Kilbroney”
was thus described—
reply to a sonnet quite recently sent,
a game called “Harry’s Lament”,
opponent was Joey—no other big crony,
comes on his car from far-famed Kilbroney.
round the green table sat watchers galore,
Joe kicked up heels after his 31 score.
Pierce among these with red face and grey hair,
“Peep Oh”, “Bold Joe, you are every bit there”.
Tom in the corner with head bended low,
With deep-chested voice keep saying, “Good Joe”.
Harry in a rage, although but a guest,
over the red, the cut and the rest.
Bob, “The Silent” always little to say,
quietly gazing while chewing away;
chatter-box Ernie of miniature frame,
frequently say, “Yes, Joe, that’s the game”.
the Frenchman, with Cambridge accent,
muttering in Gaelic, with head and back bent.
says: “Harry, be quiet, and play like a man,
your best to beat Joey—that’s just if you can”.
Harry will go up for Saturday’s fun,
challenge again at two bob to one;
he’ll sure beat wee Joey at every try,
up billiard season, and then say “Bye-bye”.
lies snugly in winter, like a par of old shoes,
With no expenses to meet except Jones’ light dues.
MORE JOKES AND YARNS
have never met a man who can hold his own where repartee is concerned like Hugh
Marks. His vocabulary is racy, of the soil; his “Irishisms” come tripping off his tongue, and
the twist that he gives them makes
what he says all the clearer, stronger and funnier.
min’ wan time”, he recalled, “A wuz at an oul’ show that wuz
on in the town, och it’s a good lock o’ years ago. It wuz a holy
show of a show. Iverybody wuz fed up 1ookin’
at it, for there wuz nothin’ at all in it. Then the oul’ fella
that was runnin’ it got up an’ started singin’:
oul’ hen crows
an egg for yer breakfast in the mornin’.
“Well, A cud stan’ it no longer, and A ris up in me sate and
shouts, ‘Heth, me brev oul’ buck, you ken well afford to hiv two
eggs to yer breakfast when ye see all the fools that come
in here and paid their bobs to listen to yerself and yer eggs’!”
Here are some further examples of our
shanachie’s wit and humour.
goin’ up the Mountain Road wan day when an oul’ toff stuck hes head out iv a
motor. A knowed be the way he spoke that he was an Englishman.
‘Where does that road lead to,
Paddy’? sez he.
‘Who toul’ ye me name wuz Paddy?’ sez
‘Oh, I just guessed it’, sez he.
‘Well, whun ye’re so good at the
guessin’ ye ken joost guess where the road leads to’! A made answer.
“A wuz in
an atin’ house in the ‘Point wan day when two fellas came in an’ orathered
their dinners. They wur a bit gammish lookin’ Well, before the mate was put on the table wan
o’ them stuck hes spoon into the mustard pot thinkin’ it wuz somethin’ for
atin’ before males and put a good dolloper o’ the stuff into
hes mouth. Well, hes eyes filled up wi’ water and the tears wuz
runnin’ down hes cheeks in strames. “‘What ails ye?’
sez the other fella. ‘A wuz joost thinkin’, sez yer man, ‘o’ me poor father, the day him and me got wir dinners
here last. A min’ him suppin’ a spoon
o’ that stuff the same as A done now. It wuz about a year afore he
died’. “Well, wi’ that the other lad puts a big spoonful in hes mouth too and he
to the coughin’ and splootherin’. ‘What’s wrong wi’ ye,
Jammy?’ sez the first fella. ‘Och, de’il the much wrong’, sez Jamey,
only A’m joost thinkin’ its a hell o’ a pity ye didn’t die afore yer
THE WEE LAD
TO THE DOCTOR
heerd a good un’ wan time about a Tullyframe woman. She brought her wee
fella to the town to see the docthor. It wuz oul’ Dr. Evans that time.
