By Ursula Duddy

A Derry man who has spent almost all his life living in Creggan has paid tribute to the street where he grew up as the estate celebrates its 70th year.

John ‘Spasie’ McGilloway has lived for 67 years in Creggan, having moved to Rinmore Drive when he was just two-year-old.

John, who prefers to be called Spasie, said Rinmore Drive was a close-knit community where everyone knew each other, what they did for living or their special achievements.

“The shoe mender was Willie Finn and there were priests, the Logue brothers, Cathal and Paddy and Fr Michael Doherty, and nuns, Helen Doherty, Marie Doherty and Frances O’Neill,” he said.

“Raymond McDaid was a bouncer and there were window cleaners, Seamus Nash, the Dohertys and Bobby Friel.

“The street’s first barber was Pearce Doherty, the first solicitor was Patrick Doherty, Matt McDaid opened the first fish and chippy and the first artist was oil painter, Joe Doherty. A girl called Downs was the first university ‘Rag Queen’ and the first manager to win the D&D with Creggan Celtic was Micky O’Hagan.

“We also had Olympic gold medallists, Jackie O’Kane who won his medal for running and David McCauley who won his for bowls.”

Sport was a big part of growing up in Rinmore Drive and Spasie was one of many who loved the beautiful game.

“Growing up in Rinmore, football was an all-day thing and we had some great footballers,” he said.

“Full international cap, Tony ‘Doc’ O’Doherty, was one of the best footballers from Rinmore. He played for Coleraine, Finn Harps IFA cup-winning team with his brother, Donal, and he played for Derry City and also managed Derry City to the cup final.

“Amateur international, Paddy Doherty, also played for Derry and Finn Harp, Boys’ Club International Joe Cregan was a great centre-half and my brother, Danny McGilloway, great left peg, was also on Derry’s books.

“Some other great footballers were Bubbles Donaghey, John McGill, the Logue brothers, Dermot and Kevin, Neil Murray was on Derry’s books and his brother George. The McIntyres, Connie, John and Tony, Johnny Irvine – the wee man with a big heart, Davy Keenan was stylish and Mr Football himself, Don O’Doherty, who started the great Arsenal team, Brian McGill who won ball skills. The Nash brothers, Stevie, John and Charlie; Stevie managed Creggan Celtic at one time and the O’Hagan brothers, Peter, John and Micky were all football mad. Euge Ferry played for Derry and his big brother, Sean, the late Leo ‘Chelsea’ McBride played for Derry, the Tierney brothers and Gerry ‘Rooks’ McDaid who played for Derry, Distillery and Sligo and in one season in Sligo in 1934 he scored 35 goals. There was Harry McBride and Dessie McBride and my father, Danny ‘Spasm’ McGilloway who played for Derry and Wigan.

“We had some great goalkeepers too. The best was Ding ‘The Cat’ Donaghey, Paddy McCallion, safe hands, the late Willie Ferry, the Da, and three of his sons, Seamus ‘Bebs’, Donal and Liam, great keepers. Lornie McDevitt and his late brother, Par, were great fellas. Eddie ‘The Italian’ Logue – I only remember him playing one good game...I’m only joking!

“We also had big Pat Murray, who died very young, and Jimmy Kelly who had a heart like a lion.

As far as other sports go, I think we only had one boxer, who was Paul McDaid who was also in the Irish Army.”

Spasie said that football was a massive part of the community spirit not only in Rinmore Drive but throughout Creggan and that every year there would be a competition between their street and Creggan Heights.

“Every year Rinmore would play Creggan Heights in a friendly match in the Bishop’s Field,” he said.

“The Heights, as we called them, never beat Rinmore.

“Among the Rinmore players were Matt ‘The Chippy’ McDaid, Paul McDaid, Tommy O’Donnell, Yoy Burke, Bubbles, Ham Coll, Neil Murray, Donal Ferry and Danny Canning.

“Some of the Heights players were Gerry Duddy, Liam Nicholl, the late Joe Coyle, Stumpy McCourt, Tony McCourt, Ben Kennedy, Willie McCallion, Alec Nash, Darkie Deery and Danny ‘Celtic’ Friel. Colm McGrory and Skin Gillespie played as guests for them.

“The first manager to win a trophy in the D&D with Creggan Celtic was Mickey O’Hagan helped by Johnny McCafferty.

