Absent Friends - Ardoyne Andy
edited: Thursday, February 15, 2007
By Paul Francis Mc Cann
Not "rated" by the Author.
Posted: Thursday, February 15, 2007
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Story of Andys growing up in Ardoyne during the 40's and 50's .
I spoke with Andy Jordan who rang me from Queensland in relation to the Absent Friends series I have been doing . He had been informed of my search for exiles from Belfast by Noel Ryan who works for a Brisbane radio station . Andy was intrigued by the project and I was able to share with him the view I had on emigration from Belfast to Australia . He was glad to open up to me some of the memories he had about growing up and living in a village called Ardoyne .
I was able to see within the first few moments of our conversation that Andy had not been able to settle in Australia as well as most of the rest of the Absent friends I had spoken to .
Andy remarked ,
“You can take the boy out of Ardoyne but you can’t take Ardoyne out of the boy . “
His memories were well chalked up on the blackboard of his mind .
He said to me it was sad to have left it all behind him and that the Ardoyne people are always there with him in his new home in Australia .
Andy was born in 1941a troubled time with the world war 2 in motion .
At this time in Ardoyne the war had made a terrible impact on the residents all over the district . There were food rations and power cuts . Many people left to fight for the British during this time and all the factories in the area had become a contender for bombing by Hitler and his German Army . If there had been a major assault on the district the village and all its residents would never have recovered . There were not enough hospitals and shelters in Belfast to accommodate the wounded in Ardoyne should a serious attack have happened . No doubt the precautions of air raid shelters were build around Ardoyne but often the sirens were never sounded so the inadequate warning system could also have created havoc . There were no aircraft to fight off any attack and all the innocent people of Ardoyne could have done was throw stones at any of the enemies fighters .
There were some incendiary devices that were dropped on Ardoyne from German planes on parachutes that destroyed homes in the area .
Ardoyne Andy lived in 31 Elmfield Strret in old Ardoyne . Streets around where Andy lived had been targeted and hit by these cargos of death .
These incendiary devices had landed in the grounds of Holy Cross Church and on the roof tops of houses in Hooker Street , Crumlin Street , Ohio Street and the Savoy picture house was destroyed . The top of Lindsays linen Mill in Ardoyne was totally destroyed .There were blazes all over Ardoyne and fire fighters had to come form the Irish republic to help quell the flames .
Andy Jordan in Elmfield street however was just a tiny baby at this time in his life but during these early days it was becoming quite evident to him that the residents all over the entire area had come under attack and had formed a very close knit community to deal with the hardships they were going through
These days in the 21st century all that area in old Ardoyne with its tiny terrace homes have all been demolished .
Its always too late after the horse has bolted but I often think wouldn’t it have been a wonderful thing if someone had written down a record of all of the stories of families and what they had gone through during the war years , but no , those people now are either lost , forgotten , or moved away .
People like Andy and those in absent friends are allowing me a little chance to capture an image of the lives of people who once lived there in that Belfast village called Ardoyne .
When Andy was old enough for school he first went to Butler Street Boys School and then to the Old Wheatfield House School . Then the built
St Gabs .
Andy was a member of the Palestrina choir in Holy Cross church . Under the direction of Dermott McGuinness, nicknamed ”Shakey” they went on the BBC 3rd program live to air giving a rendition of The Hallelujah Chorus .
That day we all met up on the front of the Crumlin road opposite the fire station and we all got the bus down to the BBC broadcasting building on the Ormeau Road .The choir also sang at the last mass every Sunday in Holy Cross Church and took part in the May processions each year through the streets of Ardoyne . “Shakey “ was music conductor and also organist and had regular choir practice every week in chief street school .
When “Shakey “ died suddenly from a heart attack the choir just wasn’t the same . His brother nicknamed Fonsy went on to become Principal of St Gabs Secondary School .
Being part of the community click was important for Andy and most of the districts activities centred around Holy Cross Church . Like the weekly dances or Ceilidhe’s in Holy Cross Community Hall . Back then lots of people went to bingo in the hall , especially on Friday nights . Church services were very popular with weekdays mass , confessions bus trips , and of course there was the men’s confraternity . The regular missions were often another thing that people in Ardoyne loved .. Devotions , novenas, sermons , rosaries and benediction were a regular part of the social fabric in Ardoyne .
Any recalls the way people lived in the forties and fifties .
People left things like suits and good crystal glass in the pawn shops quite often .
There were a few sports and social clubs in Ardoyne . Many young lads
liked to try lifting weights in the St Gabs weightlifting club which was situated in an old hut near the Milley Dam and Holy Cross Girls school . There were cycling clubs and billiard clubs like The Hibs in Herbert Street , in Butler Street or the Pad was Kickhams G.A.A and The League also at the rear of Kerrera near Butler Street . Near Hooker Street was the Grove Swifts and Holyrood Hall was a kind if recreation club with a sewing club and meeting place venue for many residents . There where a few pubs people would have a pint in like The Wheatfield Bar , Logues , and Kilpatricks . In those days if people might have had the price of a pint but it was often the company people went for .
People also loved to go for walks up the Ligoneil . They stopped to have a chat along the way and strangers would become friends .
When television first arrived there were noticeable changes in the Ardoyne community . Everyone wanted to stay in and watch TV and social life suffered because there was no need to talk anymore , just turn on the box and glue yourself to the screen for a few hours . Fewer people went for walks up and talks out and about . But then again there were still the few who refused to watch the TV . They would not be confined to an armchair or restricted in communication .
Andy said ,
“While they were having Happy days with the Fonz we were the rest of us were bopping it up at Tobys Hall Disco .“
The chippers were a meeting place for lots of young people who liked to hang around the front of the road . A few local men fixed up and hired bikes and often there would be a bike run for a lot of lads to go on . People respected one another and were proud of their community . It was hard for people to leave the district but during the forties and fifties thoughts of emigration ran rampant in Ardoyne and beyond . You could have got an assisted passage for ten pounds for Australia . Many people took up that offer and were never seen again .
In 1963 when Andy was 22 he was married . His wife came from Mount Pottinger Road in Belfast . After a few years of marriage they moved to Cheviot Street and then in Beechfield Street . the troubles flared up in the In the late sixties Andy and his family went to live in Lenadoon Avenue on the Lower Falls and then in 1972 wanderlust struck him hard and he decided to move to Brisbane in Australia .
Now in Australia he has continued his love for singing and has put together a small band . The band play every week at local venues to packed crowds .
When people like Ardoyne Andy leave the place they grew up a big part of them still lives on in the place they came from . That big part is called their heart .
By Paul McCann
Web Site: Poems
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|Reviewed by arthur lavery (Reader)
|paul, iv'e read a few of your articles and find them very interesting.
i came to australia in 1968.
i came from strathroy park in ardoyne but also lived in other parts of belfast. keep up the good work
|Reviewed by Brendan McClinton (Reader)
|I came on this article when I done a search for Holy Cross Palestrina choir.I was born in 1943 and lived in Ladbrook Drive.My brother Kevin and our friends Patsy and Eammon Toner joined the choir and were part of the group that sang at the BBC. Your article brought back a lot of good memories.I now live in Rochester New York but spend the month of September home on the Ormeau Rd visiting my Father who is now 96.My Father used to organize bus runs every year for the residents of Ladbrook Dv.Is there a chance you would have info on other Ardonians who had left. Would you happen to have an "E" mail address for Andy.|