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Before I forget No 14 (2)

November 13, 2017

The late Lewis Smart’s account of an epic wake in 1891 is just one of the many anecdotes included in his ‘Tales from the Fourtowns’ which features in the fourteenth edition of the Poyntzpass and District Local History Society’s  Journal.

At the launch of ‘Before I forget…’,which took place at the Society’s monthly meeting on Thursday evening last, members enjoyed tea and biscuits but, back at that wake in the Fourtowns in 1891, the refreshments included fourteen pints of whiskey and three pounds of cheese!

This latest edition of “Before I forget…” certainly lives up to expectations and to the high standards set by earlier editions.  The Journal’s one-hundred plus pages are packed with a satisfying mixture of humorous folk tales and scholarly research and there is sure to be something of interest for every reader.

Since the journal was first published in 1987, the Society’s aim has been to present the fruits of its members’ research to the wider public, in a form that was both informative and accessible. This they have managed to achieve over the years and this edition of “Before I forget…” will provide both information and an enjoyable read in equal measure.

In his introduction, the Society’s chairman, Hugh Daly makes the point that history is being made all the time. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the sports-field. The front cover of this edition combines a striking image of local rugby-star Rory Best, with a picture of the Poyntzpass School’s rugby team which reached and competed successfully in the Ulster School’s mini-rugby finals at Ravenhill in 1993. The team comprised boys from the village’s two primary schools. A member of that team was Rory Best, who was making his first appearance at the famous venue.  “The rest”, as they say, “is history!”

Pictured at the launch of Before I Forget, the journal of the Poyntzpass Historical Society. From left: Don Ferris, Bill Ferris, Frank Watters and John Best. The four men feature in a 1993 photograph on this years front cover with a Poyntzpass Mini Rugby team containing local Rugby legend Rory Best. Photograph: Columba O’Hare

This edition of ‘Before I forget …’ contains, as usual, a varied selection of well-illustrated articles, based on talks given to the society in recent years. There are articles on the origins of Mountnorris, the story of the Poyntz family, who gave Poyntzpass village its name, the colourful history of the Fivey family of Union Lodge and ‘What the Papers said about Us’.

Lewis Smart’s ‘Tales from the Fourtowns’ are sure to cause a smile, as will Jemmy Kenny’s fantastic stories of enormous potatoes, his super-intelligent dog  and his incredible feats of athleticism.

John Best’s look back at a lifetime in farming in the area will certainly evoke memories for many readers. There are articles on Armagh Market Houses, on the gifted architect William Barre’s local connection and on what interesting information can be gleaned from headstones in local churchyards. Included as well, is a re-print of an interview with the late Tommy Morrow which appeared in ‘The ’Pass Times’ in 1983 and an up to date transcription of headstone inscriptions in Fourtowns Presbyterian Churchyard.

Selling at only £5 “Before I forget …” is a wonderful bargain and would make an excellent Christmas gift for anyone at home or abroad who enjoys a good read.

You can buy Before I Forget at Fiveways and Savages in Newry; In Poyntzpass:   Petty Sessions, Poyntzpass Pharmacy, O’Malley’s Farm Shop, Trainor’s Spar and Poyntzpass Credit Union; SAFE Fuels in Camlough and Brook’s at Lurganare.

Copies may also be obtained by contacting history@poyntzpass.co.uk or brianohare1950@hotmail.com

Pictured at the launch night of Before I forget, the journal of Poyntzpass Historical Society. Photograph: Columba O’Hare

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