‘What’s wrong wi’
the boy?’ sez he. ‘Och, docthor dear,’ sez she,
‘he’s poorly, poorly’. ‘How long has he been poorly?’ sez the
docthor. ‘Och, a long time, docthor,’ sez she.
‘To tell ye the truth he niver wus what ye
wud call crool stout’. ‘What did he begin wi’?’ sez the docthor.
‘Wakeness, docthor, fair down wakeness’. ‘Where wuz the
wakeness?’ sez the docthor. ‘All over him, docthor. Johnny, show the docthor yer tongue’.
An’ wi’ that she pulls Johnny over neardher to the docthor, but Johnny
didn’t want to go any neardher and give hes ma a dunt that nearly
knocked her aff her pins. There wuz no signs o’ wakeness about him.
onyway the docthor looked him over and sez: ‘A’ll
gie ‘him a tonic’. ‘A what, docthor?’ sez she. ‘A
tonic’, sez the docthor. ‘An’ what sort o’ a thing’s that,
docthor?’ ‘Oh, somethin’ to
build him up and
make him ate’, sez the docthor. ‘For the
lan’s sake, docthor dear, don’t gie him nothin’ to make him
ate more than he dis. Dear knows but it’s little enough that we hiv, and as it is he ates more than hes da
and me put together. Indeed A’m thinkin’ it’s that that makes him so
wakely. As the sayin’ is A wish him hes health but nothin’ more iv an
appetite. In troth, docthor, if he starts atin’ more than he did
afore it’s to the Workhouse A'll be bringin’ him, and me an' hes
da an’ the rest o’ the family
along wi’ him. ‘Give him this medicine then, accordin’ to the
directions on the bottle’, set the docthor. ‘Thank
ye, docthor, but A want a note for the school as well,
docthor’. ‘I can’t give ye a note’, sez the docthor.
‘An’ what am A goin’ to do? The wee
craythur’s not fit to go to school: he’s that wake, an’ if A
don’t get a note the Intendance man’ll summons me’. ‘This boy is quite fit to
go to school,’ sez the docthor, gettin' cross.
‘Naw indeed he’s not, docthor’, sez she. ‘Ivery
time A make him ridy for it A hiven’t the heart to let him go and if ye wud
gi’ me a line the Intendance man wud take the word of a dacent
gintleman lek yerself that’s the best docthor in Irelan’.’ “Well, be this time the doctor
wuz fed up and he shoved her away and called for
the nixt Patient. Well, wi’ that she started and gie the docthor
all sorts o’ abuse. He threatened to send for the police, and the
nixt Coort day she wuz up at the Bench and fined
for not sendin’ Johnny to school.
There wusn’t a heet wrong wi’ him at all, ye know,
all she wanted was a certificate and
that way she cud get keepin' him
at home to gether spuds’. “Och, boys aye”, went on Hugh, “the
oul’ people wer tarrible droll times
ago and there wuz no harm wi’ them ayther. It’s a different worl’
we’re livin’ in now entirely. The people’s
not the same no way: no fun or frien’ship in the generation that’s
min’ wan Fifteenth of August A wus in Rostrevor—och, it’s well above
fifty years ago A’m sure—the time o’ the oul’ waggonettes: ye’d hardly be oul’ enough to min’
them. Well, there wur two drivers from Kilkeel an’ Annalong watherin’
their horses in the Square, an’ wan o’ them shouted hard at t’other—A think
the other must’a been a wee knowin’ deef. ‘Johnny’, yells
the first wan, ‘A’ve come away wi’out me steps. Ye might len’ m the
loan o’ yours, for min’ what A’m goin’ to tell ye, it’s a load
of gey weighty weemin A’m drivin’ the day’. An’ he give a nod at hes
passengers as he spoke. There wuz six o’ them. An’ heth A’m
tellin’ ye it wuz the truth he wuz sayin, for there wusn’t wan o’ them in un’er fifteen
stone weight if they wur a poun’. “An’ wi that the other driver
spakes up and nodded at hes load, all brev hefty wans too, an’ all
weemin’. ‘What the hell d’ye think’, he says, ‘is it
that A’m drivin’ a load of buttherfiies or what?’ “If ye had seen the looks on the oul’ girls’
faces—ivery look they gie yer men wud ha’ spayned a foal!
