Mr. Patrick Aloysius Curran


WITH the passing of Mr. Patrick Aloysius Curran on January 24, 2013, Newcastle lost one of its best known and colourful characters. He was 93.

Mr. Curran, who was known to his family and many friends as Pat, was the last surviving child of a family of seven to Daniel Curran, the first town clerk of Newcastle, and his wife, Annie, a primary school teacher.

He was educated at St Malachy’s College and later attended Queen’s University Belfast where he graduated with a degree in Latin and Mathematics. As a hobby he took up beekeeping, later becoming an inspector with the Ministry of Agriculture.

In 1946 with his brother John, he re-opened the Central Ballroom which had been requisitioned for military quarters during the war years. With considerable energy and business acumen, he strove to make the ballroom one of the most popular dance venues in Northern Ireland.

He promoted it under the banner headline, ‘The Best Provincial Dance Hall in Ulster’. The Central, or ‘Curran’s Hall’, as it was usually known, was the meeting place for many couples, and families across the community will know the role it played in bringing them together.

An extension was added to the dance hall in 1961 in time for the showband era and all the major showbands of Ireland vied to play at this renowned seaside venue. The onset of the Troubles spelt the death knell for the dance hall and it closed at the end of 1975. Despite this Pat maintained his business interest in The Gift House of Mourne until he finally retired in the late 1980s.

Pat was elected president of Newcastle’s first Chamber of Commerce and he was appointed Commissioner for Oaths in succession to his father.

Long before the phrase ‘equal opportunity employer’ was heard of, Pat was proud to have staff of all denominations in his employ.

Always open to enterprise, Pat attended a war surplus auction and purchased a number of amphibious landing vehicles known as DUKWs, and for a some years these military craft allowed visitors to take sailing trips across Dundrum Bay, providing an interesting alternative to the pony rides along the beach.

For over 60 years his typewriter was always busy as he was a press correspondent for the Irish Independent, Irish Press, Belfast Telegraph and Northern Whig, reporting on local football matches and other sporting events.

Throughout his life Pat was a keen sportsman. In his early years, he and his sister, Betty, played badminton at All Ireland level. In middle age he took up golf and played with great enthusiasm until his late eighties. Many of his friends in Mourne Golf Club will recall his nerve under pressure, competitive spirit and judicious use of the handicap system.

Of all of his accomplishments, none was more important to him than his marriage, in 1949, to Maureen, with whom he had ten children, two of whom sadly died in childhood.

In their 63 years Pat and Maureen supported each other through many joys and sorrows with deep dignity and faith for which he will be remembered by all who knew him. He is survived by his widow Maureen and children Danny, Michael, Marie, Anne, Tony, Paul, Colum and Cathy.

Ní Bheidh a leithéid ann arís. May he rest in peace.