A look back over a century in a small village in North Belfast .
How vast the change of lifestyle often goes unseen until we remember how it was and see how it is .
In 1994 I began to write a series of articles for Horizon Magazine called “ Absent Friends ”
The research and development of the series took two years and during this time I was fortunate to have spoken to many former Ardoyne residents who now live in Australia .
Some of the people I spoke with wanted to have their stories published and others didn't , but just listening to each of their personal stories, it brought back memories to me of days gone by .
I recently recontacted some of those Absent Friends to assist me with the writing of this article where I am looking back at the 20th century from an Ardoyne perspective .
Today in Ardoyne, new streets pave the way into a new era . There are new generations that will walk untroubled along the way but long before this
new era there was another time laying down the foundation stone for the times ahead .
Its on those streets I thought we could have a dander down .
So as we sit on the doorstep of tomorrow chasing all our yesterdays let me take you back in time .
Chief Street School was opened in 1902 by Cardinal Logue .
Mary Robinson originally a resident from 54 Duneden Park who now lives in Sydney , Australia recalls ,
“ Do you know I still see my classroom in Chief Street school.
There was a Pot Belly Fire there and our teacher often would ask all the class to bring in a piece of coal to school to keep the room warm “
Kathleen Loughran originally from 39 Chatham Street now lives in Queensland , Australia . She also went to Chief Street School .
Her teachers where Mrs Hansen and Bernadette Daley and there where fifty in her class .
Mena Mc Geough originally from 112 Jamaica Street now lives in Australia she told me she went to Holy Cross School and left school when she was 14 years of age on the Friday and started work at Lindsays Mill on the Monday .
Holy Cross School was opened in 1914 by Mr Joe Devlin the Nationalist M.P. for West Belfast .
My Dad Sammy Mc Cann (R.I.P.)originally from 38 Jamaica Street went there . I remember him telling me about the use of a slate
a chalk in the class . The growing number of students in Ardoyne needed larger schools and St Gabriels secondary school was opened in 1957 . Holy Cross Boys Primary School in Butler Street was opened in 1941 and again after the war in 1959 when it was completed .
I remember going to Butler Street school and meeting my sisters at the fence every day for a sandwich .Their school was made up by a number of old huts beside the boys school .
As an Ex- St Gabriels pupil myself it was great to speak to some other students from St Gabriels who now are living here in Australia .
Andy Jordan who originally lived in 31 Elmfield Street now has made a home for himself in Queensland , Australia . Andy went to Butler Street and later to Old Wheatfield House . He recalls a time when they where building St Gabriels School and some of the changes Ardoyne was
going through .
“People started to get T.V. sets and social life suffered . People stayed in more and watched TV .”
Tommy Mc Callan born at 131 Brompton Park now lives in Sydney , Australia . He went to St Gabriels the year after it was opened and recalls his teachers Mr Ramsey , Mr Higgins ,
Mr Mc Keown , Finn Mc Cool was the science teacher ,Mr Mc Laughlin and Mr Mc Guinness .
We’ve progressed from slates to blackboards and from whiteboards to alp tops . We done our ten times tables and our logarithms and now we have software in pentiums hooked up on the internet .
The Holy Cross girls school at the back of St Gabriels was opened in 1969 as was St Gemmas Girls near the Brickyard .
Even though people could walk to most places they had to in Ardoyne transport was always available at the turn of the century either by your own bicycle or a tram .
In 1913 Ardoyne Tram Depot was built and trams where often seen making their way up and down the Crumlin Road . The trams where overtaken by new Belfast bus in 1954 . Then came the new style red double decker buses with their token machines instead of friendly bus conductors .
Most Ardoyne people today have their own car and those who can’t drive prefer to take a Black Taxi into town .
In 1935 Glenard was being built many people began to dream of living in a home that had a built in bath . The first rent payments for a house in Glenard was ten shillings a week while the rent for houses in old Ardoyne was sixpence . All the street names in Glenard have been changed . They where originally known as Glenard Drive , etc and in old Ardoyne most of the
old streets have gone forever . But every brick that ever was , can still be seen by many . Some residents from Old Ardoyne are now living in new houses around the Ardoyne Estate .
Outside in the streets there was green gas lamppost’s and black smoke pouring out from the chimney pots .
There where always people who followed behind the horse and carts collecting the horse droppings for their roses .
There was a great variety of sounds in the district , like the knock up call or the Rag man .
Long gone are the days of buying a bundle of sticks from a cart out in the entry and when did you last see a man at your door selling shoelaces ? Today we live with central heating and smokeless fuel . Most people today have a digital alarm clock Am & Fm Radio to wake them and chimney pots on rooftops now have another landmark . In most streets satellite dishes are fixed to bring pay TV direct into the homes.
