Memories of Shrigley in new book

Memories of Shrigley in new book

5 December 2012

THE first history of the former mill village of Shrigley was launched at a special memories night which took place last week.

Former South Down MP Eddie McGrady and broadcaster and international photographer Bobbie Hanvey were the main speakers at the launch of the publication, Farewell to Dear Old Shrigley.

Around 150 people gathered in the Lecture Hall in Killyleagh for the launch event on Friday night.

The three oldest Shrigley-born women still living were in attendance, along with two of the three oldest Shrigley born men.

Mr. McGrady, who has family connections to the village, recalled that it had been in the same hall almost exactly 25 years ago that the campaign to bring jobs to the village had been launched after Pittard Garnars pulled out of the Shrigley tannery.

“It was early in my career as MP but it taught me a very valuable lesson — the power of the people, the press and politicians. It was a superb campaign,’’ he said.

The former SDLP MP paid tribute to the way the community had united and said Shrigley had, over the years, shown the way a community could live together, work together and play together, long before shared communities had become fashionable.

A special exhibition of photos was put together marking the 25th anniversary of the march when workers from the tannery descended on Stormont to demand work after the closure of the factory.

Mr. Hanvey, who has written the foreword to the book, said the project has played an important role in preserving the history of the former mill village. He also praised the role of the Heritage Lottery Fund and the interest it takes in preserving the past.

The author Chris Hagan explained the title is taken from the original Song of Shrigley Village, sung by the spinners and doffers as they made their way from the village at the end of the working week. He said Shrigley had long been a place of industry and the tannery had employed up to 500 people in the years when it won the Queen’s award.

“The photos are proving to be fascinating, especially for families who have had relatives who worked in the tannery. It seems it is proving to be a popular Christmas stocking filler.’’

The cover of the book features a photo taken by the late DJ McNeill who gifted copies of his photos to the project. It features a villager carrying a pail of water from one of the village pumps with Old Shrigley in the background.

The guests included two authors, former Ombudsman Dr Maurice Hayes and Michael Faulkner, whose father had opened the new village four months before becoming the last Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, plus TV presenter Lynda Bryans.

The politicians in attendance included DUP MLA Simon Hamilton whose family worked in the tannery, South Down SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie, who represented the village as a councillor, plus current councillors William Walker and Terry Andrews.

The book is part of an overall project aimed at recovering the lost history of the village,

with funding support for the reclaiming the history project provided by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund. As part of the events, a free walking heritage trail of the village took place on Sunday.

• Copies of Farewell to Dear Old Shrigley are available from shops in Killyleagh and from Paddy Flynn’s garage in Downpatrick.