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Sometimes I pretend to be normal, but it gets boring so I go back to being myself
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 6:59 pm 
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THE END OF AN ERA

‘The End of an Era’ came in May of this year (1991) to a well known and respected family business with the sale of Havern’s shop in Church Street, Warrenpoint.
The Havern family business had been in Church Street since 1st November 1906. It was then that Mrs. Rose Havern, a widow, accompanied by her only child Vincent, (Vincy) then aged two moved from Thomas Street and opened up a Fancy Goods & General Store. At first they took in boarders, but the business must have established itself fairly rapidly, since they ceased doing so by 1920.
Rose made sure that Vincy, who had a severe physical handicap, would always have the option of other means of earning a living. He served his time as a tailor, and indeed up to his death he could sometimes be found mending his own clothes by the fire after the shop had closed down for the night. He also qualified to teach commerce through a correspondence course.
Vincy, however, was never to use qualifications on a full time basis. He obtained an agency for Decca records, and became known at all the local fairs and markets in the locality selling records and accessories. He continued at this until 1940, and often told me his reason for stopping was that records went up to half-a-crown (12 ½ pence), which he considered to be much too dear. I never dared ask him if he had any regrets about this, in view of the enormous increase in demand for records from the late 1950 onwards.
For younger information, there were no LPs, Singles, Tapes and CDs then—all you could get were the one type of record which was about halfway in size between a single and an LP. It was played at 78 r.p.m., unlike singles 45 r.p.m. and LPs 33 r.p.m.
Another change occurred in 1940. For some time Haverns had a tea room above the shop. They were forced to stop when wartime food rationing was introduced and it was never re-established.
Haverns, however, will not be remembered for records or tea rooms. For well over 50 years the name Havern has been synonymous with the newspaper and stationary business. It is hard to believe that when they first got the newspaper agency in 1932, they sold the grand total of six papers a day.
1932 was certainly a momentous year in Havern history. On June 1st of that year, Vincy married a Mona Bamber from Fleetwood, Lancashire. The couple had five children –Irene (Lloyd) Manchester, Malachy, Roma (Boyle) Whiteabbey, Oliver, and Marion (Eccles) Warrenpoint. Malachy and Oliver helped in the family business, while the girls all married and pursued alternative careers.
Vincy Havern was a founder member of the Warrenpoint, Burren and Rostrevor Credit Union. He served on the now defunct Warrenpoint Urban District Council as an Independent having been elected in May 1961.
He was a founder member of The Ceile Committee in 1947 which brought top bands from all over Ireland to The Town Hall.
He published Sean Crawford’s “Legendary Stories of Carlingford Lough.”
He issued his own series of Warrenpoint post cards.
He also did a little photography.





Vincy died in 1985 and the business came into the hands of his son Malachy. Malachy, having been involved in the business for the better part of half a century sold up in May of this year to the McGreeveys from Hilltown.
Vincy’s famous saying was “Try some of the smaller stores,” when you asked for something which he did not stock. Mind you, if Havern’s did not sell it, it was unlikely that anywhere would have it.

Andrew Eccles,
September 1991.


This article by Andy Eccles, a son –in – law of the late Mr. V.G. Havern, has been taken from the Autumn 1991 edition of The Warrenpoint Historical Group Magazine.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 7:39 pm 
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Dukestreet : Another very interesting read about a character which I remember well. Anytime I visited Warrenpoint I always made it my business to call into Vincy's shop to search for local history books. His shop was tiny and I remember he used a large cardboard box to act as a counter. It was heavily overlaid with newspapers and did the job very well. During the 1950's and 1960's, without the modern distractions, we probably read a lot more and magazines seemed cheaper then. I note that my paperback version of Crawford's Legendary Stories still has Vincy's price sticker on the back, 99p. You could scarely gain entry through the door which was festooned all around with various newspapers and magazines. Following Vincy's demise the two sons appeared to carry on the business in exactly the same efficient manner.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 8:33 pm 
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It always amazed me how so much could be fitted into what seemed such a small place. While every inch of that space was crammed with stock, Vincent knew exactly where everything was stored and would usually produce even the smallest item without any delay! I recall seeing old 78's for sale in Jack Hogg's auctions (back in the 70's perhaps) and I think some of the paper sleeves bore a stamp or label referring to Vincent Havern....perhaps someone can confirm this or is my mind playing tricks again!


