Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland


When Livingstone's, Ada Weirs and Crossey's shoe shop
were household names on Chapel Hill

Lily and Samuel Dugan seven children in the 1950's when they lived at 3 Chapel Hill - George, Seymour, Olwyn. Samuel, Carol. Wilson and Mavis.

LIVINGSTONE'S Ice Cream Shop; Ada Weir's Sweet Shop; Tom Crossey's Shoe Shop all of these businesses were household names in Lisburn during the 1950's and no more so than in the family dwellings on Chapel Hill amongst which they were located.

Sadly, these shops have gone - just as many of the families traditionally associated with Chapel Hill no longer live there.

The tight knit community which half a century ago existed in the shadow of St. Patrick's Church, gradually disintegrated as people moved away.

Some went to new houses being built on the town's outskirts while others started new lives much further from home.

Today, the magnificent sandstone edifice of St. Patrick's is one of the few aspects of Chapel Hill which has changed little during the past five decades although the interior of this historic place of worship was altered several years ago.

During the 1950's the church and its tall spire were very much part of everyday life for young Samuel Dugan who lived at 3, Chapel Hill with his six siblings and their parents Lily and Samuel (Senior).

He remembers St. Patrick's vaulted interior, presided over at the time by long serving Parish Priest Canon Thomas H. McAuley as being a place where you weren't allowed to run around'.

Samuel knew many of the pupils who attended the Catholic boys school beside 'St. Joseph's big hall'. However, he was educated at Central School on nearby Hillsborough Road.

His first experience of tragedy came early in life: Our Mums didn't take us to school because it wasn't cool. But a boy in my class was killed crossing the road. It was very sad," he explained.

Samuel said during his formative years Chapel Hill was regarded as ending at the 'golf links gate' while the bottom boundary was extended to include Jenny Black's, shop he said this sold 'all sorts of bats and balls, bamboo sticks, peeries and spinning tops, hoola hoops and fishing nets.

The Dugan family home was located close to Jenny Black's between R and D Thompson's Grocery Store and a plumber's shop with gas mantles children 'didn't dare' touch.

Next came a second hand shop run by James and Mary Gilmore, Ada Weir's famous sweet shop and Lavery's Bar where Samuel frequently witnessed a 'strange ritual' on Sundays.

This involved men standing on the opposite side of the street and going 'on patrol', possibly as far as the Antrim Street and Smithfield Corners.

"I only learned years later they were called in one at a time according to their pecking order, for a Sunday drink. The pecking order was decided according to how well they behaved when they were drunk," he added.

Police visited the bar one Sunday with officers setting a trap for the drinkers by waiting at the rear of the premises while someone else knocked on the front door.

Samuel's father was in the bar when this happened but quick thinking meant he was not among those whose names appeared in print: "My Dad was cute. He walked in td the kitchen and said he was fixing a tap," he added.

Lavery's was adjoined by Hanna's Bicycle Shop 'where Gerald put on bicycle tyres with his thumbs'.

At Crosseys new shoes always 'came with a scold'. Samuel said this meant he never climbed walls or trees 'for about a day and a half' after getting new footwear.

Haddens Yard had a 'no trespassing' sign but he and his friends had to climb the wall because they played football in Dan Mooney's pub yard.

"I was barred for breaking a window but Margaret brought me back. I didn't deliberately break it," he added.

Samuel can remember standing on the footpath in Chapel Hill waving as the Queen drove past during a visit to the area.

He can also remember Nora and Pauline, the nieces of Miss Johnston who owned a very popular sweet shop as well as the arrival of Paddy Hague who moved to Lisburn from Cavan and opened a pub destined to become one of the best known in the town.

"Chapel Hill has changed. Nowhere stays the same. The houses are mostly gone and families have moved on," he said.

"But I won't forget the games we played and won't forget the names of the other people who lived there - Flynn, Thompson, Mooney, Rooney, Gilmore, Bradley, Burns, Lavery, Laverty, Weir, Smith, Coburn, McGurnaghan and Murnaghan.

"There was also Crossey, Hadden, Hanna and Dorrian. I may have moved away but as far as I'm concerned I come from Chapel Hill and I always will."

Lily and Samuel Dugan seven children in the 1950's when they lived at 3 Chapel Hill - George, Seymour, Olwyn. Samuel, Carol. Wilson and Mavis.

The Dugan offspring outside their former home several years ago. Sadly. George had passed away by the time this picture was taken.

Ulster Star