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16 October 2014
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Dodgem Days

A BBC NI documentary on the history of Barrys Amusements in Portrush, has inspired you to tell us your memories of all the fun of the fair.....

Barrys Amusements

This much-loved Amusement Park has become something of a holiday institution in its eighty odd years of existence. For many people Portrush and Barry’s are almost synonymous.

come in No.6 your time is up... the big wheel and helter skelter at Barry's in Portrush


We’d love to hear your memories and recollections of visiting Barry’s. Maybe you remember being taken there as a child only to return with your own children or grandchildren in more recent times. Perhaps a special romance began in Barry’s? Or did you have a summer job there or spend a summer swooning over the Barry’s Boys.

original amusements - acrobats  Barrys at Portrush


Every visitor has their personal favourite ride whether the Big Dipper, the dodgems or the ghost train? But do you remember some of the older attractions long since gone like the Peter Pan railway, the Wall of Death or the Speedway?

To help push start your memories click on the images below to see some old Portrush black and white footage from 1964....

click to watch a montage of footage from Portrush  and Barry's Amusements in 1964 click to see a Beatles montage with footage of Portrush in 1964


These days only the Portrush Barry’s remains at the site it’s occupied since the mid-twenties beside the Railway station. But in past decades other branches of the family ran amusements at sites in Bangor and Belfast. Perhaps you have memories of those amusements?

Use the form below to contact us with your Barry's memories.


Your Responses:

Chantelle Dunbar - February '08
I love it so I do!

Helen Horner (Connor) - Mar '07
I lived in Enniskillen but we always went to Portrush for our annual holidays. We stayed in Mrs. Maguire's B & B in Causeway street, this was during the mid-50's. After my mum died in 1957 I spent a few more holidays there with my father who always took the Boys' Brigade there for their camp. I loved going to Barry's but the thing that stood out most was the time I was on the dodgem cars with some older girl, I bumped my tooth on the steering wheel and had a big chip broken out of it. While living in Omagh for a short time and before the trains stopped going from there, I went on a Sunday School trip to Portrush. I left Ireland in 1968 and didn't manage to visit it until 1996 when my husband (he's a Carrickfergus man) and I went to Portrush for an overnight stay and visited Barry's again. We stayed in a B & B in Causeway Street just for old times sake. (We have lived in Qld. Australia since 1974.)

Claude Flannery - Mar '07
My father contracted a rare form of Krabbe disease from an undercooked hotdog from Barry's in July of 1964 and died later that year. Unfortunately I was orphaned and this was back in the day before suing was so commonplace. Could anyone give me some legal advice on how to pursue this case, as it put quite the dampener on my teenage years.

Kim Curry - Mar '07
I love the cyclones and walking around with a massive lump of candyfloss

Maureen - Feb '07

Barry's - just the name makes me stare wistfully into space with sights sounds and smells racing through my head. The Barry's boys with their faded green coats and handsome faces (generally made even more handsome simply because of where they worked!). The smell of burnt sugar from the candyfloss machines. The constant din of clicking and whirling machinery mixed with the chink chink of coins going into and coming out of one armed bandits. As a Portrush native I had the joy of going to Barry's very often as a child in the 70s and 80s but I was never lucky enough to secure one of the coveted summer jobs. Just going through the door seemed to make your pulse quicken. Even if I had no money it was great to just walk through the place and look at what was going on and hear the screams of people on the big dipper and the swish swish of the cyclone (my personal favourite along with the dodgems). So much else in Portrush has changed. The Northern Counties has gone. Castle!
Erin went just this week. Barry's is a mainstay retaining all its old charm for the very young but still managing to put a smile on even the most worldly wise of teenagers. Long may it continue.


Michael White - Feb '07
My formative years were in Portrush where I grew up between 1956 and 1961 and my father worked in the Northern Bank on Main Street. Barry's was the mecca of the young teenager first discovering girls, dodgems and fish and chips.We would congregate around the juke box, play the machines wirh pennies and see if the crane could collect a toy or choc. bar. The greatest thrill was visiting the Wall of Death with my new girl friend who was so frightened that she clung on in what I liked to interpret as a hug.
Then joy of joys, at the age of 16 I was given a part time job for the summer holidays on the dodgem cars. I must have sent Barry's nearly broke with the free rides I gave to my friends!!
The Big Wheel was fascinating especially when it stopped and we were at the top. The views over the Port and the West Strand to Porstewart were something else.
Ah, halycon days!!

