Recalling some of the great local characters in Dungannon

editorial image

Life now in the 21st century is extremely fast-moving when those of us in the more mature age bracket compare it to what we enjoyed back in the less hectic days of our youth, which is why I always take pleasure in the nostalgia contained in the pages of the local papers from the 1960s.

For example, week after week, the Dungannon Observer sent someone out onto the streets to chat to town residents and visitors alike about whatever they wanted to make observations about - and this week’s I present just one such selection of these lovely vox pop-type features.

The main chat was with Mrs.Brigid Parkes of Fairmount Park, who was having a pleasant day with a visitor to her home, her nephew Jimmy Donaghy from Drumcoo Green - a man with great character whom I recall as somebody who always impressed because of the way he was immaculately well-dressed.

A native of Donegal, she told the paper she’d been ‘living so long in the town that she likes to think she is one of the O’Neill clan’. Her grandchildren, the Parkes family of Drumcoo Green had followed in her footsteps by competing in Irish Dancing in the Feis during the past few years. At the grand age of 70, Mrs Parkes was still a very active lady who loved walking and took a three mile stroll every day, especially around the Black Lough, down the Killymeal Road and in by Edendork. She was an early-riser, as anyone who attended early morning Mass in St.Patrick’s Church well knew. She was an avid Gay Byrne fan and ‘would not miss the Late, Late Show on Telefis Eireann for the world’ assured Mrs Parkes, who had two sons - Seamus who was well-known throughout Tyrone, and Paddy, who was working in London.

Another lady of her vintage was the wonderful Miss Nell Mulgrew, a retired nurse who was speaking as she stood in the doorway of a house which had been her home for the past 72 years in Ann Street. She told the Observer that her home had been on the list for demolition for some time but she and her sister had heard nothing so far concerning rehousing. “I am quite happy here and I will certainly be sorry when the day comes to leave” she said.

Another lovely lady pictured was Mrs.McRory, simply described as the mother of Art - ‘a member of teaching staff of St.Patrick’s Secondary and trainer of Tyrone minors’.

Michael Kerr, Charlemont Street, was one of a group of Order of Malta members joining Armagh on their annual Lourdes pilgrimage.

Tommy Corrigan, ‘a dental mechanic presently residing in Armagh’ was returning to his native town to set up his own business and was pictured with former neighbour Mrs Christy (Gertie) McFall.

Dermot McIntosh, Wilson’s Lane, was photographed with his lovely new-born daughter, Fiona Patricia. Ned Loughran, Drumcoo Green, a well-known figure, was caretaker of St.Patrick’s Secondary School. Dungannon motor mechanic Austin Rice, (from a family steeped in the equestrian tradition, being the son of Barrack Street garage owner Maurice) had just purchased a racehorse and told the reporter that he had not yet thought of a name for it, but was hoping to race it before the end of May. Austin had recently started a business of his own in Barrack St and he was wished every success with the horse and, more importantly, the business. Finally, Mrs Patricia McNeill, 49 New Well Road and pictured with her son John, was said to be convalescing at her home following a spell in hospital.