In the corner beside the Bookies, Joe Lynch had a Pub, another one of the usual old Bar and Snug style places. Like a lot of other Publicans in the Town he let a front room of the dwelling as a shop and, in this case to Patrick ("Pongo") Mageean from the Circular Road for use as a Barbers. Pongo worked there most of his life and was helped in his later years by a nephew Edward O'Hare. Pongo, one of the Town's famous characters was in serious trouble during the war and was nearly lynched by the American solders who were billeted around the nearby countryside and soon got to know the Barber. Money wasn't scarce with the Yanks, and Pongo was able to get them any kind of drink on the Blackmarket but for some reason or other it all tasted like Poteen. The trouble for Pongo blew up one day when some Yanks, always spotless and overparticular about their health and appearance, were getting their usual hair trim and shampoo, and through a mountain of foam discovered that Pongo's large bottle of shampoo was full of Persil washing soap. The poor Barber never really recovered from the following experience which became his favourite story till he died in 1973. When Joe Lynch retired the place was bought by James McCrickard from Kilcoo who continued to run the Pub until about the early 1950s, when he sold it to Hugh McGreevy, a local Barman.
Hugh operated the Bar while his sister Cassie opened and ran a Confectionery in the empty Barber's Shop. Most little Pubs have their secrets, and this one, the most guarded secret in Castlewellan - The night of the shooting of Tommy ("Saturday") McEvoy. He was known as Saturday because of all the work he did for the locals who promised to pay him on Saturday but forgot to say which Saturday. Information about the shooting is somewhat vague but Hugh McGreevy recalls the night well. It was bitterly cold and a few men were having a quiet drink in his Bar about two hours after closing time and Hugh had just pulled the cork from a bottle of Guinness and placed the bottle in front of Tommy McEvoy. At that moment there was a thumping on the door, the cops. Hugh who already had arranged an escape route through the rear door grabbed a cork and hammered it into Tommy's bottle with his fist and threw it to Tommy who shoved it up his coat and into his hip pocket. Then all raced out the back door to cross a yard and out another doorway to freedom. It was while crossing this yard everybody heard the bang as Tommy fell crying "They'ave shot me". Hugh McGreevy got a torch light and found McEvoy lying on his face looking for a Priest, as he felt the blood running down his body. With the help of another man, Hugh McGreevy gently rolled up the overcoat then the pullover and with shock on their faces one said to the other "Thats not blood it's Porter".
The cork had shot out of the bottle and blasted the contents up Tommy's shirt. It wasn't long before he was on his feet and onto the backway. By this time the cops had moved on thinking all was well within. Hugh McGreevy retired in 1979 and the Pub is now owned and run by Barney Cowan from the Banbridge Road. The little adjoining shop is a Hairdressers operated by Barney's wife, Carol, trading under the name 'Snipper Scene'. This place underwent a face lift a few years ago and would hardly be recognised as the Pub owned by Paddy Marner at the beginning of this century.
Castlewellan's only legal Bookies Shop has always been situated in the building abutting Morrisons and Joe Lynchs. This was a double compartment store and at one time part was a Saddler's Run by the Saddler McLean. He had a brother living in Burrenreagh and was likely a local man. The Saddler left there and moved down town to McAnultys into a small part which had previously been a Confectionery. The next man into the empty half of the Bookies was Paddy King from the Circular Road, who tried his luck with second hand clothes, but again was a short timer. The place was then used as the Soccer Football Club Room and around the mid 30s was a Shooting Gallery. At a shooting final one night, after hours of competition, a local youth narrowly defeated Tommy Steele the Butcher who just missed a magnificent trophy, a beautiful large brown useless two penny coconut. This whole place was owned by Pat McEvoy, a Scotsman who ran the Bookies with the assistance of his sister Nora. It is not known if they lived there, but in later years they lived on the Newcastle Road in one of the terraced houses. When Pat died it remained a Bookies, bought by a member of the McAleevy Group, from Belfast. Those people reroofed the building and was one of the fastest jobs ever carried out in the Town, at the very most two days. The pickings in Castlewellan must not have come up to expectations, for a new owner was soon in occupation, Micky Sawey, from Newcastle, who runs a string of Bookie Shops and he is still in the Town to date.
The place on the corner of the Circular Road, at the turn of the century, was a Grocery under the name McCartan. Those people originally came from Maghermayo. Their only daughter, Rosena, married Martin Morrison, a Sergeant in the RLC. stationed in Castlewellan about 1916/20. The shop was kept open until the 20s and then closed altogether. Martin had already retired from the Force and gave his services as Secretary to the newly formed Agricultural Show Committee. About the beginning of 1953, Gerry Mullen, a local man, started an electrical appliance store in Morrison's empty shop, but demand for those goods was not great enough to support a shop, so Gerry closed within a few years. At the rear of Morrisons, Stanley Foster, the eldest son of John the Green Grocer, bought three small houses. One had been the residence of Jimmy Bloomfield. Those three places were knocked into one and made into a dwelling and shop. Stanley opened this Tuck Shop in 1970 and by the 80s had closed again. He then started cutting up wood and supplying bundles of firelighters to shops, for sale. About the same time he built garages in the garden at the rear of his fathers and rented those to the G.P.O. for their vans. In 1986 Stanley made another move, he bought property in the Upper Square and turned it into an Old People's Home.
If anyone went hungry in Castlewellan, it surely was no fault of Johnny Goslyn. Johnny had a small General Store and Cafe in Millhill in 1930 and when those premises were due for demolisation he moved up town to a shop owned by "Scotty"; Hugh John Herron. Then in 1945 Scotty's son "Watty" decided to open a fruit and vegetable business in that place so Johnny had to move out. For the next three years he was running his Cafe in an upper room in Miss Gribben's shop across the street. In 1949 he was on the move again this time to little corner building belonging to Jim Rodgers and later lived in the Manor Crane next door. In 1960 he was in Morrisons Corner Shop in the Upper Square still selling fish and chips, tea and coffee. He was a prominent member of the local Draught Team which won many trophies and prizes - all in his corner Cafe. Another man who lived in the Manor Crane was Alex Rodgers the Blacksmith.
In Mary Street, behind the Bookies, a row of small houses was the spot, in the 1920s, 30s, to meet the gems of the Town oddities. "Gilly Toner", who although nearly blind and often said "Sorry Constable" after walking into the sign post at the Newcastle Road corner on the Main Street, was one of the Town shieks on the dance floor.
There was an old wino known only as Jimmy Blowhard. Then there was Paddy Stickleg; an old man with a peg leg who gathered jam pots and beer bottles from door to door and paid for them with coloured advertising cards such as the gollywog on the jam jar and the sailor's head on Players cigarette packets, given to him by the local shop keepers. Another character, in his own way, was Owen McCabe also a Mary Street dweller, he spent his life arguing at the old school corner and talking about the work he would have done had he been a well man.
Any Amercian visiting Castlewellan today must be astounded by the beautiful bungalows around the Town and the type of houses built in the Estates. The 'Yank', instead of sending money and clothes to poor relations at home would be more inclined to think the shoe is now on the other foot. It is difficult to visualise how large families like the Barney McCartans and the Barney Corrigans ever managed to exist in such small space.
Other people who resided in what was known as the Backway, were, Jimmy Hardy,
Charlie Wells, Paddy Kelly, The Blacksmith, Paddy Fegan (not the Electrician),
Maggie Fitzpatrick, FrankBurns, Stalk McEvoy and the three Gribbens. There are
in living memory and God only knows many before that. It is with no regret that
the ruins of those days can be viewed by the former occupants.