Cable TV networks from around the world are now easily accessable .
Neon lights have replaced the green gas lights .
Most street names in Ardoyne are in Gaelic today .
During the second World War there where Air Raid shelters in the streets and when the sirens went off people would go running from their houses where some stories and songs would be shared until the danger had passed . Ardoyne was hit in 1941 by German Bombs and many people fled Ardoyne and took cover up at Ballysillan hills . The bells of Holy Cross never made a sound in the war and where only to rung in the event of a German invasion . The stained glass windows at Holy Cross where taken out during the war and kept safe until it was over .
During the war a German bomb landed at the top of Etna Drive and killed the people who where there .
One of these people was a soldier home on leave .
Rosaleen Timonay from Kingston Street now living in Victoria in Australia recalls her friendship with Sarah Toal .
Memories and old photos can never be replaced .
It was always hard but people had a great love for life . Summer nights brought out the women to their steps and passed remarks to passers by .
Rosaleens sister worked and ran Maggie Walkers shop on the corner of Kingston Street . Andrew Davidson who ran the shop in Herbert Street had to fight the Belfast corporation to open an entrance between Brompton Park and old Ardoyne .
Mr Davidson won the case and The Brompton Gap was the result .
The year of 1947 was called the big freeze .
Seasons have changed like the faces that have come and gone .
One thing that has never changed though , is that old smile people have worn on their faces .
Through thick and thin Ardoyne has always had a grin .
Social life has been another big part of peoples lives in Ardoyne .
There where the Dances in Ardoyne Hall , Tobys Hall and
then there where the pubs like Killpatricks . But long gone are the times when you could sit in the Wheatfield and enjoy a few pints as your woman “Skinny Lizzie “ would be out hanging up her dirty washing .
Even the days when you could have brought your donkey into the League for a quiet pint have gone .
Its a different Craic today .
Those public house like Logues and The Wheatfield are gone . What was the Beltex Mill is now The Shamrock and what was The Forum Pictures is now the Star .
Ardoyne today has a long list of social Clubs that provide a combination of meals , drinks , entertainment and games most people enjoy .
With the diversity of music and
local talent today agents have to handle the booking of acts
which takes a lot of pressure away from the Committees who run each establishment .
So popular are the social clubs today that you would have to book months ahead to secure a spot for a golf club dinner , or a business group luncheon .
Sporting talents in Ardoyne has always been very high . The wiight lifting club was originally in an
old tin hut similar to where my sisters went to school . The old Shamrock club has been replaced by a modern brick buidings with central heating and all the latest convieniences . New clubs have sprung up around Ardoyne but many famous sportsmen like Freddie Gilroy , Charlie Mc Auley and Mickey Mc Laughlin where produced from such places .
Champion footbal teams flourished from Ardoyne . Too many to list in this article .
The achievements of Ardoynes boxing , snooker , handball , Gaelic , Hurling and Darts teams have always etched out the character
of Ardoyne people .
Handball was another game played often around Ardoyne on Sundays on Gable walls . The colourful story of a passionate lifestyle during the century have been painted on gable walls of Ardoyne .
During the Eucharistic congress in 1932 the district was adorned with murals painted by Danny Mc Carthy . Other artists including Robbie Kane in 1953 have added
each chapter to the ever changing face of Ardoyne with its colourful characters in history .
Between the troubled decades the words of Poets and Patriots accompanied various forms of artwork depicting the struggle and oppression of its people .
One memorable piece stated that ,
“ We are strongest when we are on our knees “
Which is in essence a reflection of the Faith people in Ardoyne have always had .
In 1952 Ardoynes streets where decorated for the Parishes silver Jubilee . Mary Robinson recalls all the people from Duneden Park sat up for weeks doing buntings and decorations for the street .
As the Golden Jubilee is just around the corner I wonder what
will kind of picture awaits the streets of Ardoyne in 2002 .
The troubles in 1969 hit Ardoyne .
Everybody in the district has been affected by the troubles . It would be impossible to sum up the amount of sadness , suffering and heartaches that have been brought to Ardoyne in the troubled years, but again its the character of the Ardoyne people that has survived through it all .
Is a credit that people have kept their smile and connected together in the hardship .
Once where barricades and barbed wire stood we now have music festivals and parades around our streets .
Now where once Bonfires where glowing the Ardoyne Fleadh Cheoil is growing .
Our sorrows have been burnt and our tomorrows have learnt the lessons of yesterday .
What a life .
God bless Ardoyne and its people who are the salt of the earth .
By Paul Mc Cann