“The last match played between Rinmore and the Heights was in 1995. Rinmore won 1-0 because Tommy O’Donnell miskicked the ball and scored the winning goal! Big Neil Mirray missed a penalty for Rinmore saved by Skin Gillespie.”

Spasie said that it wasn’t just keen sports people that came out of Rinmore, there was a fair share of singers and dancers too.

“My father, Danny McGilloway, played with Thundering Down and there were the Gallagher brothers, Davy, Joe and Eddie McCullagh.

“The Hasson family pipe band, The Colmcille Pipe Band was formed in 1972 by Barney Hasson Senior.

“The founder members of the band were Barney Hasson Snr, Barney Hasson Jnr, Margaret Nixon and George Nixon. This was a family-run band started by Barney Snr because he wanted to start something to take the kids off the streets and away from the Troubles.

“The Colmcille Pipe Band was one of the first bands and was named by Bishop Daly in Creggan. Everyone had to practice seriously. Some of them like Barney Jnr, George Nixon, Alec Hasson and Johnny Doherty all played in the Pierce Brothers Pipe Band. Michael Doherty played and sang, Oaky Ramsey and sons, Sammy and Lornie Dean and his band, The Teen Beats, with Don ‘The King’ Murray, one of the best singers in Derry, and George ‘Hunter’ Friel and Sammy Ramsey all sang in the band.

“Then there was Pat McCool of Logue and McCool; Pat was wheelchair-bound and Logue was blind, they were great singers. George Irvine sung a bit, Smucher Gallagher played the pipes and Frankie Clifford, ‘From the Candy Store’ was one of his favourite songs.

“We had Irish dancers, World Champions, Irish Champions and Ulster Champions, all from the Ferry brothers and sisters and the McGill family and Kevin Mitchell who sang in Irish.”

Spasie refers to those he grew up alongside with mainly nicknames. He shared many of the amusing names but admits he doesn’t know how most of them got their monikers.

“Nearly everybody had a nickname in Rinmore but I honestly don’t know how some of them got them!” he laughed.

“My father, Danny was called Danny ‘Spasm’ McGilloway and I got John ‘Spasie’ McGilloway, then we had Damien ‘Bubbles’ Donaghey, Brian ‘Ding’ Donaghey, Martin ‘Gills’ McGilloway, Tony ‘Macker’ McIntyre, Andy ‘Buck’ McGill, Willy ‘Lord’ McCullagh and ‘Jap’ McMenamin.

“There was George ‘Horsey’ Doherty, Martin ‘Ducksy’ Doherty, Paddy ‘Pa’ Doherty, Manus ‘Nasie’ McCallion, ‘Oakey’ Ramsey, ‘Oakey’ Barrett, Martin ‘Hookie’ Harkin, ‘Sock’ McLaughlin, ‘Tutor’ Gilmore, Wille ‘Yoy’ Burke, Seamus ‘Bebs’ Ferry, Brendan ‘Binney’ McDaid, Tony ‘Doc’ O’Doherty, ‘Jimbo’ McDaid and ‘Bacon’ Coll and ‘Ham’ Coll!”

Spasie admitted he even struggled to remember some of his neighbours’ first names as he had been using their nicknames all his life.

“The list goes on; ‘Ebbs’ Irvine and ‘Jubies’ Irvine, ‘Haggy’ Canning and Joe ‘Smoky’ Canning, Don ‘The King’ Murray, Danny ‘Blue’ Doherty, ‘Dano’ O’Hagan, Gearoid ‘Gouger’ Gallagher, Micky ‘Blocks’ O’Hagan and Paddy ‘Pudger’ O’Hagan. There was Jimmy ‘Douse’ Clifford, Danny ‘China’ McCourt and ‘Brasso’ McCourt, ‘Mince’ Murray, ‘Smiler’ Quigley, Leo ‘Chelsea’ McBride, ‘Whitey’ Nash and ‘Whitey’ Barrett, ‘Petey’ Burke, Micky ‘Blue Meanie’ McClintock and Gerry ‘Rooks’ McDaid.

“The only woman I can remember with a nickname was a woman called Margaret ‘Long Skinny’ Deane, she used to get called LSD for Long Skinny Deane!”

He added: “It was a great place to live; I’ve lived in Creggan 67 years and with this being the 70th anniversary of Creggan, I had to give Rinmore Drive a mention.”

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