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06 Oct 2022

Peter Kavanagh's Trip Through Time-Question Time

Looking back at Dundalk's past, with former Democrat editor Peter Kavanagh

Peter Kavanagh's Trip Through Time-Question Time

Speed limits

When were speed limits first introduced in Dundak?

Legal speed limits within the town of Dundalk have been in place much longer than many may realise. The first mention I have come across was a stipulation in 1820 by the Louth Grand jury was that steam traction engines should not cross their newly erected bridge over the Castletown River at more than four miles per hour. The first mention of speed limits in a by-law, was contained in an order made by the Town Commissioners in 1888, under the Towns Improvement Act (Ireland) 1854 which enabled them to issue licences to hackney carriages. A section of this Act stipulated that the drivers of horse drawn vehicles 'drive at a rate of six miles per hour, except in crowded streets or round corners, when they shall proceed at a slower pace'. The R.I.C. were, probably, expected to enforce these regulations but how they gauged the speed is not clear!


When did 'The Night of the Big Wind' strike Dundalk?


This was a deep anti-cyclone that crossed Ireland on the night of January 6/7, 1839 that caused much destruction and loss of life in its wake, the worst damage to millions of trees blown down. The full force of the hurricane struck Dundalk between 3 and 4 am on January 7 and, according to contemporary reports, 'Thatches were whipped off houses and stacks of hay and turf were carried from the end of one townland to another'. In Dundalk town many homes were damaged and, by daybreak, 'the streets were littered with debris of all kind' but, surprisingly, no one was killed.


When did the big Civil Rights March take place in Newry?


There were many Civil Rights march throughout North Ireland in the years leading up to the 'Troubles' but the largest one in these parts was held in Newry on Saturday, January 11, 1969 when thousands of people from Dundalk walked from the area around the Railway Bridge over the main Dublin-Belfast Road at Cloughhogue to the centre of Newry to hear speeches by the organisers, The People's Democracy. Those from Dundalk were forced to walk part of the way because the R.U.C. stopped all cars and buses entering Newry. The day ended in a riot after the police stopped the march after about an hour, an action which marked the end of peaceful protests and the beginning of violence.


Where in Dundalk was the ' Bus Saloon'?


This was the licenced premises at 27 Park Street owned by William (Bill) Russell in the 1930s. It had previously been known as 'The Arcade' but Russell, a leading Dundalk business entrepreneur, changed the name after he obtained the contract to have buses stop outside to allow passengers to board and alight and had an office to handle parcels carried by the G.N.R. (I) Motor Department.

QUESTIONS for next week
Where in Dundalk is 'St. John's Bridge' and how is it better known locally?
What is the correct name for the 'Three Birds' on the heraldic crest of Dundalk?
Who published the book 'Voices of Dundalk'?
Why was Dundalk man Tomas MacAnna (1925-2011) famous in theatrical circles?

A topical poem

My good friend Noel Sharkey has kindly sent me a poem which is very topical at the present time with all the problems relation to children attending school during the Covid pandemic.
He calls it –

When We Never Had It So Good

In the days when we first went to primary school
We had a world made in Hollywood;
Wild West heroes, the epitome of 'cool',
And we'd never had it so good.

As we watched the nineteen sixties unroll –
A glorious optimism rotated time's spoke;
The dance halls were full with rock and roll
And we had the honest simplicity of Folk.

We had dreams to dream; songs to sing –
A world adults never quite understood;
And all the promise the world was to bring,
And we'd never had it so good.

Now aeons after, the innocence we once knew
Had been irretrievably lost along the way;
Our grandchildren's future, they looked forward to
Buried in a morass of anxiety today.

By a seemingly never-ending coronavirus
And a planet now facing inevitable flood –
A far cry from dreams which used to inspire us
When we'd never had it so good!

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