From the pages of the Down Recorder, May 17, 1977

From the pages of the Down Recorder, May 17, 1977

17 May 2017

NEWCASTLE — A favourite children’s play spot became a pit of horror when a young Newcastle boy died in a sand cave-in.

Twelve year-old Brian Lowry, lost his life when he and his friend, Barry Wells, were buried under piles of crumbling sand as they played in the dunes at the edge of Newcastle’s golf course.

Yet the tragedy is that Brian’s death was almost prevented, but for a cruel twist of fate. The rescuers from Mourne Golf Club who dug at the sand with their bare hands had managed to free Brian when a second cave-in buried him again.

Castlewellan schoolteacher Des Farley was one of the first on the scene and he told his story afterwards to reporters: “I had managed to dig Brian out and was applying the kiss-of-life when the sand collapsed for a second time, burying both myself and Brian. He was living at the time.

“After the bank caved in it took me almost five minutes to get back to him and we kept trying to revive him before the ambulance came.”

Both children were taken by ambulance to Downe Hospital in Downpatrick, but Brian was found to be dead on arrival.

The tragedy happened when the two boys were apparently digging a tunnel in a high sand dune behind the eighth green on the golf course.

Newcastle police say the spot is popular with local children, but many club members say they didn’t even know it existed.

DUNDRUM — An unforeseen change in the wind spelt trouble for many Dundrum people. Workmen, shoppers and pedestrians found themselves choking, with their throats burning and tears streaming down their eyes.

It wasn’t a mysterious bug that hit the village. Instead they had been overcome by the effects of CS gas, commonly known as tear gas.

The trouble arose at the nearby army camp at Ballykinlar where members of the Black Watch were destroying old canisters of the gas, often used to quell rioters. the wind had changed direction in the middle of their operation and this carried the gas over the bay to Dundrum,

Several residents contacted the regiment and they immediately ceased burning the canisters. Fortunately, the effects were not serious. 

An army spokesman told the Recorder that a great deal of care was taken in such operations, but an unforeseen wind change had caught them on the hop.

CASTLEWELLAN — With the future of Castlewellan’s new £86,000 library still on a knife-edge, local residents are now carrying out frantic negotiations with the parties involved in a bid to break the deadlock which is threatening the project.

If the issue is not settled next week the Town Committee have called for a public meeting to decide what action to take next. “Everybody in the town thinks it would be a disgrace if the whole business can’t be settled, said Mr Harold Hutchman, chairman of the Committee.

He said public reaction was very strong in Castlewellan to news that the South Eastern Education and Library Board might abandon its plans to turn the Market House into a new library.

Since that announcement Mr Hutchman has been behind a series of meetings between the Annesley family, who own the Market House, and Mr James Wilson, the Castlewellan estate agent, who has laid a claim for compensation for his rights to the building.

“People feel strongly about the library and I think it’s up to the Town Committee to press the matter,” he said.

Mr Hutchman added that the situation was particularly serious as the town has had no public representative since the death of the local councillor, Mr Seamus Fitzpatrick, at Christmas.

MOURNES — A 19 year-old man had to be rescued from the Mournes after he sprained his ankle. Lester Black was one of a party progressing along the Trassey path towards Hare’s Gap when he slipped and sprained the ankle.

The mountain rescue team were notified by one of the party and Constable Willie Brown and Constable Gordon Douglas from Newcastle left in a Land Rover and brought the man to safety.

DOWNPATRICK — An adventure playground which will give hours of pleasure to mentally handicapped children at Downpatrick Special Care School has been completed by members of Downpatrick Lions Club.

By constructing the playground with their own hands the members also managed to save £3,200 on building costs. They built the playground for £800, but it was estimated it could have cost £4,000 if it had been put out to tender.

The head teacher, Mrs Iris McBride, said she was delighted with the playground which gave the children the opportunity to use their imagination and take physical exercise.

Work on the adventure playground began in July 1976 and was largely completed by Halloween, although the finishing touches have been added during the past few weeks.

The Lions Club has been closely associated with the school throughout its existence. Over the years the club has helped the school with financial aid.

BALLYNAHINCH — An Army technical officer was called out to the Langley Road estate in Ballynahinch when a suspicious looking torch was found. The torch, which was of the Army or UDR type, was found at the back door of a house, but after a controlled explosion it was found to be harmless.

ARDGLASS — A startled lorry driver became the second victim of the ‘hole in the road’ in Ardglass. Apparently he was driving his lorry past roadworks in connection with the new telephone exchange in the village when the edge of road subsided, causing the lorry to fall in.

The lorry was helped out by an excavator, but its halfshaft was broken. The previous week a Fiat car plunged into the hole.

PORTAFERRY — Portaferry Presbyterian minister, the Rev Tom Patterson, was honoured at a special service held in the church at the weekend.

Mr Patterson, who was recently appointed Moderator-Designate of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, was presented with a Doctor of Divinity hood. He was also presented with robes by Mrs J A Woods, representing Portaferry Church, and Mrs J B Sherrard, representing Lylehill Church, one of his former congregations.

Mrs Patterson received a portable television from Miss A Savage, the church organist, on behalf of the Portaferry congregation.

SEAFORDE — One family’s experiences in concentration camps provided one of the most interesting talks Seaforde Women’s Institute members have ever had.

Mrs Secules, of Kilkeel, told she, her husband and young family spent five and a half long years in the horrific concentration camps of Russia. Slides depicting the beautiful Russia today contrasted sharply with the harsh brutality of the men who stalked it when the Secules family suffered such hardship.

COMBER — Roast potatoes may be tasty, but farmers were not licking their lips when the strong sunshine after the overnight frost ‘burnt’ early potatoes in low-lying areas of  Comber.

A potato grower said the extremes of hot and cold had stunted growth and would delay harvesting. This could mean that the price of early new potatoes would shoot up next month, but it is anticipated that the prices would soon level out.

DRUMAROAD — Five people are helping police with their inquiries into the theft of a quantity of cigarettes from O’Connor’s confectionery shop in Drumaroad.

BALLYNAGROSS — Ballynagross Football Club held their annual dinner dance in the Millbrook Lodge Hotel, Ballynahinch, where more than 100 people were in attendance. The club had one of their most successful seasons in the Newcastle League, finishing runners-up in Division B.

Ballynagross were challenging all season, but failed in the run-in to be pipped by Ballynahinch Olympic. Nevertheless the club will be hoping that the league will grant them promotion.

Matt Leneghan won the Sportsman of the Year award, Damien Craig was voted Player of the Year and Seamus Craig received the Clubman of the Year award.