P.F.McCartan had, at the low end of Castlewellan Main Street, one of the largest General Stores, in the early 1900s. The entire lot was bought by Patrick McAnulty, in 1914, he having just sold a business in Ballyward. McAnulty's new purchase consisted of one large Grocery Shop next the Police Barracks, a dwelling house between that shop and a well stocked Hardware Store and, ending that whole block was a modern pub, 'The Fountain Bar', named after the Fountain across the street, with its private snugs and spacious billiard rooms above. Patrick rented land around the Town and farmed this to supply fresh milk and butter for his kitchen, as well as grazing for his team of black horses used for his Funeral Undertaking business. Threshing day was always a great favourite with a few local youths, who helped untie the stooks and thought themselves well paid with a few bob but, moreso, with the four course dinner, rounded off with a large plate of home-made ice cream.
McAnulty had six sons and, while these boys were being educated, had to employ a large staff- 22 in all. Having the reputation of never ref using anyone anything, he found himself in financial trouble in 1928. Patrick had to close both shops as well as a petrol pump, in front of the premises. About two years later, McAnulty's were in business again with Hardware and Grocery combined in one shop, plus the pub which had always remained open. This new venture lasted about a year and the shop closed altogether.
John, one of the sons, kept the Funeral side of the business going, having bought a motor hearse and taxi while Andy, the youngest, worked in the pub. Tom Breen, the son of the Kilcoo Schoolmaster, and who had served his time with John Shilliday, Hardware, opened a store in McAnulty's lower shop, on the very same day as Hugh King, Draper, and Stanley Whyte, Grocer, started on their own account. Tom Breen operated there until he retired in 1974, still proud of the G.A.A. Football medals he had won in his younger days.
About 1930, a young man, Jimmy Joe Hanna, from the Cow Lane, (which runs from the Newcastle Road to Burren Wood), partitioned off a section of the upper empty shop and started to sell confectionery, cigarettes and fruit. He later added an old tourer car as a means of transporting his fruit from door to door. This was common in those days, as there were no small motor vans to be had. To Jimmy's dismay, however, he found a McFadden car in front and behind him everywhere he went. This started a price war but Jimmy was no match for the McFaddens, or the young girls who sat all day eating his sweets through a cloud of his tobacco smoke. So Jimmy just quit, in 1934, and went to England, where he died about the early 1980s.
When Jimmy Joe Hanna was moving out of McAnulty's, a Ballynahinch man, Hugh McKelvey, took over the main part of this shop and operated a push-bike, motor cycle, radio and radio battery sales and repairs. Hugh was very much to the forefront in running the local G.A.A. Football Team, and spent all his spare time doing that. Hugh retired in 1967, and went to London.
Little shops didn't lie empty for long in Castlewellan in the thirties and Jimmy Hanna's wee spot was soon occupied by an old fellow, Paddy McLean, the Saddler, whose main aim in life was to be able to beat old Paddy King, from the Circular Road, at draughts. Those two antagonists confronted each other every day and weeks went past without a single move on the board. When the saddler retired, his apprentice from Magheramayo took over, but saddlery had had its day, and Joe McAlarney lasted a short time. The next tenant was Mrs Middleton, from Belfast, who sold footware, and survived there from 1960 to 1965, before retiring.
With the retirement of McKelvey and Middieton, the whole shop was opened again by John McElrath, a mechanic with the U.T.A., in Newcastle. He already had a second-hand furniture business going in the billiard rooms above the pub, which was managed by Jimmy Boden from the Town. John did well, till he retired in 1967.
A complete change took place in this old shop, in 1968, when three young men started a printing business; Tom McAllister, a son of Tony McAllister, Joe Kane from Maghera, Newcastle and Jimmy Greene, from Ballybannon. In 1970, Jimmy emigrated to America. Then, unfortunately, in 1972, Joe Kane was drowned in a swimming accident, while on holiday in Donegal. That left Tom McAllister and his wife, Rosemary, to carry on the printing works. 1977 saw the McAllisters up the Main Street, having bought James Wilson and Sons Furniture store, with the printing works at the rear of the new premises. All this, and a later introduction of drapery, is doing well under the trade name 'Printrite'.
Frank McAnulty died in the early sixties and, when the printers moved out, his widow, Bridie, opened a Grocery, Confectionery and Toy Shop. In 1974, the Hardware Shop was reopened and managed by Barney McAnulty, in the original location. Both shops are doing extremely well, without the pub which was closed altogether in 1980.
Adjacent to their premises, McAnulty's had a shed about 200 feet long, which ran from the Main road to the extreme end of the farm yard. This contained a row of horse stalls on either side and farmers would leave their carts, loaded with pigs and other produce, up the Town and park the horses inMcAnulty's shed, at afew pence per day. In 1926, aportion of this shed next the main road, was partitioned off and Jack Patterson, from Bryansford, opened and ran a motor garage there, till 1930, when it was taken over by Paddy Fegan. It closed again about 1932. This little garage was later used as a workshop for cutting granite headstones and closed once again in 1973.
