‘Wee Georgie’ and Barry Evans to be remembered at a special night for Dundalk’s historical characters
Legendary Dundalk characters including ‘Wee Georgie’ and Barry Evans will be remembered at a special night taking place in the County Museum, Dundalk on Wednesday, September 18.The night, arranged by Revd Stanley Millen, will also feature musical reminiscence by Jimmy Johnston.
George Casey or ‘Wee Georgie’ as he became known, may not have been native to Dundalk, but was adopted as one of the town’s own.
Reputed to be 111 years old when he died in November 1968, Wee Georgie was known for playing his melodeon and telling stories to local children. He made money by collecting empty bottles.
It is thought he came from Cork and had been widowed. It is said he visited Dundalk for a football match but never left the town after that!
Although there was no record of his birth, in 1957 after much research, he was declared to be 100 years old and received his payment from President Sean T O’Kelly as well as receiving the pension.
Over the years he lived in a number of locations, including a time spent sleeping rough. He spent the last years of his life in St Oliver’s Hospital.
Following his death in 1968 he was buried in an unmarked grave in St Patrick’s Cemetery. Years later, following a fundraising drive by Revd Milne, a headstone was placed on the grave.
Not far from where Wee Georgie was laid to rest is the grave of another of Dundalk’s characters, Barry Evans.
Again he was not a Dundalk man by birth. Indeed there were many urban legends as to why an Australian had set up home in a metal shoe box on the streets of Dundalk. It was said he was a wealthy man whereas in fact he was a schizophrenic who received a meagre disability pension.
It is thought Barry arrived in Dundalk in the late 1970s via England, Dublin and then Belfast.
Usually seen with his red-setter dog, Barry became known as the Man who lived in a Shoe. He lived in a shoe-shaped metal home which he chained to the railings of the then Old Louth Hospital, now part of Dundalk Grammar School.
He cooked food on a tiny stove outside the metal box. He eventually moved into a residence but was injured in a gas explosion and then moved on to Monaghan.
Following his death in 1986, he was buried in Dundalk, thanks to a circle of friends. Again thanks to Revd Millen’s involvement, a headstone was eventually placed on his grave.
Speaking this week, Museum Curator, Brian Walsh said the event at 7.30pm on September 18 would provide an opportunity to remember all of Dundalk’s characters over the years.
Wee Georgie and Barry Evans are two names that a great number of people will know, but there are so many more people who have made a contribution to the town’s folklore and this will also be an occasion to remember them via memories, stories and music.
Admission to the special night, which also features a small exhibition, is free with those attending invited to make a donation on the night to the Dundalk Simon Community.