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16 October 2014
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Lurgan - some characters

Jim McIlmurray tells us about some of the famous and notorious characters around Lurgan in the recent and no so recent past.

Main Street in Lurgan town

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Stories submitted by Jim McIlmurray


Lurgan, like most towns, had its fair share of characters through the years and they didn't come much better than the famous 'Dan McCrory' . Dan was an educated man and it was said that he entered the priesthood at one stage. A couple of interesting stories about Dan came to light as remembered some time ago by Tom Boyle. Tom told about the time Dan went into O'Hara's public house and asked the landlord if it would be okay if he had a pint and would it be okay if he paid for it in stamps. The landlord agreed and Dan got his pint and when the landlord asked for the stamps Dan set his pint down and stamped his foot four times on the ground.

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Dan was well known to the local police as he was often found about the town having taken 'one too many'. He'd been in front of the Judge so often that the Judge decided to send him to jail for a month. So Dan was taken to Lurgan Railway Station by a local policeman, whose job it was to see Dan locked up and return home. So when the policeman asked the ticket officer for one single and one return, Dan quickly replied, "Are you not coming Sir?" Anyway when Dan was shown his prison cell he said to the Prison Warder "Do you know something, I wish I'd come here a month ago". The Prison Warder assured Dan that it was no hotel he was coming into and that his time spent here wouldn't be a holiday. Dan quickly answered "No, I didn't mean that, it's just that if I'd been here a month ago I'd be getting out by now!" Dan did many jobs such as doorman at 'Fosters' Picture House, and walked the streets of Lurgan with sandwich boards advertising local traders products.

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Some other characters of note were:
Everybody's friend the little man - Johnie Boyle , the lady with the pram, Mrs. Annie Green who lived at the Lough - a well known character who always passed the time of day with whoever she met. And 'Mary Lye Out' . Mary was a very tall white haired woman who wore big black men's boots, as Nellie McAtasaney remembered. Nellie told us about the time she was out walking when she observed Mary standing in a field, stripped off, washing herself in a river.

Can you remember the following characters:
'Old Ginger Beard' , 'Flying Johnie' , the man who put wings on and tried to become airborn in Lurgan Park! Our list includes, 'Rosie Crow' , 'Anthony Lavery' and 'Herbie Briggs' . What history about the characters of Lurgan would be complete without the legendary Benny 'Phil' Lynch . Phil would walk the streets of Lurgan with his pram selling things which people had given him. Phil died only a few years ago, and a stone has been erected in St. Coleman's cemetery to mark the site where he was laid to rest. The stone was contributed by the people of Lurgan to a man who, like Dan McCrory, will live in our minds for ever.

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The days when "JACK-SHOW-YOUR-LIGHT" was around... Jack-show-your-light was a common sight on our streets many many years ago. He got ten shillings (50p) a week for lighting them! And a common school yard joke at the time was how much did he get for putting them out?! Jack-show-your-light always put on the gas lamps for the first time in the winter season on August 15th.

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Does anyone remember the old man who used to sell delph from a stall at Market Street where the flower market is now? He was constantly juggling with plates etc. to gather a crowd and used to smash a heap of them. (Possibly they were rejects or cracked ones.)

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Another funny story is about the man who shouted at the Black and Tans when they were passing, patrolling in Crossley tenders sitting back to back on a central bench and protected by wine. He had a few drinks on him and he was famous for his ballads. He told them he had enough in his hip pocket to blow the guts out of them! When they frisked him they found a packet of Epsom Salts!

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Drunk Buttermilk Man got a lift on a pony...
People say there was nothing like a good mug of buttermilk with a plate of champ! Does anyone remember the wee man Kane that came in from the country with his big crocks? He had the best buttermilk in the town but he wouldn't have given you any unless you were a customer. The butter was swimming on top of it. Can anyone remember these buttermilk men of years ago? Arthur Murray of Mays Court and Bob McDowell of John Street and a man called Creaney from Thompsons Court and one called O'Neill from down there as well? And a man called Stevenson from Victoria Street?

They must have drunk an awful lot of buttermilk with their champ around Lurgan. Or did it all go on the griddle? One buttermilk man had a reputation for spending his takings on drink. When he got a drop too much and fell asleep in the trap the 'pow-nee' used to take him home. One evening it got fed up standing outside the pub and went home without him.


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