In 1937, the entire200 foot shed ,had collapsed under two feet of snow. After all the work of rebuilding which entailed a horse carting two loads of sand per day from the shore at Newcastle, it was on the ground again within a couple of years under another snow fall, never to be rebuilt.
On the retirement of John McAnulty, Castlewellan was without another taxi. One was previously owned by Matt McMullan, from the Newcastle Road, who had his stand on McAnulty's forecourt for~ the best :part of his working life. At the extreme rear end of McAnulty's property'.was a large lean-to shed, where the Mcs later kept their hearse and, from that place, Jimmy McEvoy, from Bunkers Hill, operated his printinghni in the 1940s.
About the late 1930s the third and never to be forgotten show appeared in Castlewellan. Some of the local Greyhound fanciers and owners, here named as, 'Trix' Eddie Donnegan, Nickerbuckers Quinn, both from the Town and a Ballylough man Teddy McCartan, decided it was time to have a race track locally and McAnulty's field was chosen as it was 200 yards long. A single strand of wire was laid on the ground and fixed at both ends. On this was placed a small sleigh carrying a dummy hare and this in turn was pulled along the wire by a rope using the power transmitted by Buckers Quinn. A three foot wooden pulley fitted to the old back axle of a car was cranked as hard as Quinn could turn it and who was well supported by the cheers from the crowd who were there mostly to see what would happen if Buckers collapsed and the hare caught. To say that this venture had a short life would be a fair comment as the meetings ended in a free for all. Greyhounds no longer strapped to their proud owners, had the freedom of choice to go to the town or head for the open country, unnoticed or missed, and poor Buckers, no longer interested in the proceedings, was on his back drowning in his own sweat and receiving the kiss of life from Arthur Guinness. Those race days must go down as some of Castlewellan's more memorable ones. This field is now the site for a Housing Estate, the Credit Union Offices and a new large Doctor's Surgery.
Castlewellan, built amid a range of hills in South Down, gives the villagers a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside; the envy of all outsiders. Castlewellan is four miles from the sea shore and little more, from the world famous Mountains of Mourne. It is almost surrounded by one of the most picturesque parks in Ireland. This demesne provides interest for every type of outdoor person. It's two and a half or three mile water edge walk around the lake which in turn is surrounded by mountains abounding with wildlife protected by almost every known tree and shrub known to man is a sight to behold at any time of the country's four distinctive seasons. All this together with large gardens cared for by local experts, provide a brilliant colour scheme the year round. The castle, situated above, and looking out across the lake, must finalise the dream of all scenic artists. Truly a place to live in, forever.
This was how the stranger summed up the Town of Castlewellan. But what about the natives, especially the male? "A tricky question" he replied. Then he took a pen and paper from his pocket and the following is his written analysis.
The Castlewellan Man
I was born a Castlewellan man
Before my age was one
And toddled round in napkins
'Til I found that wasn't fun
At the age of two, I made by debut
Out on the Town's Main Street
And what I saw set me agog
And got me on my feet.
At the age of five, I was quite alive
And lugged up Town to School
The Master, he was tall and smart
And remarkably cool
He roared and bawled, he thumped about
He called for help to God
But sure, he wasted all his time
The silly auld cod.
My knees were black and shiny
Like tarmac on the run
And the crust around my two nose holes
Like sugar on a bun
My hair hung down in tattles
My boots and clothes in shreds
And any time my Ma caught me
She locked me in the sheds.
When I became sweet fifteen
I got myself a job
A Castlewellan man was I then
If not a little snob
The wages then was shillings four
This made me big and rich
It filled my head so full of pride
I knew not what from which
I opened up my first pay poke
And gave my Ma a Bob
She smiled at me and winked an eye
"Mon, your dinners on the hob".
I reached the age of twenty five
And I was wed, at last
And all my little frailities
were then well in the past
My wife a little red head
Born with lots of drive
We hadn't got an awful lot
But managed to survive
Every time she yelled at me
I took to my heels and ran
Maybe I should have turned around
And made some sort of stand
But then, the tale is still the same
Since the time the world began
The women are the weaker sex
But have the upper hand.
I was born a Castlewellan man
And it's clear as day to see
Any sort of row or fight
Was not the place for me
I am a large and burly man
I love my shorts and beer
I sometimes have my bitter days
Then again some cheer
I like to lie across the bar
To brag and loudly spout
But all my courage seems to come
From that little glass of stout.
I am a Castlewellan man
As cocky as can be
And a he man still, I am
If only just to me.
I was born a Castlewellan man
And blessed with a children three
The stories that I told those kids
As they sat upon my knee
Exploits of my former days
On land, on sea and skies
God help me when they first find out
They were all a pack of lies.
I was born a Castlewellan man
Now I'm growing old
And all my little memories
Could not be bought with gold
I sit upon my rocking seat
And oft with worried face
Think of when I'm in my grave
And who'll run the bloody place.