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 10:29 pm 
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“Try some of the smaller stores,” .... brings back some memories :D , as Pat rightly says that wee shop had just about everything..and in absolutely no logical storage location, it seemed that stuff was just jammed into whatever particular little space became available due to the sale of some other item.... the place was like the tardis from Dr. Who ( looked like a small little hole in the wall, but was actually a cavernous space :shocked: ). I'm not quite sure of Mr. Havern's particular physical ailment but I beleive he had one leg shorter tan the other and either wore a very large shoe or a device with a curved base to assist walking.... I seem to recall he also had an older version of a hearing aid which was considerably larger than the more modern variety, though I beleive he rarely had it turned on as he was trying to save the batteries and you ended up having to shout to be heard.


I wasn't aware of all his entrepenaurial endeavours and all credit to his Mother for the manner in which she raised Mr. Havern and the independance that he learned.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:21 pm 
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I recall seeing old 78's for sale in Jack Hogg's auctions (back in the 70's perhaps) and I think some of the paper sleeves bore a stamp or label referring to Vincent Havern....perhaps someone can confirm this or is my mind playing tricks again!


Haverns did sell records once, so your mind is safe :D


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 12:47 am 
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IDukestreet - I remember Mr. Havern very well.
His handicap didn't stop him from achieving his success.
At times I'm sure it must have been hard for him to
stand on his feet, especially with this handicap.
Mrs. Havern was a very pleasant woman and she would
also serve in the shop.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 8:38 am 
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Great read Dukestreet,

Brought back many memories,

When i was younger Vincent were scare me because he was always shouting when he answered you, I did understand at the time that he was hard of hearing .


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:42 pm 
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Great post dukestreet - brought back a lot of childhood memories :-):-)


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 4:32 pm 
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He was hard of hearing and he would put his
hand up to his ear and lean over the counter to
try and hear you better.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 6:33 pm 
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Going in for the comics was the best waiting to get served and looking through the Victor or Hotspur (which were not allowed in our house as my da always said they were full of ww2 stories and you would think the English won the war on there own) :- The Beano ,Bezzer Topper and the Dandy were the high point of the week and then in the next week going to others houses in the Gdns looking for swaps. If Vincy seen you looking through the comic he would ask do you want to buy that if not stop looking at it. i remember a single light in the shop with a metal shade and an off and on cord hanging near it. I got my first torch from Vincy needless to say battries extra :rotfl:


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 4:16 pm 
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Metaflex Limited was a little plant situated in Mourne Drive, it made Venetian Blinds, and employed a rum bunch of rascals, namely Harry Smyth, Gerry Heatley, Seanie McGivern, Harry Hughes, Pat Trainor, Martin ‘Bunny’ McGivern and Paul ‘Dokers’ Dinsmore and a few more. Imagine trying to supervise that bunch, poor old Dokers Dinsmore, how did he survive that gang?

Back in the late 1970’s a procedure was established where one of the members of staff would go down the town, just before the mid morning tea break, to buy cigarettes, newspapers, sweets and chewing gum etc.

In those days there were only two newsagents in the town, Vincy Havern’s and Brian Grants, so usually the designated runner would go down the Dromore Road, turn left at Duke Street, along East street, then right down into Kings Lane over into Vincy Havern’s paper shop in Church Street, load up with the goodies/supplies and then hoof it back in time for the tea break.

Whenever the nominated messenger was loading up with requests from the bunch in Metaflex, and just as he was about to leave the premises for the town, someone without looking up would shout out the obligatory request to him,”And don’t forget to ask Ollie for any tips.”

Everyone in the town knew Ollie Havern’s prowess as a horse racing tipster was legendary, he knew every thing there was to know about the jockey’s weight, the horse’s weight, the firmness of the course, form of the horse, probably even the colours the jockey would wear. So it was reasonable for would-be punters to get as a good as an advantage as possible when trying to fleece the local bookmakers, to ask Ollie Havern for some insider information about that particulars days meeting. Hence the habitual request, ‘And don’t forget to ask Ollie for a tip.’ It was carved in stone. It had become a statutory statement to whoever was making the journey to the town. In fact every one in the town back then knew Ollie Havern. Well didn’t they?

Apparently Eamon Ennis didn’t. Eamon Ennis now lives down the Lower Dromore Road, and has been accepted as a one of our own. He is a native of the Ards Penninsula and previous to coming to live and work in Warrenpoint, probably never heard of V.G. Havern, or his famous paper shop. But over thirty years ago the young Eamon Ennis was employed by Metaflex Ltd., as an office manager, and had a car. One morning around this period most of the guys were busy on the floor, and there was no one available to go to Haverns for the much needed supplies. Eamon Ennis, gentleman that he is, volunteered to go for the necessary provisions for the lads on the workshop floor. So armed with the list, he headed for the door, when some one shouted, “and don’t forget to ask Ollie for any tips.” A strange request thought the innocent unassuming young Eamon, and off he went to Haverns’.