LONGEST WAKE IN MOURNE
“Well, there wuz an oul’ pair livin’ up the road a lock o’ miles out o’
the town wan time. It’s not that long ago an’ A daren’t mintion their names. Well, the oul’ man
took a donce—he niver wuz crool stout at the best, an’ wan mornin’
the oul’ woman got him dead in he chair. That wuz on a Wednesday an’ she wuz
in more bother about drawin’ hes oul’ age pension on Friday than she wuz
about the loss o’ him. So she made up her min’ that she’d
keep him to Saturday afore she’d lit on to the naybours that he wuz
dead. So, when onybody wud come to the half dure and ask what
way wuz the oul’ man the day, she’d say, ‘Brevely, thank
God, he had a fair good night last night’. An’ onybody she’d see
passin’ that wusn’t goin’ to inquire, she’d lit on she wuz
talkin’ to the oul’ man: Sit up and take a bit to ate, Mick’ or
‘Wait till A
prop this boulster behin’ yer back, it’ll make ye rest aisier’.
“What d’ye think o’ that now, and him goin’ on for three or four days dead?
she worked that way wi’ him till Friday wuz past and she knowed she wuz safe
enough for the pinsion. An’ the first man she seen goin’ down the road on Saturday mornin’ she
out on him yellin’ lek a bayin’ shee. ‘Och, John, the poor
oul’ man’s gone at the last o’it. Ochanee he looked rightly afore A wint out to
strib the cow an’ when A come in wi’ the drap o’
milk he wuz lyin’ back in hes chair joost as ye see him, John,
an’ A cudn’t get a mute out o’ him. John
dear, what A’m A goin’ to do at all wi’out him? We pulled a right stroke
together for over fifty years. It’s me that’ll miss him for he wuz a good man to me.
John, wud ye get wan o’ the boys to run down to the town and ordher the funeral
she drew the pinsion for the both o’ them that day an’ she waked him
joost that wan night and buried him on Tuesday. Now wusn’t she an able wan! An’ min’ ye, that’s not a lie or a
kerried story—ony o’ the oul’ timers in the town cud tell ye
about it. It wuz the longest wake iver held in Mourne. “It wuz this same oul’ man that wuz in the Kilkeel fair wan
time. Whatever sort of a dale he made in the fair he wusn’t too well
sitisfied an’ as he wuz goin’ home in the cart wi’ a naybur man he made a
bargain’s bad in ivery way,
wife’s the worst part,
on the cart’.
then there wuz wan about the flowerers (hand embroiderers):
aisy knowin’ the flowerers whun they go into town,
their long masled shins an’
perricoats hangin’ down,
their boots half laced an’ their *piercers be ther side;
sez oul’ Mr. Crutchley, ‘Ye’ve made yer holes too wide’.
[* Piercers were sharp instruments for
making small holes in the handkerchiefs, around which fine stitching was done].
see, that song wuz made be some naybur weemin that had somethin’ agin’
the flowerers. The flowerers wur ivery bit as good as them an mebbe betther, an’ ivery bit as
well put on too, but somebody wanted to try to make little o’ them over
jealousy about boys or somethin’.
“There wuz another oul’ song too. A hiv
only the wan verse o’ it:
“Have A a
wife? Bedamn A have,
But we wur badly mated.
hit her a powerful clout wan day,
An’ now we’re separated.
Some days goin’ to me work
meet her on the quay:
mornin to ye, me’em,’ A say,
to hell wi’ you’, sez she.” “An then—
plinty o’ raysons for drinkin’,
There’s wan that comes into me head:
If a man disn’t drink when he’s livin’
A’m dang sure he’ll not drink when he’s dead”.
