87 Aughnahoory Road,
BT34 4AH,
County Down,
Northern Ireland


Welcome back to our series of “A Day In The Life”.
Snippets of what life looked like on a typical day in Hanna’s Close.


This story is full of “fond memories” from Isaac Hanna, descendent of Hanna’s Close and a founding member of the charity! 


Isaac at 15 years old pictured back centre
with his mother Charlotte, father Isaac,
younger brother Oswald and infant brother
Winston in their front garden at
Brookside farm, Aughnahoory in 1951.


Isaac Hanna was born in 1936 at Brookside Farm Aughnahoory, a short distance from Hanna’s Close. He was the eldest son of Isaac and Charlotte Hanna. His paternal Grandmother was Elizabeth Hanna who was born and raised in George’s Cottage at the Close.

Isaac went to Ballinran School as a child along with many other local children in the townlands of Aughnahoory and Ballinran. He recalls circa 1944 walking up the lane to school and meeting his cousin Norma along the way. They crossed the stream over a stone footbridge, installed by his Uncle David for easier access with his walking stick. The lane continued up onto the Ballinran Road but rather than taking that route the children crossed the fields which had stone stiles and meandered through Keown’s neighbouring farm. Isaac said “this was a shorter route, as the crow flies and popular with many locals using this route to get to Ballinran school or Forsythe’s Post Office. It was an unwritten law that people could use these routes through neighbouring farm lands and no-one ever objected”. He remembered Children who had no shoes and walked the roads in winter in their bare feet. Those children were allowed front row seats in the classroom beside the fire to defrost their toes. He was fortunate to have a pair of boots which were made by the local cobbler Robert Hanna, a descendant of Hanna’s Close.

In his lunch bag he usually had a sandwich with varying fillings, an apple and his metal can of fresh water pumped from the well. He said school was good craic and he enjoyed meeting his friends and playing ball in the playground, however Mr Baird, the headmaster was strict and you dared not be late to class or the cane would have been brought out. After school ended he and his friends headed back home by the same route and were told not to dawdle as there were farm chores to be done! As the oldest son, Isaac was expected to help his father feed the livestock and milk the cows each afternoon. Once finished he had his evening meal with the family, which was usually cooked by his Granny Elizabeth as his mum was also involved in the running of the farm. In the clearer evenings he was allowed to call to see his uncles at the Close and play down by the river with Norma.

”A white sheet placed over the holly bush was a sign that dinner was ready.

At harvest time he and his family all helped Willie and George Hanna to bring in the crops and gather potatoes at Hanna’s Close. This was done voluntarily as the favour was always returned when the Brookside farm crops needed harvested. Your reward was a lovely spread of food, cooked by the farmers wife Tilly Hanna (Norma’s Mother). She would place a white sheet over the holly bush outside George’s Cottage and this was the signal to all the workers that tea was ready. The meal consisted of home baked wheaten or soda bread and cooked ham or chicken followed by a sweet treat or pudding. He recalls the wonderful taste of the strong tea which was stewed for a considerable time before drinking.

The local area was covered with walking routes besides the main roads and he remembers the lane from Hanna’s Close past his house being busy at times with people on bikes or on foot. There was one evening around midnight he and his family were awoken by screams coming from the back stream. Upon investigation they found a neighbouring lady sitting in the middle of the river, rather the worse for wear with alcohol, crying that she had slipped off the small stone bridge. He remembers giggling at the sight of this stout lady surrounded by her skirts floating in the water and tears streaming from her face. They managed to pull her out of the shallow stream and help her on her way home. The Close Lane continued South as a footpath towards Kilkeel, it went past Peggy’s Cottage, through Spences farm and eventually weaved out onto the main Newcastle Road opposite Hilltop Variety shop as it is today.

Isaac is a founder member and an active Director of River Valley Development Association which runs and maintain Hanna’s Close to this day. He has many fond memories of the people and their lives at the Close and has a lot of stories still to tell from listening intently to his Granny Elizabeth over the years.


If you would like to experience life Hanna’s Close, please book through this link; we would love to welcome you!
Book Here | Mourne Country Cottages


We hope you enjoyed reading Isaac’s memories of life at Hanna’s Close.
Keep an eye out for the next blog in our series, we look forward to sharing it with you!


Thanks for reading!
The Team at Hanna’s Close