Chapter 11

Henry McCracken came from Benraw, opened a drapers and footware's early in the Century and, by 1928, had sold to Gibson Bros. He then moved into the large clothing store down the Street, known as 'Oak Hall', previously owned by John and Bertie Stewart, both of whom were retiring. When the Northern Ireland Electricity Board was taking over in 1932, Henry would not accept their terms and installed a plant to make his own light. When he died, in 1934, his brother James took over the whole business including the lighting equipment, and ran one of the largest outfitting shops in the area. On the death of James, in 1960, the whole lot closed down and, after lying empty for a few years, it was bought by Davey Prentice of "The Motor People", from Portadown. Davy completely demolished the entire place and built a large showroom for the sale of cars. This business was a non starter in Castlewellan and, after another few years, Prentice moved out to let Rafferty Motors, from Warrenpoint, try their luck. However, they also found Castlewellan the wrong place to sell cars and pulled out as well. This place was then stocked with freezers and fridges for sale but, again, unsuccessfully.

"M.K.L. Meats" the former site of the "Oak Hall."

It was later occupied by a furniture firms, who also found it impossible to sell this line of goods, and bid goodbye to the Town within months. In 1983, a Downpatrick man, Lavery, opened a Meat for the Freezer Centre, and seems to be doing a bit better. He trades under the name 'M.K.L. Meats'. Hugh Savage served his time in McElroy Bros. and in partnership with a Mr. Beades, bought King's, Mineral Water Manufacturers in Castlewellan about the 1910's. Hugh soon owned the lot and had one of the Town's leading Grocery Shops, as well as the Pub.

During the 1930-40 period, most people bought flour by the ten stone, in white calico sacks, so that they later had the material to make bed sheets. Hugh had to make sure those sacks were flawless; otherwise they would

King's the people who built Savage's before the turn of the century.
King's the people who built Savage's before the turn of the century.



The "Oak Hall" with sunshade extended.


"The Allied Irish Bank" or the "Provincial" as it was known was part of King's Mineral Water Co. next door. It was first opened in 1925 under the managemanship of Mr. Ludlow and the present manager is Mr. Chew.

M. Rooney Advert, 1900

When Hugh Savage died in 1953, the Grocery was closed and the pub extended, taking in the shop area for a lounge. This business has been run since by Pat, the eldest son, who has met some rare old boys at the bar, and none more so than Sam Lewis, from Annsborough, who dandered around the Town having a yarn with everyone. He boasted he was a great cricketer, engineer and footballer. Once, when speaking to Pat, he recalled playing in a football final. According to Sam, when he was jumping to head a ball, he discovered he wasn't high enough, so he just went on up another bit and nodded the ball into the net. He blamed constant heading in mucky conditions for his baldness. There are arts in football seldom used or seen since Sam died about 1970.

Robert Armstrong outside his little shop, early 1930's.

Robert Armstrong outside his little shop, early 1930's.

On the July Fair Day, in 1930, there appeared a new name above the door of the small drapers shop which had been occupied since the start of the Century by Miss M. Roonery. It was that of Armstrong. Robert John came from Legananny and had just finished his apprenticeship to the outfitting business in Sam Porter's, further up the street. Robert had bought Rooney's and opened on his own account. He did a steady trade till the middle 1960's, and then extended his business by buying the adjacent Cusack property, after that family had all passed away. He combined both places into one premises, providing more space, with two large display windows. Robert retired in 1980 and about 1985, rented the place to Maurice Fitzmaurice, a Pharmacist, to open a Chemist Shop. This man also owns the Supermarket on the Main Street.

The small shop beside Maginn's pub was the place to go for all saddiery and leather repairs, which were carried out by Willie and Bob Cusack, from the early 1900's. The personalities of those two brothers was as different as day is to night. Wille was gentle and almost too quiet, while Bob really enjoyed life. About 1920, Bob quit the saddlery and started movie pictures in the Market House. Those were the silent ifim days and someone played an old tinny-sounding piano throughout the show.

Horse-Head-gear owned by Sam Duggan.

This is the picture of a piece of Horse-Head-gear, it looks like a blind and belongs to Sam Duggan from the Ban Road. The two brass ornamentations
are clearly engraved with the name T. Cusack, Saddler, Castlewellan. T. was probably Willie's father leaving the time of manufacture of this blind about the beginning of the century.


Horse-Head-gear owned by Sam Duggan.


The operator at that time was Billy McElroy, from Annsborough, who actually hand cranked the machine for the full two hours. When 'Lil', as he was known, got tired, it was easy to understand why they were commonly called "Flicks".

Bob Cusack was a small broad-shouldered man and, when dressed in his crombi coat, glittering brown brogue shoes with the soles protruding about an inch round the uppers and the white kid gloves swinging from one hand, he was perfection itself.

Bob later opened a cinema in Newcastle and if he spotted a Castlewellan man in the queue, he would call to the cashier -- "The Country Cousin"! pointing to the man, which meant the fellow was to be admitted free. When an old lady drew Bob's attention to the rats running through the Picture House, he laughed, saying "Do you mean to tell me Old Gertrude is still alive"? After a few drinks one day, the police found him asleep in his car and, when asked for his name he replied 'Whitehall 1212", and that was what he was known as in Castlewellan till the day he died -- "Whitehall 1212". Bob Cusack departed this life in 1954 and his brother Willie in 1959.