Joan McCrory - Aug '08
I was born on Hawthorne Avenue 1955 and moved to Beaumont
Square in the Shankill Estate when I was about 6. I remember
Willie Johns shop and the skittle alley behind it. I also
remember me Ma playing Bingo most nights in the "Flying
Club" behind Willie Johns.
My enduring memories of "Willie Johns" are the
high wooden counter and the half door that I always stood
at when doing "messages" for me Ma. The back of
the shop was where we got the potatoes and these were weighed
out with the scales that lived on the floor in the middle
of the space and put straight into your shopping bag. I still
have a visual image of Willie John sitting on the little stool
by the weighing scales putting 5lbs of spuds into my bag.
He also sold parafin for heaters and this was heavy to carry
home. To get home, I used to have to pass the graveyard where
Marjorie McCall and Cubbage were buried, but that's a whole
other story. Most of my childhood centred around Willies shop,
mostly because I had to go for messages there about four times
It was a community and it worked. Everyone looked out for
everyone else, even when I didn't appreciate it.......someone
always told your Ma what you were up to!
I remember "old Ginger Beard" well. My older brother
followed him around everywhere and me Ma went mad at him.
"Have you been with old Ginger Beard again, get you in
that bath right now" she used to shout at him.
I also remember the van that used to come round on Friday
nights. The first time it came round it had marble slabs and
meat. Two hours later it came round with wooden slots and
comics. I come from a family of 11 kids and me Da would give
us a shilling to buy the comics. When me and my sisters finished
with Bunty and Judy, we could always swop with the boys and
read Hotspur and Dandy.
I also remember the "Skin Man" coming round weekly
on a horse and cart collecting vegetable peelings, and of
course the "Rag Man" collecting old clothes, though
I do recall giving him me Da's best jumper and shirt for a
Dolly Chapman - Jan '07
Wonderful site, really enjoyed reading about the characters
that I remember, Herbie Briggs, Gingerbeard, Tommy Farr and
lots of others. Brings back a lot of happy memories. Another
character of the town Enis Matthews. Went to court once, judge
asked him did he recognise the court (as he was always in
court) and Enis replied "Oh my goodness judge you have
had it painted". He was a true character of the town.
Sarah Sadie Stewart nee Kerr- Jan '07
I wonder if the tailor who lived on William St, lived in no
27 my grandparents lived there till the middle sixty's and
I often wonder about the lilock tree in the back yard.
Alison Eves (Hughes) - Aug '06
I had such fun reading this. I have been in the USA for some
30 years now and so miss the town. I know that times have
changed but I have such wonderful memories. I sure remember
Phil Lynch and Herbie Briggs. Dances at the Calypso,Town Hall
and LCA. Movies at the Lyric and Fosters. Many a night spent
just hanging out in the town center. All good fun and good
folks. Everyone joined in. No boundaries everyone was friends
regardless of background. I sure miss Caffolla's fish and
chips. The bakeries and sweet shops. Knox's on Edward Street
had the best biscuits. I often wonder what happened to my
old friends and work colleagues. I worked at the Optical for
years. A real pleasure to have the web site. Thanks
Jennifer (McIlmurray) Jolliffe - Aug '06
Who remembers Danny Bailey? My wonderful Dad, Gerry McIlmurray,
was a tailor in William Street, Lurgan. Danny arrived one
evening and asked Dad if he would take his cap in as it was
a bit big for him. My ever-obliging Dad took Danny's cap and
told him to call back in about an hour. On the dot, Danny
came back for his cap. He tried it on and was very pleased
with the result, offering payment to Dad. My Dad wouldn't
take anything from him and Danny left a happy man. My Mum
asked Dad about the cap as she didn't see him working on it.
Dad said, "Sure, he only asked me to take it in. I only
hung it on the hallstand!" Who was the best character?
Jean Murray - June '06
Really enjoyed reading about the old Lurgan characters. I
remember most of them. Does anyone remember Tommy Jordan from
Wellington street. He lived afew doors from us. God bless
him he had lost a hand. We had many a sleepless but entertaining
night when he would come home from the pub carry his table
out to the street and there proclaim what was wrong in the
world and how it should be fixed. My Mother used to send his
Sunday dinner up to him though one day she dropped a pound
of sausages through his letterbox as she was passing half
an hour later he had the street up shouting that someone had
put a parcel bomb through his door. He soon settled when my
Mother told him through tears of laughter what it was.
Robbie - May '06
Just found this site and I think its great to read about so
many different characters from my area. Has anybody got any
stories about the teddy boys as my uncle was one? He was killed
in a motorcycle accident near the corner house.
Kathleen Mc Crory - March '06
I remember so many of the town's characters mentioned in this
article, but as a native of Aghagallon, we laid claim to Anthony
Lavery. He was part of my childhood, and sometimes when Anthony
would knock on our door, my mother would bring him in, especially
if the weather was inclement. My one great memory of Anthony
was when he made himself a cup of tea in his " tea can"
on the open fire. Into that can went anything and everything,
including left over jam and eggshells, and many times used
tea leaves. He was a harmless being, and had family in the
area, but seemed to prefer his life on the open road.
I also remember " Ginger beard" who would show
up in Aghagallon once in a while. I remember the feeling that
he had been well educated, as he was very well spoken, and
I recall that we thought he originally came from the Belfast
area. One Saturday after we had had our lunch, he came to
our door. My mother gave him the left overs of our weekly
" Ulster fry". As usual there might have been small
over cooked morsels that had stuck to the pan, and had gone
onto the egg on his plate, and he was anything but pleased
about that fact.
Regardless of their choices of lifestyle, I don't remember
many being cruel or unkind to these people, they were just
a colourful part of our lives.
I love this site, and hope that it continues, as my husband
and I have just found it.
Kathleen Mc Crory, Canada - Jan '06
Thank you for the memories and this wonderful web site. What
great memories these tales evoke for an emigrant... Keep up
the good work!
Casimir McGeown (Canada) - Oct '05
I remember the story re the famous dog who could count. He
was from Gratten Street - his name was Barney Mitchel and
he did take his dog to the U.S. My dad, Barney McGeown, often
told us the story.
Hazel - June '05
What a great website.. Does anyone remember Tommy Farr.. He
used to come into the street and would shadow box.. When the
show was over he passed his hat around... Then there was Tommy
Fisher and also John 3-16 !
Marty - June 05
I've stumbled across this website and i have to say these
stories are great, i'm 21 and from lurgan myself and its fun
reading about past members of the town, some characters eh'
Does anyone remember the man in Lurgan who had the famous
dog that could count, add and subtract along with a whole
ream of other tricks?
The owner took the dog to Holywood for an audition with a
studio, but when he got to America they made the owner put
the dog in the baggage compartment. In there bags and boxes
fell on the dog and smothered the poor canine. There is some
archive footage of the dog somewhere.
Share YOUR stories or memories of
local characters by filling in the form at the bottom of the
Read about more
Lurgan characters by Jim Ward
Read some quick facts about Lurgan