Tracing Your Mourne Roots

Here’s a little taster of what is to come….. If you have memories and stories that you would like to tell us contact Lauren Newell on Tel: 028 4176 2525 or

Kilkeel in the 1900s by Betty Fairley nee Orr.

Life in Mourne in the early 1900s would have differed greatly from what life is like here today, and one person who can demonstrate this is Betty Fairley. Betty was born in 1915 and lived in Ballymartin until she was around 6 years of age. Her and her family then moved to Kilkeel and ran the public house, ‘Orr’s Pub’ which later became known as ‘Trimble’s’. Betty has very fond memories of her time in the countryside and missed the unique community spirit when her and her brother moved to Belfast. They kept their house in Ballymartin as a holiday home, and her and her children, nieces and nephews would return most summers.

Betty’s father Frank and his brother Robert inherited the public house from their Great Uncle Andrew and ran it along with their wives, Ellen and Margaret from Annalong. Ellen and Margaret were actually sisters, so Kilkeel had a double wedding. The two Orr boys married two Gordon girls! However Margaret did not want to remain in Kilkeel looking after the bar so her and her husband sold their share to Frank and emigrated to America. Most of the Orr’s moved to the US in the early 1900s for better jobs and a better lifestyle, as times were hard in Ireland, but Frank and his family stayed to run the public house.