“An’ there’s a whole lot in that. If
ye asked me how to live to be a long age, A’d say: No worry,
a little bit o’ jollification now and then, for ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull
boy’, an odd drink, a good smoke, a bit o’ good crack,
and a good song. It’s hard to bate that”. I agreed that it was.
inquired if ever he had been ill, -Hugh replied, “Well, A carried a
stick for 3 years wi’ pains. A was takin’ pills and medicine an’ the docthor toul’ me to take things aisy,
but A got tired lyin’ around and A tould him if A follied hes advice much
longer A wud soon not be here at all. So A become me own
docthor: A threw the ould pills and bottles away an’ the stick along
wi’ them, and barrin’ for an odd wee stoon of rheumaticks there’s nothin’
wrong wi’ me, thank God. A walk two
miles to the Massforth Chapel and back and it disn’t take a flinch out o’ me. Thank God
A’m happy and contented; only the worst of it is ye don’t have much to
spare out of the oul’ pension when ye keep iverything goin’.
But it’s a good job to get it and maybe we’ll soon get another rise”.
Well, that concludes my talks with Hugh Marks. I must say I enjoyed
them very much, and I hope our readers enjoyed them also. Before parting, Hugh quoted me a wee
poem. He wouldn’t admit he composed it himself-—he is a modest wee man
Hugh, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he had. It is
Old Man’s Rambles”, and is printed below.
OLD MAN’S RAMBLES
A was a wee lad A had a wee moiley cow,
A wee yella dog, an’ a wee banty hen;
Indeed in a way A have little more now,
But A thought A was the quare fella then.
wee moiley cow had no horns on her head
But she gave lashin’s of milk ivery day,
An’ the wee banty hen, it’s a pity she’s dead
For ye should ha’ seen the eggs she cud lay.
the wee yella dog was the best of them all
For wherever A went he was there:
If a river was between us he wud come to me call,
An’ whatever I had he got share.
among the heather and down along the glen,
Or rollin’ in the meadow in the hay;
Boys, right enough, but we’d the great times then,
Him and me together all the day.
years go by and me step’s gettin’ slow,
An’ me eyes are growin’ dim;
The wee dog’s dead, aye long, long ago,
An’ A’ve niver had another dog lek him.
the last Call comes and A step into the Dark
To wherever an oul’ man goes,
A kind of way think there’ll be a friendly bark
And a welcome from a cool wet nose.
mentioned before we parted that he had been asked to “put in” an old
song—”wan wi’ a thread o’ green in it.”
“A niver was much o’ a man for ‘party’ work”, he added, “but A don’t think it’ll be taken ill be onybody.
Sure it’s only an oul ‘Come-all-ye’.”
MOURNE MEN IN GREEN
Mr. Arthur Doran’s Collection
(Air: The Rising of the Moon)
bless the men of Mourne and their glorious banner too,
Which still waves above them proudly, as it did in ‘82;
When the drums beat up the marching, 5,000 men were seen
And 10,000 hands were ready to uplift the flag of green.
grey Mourne saw the sunburst, he raised high his cap of snow,
And saluted Erin’s banner with his features all aglow;
And his children they booked up to him, a kind father he had been,
For they loved him next to Erin, and their own immortal green.
they raised the flag of Emmet, all was silent as the grave,
Gazing on their martyred hero, who had died their land to save,
And the eyes that flashed like sapphires told what Erin might have been,
Had the pikes one day been carried by the Mourne men in green.
beneath those grand old mountains came the sound of drum and fife,
All the sleeping echoes wakened and proclaimed a newborn life,
Forth from every hill and valley, rushing like an Alpine stream
Came the true Sons of St. Patrick in their manhood and their green.
God bless you, kindly Mourne, you’re still foremost in the van,
Like the brave who rushed to battle in defence of God and man,
May your hills be rich in verdure of the brightest emerald sheen.
