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Lurgan - some characters

Your stories and comments.

Main Street in Lurgan town

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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 a day!

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 balloon!



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' !

Lenny writes:
(Feb 2004)

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 page.

Relevant links:
Read about more Lurgan characters by Jim Ward
Read some quick facts about Lurgan


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