Pastimes before the advent of Radio and TV.
The popular pastimes in the village in the 1940s and into the 1950s were football , standing at Bob Mc Garrell’s corner discussing world, national and local affairs; hunting rabbits and kibbing birds; chatting in Mc Shanes tea shop or, straight across from it, Rice’s; chasing (see below); competing in the annual regatta; attending, or performing in, concerts in the “Hall " as the Parochial Hall was commonly called ; playing billiards and playing cards, whist drives and Sunday night dances in the same hall; attending plays in the Wee Lane Hall and the parochial hall; badminton in the hall; first aid classes; Irish classes in Greenore: sports days in Wood’s field which usually included tug o war, the main rivals in this sport being Rathcor and Glenmore; drinking bottles of Guinness a minority pastime then; racing on four-wheelers (home- made from pram wheels and timber) down Mc Kevitt’s Hill, the Convent Hill and the Castle Hill, the roads during the war years being virtually free of motor traffic; robbing orchards; attending October Devotions and indulging in some larking about coming home in the dark; the occasional trip on Keenans buses to Dundalk or Newry to see a film and possibly treat oneself to fish and chips.
There was no TV, no video games, no CDs, no mobile phones and not much money floating about.
Carlingford in the 1940s was a TV free zone as was, indeed, each of the 32 counties. Only a minority of homes had wireless sets in the early 40s and crowds gathered the radio (powered by wet batteries) in the Parochial Hall on Sundays to listen to Michael O Heir’s dramatic broadcasts of big games in Croke Park and in various provincial centres such as Thurles. Next door the front window in Danny McKevitt’s front room would be opened to allow those gathered outside to enjoy O Heir’s lively commentaries. A point of interest here: wireless sets made in what was then the Free State listed a station under the title The Six Counties.
In 1948 a group of business men M. J. O Rourke, coal merchant, was one and the then head of the Kearney family of Wilville - JP or, if he was dead at that stage, his son Donal - was another) opened a cinema in Newry St. on a site created by the demolition of Kearneys store. Photos/stills of Hollywood stars adorned the lobby (June Haver was one of the stars on show) and the admission price for the body of the hall was 1 shilling and 8 pence with lower prices at the very front and higher prices for the few raised rows at the rear. The opening film, as far as I recall, was Wings of the Morning featuring a Sunny Tufts and horse racing and the voice of John McCormack.
The cinema was a big success for a number of years. Bill Boyd playing Hopalong Cassidy entertained the younger element and some senior citizens too, practically every Sunday. The operator was, as far as I recall, Leslie Adamson and possibly also, his brother the late jack Adamson. Others involved at the box office and as usherettes were, as far as I remember: Doris Hanlon, Margaret Boyle, Laura McKevitt and Billie Cunningham
Telafis Eireann opened on New Years Eve 1961, President Eamon de Valera presiding at the inauguration. UTV was available in the North East of the country somewhat earlier having come on air on 31 October 1959. The 1940s was a TV free decade and sometime in the 1950s UTV and BBC Northern Ireland were available to those few with TV sets but reception tended to be poor and clarity was denied by a more or less perpetual drift of snowflakes.TV sets were few ( later on Des Boyle abandoned his bicycle business â?" where Michael Thornton and Eileen now live on Newry St.- and got into the more lucrative business of selling TV sets as demands for them rose rapidly). Hugh OHare’s father of the late PJs had a TV in his bar and many gathered there to see the sad scenes shot at Munich when the Manchester United team lost many fine players in the air disaster in 1958.
Some of the pastimes mentioned above merit a separate short article each. Suffice here to explain about “Chasing”. This was an activity for after dark and involved the young participants separating into two groups: one or two did the chasing and the rest shot off to hide. The chasers tried to locate the various hiders. The game ender when all were located but as that was a rare enough event it was deemed advisable not to drag out the game pointlessly and the chaser/s would signal a new round, entailing new chasers/hunters by calling loudly “All in” “All in”. This sport nearly always began outside Rice’s shop (between the Centra supermarket and the Carlingford Arms or, at the time, Wood’s butcher shop and Bob Mc Garrell and those hiding did so within an area not more than roughly 200yards from this starting point.