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St. Joseph’s Brass and Reed Band, c.1928. Terence Ruddy was conductor of the band when they won the coveted British Band Championship at Belle Vue, Manchester in 1923. This was a tremendous achievement for the band and they were greeted as heroes on their return to Newry.  Newry and Mourne Museum Collection
St. Joseph’s Brass and Reed Band, c.1928. Terence Ruddy was conductor of the band when they won the coveted British Band Championship at Belle Vue, Manchester in 1923. This was a tremendous achievement for the band and they were greeted as heroes on their return to Newry. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection

Terence Ruddy was first elected to Newry Urban District Council in 1908, seeking to represent the electorate of the town’s South Ward. He was a popular figure locally and, as a businessman and as leader of St. Joseph’s Brass and Reed Band, he played a prominent role in the commercial and social life of the town.

The state of Newry housing was often in the forefront of local politics, and Terence Ruddy speaking in 1908 during his campaign for election, characterised housing in the area as “a disgrace to any civilised country”. By 1913 improvements were underway with the Urban District Council providing public housing, with a number of workmen’s dwellings completed and occupied. Sanitation was improved and the streets in good order. 

Ruddy was involved in preparations for the presentation of Newry’s Roll of Honour on 28th April 1915 in Newry Town Hall. From the Council Minutes we also know that he was a supporter of John Redmond and the members of the Irish Parliamentary Party in their pursuit of Home Rule for Ireland. 

Terence Ruddy, pictured c.1914, claimed to have an ‘intimate knowledge’ of the political views of the people of Newry. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection
Terence Ruddy, pictured c.1914, claimed to have an ‘intimate knowledge’ of the political views of the people of Newry. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection

He was also one of three Councillors who made submissions to the Boundary Commission on behalf of Newry Urban District Council in February 1925, for Newry to “be retained in the Irish Free State and be excluded from the Government of Northern Ireland”. In his statement Ruddy makes reference to having been a Councillor for the South Ward for the past twenty years, topping the poll at every contested election and being Chairman of the Gas Committee of the Urban Council.

He further states that it is in these capacities, as well as in connection with his business as a Victualler and Licensed Vintner, “I come in contact with a very large section of the people of Newry and can speak with intimate knowledge of their views on political matters.

In April 1926 Terence Ruddy took a libel case against the Trustees of the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union. Ruddy alleged that he had been libeled by the Voice of Labour, the Union’s newspaper. His solicitor was John Henry Collins, a fellow Nationalist politician.

Newry and Mourne Museum is open Wednesday – Saturday 10.00 am – 12 noon and 2.00 pm – 4.00 pm. Please call 0330 137 4422 for further information.

by Noreen Cunningham

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