In 1995 Fr Ambrose Woods retired P.P. of Ashford Kent and who was born in Carlingford in 1913 wrote a letter to an old school pal of his- Frank Mc Kevitt, who had emigrated to Australia in his early 20s.
Frank was the eldest son of Danny and Ellen Mc Kevitt Newry St.Carlingford.
The letter is one of reminiscing of times past when they were growing up.
I don’t know how it got back here to me in Carlingford.
I will copy it as it reads
What’s keeping you ? You went up the Back Lane a couple of hours ago and you said you were only going to see “Hairy Jemmy” and Pete Cassidy and would be back soon. But you must have visited Bill and Jack Ryan and Bridget and Mary McCrogaragh (Gregory) and Peter Fearon as well – not to mention Angela Brennan and family.God rest them all.
There are not to many left these days; I am the last of my family alive: Willie,Lily,Annie, Thomas, James, and Peter have all gone to their reward. I became a priest in England for nearly 60 years. Your own family are a credit to your good mother and father and they have fine children.
Incidentally some 46 years ago in 1949 I arrived into a parish in South London as a new curate. The P.P. said to me “ I fixed no time for your Mass tomorrow. Go down to such and such a house and get one of the ONeill boys to serve your Mass tomorrow” Mrs ONeill said yes and as we chatted I picked up my ears at her accent.I asked her where she was from and she said “Co.Louth” “Where’’I asked. “Glenmore Cooley’’ she said. “I’m from Carlingford” says I. “Do you know the North Commons” she said. ( to myself I said now how does this Glenmore woman living in London know the North Commons) I looked hard at her face and said “ You’re a sister of Mrs Danny Mc Kevitt’’
She then said to me “ A woman lives in the house across the road who is from Newry and she has a brother in Carlingford’’ So I wet across the road and she was a sister of Bob. Adamson father of Jack,Fred Robbie, Leslie, Gerry,Elizabeth, Brendan.! The first 2 houses I went into.
Of the old times the following are alive Tommy O Hare (Skurricks), Mary Mc Kevitt Havestadt and her American husband Joe, my sister in law Eileen Mc Shane Thomas’s widow: (her cousin Maggie, Hughie Brennan’s widow,died recently): Maggie Keenan widow of Percy Woods from Boher lives outside Dundalk: Billie O Reilly and his wife Maureen Mc Cartan: Baba,his sister Grainne a retired St Louis Sister lives in California but has made several trips home in recent years. Sean Reilly,son of wee John the carpenter is the local Undertaker.Maggie Elmore (Mrs Murphy) lives in Alice Sheridans house in the Coastguard Station, her brother Tpommy Elmore married and lives in Newtown Mt. Bagnal (Their father was “ The Jock Elmore” who lived above Willie Donnelly the shoemaker. Danny Brennan, brother of Hughie alive and healthy, lives in Newry ( he was an engine driver on the old D.N.G.R.)
Edith Wright is married toa man called Wright,but lives in the North in Tandragee: John Murph who was J.P.Kearneys No1 man and then became a rate collector, is strong and hearty at 93 years and lives at the Bush.: Ownie Hagan younger brother of Paddy from the North Commons went to N.Wales and married a business woman he worked for and is well off living in Llandudno: Pat Fitzharris who became a British customs man in N.Ireland lives in Donegal. Pat Fitzharis’ father was an R.I.C.man and sometimes comes to see us. Do you remember Michael Meehan son of R.I.C. Sergeant Meehan.He lives in Dublin and also comes to see us: Henry Harolds sister Molly, Mrs Gribben still lives in Mountain Park.Henry and his wife Kathleen Clarke are long dead RIP.
“Half ton” Ownie Connolly worked in Liverpool and died a few years ago. I used to visit him in an old peoples home on my way home. Patsy died years ago but his widow Jinny who worked in Larkins and finally lived in the old Connolly railway cottage at the gates died last year.
“The wee band’’ as Phil. God rest his soul used to call it is going strong. It has won prestigious competitions and I had the privilege of accompanying it to New York and Boston a few years ago and marching with them in the Patricks Day parades.
Great improvements have been made to all the old buildings,The Dominican Abbey, King Johns castle, the Tholsel and the Mint. Our local Heritage Trust got big monies from the European Fund for Ireland and other funds, and great restoration works were done on them. Count Taffes castle, which is not a castle but a medieval town house has still to be done. The “Green” where we played football became tennis courts.
The drawing I am sending you was made by Paul O Hare, son of Martin O’Hare and grandson of “Wee” Willie O’Hare and Molly Martin (Riverstown Inn)
Mary Flynn married to Paddy Finnegan lives in what was Rice’s cottage in the Ghan next door to Chistina Smith. My nephew Kevin has built a nice house in the near end of the far field, the old football field and has a family of 9 (or is it 10 children)
I am sure you heard of the tragedy of Rory McKevitts 2 two sons, God rest them.
I wonder if you remember “Silly Johnny” ? Johnny Dullinean who use to follow Armstrongs Mill “Me boss mill” he use to say. And anything you said to him,like “How are you Johnny” he would reply “Ha ha funny boy How are “aself”. Some of the boys persuaded him to go to confession to Fr. Mc Ardle P.P. of Cooley, Fr Mc Ardle asked him “ How long since your last confession “? And Johnny replied “Ha Ha funny boy how long aself”
Well Frank this may stir up a few memories for you. There are lots more ! The McAllisters of course!! Dr Eddie Finegan used to say that when he visited “Mickey the Nuns” he didn’t know whether he was in Mickeys house or his own! And when
Fr. Finegan asked him what they were going to call the new baby he said “ When me and Bridget talked about it we decided to call it St Joseph after the Virgin Mary” In fact it was a girl which they called Patricia at her baptism.
God bless you and yours. You are all in my daily Mass