And peace be on your dwellings, boys that day who wore the green.
God bless you, kindly Mourne, you’re still fit to be seen,
O God bless you, kindly Mourne, and your MOURNE MEN IN GREEN.
to relate to an assembly which took place in Lower Mourne about 100 years ago,
and composed by a Mr. Maguire).
GRAVE AND GAY
From a Mourne Man’s Scrap Book
(COMPOSED IN 1923)
REGATTA DAY AT ANNALONG
In days gone by the big event
of the year was the Annalong Regatta. A group of country girls walking down the
to the Regatta at Annalong inspired the following lines:
see the sun a-slanting through the hedges in the lane,
We hear the laughing breezes and the thrushes’ song,
And we’re headin’ for the harbour, and hope it will not rain,
As this is Regatta day at Annalong.
The oul’ taypot on the shelf held a tidy bit o’ money,
For we have skimped and saved to put a bit away,
Of savin’s from the flowerin’ an’ a bob or two we got of sonny,
To have a bit o’ sport in Annalong the day,
We’ll call in wi’ Mrs. Linton an’ then xvi’ Mrs. Bill,
An’ take all the nice boys along,
The mist is curlin’ up and spreadin’ o’er the mountains,
An’ we’re goin’ to have some stir in Annalong.
THE OLD SCHOOL
verses were written following a talk the writer once had with an old man who
used to attend the old school in Moneydarragh,
which, for upwards of 200 years, stood convenient to “The Big Stone” beside
Hauchian’s River, where the present school is situated.
This poem tells of this one-time scholar’s last visit to his old school and of
the memories it brought back to him.
stood to-day in a school-house old,
Where my young steps were light and free,
Through summer’s heat and winter’s cold,
And all my life was yet to be.
There were bashful girls and beardless youth,
And dog-eared books all scattered about,
And the master’s likeness drawn with truth
On a slate with corners broken out.
I stood, and all those careless days
O’er my worn heart came drifting back;
The songful ease, the lightsome ways,
Which in all after years we lack,
Oh, the early loves, and the laughing girls,
The innocent idyls without alloy!
Oh, the angel in pantolets and curls,
Beloved by me—and that other boy!
Ah, the way she balanced between us twain
Comes back with harrowing force to me!
For the true proportions of bliss, ‘tis plain,
Are never wrought out by “the rule o’ three.”
Weal, we know of nuts by the empty shell,
And never the bed of a brook so dry,
But the smoothness of its stones will tell
Of a stream that used to go rushing by.
take my place among those that were,
Content to feel that I have had my hour,
The bud is rosy and sweet and fair,
But the fruit comes only after the flower,
Romance and history aye repeat,
And love and youth sustain no loss,
For another girl sits in that angel’s place,
And two other boys throw billets across.
ACROSS LOUGH ISLAND REAVEY, NEAR KILCOO
clouds so soft and fleecy white
That chase each other through the day,
Now, at the eve of the coming night,
Are changed to sombre grey.
And as the sun sinks lower still
Into the crimson-tinted west,
It seems to shed o’er yonder hill
A halo formed at Heaven’s behest.
The rays of the fast-setting sun
Here in the lake a reflex find,
Like unto one whose course well run,
Departing, leaves to those behind.
Our heritage of faith and love,
Of battles nobly fought and won,
Memories that point to realms above,
Revive again at set of sun.
Though bright it shines throughout the day,
O’er mount and vale, o’er hill and stream,
More glorious its departing ray
Than brilliance of the moon-tide gleam.
But now the crimson-tinted sky
Is clouded o’er: no more I see
The tinted stream, its ruddy dye
Has changed, and what appears to be.
A cloud of deep and sombre hue
Hangs low’ring all nature’s plan.
Dim night has come, and now unto
The God of nature and of man.
