Welcome To The Whiterock Belfast
By Joe Graham
The Whiterock Estate
The ‘Rock’, or Whiterock estate, was the more settled area to us kids growing up in Ballymurphy in the 1950’S, it had all the shops, the well established characters, had already made its mark in Belfast folklore, The Whiterock estate was built in the 1920’S and was then considered to be the model housing estate of West Belfast, there were 333 houses in all and shortly after it opening the junior minister for home affairs in the puppet statelet some call “Northern Ireland” (sic), had this to say of the estate, “To walk along the roads in summer time is to see a sight that must gladden the heart of every lover of well kept gardens, these houses are perfect for three or four children, a clean and tidy wife and a father who does not want to go out either to a public house or to a Local Option meeting, he wants his “Evening Telegraph”,(local unionist rag) and after patted his children on the head and said good night to them he sits down in that house which is his own or becoming so more and more each day ”. An indication as to who the houses were intentionally built for is to be seen in the line, “ for three or four children”, Catholic families were most likely at the time to have eight, nine or even more children, The rent in the earliest days was 13 shillings(65p today’s money) almost half of the working mans wages of the day, so there would be little chance for the man of the house.. “to go out to a public house”, in fact, before long people were being evicted from this ‘paradise’ because they couldn’t afford the high rents in the “model estate” .. and needless to say, ‘the well kept gardens’, went down hill rapidly.
By the 1930’s the estate became known as “The Moving City” due to the fact that so many families were moving in and out again of the houses, even though, by now, the rent was reduced to EIGHT shillings a week, these were hard limes, The area became quite polarised religiously in 1935 due to the hundreds of catholic families being burned from their homes by sectarian gangs in the York Street area in particular, hundreds of fleeing families squatted in the Whiterock houses and in the newly built Glenard estate at Ardoyne.
By the early 1940’S the estate settled down and took on each own identity and character, it was surrounded by ancient Fairy Hills and Fairy Thorns and Wells, much to the delight of its new population who identified with this beautiful Irish folklore.
The Whiterock Road was earlier known as Kill Pipers HiIl,(the old pipers hill), then later known as “Sinclairs Loanen”, after William Sinclair who had a, in fact three, Bleaching Greens in the area at one time. This Sinclair was at one time a member of the Society of United Irishmen and in Wolfe Tone’s diary, Tone mentions having gone to visit the home of “The Draper”, his nick name for Sinclair, Sinclair at some time was awarded a title, “Lord Glenalina”. through which he is remembered in some street names in the Ballymurphy estate, GlenalinaPark, Crescent, etc. So it was with particular pride that Ballymurphy could say that the area was visited at one time by Wolfe Tone, “The Father of Irish Republicanism.” .On a point of interest, the name “Whiterock” is indeed wrongly placed as in the name for the estate, as the original “Whiterock” area is where the present Ballygornartin Road (upper part) stands to day, and indeed the Ballygomartin Road is named as Whiterock Road on old Belfast maps. “Dan O’Neill’s Loanen” ran through from where Brittons Parade is today to the Springfield road, there are still traces left of the old track today but sadly some have chosen to give it another name, had they been stuck for an alternative name for the old lane I suggest they could have called it “Willie Kerr Lane”, in memory of the poor catholic man who was taken to that isolated area back in the 1920’S by those, the R,LC, who passed as police, and tortured and murdered the Old Lodge Road barber, leaving his body there in that lane, but I suppose to name the lane after the brutally murdered Willie Kerr might have brought back bitter memories of how this orange statelet in the north east corner of Ireland was founded.