Agnes McGill - Jan '07
Back in the early eighties we used to go to portrush every year for almost 7 years.We had great fun in the amusements especially the ghost train in which we enjoyed.Since becoming married and having a family and living in scotland when we go back over for a visit we like to call into Portrush amusements.I have told my children of the great times I spent there as a child and they also have a great time and enjoyed by all. Long may it continue as I look forward to my grandchildren going as well.

Alex Jackson - Nov '06
My memories of Barry's go back to the early 50s and 60s, we used to go up every easter for the dances in the Arcadia, Dave Glover was playing then, the jive was in and all the fantastic songs that he sang along with oliver harcourt, I forget the female singer but it was a terrific dance, we used to go into the Springhill bar i think it was on Causeway Street, it didn't take much to get us tipsy then. Barry's was a lot of fun even for 19 year olds, what great memories, I could write a book but I might get jail.

Elizabeth Ross - Sep '06
As a family, we used to spend all our holidays in Portrush. We stayed in the West Bay View Hotel - which are now apartments. The lady who ran it knew us very well. Barry's of course was the highlight of the day after a long day at the beach. We would be given some money to spend and off we would go. My brother Charles always went on the helter-skelter! It was difficult to choose which ride you wanted to go on. I remember my Dad playing the game where you had to run a penny in between the black lines and it was supposed to push other pennies over the edge - he LOVED that game. I also remember the smell of the place - sort of burning smell.

Visiting there a few years back with my sisters Anne and Honor brought back so many childhood memories. We saw Barry's, went for a long walk along the beach, saw the Arcadia and went in to the White House, the only BIG shop that was there in our day. Every time I think of Portrush it brings a smile to my face - we had so many laughs there, so many great childhood memories.

Damien Keegan - Sep '06
Wow, bit surprised to see my ma on here (Maura Keegan (Crawley) )!! Hi Mum!

For me, the Big Dipper was the big hoodoo...never managed to work up enough courage as a nipper to get on it. Loved the dodgems, the helter-skelter by the door and the waltzer. My sister and I couldn't walk past the place without begging and pleading to go in! My mother is made of sterner stuff and when we did go, it was a genuine treat. Maybe something kids today fail to appreciate with our culture of instant gratification.

A summer job at Barrys carried high kudos with the "burds", something I didn't get to experience as I moved to Scotland when I was 12. However, I'm quite sure my cousins would all testify to the efficacy of the "Green Jacket" when it came to chatting them up . Or indeed being chatted up themselves such was its power!!

Living in Portrush meant you had access to some of the most spectacular coastline in Europe and during the summer, cycling was our thing. Portballintrae, Runkerry, Portstewart. Thanks mum for making us realise Portrush was more than just Barrys, The Golden Goose, Sportsland and Phil's!

Heather Quigley - Sep '06
Our sunday school every year went to portrush in the 60s & 70s. As teenagers the highlight of our year was to go to Barry's and go on the old Big Dipper. A far cry from todays theme parks!

Frank Lynch - Sep '06
We made day trips from Donegal to Portrush in the 1960's and they are just unforgettable days. I remember the lawns and the flower beds and the tiny tots' train and swimming pool. I remember the Arcadia Ballroom and the Clipper Carlton Showband singing "Who's that knocking on my door? Old man trouble". I remember Barrys Amusements and being on the Hobby Horses and the Beatles were singing Eleanor Rigby and the Seekers singing Rockin Rolling Riding. I remember feeling queasy on the Big Dipper and sliding down the high slide until I nearly had no seat in my pants. I remember going out into the sea in a little boat called The Queen Elizabeth. I remember going into the Ghost Train with my father and I bawled my head off and he laughed the whole trip. Fish and chips and a pint of milk and ice cream cones and American Cream Soda. Portrush is the Pearl of the North Coast and Barrys Amusements was a wonderland for children and still is.

Barry Bynum (Texas) - Sep '06
E njoyed the 70s when our band Liberation Suite would play outdoors near the water, and in the Arcadia and then go round the streets of Portrush including looking at the Barry's ...of course you can imagine the various jokes from other band members about Barry.

I come back to NI as often as I can. Our son Jack was born there.