We render gratitude and praise
That He who made the sunset’s glow
Ne’er stints it wond’rous glowing rays
From us weak mortals here below.
shades of evening were gathering when the writer visited Lough Island
Reaveythat beautiful lake near Kilcoo, Co. Down. All was quiet around save for the rippling of the waters and the cries of
the gulls and other wild birds as they went winging o’er the lake. As I looked around at the hills with
farmhouses nestling on the slopes, I reflected that here must have
come in the Penal Days a crow of devout worshippers to assist at the Mass offered up on the hillside. Not
a sound, not a murmur broke the stillness that seemed almost awesome, and it appeared to me that here by those lone banks in this
almost perfect solitude, may be found the greatest rapture end delight. In making this faint tribute to a beautiful spot, the writer’s foremost
thought has been that some far-away reader who once dwelt there may find the little scene depicted more clearly in his memory and that he may be
filled anew with deeper affection for his native place, linked to home and kin by the chain of remembrance that binds one to one’s country.
OLD MAN’S MEMORIES
score of years I’ve borne my cross,
In sunshine and in storm;
I’ve had my gain and felt my loss,
Known grief and pleasure warm.
I’ve sailed my barque o’er life’s fierce sea,
When calm and tempest-tossed;
And joy and peace have come to me,
By pain and trouble crossed.
seen my loved ones droop and die
‘Neath winter’s chill and gloom;
And watched the years go swiftly by,
With light and joy and bloom;
I’ve clasped the hand in friendship here,
So warm, and tried, and true,
And sought to check the falling tear
When parting came to view.
flowers are just as fair to me
As when in youth’s brief hours,
Their fragrant beauty I could see
In Nature’s charming bowers;
Their precious sweetness lingers yet,
To cheer my lonely way,
And teach my heart to ne’er forget
The bloom of childhood’s day.
see the rainbow in the sky,
In all its colours bright,
The same fair sentinel on high,
To thrill the gloom with light;
As when I had no grief and care,
And tears were all unknown,
With those I loved beyond compare,
The friends at home, mine own.
years have come and gone, and I
Still share the cares of life
With friends who have not gone on high,
From this lone vale of strife;
Four score of years in storm and calm,
I’ve done my best on earth
To prove I’m worthy of the balm,
Life’s glorious new birth.
writer feels certain that a man who has attained the age of eighty years must
occasionally be given to retrospection on the years
which he has spent and in which, undoubtedly, there would be many
‘lights and shadows.” A boy in his ‘teens very often recalls to mind
his childhood days
days he spent with his playmates, some of whom even inside
that short space of time have become estranged from him. He ponders over those happy days which, alas! have passed all too quickly.
It is truly said that
childhood’s days are the best and happiest days in a lifetime. A man in the evening of his
years must have experienced many joy and sorrows. In
the foregoing verses, the writer has endeavoured to give some of what he thinks a veteran’s
reminiscences would be.
SHIPWRECK AT ATTICALL
the 18th of October the day that we set sail,
From Newcastle with our cargo of yellow meal,
Our course being through by Hilltown,
And our Captain’s name McFall,
We were bound for foreign countries,
By the head of Atticall.
had not long been started
When it blew a dreadful gale,
Our captain gave the order,
For the crew to shorten sail,
The sea being rolling mountains high
And the night being very dark,
We thought that we would get advice
At the head of Mourne Park.
hours we were tossed about,
And then a dreadful thump,
She struck a stone on Aughrim Hill,
And we all took to the pump,
We pumped away for hours,
We were nearly dead with cold,
The water gained upon us
Being inches in the hold.
we could pump no longer,
We gave up in despair,
And soon our signal of distress
Was flying through the air.