However it was V.G. Havern, the irascible patriarchal figure of this celebrated Warrenpoint family of tabloid vendors, gazetteers and confectioners was on duty in the shop that morning when the young Eamon entered these hallowed premises. Eamon started to call out individual items from the list, Vincy cupped his ear to get a better listen to the order, and after each item was called of the list, Vincy putting the aforementioned item on the counter, and said, “Yes.”

“60 Regal, 20 Park Drive, (for Harry Smyth) 6 Cokes, 3 packets of Wrigley’s Spearmint, 5 packets of Cheese and Onion, 1 Smokey Bacon (for Seanie McGivern), 3 Mars Bars, 5 Wagonwheels, 3 Daily Mirrors, The Guardian (for Harry Smyth) and The Sun (for Gerry Heatley),” asked Eamon politely. Vincy, without taking his eyes off the bemused Eamon, went into action, his arms swivelled around with radar like precision and produced cigarettes, chewing gum, crisps, and sweets then pointed at the various newspapers in front of him, to which Eamon peeled them off from the stack on the counter. The transaction was soon completed when Eamon handed over the money.

As Vincy was taking the change from the till and about to set it in front of Eamon, Eamon as friendly as ever, decided now was the time to utter that ancient old mantra passed on to him from the lads at Metaflex. As he didn’t know Vincy or Ollie from the man in the moon, he went ahead anyway, and said “Ollie, have you got any tips for today.”

Vincy, without deviating from his steely stare, but raising his eyebrows almost invisible to the untrained eye, snapped in that slightly raised, menacing authorative voice of his, “Yes, never step off a moving bus. Next!” With those words ringing in his ears, Eamon was dismissed. He had his few moments in the sun, now it was time to move aside as the next customer’s demands had to be met. Life goes on.

Vincy’s reply to the young Eamon Ennis, had all the pity and compassion of a gin-trap swiftly and fatally clanging shut, and crushing the spine of some unsuspecting creature. Vincy had a way with words.

In this world you are only as good as your next pound, no matter where it comes from, a maxim on which the late V.G. Havern built his successful business on. You only got what you paid for in V.G. Havern’s establishment; he didn’t take prisoners, suffer fools gladly, or even suffer nice guys gladly.

Sadly the town is a poorer place without characters of the calibre of the late Mr. V.G. Haven. He was a councillor, record company executive, publisher, entrepreneur, community activist, photographer and most importantly, a font of invaluable advice to which he dispensed liberally to aid poor weary travellers avoid the pitfalls, that they will invariably encounter on life’s sometimes perilous odyssey.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 4:26 pm 
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Vincy was all of those things and one of Warrenpoint`s gentlemen, dukestreet that`s a perfect discription of the man .................


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 4:40 pm 
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Great stuff dukestreet and I would agree northbrook !

I seem to recall one Sunday morning, back in the early 70's, witnessing another poor soul having the temerity to ask for one of those papers...you know the type I mean....that would place more emphasis on photos on page 3 than the latest economic crisis. The paper was duly handed over but Vincy made his personal views clear on the contents of such gutter press !


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 5:05 pm 
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Dukestreet - another good read on Vincy.
That was quite an order the newsagent was
getting on a daily basis and I hope he
appreciated the business.
He was "gruff" at times, but I suppose working
long hours and trying to keep everything as
orderly as possible didn't help.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 6:54 am 
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Ah Dukestreet, you have captured Vincy so well and in a delighful story too. You do have a gift for storytelling and I hope you have written many of them down. Hopefully you will share more with us.
Just thinking about Ollie. He joined the Free State Army iin the '50s and served overseas, in the Congo, I think. Before going off, you would see Ollie in his uniform (sans hat, of course) marching across the square. Some of the local wags would comment "there goes ireland's last hope". When Ollie came back from overseas, his hair had turned completely grey. I don't know how long he stayed in army.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 3:54 am 
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A photo of Vincent Havern.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 8:01 am 
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I thought Ollie served in Cyprus, not the Congo. On leaving the Army, he could be seen most days delivering the newspapers by bicycle - and wearing his blue beret.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 3:52 pm 
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gjc343 wrote:
I thought Ollie served in Cyprus, not the Congo. On leaving the Army, he could be seen most days delivering the newspapers by bicycle - and wearing his blue beret.


Ollie served in both the Congo & also in Cyprus during his time in army.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 2:35 pm 
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upthebridle - lovely photo of your
grandfather.
I remember him very well.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 9:12 pm 
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Lovely photo of Vincy, that's just how I remember him................


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 12:17 pm 
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Bringing this post back up again as Haverns in Church street is closing down having been bought over by the Nisa Fresh Food Centre (former Mace) store next door. This time (it seems) bringing to an end the shop with the name Havern over it after some 113 years.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 12:08 pm 
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