Yvonne Morrison - Sep '06
I used to holiday every year in Portrush as a child in the eighties, and going to barrys at night when it was all lit up was just amazing. I loved every minute of my holidays as a child and will never forget the memories I have from such a lovely place. I moved to England when I was eleven but still when I go back I have to go to portrush to Barry's amusements, well lets face it a holiday isn't a holiday with out going to barry's.

I also remember being in portrush on a girls brigade weekend with sloan street GB, lisburn - the highlight of the week ........ going to barrys'.

Harty Ervine - Sep '06
As a very young child my Father had the job of tiring me out so I would go to sleep. He would take me down to Barry's and the Noddy cars and put me on them and pay for a couple of rides. Soon I would be drowsy and carried back to the hotel and would be out like a light.

Jacqui Lockhart - Sep '06
I went to Portrush every year as a child, with my parents. I remember Barrys well, riding in the vintage cars, the ghost train etc. I remember the donkey rides on the beach and building sandcastles. I have many wonderful memories and I returned again after I married with my 2 children, and we still have a great time. Maybe they'll bring their children there too.

Hugh Parke - Aug '06
My wife (Paddy Battershill) and I met at Barry's right there by the big slide in the 60's while I worked summers and weekends at the Northern Counties Hotel, Lismara and Fawsetts. We ended up living in Portrush for a while before moving to Boston MA in 73. We have been married 40 years just past. We still have great memories about Portrush, the donkeys at the beach with Fern and Nigel. The Londonderry Hotel, many's a night we closed that place and got fish and chips from Roody and Pam on the way home.
The last time we were at the Arcadia it was Roy Orbison that was playing.

Christopher Peake - Aug '06
Mrs Delino was some lady. I remember seeing her sometime in the 1970s chasing a wee lad, up Main Street in Bangor... it's quite a steep hill which would be daunting to a runner who trained on a regular basis. The lad had nicked something when he thought Mrs Delino was not looking and mad a dash for it. She was fast... she asked someone to keep an eye on the place and ran after him.
If I remember rightly she caught him, gave him a slap round the ears and recovered her property.

Judy Lynn Weaver - Aug '06
Found the comment regarding Thomas Chesney Gourley during a Google search for "Chesney." I'm a descendant of William Chesney (1839-1866) & Sarah nee Burnett of Ballymena. For what it's worth, I found the marriage record -- 18 Sep 1873 -- of Eliza (Chesney) to James Gourley. Bride was d/o Robert Chesney, a weaver of Lininaharry, Ahoghill. I believe she had a sister Jane b. 1850 who married Thomas Murphy. I have no idea how Robert the weaver's family connects to mine, but will keep it in mind!

Vera(McLatchey) Hall (Seattle) - Aug '06
Hi, I have many great memories of Portrush and Barry's as I went there every year for holidays during the late 50s and early 60s. I went with Jean, Vera and Edna Bain whose husband was Alan Woods. Also their parents. The whole family rented an old converted railroad carriage named Ben Macree. They took Hilary Bromley and I with them We all lived in Lisburn, my friend Hilary also had a Barrys boy friend his name was Jackie. I have fond memories of those first summer holidays.

I had a boyfriend who worked in Barry's called Colm Quinn. He ended up being a lifelong friend. He was still working there a couple of years ago. He had worked for years at the Merry Go Round. I married in 1964 and moved to Seattle ,I used to take my daughter to Barry's each summer we visited so she also got to know Colm. Took my nephew there when he was young. I have an old newspaper article about Colm and the Peter Pan Trains. I also have photos of his brothers as they all worked there.

Those were the days! I still go back home a couple of times a year to visit. I hope I can see this documentary. There was also a BBC one of Lisburn which I would love to have.

Jane Doe - Aug '06
I remember going to Barry's as a child in the 90's with my family when we went down 2 stay at the caravan for a week or so. It was great fun! I remember I loved the Hobby Horses & the Ghost Train. I was there in July of this year and it is so different now to how I remember it.

Harry Donnell - July '06
I remember as a young child in the early seventies, Barrys had a dalek it was a fairly simple hollowed out dalek, that rotated sporadicly and had flashing lights and of course used the familiar catchphrases..exterminate etc. I visited last year with some young friends and it had gone. However it's still magical to the young ones.

James O'Hagan - July '06
The funniest happening that i can remember about Barry's, Happened in the mid-fifties when a group of people decided to travel on the Ghost Trains, When two wags who were travelling in the same Ghost Train got out and started to slap the faces of every person going through the short train route, Well it wasn't long before the Barry's attendants soon discovered the empty train emerging from within, And they shut the system down and kicked the two culprits out onto the street.