Our Captain pulled his trumpet out
And loudly he did bawl,
And down she went stern foremost,
At the head of Atticall.
water it was very deep,
It took us to the skin,
We had a poor chance of our lives,
As none of us could swim,
We thought of our wives and sweethearts,
we might see no more,
When Tug Wilson threw his muffler,
And pulled us all ashore.
brought us down to Kilkeel barracks,
And got us all a bed,
There was not a man among us,
But had staggers in his head,
So now my song is ended,
It’s enough to please you all,
By telling you our shipwreck,
At the head of Atticall.
song was supplied by Mr. Artie Cunningham, of Corcreaghan, Kilkeel. It
is a “gag” song and His Lordship the late Earl of Kilmorey was very fond of hearing it. Shortly before his lamented death he
suggested to our representative that we should publish it. It was
written more than 50 years ago and we were unable to discover the name of the
THE NEWCASTLE FISHERMEN
(Taken down from John
the wind was high, and bitter looked that day,
When ten stout boats with gallant crews set sail from Dundrum bay,
A fisher’s dangerous life they lead and now they’ve left their home,
Upon a wild and deep blue sea a winter’s night to roam.
as they parted from the shore and those they loved so dear,
man stood up and waved his hat and gave a lofty cheer,
That cheer was answered from the shore and many a wife and child,
With upraised hands prayed God to save them from the waters wild.
that crowd a young girl stood, her name was Fanny Bell,
She climbed the rocks to bid adieu to those she loved so well.
Young Fanny Bell was true and good and of a temper mild,
By all who knew her she was called the widow’s handsome child.
young MacGuinness she was pledged, a heart so true and fond,
United they were soon to be in wedlock’s holy bond.
She ran to her mother’s humble home, the tears stood in her eye,
mother dear, ‘tis much I
fear, there’s danger in the sky.”
scarcely had those few words spoke when the sea gave a mighty roar,
hastened from her mother’s
side and ran back to the shore.
Along that shore with many more, she wandered six long hours,
She never felt the bitter cold of stormy sleet or showers.
a look those fishers took to
see if help was nigh,
They were too far off, the storm increased, all human help went by,
Boat after boat has sunk and swamped beneath the big green waves,
And seventy-two fine fishermen they all met watery graves.
town is one long street entirely stripped of men,
And near to it a village small has lost no less than ten,
In Annalong a Widow woman three sons from her were torn,
So widows, orphans and sweethearts may now weep in deep mourn.
And all you
now that sing this song give a pity and a sigh,
And think of those poor fishermen who were doomed that night to die.
Another version taken down from John Cunningham, Maghereagh.
It was a misfortune that happened of late,
The year eighteen hundred and forty-three was the date,
On the thirteenth of January that fatal day
Those boats were well manned from Newcastle Bay.
praises are due to old William McVeigh,
That morning going out to the men he did say:
“This morning reminds me so much of fourteen,” **
Says he: “My brave boys in
the bay don’t be seen.”
said to each other they could not be beat,
“There’s no waves in the ocean can make us retreat,
Our lines they are strong and our boats they are stout,
For that very reason we will venture out.”
miles they rowed Sou’-east from West Annalong,
To a landmark called ‘The Bleachyards” where the waves they run strong,
And for to fish haddock they joined in a fleet,
And happy and merry together did meet.
storm increased about twelve o’clock,
When the ocean did foam and the billows did rock,
They hauled in their anchors to race for the land,
Each man standing ready with an oar in his hand.
praises are due to Captain Chesney’s son.
In the midst of all dangers from the quay he had sprung.
He swam o’er the billows like Lysander of old,
And of young William Purdy he quickly took hold.
saved him from drowning when death it was near,
And with a true valour made death disappear.
He dragged him along with the help of an oar
And only for that he’d ne’er have seen Mourne shore.
are some of them buried in the churchyard of Kilkeel,
And some of them buried in the Meeting-house field,
And some of them buried in Massforth as of yore,
Or lie quiet contiguous around Mourne shore.
be to God who ruleth the sea,
And comforts the comfortless by night and day,
May he look after the orphans who often sigh sore
For the loss of their parents around Mourne shore.
disaster, in 1814.
following ballads, which were supplied by Mrs. James Quinn, Ballinran,
were written over 50 years ago by the late Dan Haughian, Glenloughan, Kilkeel, a well-known poet, who in his day
could well have been termed “The Bard of Mourne”.
