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Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

29-01-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Hilltown Farmers Market

Hilltown Farmers Market

06-02-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Blast from the Past Vintage Run

Blast from the Past Vintage Run

20-02-2022 12:00 pm
£10.00
Hilltown Farmers Market

Hilltown Farmers Market

06-03-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Sustaining and Building Cross Border Co-Operation and Trade

Sustaining and Building Cross Border Co-Operation and Trade

09-03-2022 9:00 am -1:00 pm
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Free
Foster and Allen

Foster and Allen

16-03-2022 8:00 pm -10:30 pm
Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

26-03-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Hilltown Farmers Market

Hilltown Farmers Market

03-04-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

30-04-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Hilltown Farmers Market

Hilltown Farmers Market

01-05-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

28-05-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Hilltown Farmers Market

Hilltown Farmers Market

05-06-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

25-06-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Hilltown Farmers Market

Hilltown Farmers Market

03-07-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

30-07-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Iúr Cinn Fleadh

Iúr Cinn Fleadh

25-08-2022 2:00 pm -11:55 pm
Iúr Cinn Fleadh

Iúr Cinn Fleadh

26-08-2022 2:00 pm -11:55 pm
Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

27-08-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Iúr Cinn Fleadh

Iúr Cinn Fleadh

27-08-2022 2:00 pm -11:55 pm
Iúr Cinn Fleadh

Iúr Cinn Fleadh

28-08-2022 2:00 pm -11:55 pm
Iúr Cinn Fleadh

Iúr Cinn Fleadh

29-08-2022 2:00 pm -11:55 pm
Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

24-09-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

29-10-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

Stephen Fitzpatrick Auction

26-11-2022 11:00 am -2:00 pm
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During the Second World War, Allied Soldiers were stationed at Derrymore House, near Bessbrook. This is an invitation for a Christmas Dance hosted by them on 29th December 1941. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection
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Christmas is a magical time of the year steeped in history and tradition. Every family has their own Christmas traditions which can vary hugely. This article examines some of the local customs, traditions and stories over the years. We hope you enjoy reading them and that they may bring back some long-lost Christmas memories of your own. 

James Harshaw’s house in Ringbane, Donaghmore, was the scene for many Christmas Day celebrations for the Harshaw family and their friends and neighbours in the mid-1800s. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection
James Harshaw’s house in Ringbane, Donaghmore, was the scene for many Christmas Day celebrations for the Harshaw family and their friends and neighbours in the mid-1800s. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection

A Victorian Christmas

Many of the Christmas traditions that we know today were concepts first thought of in the Victorian Era. In 1841, Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, popularised Christmas trees in Britain, a tradition current in his native Germany. In 1843 the publication of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, promoted Christmas as a season of goodwill and merriment. On a more local level, James Harshaw, who was a famer and landowner in Donaghmore, north of Newry, and an Elder in Donaghmore Presbyterian Church, kept a diary from 1841 spanning over twenty years. An excerpt from his diary gives an insight into how he spent Christmas Day in 1860:

“Keen freeze and snow still continues, breakfasted with James Martin . . . attended a prayer meeting in the meeting house classroom where I gave-out a portion of the 145th Psalm - which was sung by the Blind boy Samuel McGaw - Read the 1st Chapter of Ephesions and prayed - called on Mr Arch. Murdock . . . A Douglass, James Martin, John and children dined here, with the other members of the family, and I spent a pleasant evening with them all talking about Absalom [James Harshaw’s son Samuel who had emigrated to America]. James Alexander and Johns children played around us.” [spelling and punctuation as in the original].

Hill Street in Newry pictured on Christmas Eve night in 1962. Foster’s department store can be seen on the right decorated with coloured lights. © William McAlpine
Hill Street in Newry pictured on Christmas Eve night in 1962. Foster’s department store can be seen on the right decorated with coloured lights. © William McAlpine

Christmas cooking

Certain foods are associated with Christmas, some of which date back hundreds of years. Rich foods, such as Mince Pies, Christmas Cake and Plum Pudding which are made with spices, dried fruits and nuts, were kept as a treat at Christmas. Newry and Mourne Museum’s Collection includes a cookery class book from Newry Municipal Technical School (now the Sean Hollywood Arts Centre) dating to December 1904. The book, which belonged to fifteen-year-old Mary Ann Scott of St. Mary’s Street, Newry, contains many recipes for a range of dishes popular at that time. Another recipe book, which was first compiled by members of the Crawford family from Clonallan, near Warrenpoint, in 1905, shows how the family recipe for Christmas Pudding was adapted over the years to suit changing tastes.

Memories of Christmas in Newry

Over the years, the Museum has collected memories of people within the locality and here are some memories of Christmas around Newry. 

Fosters Shop, Hill Street

“Foster’s at Christmas was decorated and lit up the whole length of Hill Street. I remember them having the first Santa you could visit in the store and it was open to 11 o’clock Christmas Eve.”

Decorations and presents

“The decorations would have been in the house for 20 or 40 years. You know they would be all put away in a big box and packed away every Christmas . . . we would get apples and oranges . . . You’d be lucky if you got a chicken. That would be a big thing to get a chicken, that maybe a friend or neighbour brought from a farm. You got thru’ pence, and an orange in your sock, so that was it. Maybe sometimes I was lucky because I had grown up brothers and sisters I might get a wee box of sweets…”. 

Christmas advertisement for Foster’s department store in Newry dating from 1952. Note there were no sales on Boxing Day! Newry and Mourne Museum Collection
Christmas advertisement for Foster’s department store in Newry dating from 1952. Note there were no sales on Boxing Day! Newry and Mourne Museum Collection

The turkey

“You bought the turkey alive, and you had to carry the turkey home, feathers and all, . . . you kept it alive until maybe a day or two, or three days before Christmas and your father would kill the turkey. But, we used to earn a lot of money by going down to the market and the women would be buying the turkeys and they wouldn’t carry them home. We carry them home for them and you’d get six pence for carrying home a turkey, you know. A lot of them got away on us and would be running up the street, and us running after them you know, and them alive

The Staff at Newry and Mourne Museum would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and thank you for your support throughout the year. 

The Museum is currently offering free tours of the exhibition galleries on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 11.00 am. These must be booked in advance by calling our Education Officer at 0330 137 4422. 

Newry and Mourne Museum is open Tuesday – Saturday 10.00 am – 4.30 pm.

Please call 0330 137 4422 or email museum@nmandd.org for further information.

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