Bill Gregg - July '06
For years my Granda had my sister and I in stitches with stories about Buck Alec and his toothless lion. I often wondered if there was such a beast and he was making it all up. I guess I was wrong.

Bertie Thompson - July '06
My memories of Barry's Portrush go back to the mid 50's. Buck Alex was in a cage with his Lion wrestling it, he pushed his left arm into the Lions mouth, as he was wrestling it then he started shouting "my arm my arm". As he was pulling his arm out of its mouth he put his other hand over to the Lions mouth caught the sleeve of his shirt that was in the Lions mouth, as he pulled his arm out of its mouth the shirt sleeve ripped - there was no Blood on his arm - the reason being the Old Lion had not a Tooth in its Mouth.

Maura Keegan-Crawley - July '06
I lived in Portrush for most of my childhood and returned with my children who schooled there. I have lots of memories of Barry's and the act of kindness one of the owner when I arrived with seven children and they had closed but when they saw me at the door the lovely man I am not sure if it was Trefeli his surname is he signaled for me to come in and opened the rides for us. He saved my promise to the children you can imagine how excited they were going to Barry's. Thanks for some fab memories. Many a boyfriend we met in Barry's.

Richard (Bunty)- July '06
Well Barrys has very special memories for me as I spent a lot of time there as a very young boy, spent time was all I had as I had no money to spend, I walked all the way from Bellemont where I lived with my Grandmother who was my mother, she brought me up from the day I was born, My brother Jimmy worked at Barrys in the summer time mainly on the dodgems, he thought it was great riding around holding on to the bar at the rear and getting the money while the cars were flying around, he used to jump from one car to another, great fun, an odd time we got a free ride, I spent most of my time in the monkey house at the rear left hand side, I watched them for hours, then the hungry long walk home where my mammy would have something cooking on the old black range, just lovely memories, I left Bellemont in 1963 and i've just come home after 43 years away, and I missed my home every single day.

Brian Allen - July '06
Two things stick in my mind vividly from Barry's in the 1970s.
You Knew you were on your holidays when you saw the multi level lights hanging inside the entrance, its great to see them still there today.

Also once you had run down the hill past the vintage cars and got inside the smell hit you. In those days the speedway cars were just inside the door and the smell of electric motors and rubber from these and the dodgems was the smell that even now I associate with childhood happy holidays.

Barry's has changed but not beyond recognition and still retains its charm for my children

Linda Sayers - July '06
"I've never seen the inside of the Ghost Train"... but I've been on it at least 6 times! I've just never had my eyes open! My memories of Barry's are with the Brownies when I had a pink lipstick which I thought was the knees of a bee. I looked like a young Dame Edna! And when I was older, with my friends from Stranocum. I remember one ride, with my friend Georgina, and I wasn't sure whose tears were running down my cheek, hers or mine, but when it stopped... we went straight back on.

I also remember never having enough money for all the rides, so selection was as long and drawn out process of weighing up the cost of excitement against a candy floss, which I think were sold by the door. And when you were down to your last pound, and you didn't want to end your fun, you resorted to the games for the most impoverished.. the 2p shuffle trays and the 4 - 8p horse betting. Does anyone else remember those little tin race horses? And for that matter, try placing a bet in William Hills for 2p nowadays! And of course, you had to go on the Merry Go Round, cause, well everyone should go on a Merry Go Round at least once in their life!

Gloria Martin - July '07
Hi there, sorry I have not many memories of Barry's portrush, but what about Barry's in Bangor that I do have fond memories of. With my school friends Vera Crawford, Liz Strain and Cherol Mc Cowen oh what happy days, mitching school and spending the day hid in Barry's till it was save to walk outside after 15:30 hour and in the weekends watching the teddy boys and girls jiving under the helter skelter - oh what memories. Also Mrs Delino walking around like an elegant Jailer with the large bunch of keys, what a marvelous woman born 100 years before her time. Had she been born in the 21century she no doubt would have been considered a very clever lady, but to the locals she was considered a bit funny and not the full shilling just because she choose to use her great intelligence to make money, and make money she did. Plus for the enjoyment she provided she should have been given a title to say the least. I mean they give these dame hoods away to lesser people or not?

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