Mr. Haughian died in U.S.A.
is the heart that now beats in my breast,
Since to me has been wafted from the land of the west,
The news that my comrade, the youthful and brave,
The dear Thomas Colgan is laid in the grave.
the letter I opened and in it I read,
That my loved companion in Montana was dead,
It filled me with anguish, I pondered and wept,
For the loss of that true friend who in Bute City slept.
Thomas, dear Thomas, my trustworthy friend,
When in your last moments I know you did send
A wish and a blessing away o’er the foam,
To the green hills of Erin and the fond ones at home.
Thomas, dear Thomas, ‘twas little I thought,
When last that we parted at the door of thy cot,
That the parting was final and we’d never meet more,
Or have a ramble round our sweet Mourne shore.
such has it been, every age, every clime,
And so shall it be to the end of all time,
For when friends are united, prove faithful of heart,
Fate will o’ertake them, and tear them apart.
THE WEE HOUSE ON THE BRAE
I had to live again,
The years that I have past,
I know where I would love to start,
And where to breathe my last.
It would not be a foreign home,
Nor on a gilded clay,
But gladly would it be within,
The wee house on the brae.
grey old loanin’ passing by,
The mosses right below,
And o’er the ditch beyond the hedge,
The whin and heather grow.
A fairy thorn is at the door,
A lot of turf and hay,
And big green trees bend down to kiss
The wee house on the brae.
o’er Mourne the rising sun
Appears and looks across,
It sends a greeting up the road,
And brightens up the moss.
And when it’s sinking in the west,
It seems to smile and say,
Farewell until to-morrow,
To the wee house on the brae.
I was working in the fields,
Oh! I remember well,
How eagerly I longed to hear,
The chapel’s evening bell,
And then I’d gather up my things,
And hurry on my way,
Across the rough old moss fornenst
The wee house on the brae.
the step, my mother,
She’d be knitting at the door,
And with the ball the kitten
Would be playing on the floor;
The big turf fire’d be blazing
‘Neath the kettle for the tay,
Awaiting our returning,
To the wee house on the brae.
good to sit and picture,
The times that one has had,
But though we love to think those thoughts,
They make a body sad.
I’m far from home but praying,
When I come to pass away,
It’ll be with the friends around me
In the wee house on the brae.
MY OWN, MY FOND, ROSTREVOR
fair, oh! village sweet,
Round which hills are closing,
With fervour many a time I greet
Thy name before reposing;
Thy scenes I cherish and revere
Though oceans us now sever,
I love thee more each passing year,
My own, my fond Rostrevor.
that could please the eye,
Is round thee, village, wanting,
With fields of green and clear blue sky,
And hills and vales enchanting,
And to harmonise with Nature’s charms,
The honest swain with true endeavour
Keeps hedgerows neat and tidy farms,
Around my own, my fond Rostrevor.
thousand beauties deck thy plains,
High o’er the road the trees are meeting,
The hawthorn decks, the winding lanes
And the daisies are the sunshine’s greeting.
The cuckoo loud his name is calling,
The lark is singing, soaring higher,
And sweetly on the breezes swelling
The music from thy lofty spire.
green Kilbroney churchyard old,
‘Ere close of day I oft repair,
To read the names inscribed in gold,
Upon the tombstones there.
A prayer I breathe for those who sleep,
Beneath the soil they often trod,
And bid farewell and leave them keep
Their peaceful slumbers with their God.
fair, oh! village sweet,
Thy scenes are dear to me,
Though other climes my eyes may meet
I’ll still remember thee.
Joy, peace and sunshine long be thine,
May thy sons in faith ne’er waver,
And virtue guard each humble cot,
Around my own my fond, Rostrevor.