'I turned 13 in 1958, just two years away from the 1960s, when the whole world was turned upside down. '

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'I turned 13 in 1958, just two years away from the 1960s, when the whole world was turned upside down. '


Michael Carlin remembers his days as a teenager at the cusp of the cultral revolutions of the 1960s. In particular he describes the music and cafミᄅ culture that existed in Newry when he was an adolescent.


Michael Carlin


Trinity College Dublin




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Michael Carlin

Is Part Of

Adolescence and Early Adulthood


Life Story

Spatial Coverage

Newry, Co. Down

Temporal Coverage


Life Story Item Type Metadata


I think the term 'teenager' was much a late 1950s invention, most probably thought up by an American marketing man looking for a new group to sell his wares to. The music industry latched on to it and songs such as 'Teenager in love' topped the charts. I turned 13 in 1958, just two years away from the 1960s, when the whole world was turned upside down. Students were in revolt in most of the world's major cities, Kennedy was elected United States president, We had the Cuban missile crisis. Kennedy was shot dead in Dallas. All of these events and many more are still fresh in my mind today, but the one thing that influenced me more than anything else was the music.We hear a lot today about the 'cafe culture' as if it is the latest cool thing. But the cafe culture was very much alive in Newry in the early 1960s - in fact, without it, the social scene would have been non - existent. The 'Florentine' right in the centre of town, was the place to be. To see and to be seen. The counter was at the end of a long middle isle and there were snugs down both sides. The 'beautiful people' (both male and female) would parade up and down the isle. We would gather there, pool our limited resources and share a plate of chips. If anyone was 'flush' we might stretch to a mineral or even an ice cream. Tommy Byrne was one of Newry's first entrepreneurs. He had a small confectionary shop, but was better known for his ice cream round, which he conducted on a three wheel bicycle, with the container at the front. We are now familiar with the ice cream van's musical jingles, but Tommy was much more original - he attracted his customers by playing on his cornet. It wasn't a very tuneful sound, but it served its purpose. In early 1960, Tommy revolutionised the Newry teenage social scene by opening the first coffee bar, which he named 'the satellite'. He had a model of the Russian sputnik satellite just above the door, complete with flashing lights. Instead of snugs, he had small tables and chairs and the best juke box selection in the area.




Irish Research Council for Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (IRCHSS)

Research Coordinator/P.I.

Dr Kathleen McTiernan (Trinity College Dublin)

Senior Research Associate

Dr Deirdre O'Donnell (Trinity College Dublin)


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