by Richard Buckley, Editor, Business Eye

Newry Chamber of Commerce & Trade is to mark the 200th year of business and professional representation of the City of Newry by the publication of a new ledger styled coffee table book to be entitled “The Business of Newry”. Recently uncovered documents show a very active Chamber operating in the 1820’s deeply involved in canvassing the great infrastructural project of the Newry Sea Canal, a scheme stemming more than twenty years.


It included the building of the Albert Basin and the Victoria Locks at a cost of £72,000 (Circa £80m today).

Speaking at a gathering of local business representatives, historians and authors in Newry Town Hall, Emma said:

It is remarkable that our Chamber has played the same role over the past decade in respect of the Southern Relief Road.”

This afternoon’s task is somewhat more modest in scale. We are here to lay out our plan for a prestigious commemorative publication that will trace two hundred years of commercial history. We are confident that we have the proper foundation for this but wish to make it as comprehensive as possible.”

The new research confirming the existence of a Chamber of Commerce & Trade in the year 1820 was carried out by a Chamber Past President and publisher of two remarkable Newry histories, Michael McKeown. These well received and admired books are “The Book of Newry” and “The History of Newry Post Office”.

Speaking at yesterday’s gathering, Michael said:

I was very excited to find a series of letters in the National Archives from various Presidents of the Chamber written in the 1820’s to the Chief Secretary’s Office at Dublin Castle. The documents include great detail on the planning and costing of the Sea Canal and most importantly where the vast sum of money to construct was sourced.”

When I mentioned the find to my fellow Directors, the die was cast and now I have to manufacture the book to match the ambition.”

Michael McKeown has recruited a formidable team headed by Tony Canavan, author of the acclaimed, “Frontier Town, An Illustrated History” who is contracted to edit the contributions from a group that includes Dr. Mary Goss, Ian Heaney, Francis Gallagher, Chris Cassidy, Peter Makem, Rowan Hand, Maud Hamill, Marjorie Harshaw and Claudine Coyle.

E: michael@mattdarcys.com

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Pictured at the press conference for “The Business of Newry” Book are President of Newry Chamber of Commerce & Trade, Emma Marmion and Michael McKeown, a Past President and Current Treasurer of Newry Chamber of Commerce & Trade who will oversee the project, which will be released in November 2020.

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