The Story of a Belfast Champion who beat all the odds
“ Terry Milligan was the greatest amateur boxer Ireland ever bad”
Terry Milligan The Golden Boy By Joe Graham
Just two years after be joined the St John’s Boxing Club in 1942 young Terry Mulligan was orphaned, a heavy blow for any child and enough to make most children withdraw into themselves, but at 13 he entered into his first boxing bout.. and was beaten he continued in his chosen sport, at a later date,, knocked the same opponent out,, think this gives a clear picture of the sense determination and focus of the great boxer who most fans would agree was perhaps the best Light-Welterweight Ireland ever produced.. don’t take my word on that, the records show that such experts as Jack Magowan, Belfast Telegraph boxing columnist and Ed Thompson, I.M.B.A President, back in 1983, both agreed on that, even the legendry Belfast boxing expert, Johnny Black, agreed, be went on to say, “ I would have no doubt in saying that Terry Milligan was the greatest amateur boxer Ireland ever bad”, and Johnny was in the fight game for 42 years. Johnny , who
founded the great St Georges AB.C back in 1929, once told Jack Magowan, “Tommy Norton, Mickey McLaughlin, John Lyttle, John Kelly, the O’Neill Brothers, George Lavery, Billy Wright, Walter Henry,
were all great amateurs, great battlers...but Terry Milligan was the Daddy of them all., few of today’s fighting men (l96O’s) could hold a candle to that lad.. he was a super champion and a super lad.”
In 1946 Terry won the Ulster Junior Flyweight Title.
In 1948 Terry won the Ulster Senior Flyweight title. in 1949 he was beaten in the semi-finals of the European Championship in Milan, then went on to reach the second finals of the Olympics in 1952.
For three years running, 1951-1953, Terry was the Light Welterweight Champion of Ireland, in 1954 moved up to Welterweight and added that t to his collection., and he was only just beginning.!
‘Terry has also been Ulster & All-Ireland Champion in the Bantam, Welter, Light, Light-Middle, Welter and Middle weight classes, as well as fighting in the Heavyweight division.
0f his unbelievable total of 425 fights ... Terry lost only 14 and his proudest moment must surely have been the 1958 Commonwealth Games at Cardiff when he won a Gold Medal ... the first ever for Ireland Jack Magowan always liked to tell a joke about Terry, when the Duke Of Edinburgh battled through the crowds to get into the ring to shake Terry’s hand at Cardiff he was supposed to say, .. “Well done Milligan., you were terrific.. what a fight.. it was great.. just great”, the Duke was so excited he was almost crying with delight, Terry took his hand in bewilderment and blurted in amazement, “Thanks, .thank you very much, your holiness”, at which everyone in ear shot folded up in laughter... including the Duke. The crowds danced with joy in the streets of Belfast when Terry returned with his “Gold”.. and over in Rosapenna Drive there was none so delighted and proud as Mrs Hugh McCavana, Terry’s sister, who was like a second mother to him... Terry had brought home a suitable memorial to their late parents, Mary and James Milligan, formerly of 7 Whiterock Drive. Terry went to Short & Harland A.B.C in his early career and it was there that he met his trainer, Geordie Scott, whom he grew to admire greatly, and to whom he always attributed his boxing success .
In 1952 Terry and four other Irish lads went over to the States to box in “The Golden Gloves”, all five came hack with victories, just for the record the other four were, J. McNally, T. Reddy, D.Connell, A. Reddy. After 15 years of amateur boxing he was often asked why he never turned professional and get some money out of the game, Terry explained that he had often thought about turning pro, that he had had many offers from America and England to turn pro but he always felt that if he ever did, it would have to be with Geordie as his trainer., the week that Terry was really giving some serious consideration to turning pro, Geordie died, and there the matter ended... Terry never ever even thought of it again. In 1959, at the age of 28, Terry married Elizabeth Campbell and soon after set up home at 32 Rockdale Street, they had 3 sons and seven daughters.
