Hunter Estate, Turlough
Several years after the founding of the Land League by Michael Davitt and James Daly, there were several big estates in many parts of Mayo with small farmers and their families living in difficult circumstances.
One of the biggest estates in the Castlebar area was the Hunter property in Turlough. There was a great deal of agitation about the division of the estate.
It is well known that law is a very expensive commodity and during the early years of the last century people simply didn't have enough money to fight their case in the courts.
However, the farmers living in the Turlough area banded together and fought their just cause at Castlebar court. They gathered in big numbers at Castlebar Courthouse and after a long battle the Hunter estate was finally divided, the farmers of Turlough securing their just rights.
Those were stirring days in the campaign to get the land for the rightful owners, and the farmers of Turlough, re-echoing the spirit and determination of Michael Davitt, fought a lengthy battle before achieving victory.
There was always good stuff amongst the people of Turlough and one man who deserves to be remembered with pride is Joe Conroy, whose son, another Joe, was well known and respected in the area.
Pat Ansbro, Milebush
Pat Ansbro lived at Milebush, Castlebar, many years ago, close to where John Joe Derrig and his wife Eileen now live. In the dim and distant past there was a pipe factory in Milebush, but that's another story.
Pat Ansbro was a big man with a big appetite. It was said that he could devour five or six eggs at one go and finish his meal with a loaf of bread.
I am not sure if Pat originally came from Milebush; he may have come from the Balla area and spent some years in America. His wife's name was Mary and they were a popular couple. The pair of them journeyed to Castlebar each weekend in their donkey and cart, and with the combined weight of Pat and Mary, the donkey certainly earned its keep.
Horse carts and donkey carts are rare enough items nowadays but in times past this mode of transport was common across rural and urban areas.
I was reminded of this age when I came across the remains of a horse cart close to a building site outside Castlebar. Curious creature that I am, on closer inspection I discovered the cart was manufactured by Gerry Fadden, Thomas Street, Castlebar, and it was in good shape despite being exposed to the elements for many years, a tribute to the workmanship of Gerry and the timber used in the manufacture of the cart. Gerry was father of our old schoolmate, Michael Fadden, Knockthomas, a renowned artist.
Pat and Mary Ansbro have long disappeared from the scene, but I feel I can still hear Pat urging his little donkey on as he made for Castlebar past the railway bridge at Station Road and into what was then a much smaller and quieter town than it is today.
I wandered round Castlebar Military Barracks at the weekend and my mind went back to the time during the Emergency when close on 1000 soldiers were based there. The soldiers came from all over the country and as youngsters we were fascinated by their strange accents.
Some of the soldiers fell in love with local girls and married them. It is said marriages are made in heaven, but I know the click of the heels and the beat of the drum had a special appeal for many Castlebar girls, and good looking girls they were, too.
Of course, the influx of military personnel in Castlebar was a great boost to the local community and nowhere was this more evident than in Duxie Stewart's shop at the corner of Castle Street.
The name Duxie is inscribed on the stone over Mrs. Stewart's grave in the Old Church Cemetery. I have called her the Queen of Castle Street, a woman who reared a fine family. Her son Johnny, an engineer by profession, later became county manager in Sligo, a lovely man who has never lost the common touch. Both he and his brother Michael played with distinction for Castlebar Mitchels and Mayo.
Duxie has another son, Gay, two daughters, Margo and Eleanor, Castlebar and other family members living in different parts of the country.
It wasn't from the wind Johnny and Mick Stewart took their footballing skills: their grandfather, Tarby Mitchell, was on the Castlebar team which won the county senior title for the first time in 1888.
It was an airliner which never left the ground, had no wings but plenty of horse power. It was a horse-drawn dray, sometimes referred to as a brake, owned by Hubert McGarry, Tucker Street, Castlebar.
The dray, known as the Airliner, was used during the years of World War 2 to bring football fans to football matches and outings to Pontoon, Lecanvey and other locations. Petrol was rationed at the time so horse-drawn vehicles were brought into use as a mode of transport.
The pilot of the famous Airliner was Willie McGarry, brother of Hubert, members of an old Castlebar family who also had a horse-drawn hearse at the time.
The trips usually started with a sing-song. Joe Chambers led the chorus with Gussie Wynne bringing up the rear on his famous bugle.
The group went to many matches involving Castlebar Mitchels who were the leading GAA club in Mayo at the time, with such outstanding players as Mike Griffin, Josie Munnelly, Finn, Billy and Éamon Mongey, Tom Bourke, Henry Kenny, Joe Joe Carney, Eugene Giblin. Séamus Daly, Tommy Byrne and other local stars.
Castlebar Mitchels beat Crossmolina in the 1945 senior county final. For some obscure reason, the team photograph wasn't taken until the following Wednesday. The Mitchels players were still celebrating their win and they all trooped to McHale Park for the photo.
The photographer was P.W. Leamy, noted journalist and bandleader. Everything was in readiness for the final shot when P.W. noticed that Joe Joe Carney was standing in the front row sporting a new pair of patent shoes.
Leamy yelled at Carney: "Will ya get into the back row and hide those bloody shoes before you disgrace us all."
I was present in McHale Park when that photograph was taken. I may have been mitching from school, a common practice in those days.
Not many photographers attended football matches in those times. Nowadays they seem to be tripping over one another to get their photos.
Joe Joe Carney, a colourful character and a fine footballer, was a brother of the late Pearse and John Carney and Rosemary Carney, music teacher at St. Josephs's Convent of Mercy.
They were uncles and aunt of Dr. Paul Carney, Mountain View, Castlebar.
Their parents, Paddy and Mrs. Carney lived in Castle Street and Mrs. Carney was one of the first female members of Castlebar Urban Council.
Newline . . . definitely
A friend of mine, holidaying in his native Castlebar from England, was annoyed to see Newline being described as Lower Chapel Street. He felt Newline was being sidelined. As far as our friend is concerned it's definitely Newline and we agree with his point of view.
Gallows Hill has been removed from the local scene and is new called Rathbawn. There was a hanging tree in Gallows Hill at one time, hence the street name. It may not be the most appealing of names but it is part of local history.
Some years ago McGarry's horse-drawn hearse was kept in a shed in Newline. It may still be in the land of the living but I am not sure of its location.
A watchmaker by the name of John Hyland ran his business in Newline in a house later owned by Tony Corcoran and his wife.
Tommy Callaghan, a barber by profession, ran his business in Newline, a man, if memory serves me correct, gave distinguished service in the British Army during World War 1. His grandson, Michael John, still lives in this house.
Residents of Pound Road
I am indebted to one of my readers for providing me with the names of the people who lived at Pound Road, Castlebar, up to 1947 when they were moved to alternative accommodation following the heavy snows of that year.
Coming from Gallows Hill direction, turning left for Pound Road: First on right, Catherine Murtagh; first left, Pakie and Bridget Forde (nee Lapparth); second left, Michael Martin; third left, Willie Walsh; fourth left, Francie Philbin.
Many years ago, when I was a young fellow working in The Connaught Telegraph, Paddy Merrick, Mons Terrace, Castlebar, hurried into the office one morning and told us he had found the body of Michael Martin in the old brewery, close to Cavendish Lane. The unfortunate man was sleeping in the ruins of the brewery.
Paddy Merrick was an outstanding horseman and stabled his animals close to the brewery.
He was married to Ada Wilcox from Turlough and the couple had two daughters, Sheila and Mrs. Hunter. The Wilcox family ran a sawmill at Turlough and Jack Wilcox, a renowned shot, won several major awards in clay pigeon competitions. They were nice decent people.