Mary comes home for Paddy’s day
WHILE researching material for this page, I am invariably asked by people whether I know where particular individuals, or sometimes whole families, ever went to after they moved away from their home area for whatever reason. So nothing pleases me more than catching up with someone from my past. You can imagine my surprise and delight, therefore, when I got a message from reception a few weeks ago to ring Mary Hurle (nee Murtagh) who left Dungannon to move to England all of 39 years ago!
A picture of her smiling face instantly popped into my mind’s eye, as did memories of my time playing with The Clarkes junior team alongside her husband Paddy, ironically a Coalisland man!
But that’s enough about very ordinary footballers like us; here’s Mary’s story:
‘I was the eldest child of Joseph and Dorothy Murtagh of 19 William Street, Dungannon, which was up the steps next door to Irwin Brothers. My siblings were Margaret (who married Dubliner Terry O’Driscoll, living in Manchester), John (married Pauline O’Rourke from Dublin, living in Manchester), Frankie (deceased) and Gerald, a deputy headmaster in Manchester.
Naturally most of my best friends came from the immediate area: Mary Donaghy (now McCullagh), Kate Murphy, Bernie Sutton RIP, Mandy Ritchie RIP, Mary McDonald (Devlin), Alice Morgan (Hamilton), Peter and Ann Donnelly, Elaine and Ann O’Rourke, my bridesmaid Ita Bridget O’Neill; and Jim and Kitty McGilloway and Joe Carty and family, amongst others.
One of my earliest memories is going to Mac’s Bakery on the corner of William Street and Ann Street for hot soda bread before going to school and other regular shop visits were to O’Brien’s butchery, Begley’s, Fox’s and Irwin Brothers’ which were all on the same side of the street as my home.
When I was four and a half I started school at the Convent of Mercy and remember staring at the small gate longing for my mammy to come and get me until Rosaleen O’Donnell took me down to the playground where we skipped and played and she helped me settle in.
The big brown wooden doors had big shiny brass handles which opened to a small door leading to a garden and convent kitchen. The nuns were dressed in long black habits covered by pinafores with their veils clipped up and sleeves rolled up; they would be making the meals, with plates of bread and jam for the children.
There was a classroom on the ground floor and two flights of stairs leading to more classrooms and an entrance to an extension built on the end of the old school, the toilets were in the school yard – no luxury in those days!
Most of the teachers were nuns; Mother Theresa the headmistress, could be heard before you saw her by the swish of her clothes and the clatter of her rosary beads. She would always tell us to go into the countryside, get plenty of fresh air and not to go to the pictures. Other nuns who taught us were Sisters Martin and Anthony, but my favourite was Sister Gabriel who was kind and beautiful and when she smiled her face lit up.
The day of my first Holy Communion I wore a white dress, short sleeves, and carried a white bag containing a prayer book and rosary beads. My white veil had a cross and was held in place with a headdress of white flowers; I can remember mammy putting lots of clips in my very curly hair to keep it on.
I made my confirmation with my sister Margaret. We were told by the priest that we must learn our catechism as we would be asked questions by the bishop, which made me quite scared. The bishop asked me a question and, when he tapped me, I knew I was confirmed. I remember walking in the convent gardens roses in my dress in processions for Our Lady of Perpetual Succour; we said prayers and sang hymns and got a medal on a blue ribbon. I joined the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association and I am very pleased to say I have never broken that vow.
I remember we had electricity installed and my parents bought a small black and white television from Irwin’s.
I often think of Mrs Carberry, who lived opposite us in William Street. Granny Carberry, as we dubbed her, would call my sister and I over to do some jobs for her. One was to polish her big black range until she could see her face in it and she’d give us sixpence between us. Her own two girls were Mary and Bridie.
When I was fourteen I went to St Patrick’s Intermediate School on Donaghmore Road, which was so big we couldn’t find our way around it. I was there for a year and I left school on the Friday and started work at Moygashel Clothing Factory on Monday. I travelled by bus in the cold and the dark with my daddy from the old courthouse across the road.
Working in the clothing factory has been very useful to me ever since as I have always been involved in making costumes for school concerts and pantomimes, having for a time as caretaker at the school.
I now make costumes for the drama group in the retirement village where I live, about two miles outside St.Helens.
In 1965 I met my husband Patrick Hurle at Edendork hall and we were married at St Patrick’s church with a nuptial Mass and a Papal Blessing two and a half years later. We had two sons Stephen (deceased) and Michael and now have three grandsons and two great grandchildren.
We have been back home quite a few times for family occasions and we’re coming home this week to celebrate a very special birthday as Paddy will be 70. And, in November we will be celebrating 45 years of marriage, so coming back to Ireland this time is something of a trip down memory lane. Paddy’s family is organising a party in Meenagh Park and we hope to visit many old friends.
We also are looking forward to seeing the wonderful changes made to St Patrick’s chapel. Indeed, we would like say a very big thank you to the Dean, Monsignor Colum Curry, and Jim McQuaid for keeping us up to date with parish events and introducing us to the webcams from St Patrick’s Church and the Holy Family, Coalisland which allows us to hear Mass on a Sunday and during the week.’
Their family and friends will be delighted to see Mary and Paddy and I wish them a most enjoyable holiday. My thanks to Mary for her memories of the good old days and I wish them many years to cherish them.
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Weather for Dungannon
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 4 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 17 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 4 C to 9 C
Wind Speed: 21 mph
Wind direction: North