The Shankill Boxing Trainer who silenced the 1920’s guns & bombs Much is being written lately about Milltown Cemetery and indeed the City Cemetery, sadly many very interesting life accounts are not being included, perhaps through lack of space in those books, but one story I feel must be told is that of Geordie Scott, whose remains rest in the City Cemetery , he was trainer at Shorts Boxing Club that used to be at Huss Street, next to the “Long Bar” on the Shankill Road, coincidently, George lived just opposite the “Long Bar”, at 71 Downing Street, with his mother, Mary. Many an old catholic ex-boxer will tell you countless stories of the tireless devotion that Geordie afforded to the young lads under his care, regardless of their religion, all in an effort to make them the best at their chosen sport. But there was a time, back in the 1920’s, when Geordie’s life style and his affiliations would have brought nothing but scorn from Belfast Catholics, at that time George was the Commanding Officer of the Shankill U.V.F, at a time gunmen of that organisation was murdering countless catholic people whose only ‘crime’ was that they were of that faith. The infamous “Snatch” McCracken and Bobby Moore were close associates of George in those days. as was Joe Arthurs, the Newtownards Road gunman who is described in Archive papers as “..an exceedingly dangerous man and is nothing less than a Criminal Maniac..”, George, Joe Arthurs, “Buck” Alec Robinson , Fredrick Pollock and some other U.V.F men were all rounded up and interned in Derry gaol, a place they apparently felt very unsafe, considering there were 100’s of nationalist’s interned there...they immediately petitioned for release. At this time , October 1922, the U.V.F had been incorporated into the new R.U.C “Specials” ..in fact the U.V.F was expected to stand down.. or else.! George got the message.. and so through a Mrs Armstrong of “The Loyalist Prisoners Association”, whose offices were at Peter’s Hill, a note ,with a carefully worded threat was passed on to Dawson Bates, it read.... “Dear Sir Dawson, I have received an assurance from the Boys of Shankill, Newtownards and York Street districts that there will not be a shot fired or a bomb thrown or any other act of intimidation, if Scott and Robinson are released. If you would be good enough to grant me a personal interview I could explain matters more fully. I make this application in the interest of the peace of this city.”
A couple of days later the meeting was arranged and no doubt, Armstrong explained“fully” what she meant by no shots or bombs.. if George and “Buck” and the others be released, in the interests of the peace of this city.” The threat being, of course, that if they were not released then all other U.V.F men who had stood down would return to the streets and there could be “. and no peace in the city”. .. all were released very quickly. But most importantly...obviously an undertaking had been given that the U.V.F would cease to exist and members would join the R.U.C or Specials or fade into the background, without fear of prosecution for any act they may have perpetuated during their membership of the U.V.F. in effect George, “Buck”, Arthurs, Pollock, McCracken, etc, were given an amnesty. And so ended George’s link to para-militarism, his acceptance of the conditions of his release effectively silenced the loyalist “shooting and bombing” George became secretary of Short & Harland B.C and produced some of the best boxers Ireland has ever seen., some protestant and some catholic. Some years later the Club moved to premises at Ormeau Avenue and it was one night, October 3rd 1951, when George and his brother, Robert, having left the premises to wait for a bus, when suddenly George took ill, although he had no previous illness, he collapsed, was rushed to the R.V.H where he was pronounced dead. He had been involved in organising the forthcoming Ulster Boxing Tournament at the Ulster Hall and was also preparing a team of young boxers for an upcoming match in Dublin.
On Saturday, 6th October 1951, huge crowds attended the funeral of a man who had lived two lifetimes. .among the mourners were dozens of Catholic boxers, and members of the“Shankill Road Heroes Loyal Orange Lodge”, to which George belonged and boxing delegates from all over the world.
The cortege left his home at Downing Street at lO am, passed down Northumberland Street onto the Falls Road where many thronged the pavement to pay their respects to a man who had done so much for the young boxers of Belfast... many present there that day would have even been aware, or cared, of his earlier life . (Copyright Joe Graham).
MORE HISTORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE WHITE AND CHARACTERS
ARE LOCATED IN THE RUSHLIGHT MAGAZINE
BELFAST HISTORY, PHOTOGRAPHIC AND VIDEO ARCHIVES
Contact JoeGraham Rushlight123@hotmail.com
78 ANDERSONSTOWN PARK BELFAST BT11 8FH
TEL 028 90626631