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A new book documenting 200 years of business in Newry is due to be published later this year and the researchers wants input from as many local people as possible.

The book 'The Business of Newry' will be compiled by former Chamber President Michael McKeown, with the help of a team of local researchers. If you have a story, maybe a family members recollection of a local business or if you have photographs or interesting memorabilia, the team would love to hear from you. They are especially interested in the period from 1900 on.

Emma Marmion, President, Newry Chamber of Commerce and former President, Michael McKeown are looking for your information on local businesses through the years for a new book due to be published later this year. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Emma Marmion, President, Newry Chamber of Commerce and former President, Michael McKeown are looking for your information on local businesses through the years for a new book due to be published later this year. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

This book will cover so many aspects of manufacture, invention, adaptation, engineering, science, building, transport and education that we need to supplement this already great group of researchers. “Your City needs you!” says Michael McKeown.


Mr McKeown adds "Whist we know what businesses existed in the past one hundred years, very little has been written of their origins, who and what were the drivers.

"Much research can be done in Newspapers and Government records. So, if you like to nosey into other peoples’ business please contact:
E: michael@mattdarcys.com "

The research team is headed by Tony Canavan, author of the acclaimed, 'Frontier Town, An Illustrated History' who is contracted to edit the contributions from a group that includes Dr. Mary Goss, Ian Heaney, Francis Gallagher, Chris Cassidy, Peter Makem, Rowan Hand, Maud Hamill, Marjorie Harshaw and Claudine Coyle.

Emma Marmion, President of Newry Chamber of Commerce & Trade announced the intention to mark the 200th year of business and professional representation of the City of Newry by the publication of a new ledger styled coffee table book to be entitled 'The Business of Newry'.

Recently uncovered documents show a very active Chamber operating in the 1820’s deeply involved in canvassing the great infrastructural project of the Newry Sea Canal, a scheme stemming more than twenty years. It included the building of the Albert Basin and the Victoria Locks at a cost of £72,000 (Circa £80m today). Speaking at a gathering of local business representatives, historians and authors yesterday in Newry Town Hall, Emma said “It is remarkable that our Chamber has played the same role over the past decade in respect of the Southern Relief Road.”

Michael McKeown, compiler and Emma Marmion, President, Newry Chamber of Commerce with just one of the research books that will be used to help put together 'The Business of Newry' Looking on in the background are from left: Tony Canavan, Editor; Alina Holyst, Architect; Dr Mary Goss, Ian Heaney, Claudine Coyle, Francis Gallagher and Maud Hamill, Contributors. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Michael McKeown, compiler and Emma Marmion, President, Newry Chamber of Commerce with just one of the research ledgers that will be used to help put together 'The Business of Newry' Looking on in the background are from left: Tony Canavan, Editor; Alina Holyst, Architect; Dr Mary Goss, Ian Heaney, Claudine Coyle, Francis Gallagher and Maud Hamill, Contributors. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

“This afternoon’s task is somewhat more modest in scale. We are here to lay out our plan for a prestigious commemorative publication that will trace two hundred years of commercial history. We are confident that we have the proper foundation for this but wish to make it as comprehensive as possible.

”The new research confirming the existence of a Chamber of Commerce & Trade in the year 1820 was carried out by a Chamber Past President and publisher of two remarkable Newry histories, Michael McKeown. These well received and admired books are 'The Book of Newry' and 'The History of Newry Post Office'.


Speaking at yesterday’s gathering, Michael said “I was very excited to find a series of letters in the National Archives from various Presidents of the Chamber written in the 1820’s to the Chief Secretary’s Office at Dublin Castle. The documents include great detail on the planning and costing of the Sea Canal and most importantly where the vast sum of money to construct was sourced.

“When I mentioned the find to my fellow Directors, the die was cast and now I have to manufacture the book to match the ambition.”

Michael notes that the foundation of Newry starts with the Cistercians and spoke of our City's influence throughout the world over the years. "You'll discover that a number of businesses in Newry had interests in far flung parts of the world. They had depots in Nova Scotia, down the coast in Maryland and some of them were chartering ships that were making journeys between Shanghai and Melbourne" adding "the early wealth of Newry was coming from the Carribeean, from slaves in the bringing back sugar and rum and stuff."

Just to show how perhaps the more things change the more they stay the same he added  "MJM have 400 workers here but they have another 1400 in 16 different ports around the world"

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