Clarke Memories 1
Growing up in Carlingford.
I met a chap in McKevitts recently who was home for few days and we had a bit of craic recalling childhood days in Carlingford. We spoke about all the changes in Carlingford over the last number years. We thought it would be a great idea to look at the difference in Carlingford when we were children during the 60’s and 70’s and perhaps we might get something going that would prompt others to add a memory or a story from those good times. Of course things like this are talked about over a few pints and are generally forgotten about. It stuck with me and I thought I would get something written down.
Looking back on my childhood and teenage years in Carlingford through the sixties and seventies brings great memories. From the Tin Can league on the Green to the big Show Bands in the Marquee also on the green.
We would go down early to slide on the wooden dance floor in the marquee but we always had to be out before the dances would start. I remember listening to Brendan Boyer from the front door of our house on Grove Road. This would be around the mid 60,s.
My father along with Des Savage, Joe Mc Kevitt and Peadar Mc Guinness, may they rest in peace, were on the Community Council and along with a number of others organised many events during that time. There always seemed to be a great buzz around the village. We had the Jinks and Jamboree in the Yanks field now Oyster Bay. There would be an annual Sports Day that had everything from Egg and spoon, three legged and relay races. There was Tug o’ War, Football and of course the amusements with swinging boats and bumping cars.
I remember in particular one of the football finals between our neighbours
St Pats. and Toombe from Monaghan. My father was an umpire and in the dying seconds with the game at stalemate Dad called the ball wide.
There were strong protests from the Pats supporters that the ball went over the bar. I believe my father was correct in the decision but there was no convincing the Pats supporters. Needless to say Luke senior was not very popular in the Pats territory.
The tug o War was great fun with many local teams taking part. At that time the Glenmore team were very strong and there were many famous “Pulls” between them and Dromin. Dromin generally came out on top and eventually went on to win all Ireland titles.
The amusements were not much more than swinging boats and the good old “dodgems”. If my memory serves me right they were owned by a guy called Moses who was English and lived in Omeath.
Another popular event was the Regatta. Not many local people had yachts then they were mostly from Dundalk and us as young people hadn’t much interest in them anyway because they were away out in the lough, our interests lay elsewhere swimming races in the harbour and anyone strong enough at the swimming would take part in the race between the two piers you had to be a strong swimmer because of the strong current between the two piers. Then you had Des Boyle on the speed boat owned by John Donnelly from Newry. Des was going around the harbour inviting anyone brave enough to jump on the skis behind,i wasn’t brave enough.
There was also the Grease Pole. It was impossible to stay on it but there were endless hours of fun and banter with everybody trying in vain to stay on the pole.
In the evening we had the very popular street sports on Newry street .
John Mc Kevitt would always win the slow bicycle race and of course nobody went home hungry as everyone had a good feed from Paul Woods ‘s Chip Van.
We had the local soccer league which consisted of four teams. There was one from Grove Road where I lived, the Dundalk road team from the St. Michael’s Terrace, the Newry Street and Castle Hill team and a fourth team made up from the other areas. We had terrific fun with this. We played our matches in a variety of venues. The Longfield where Anthony McShane now has his sheds on Grove Road, one of Michael Donnelly’s fields in Mountain Park, the Quarry Banks field where the Nursing Home now is and Ben Mc Kevitts field where St. Oliver NS is now built. If none of these venues were available we resorted to the Nun’s lawn on Castle Hill.
Every Sunday after second mass the race was on for Hugh and Maggie Brennan’s shop for the famous Ice Drink made with Maggie’s home-made ice cream and one of Pat Kirks “Oriel” minerals. After that it was a choice of football on the tennis court or the nun’s lawn, or another race to get your name on the board for the snooker table in St Michael’s hall. We also had to do watch for the older men who were playing poker in the back room in the Hall in case the Canon would arrive .
I remember one day I was on “watch” duty and the snooker match had gotten very exciting and I was so engrossed that the Canon got in unknown to me and headed straight for the back room where which was full of “cincinatti kids” and smoke. The table was full of money and as soon as they saw the Canon Jem Oakes shouted check to try and convince him that they were playing Snap. The Canon was having none of it and everyone was thrown out and the hall was closed for a number of weeks. I got my arse kicked by one of the gamblers – whose names shall remain annonymous !
The record hops and discos in the hall were also great to go to. There were barbecues in King John’s castle where many will remember “Tojo” as the bouncer. It was easier to get into the hall without paying than the Castle and it had no roof. Up Drapers lane up on the flat roof and in the toilet window, But Tojo had eyes like revolving security cameras and we were often caught trying to get in for free.
The barbeque would always be preceded by John Harold’s Car Treasure Hunt. John was a master class as organising the hunt. A string of cars would set off from the Hall travelling all around the peninsula in search of the clues that would bring the cash prize.
Halloween nights in Carlingford were great with the Bonfires burning in Mountain Park and St Michaels Terrace. There was the usual trickery going on and always a few doors that that would be called upon where you were sure to get a good chase. To be honest some of the householders were fitter than we were, i won’t name them!