A Moment in Time

My parents, Richard Mulholland and Eleanor Quinn, got married in the summer of 1961.

After the wedding at First Moneymore, the wedding party drove the 34 miles northwards for the wedding reception on the coast.  They stopped at the Rose Gardens in Coleraine for photographs.

Afterwards they made the short trip to the reception in the Carrig-na-Cule Hotel in Portstewart.

It was Saturday 24th June 1961.

Carrig-Na-Cule Hotel in Portstewart

Carrig-Na-Cule Hotel in Portstewart

The original black and white photo has been colourised.

There were about 55 people on the wedding guest list (calculated from other photos taken at the Rose Gardens).  About thirty or so were captured in the above photo.  I have labelled as many as possible.

Alfie Brown’s wife can be seen above at the reception (presumably Alfie was there too).  Dad’s cousin Sammy Armstrong, as well as Sammy’s sister and wife, also can be seen above.  My uncle William McCaughern from Ballymaconnelly, just outside Kilrea, is in the midst of the photo. My uncle and aunt, Sammy and Matsy Mulholland, are also captured. On my mother’s side, the Quinns are also there, notably her sisters, Georgie, Jean and Margaret.

Many of the people were at this point in the midst of their lives, others were starting out. Sadly the majority are long since passed.  I thought it would be nice to not only share the newly colourised photo – but also to create what that moment in time must have been like, e.g. the weather that June 1961 day, what was happening in the news, what was on TV, what music was top of the charts, etc.

The Weather

Mainland Britain saw the highest temperatures of the year to date, during that final weekend in June.  It got into the 70s. In Ulster, being that bit further north, it is always cooler.  The weather forecast, according to the Belfast Telegraph, said:
Weather men promise a dry, sunny week-end.

An official, at the Aldergrove Meteorological Office, said it would remain dry during the hours of daylight, certainly in the eastern part of Ulster. Some rain would move in from the west, affecting the west before dark and the rest of the Province during the night, but it would be very light. “To-morrow, i.e. Sunday, should be dry and sunny, becoming wet later,” the official added.

Temperatures were expected to reach 65 degrees to-day, climbing to 70 in some places. Much the same level of temperatures are expected to-morrow, though it will become cooler later in the day. The maximum temperature recorded at Aldergrove yesterday (Friday 23rd) was 68 and a half degrees (which is five and a half degrees above the average for the month) and there were nine and a half hours of sunshine.

The Moon – Full Moon will occur on June 28th

Lighting-Up Time: 11.04 p.m. till 3.48 a.m.

High tides tomorrow: 9-05 a.m., 9-35 p.m.

The TV Schedule

On the eve of the wedding (Friday night), I imagine my parents were nervous and too busy preparing for their wedding the next day, to watch any TV.  What am I saying.  Doh. They didn’t even have a TV – very few rural people had one in 1961.  It would be another ten years, before we got a TV.

The majority of people, at least within rural communities, still depended upon the radio (the ‘wireless’ as many folk, like my grandfather, called it).

I am looking here at the TV and Radio schedule, as listed in the Belfast Telegraph, for that June 1961 weekend. 

There were only some six radio stations available, namely:

  • BBC Home Service which was a British national radio station that broadcast between 1939 and 1967. It was replaced by BBC Radio 4),
  • Light Programme a BBC radio station which broadcast between 1945 and 1967, before being replaced by BBC Radio 2;
  • Network Three – a radio service which began broadcasting in September 1957 and closed in September 1967. It was replaced by BBC Radio 3.
  • Athlone – the national broadcaster from the South of Ireland.  I can remember this station name on the old wireless dials.
  • Luxembourg – very popular in UK and Ireland.  Radio Luxembourg had in the 1970s, a 1300KW transmitter, which was the most powerful privately owned transmitter in the world.
  • AFN – American Forces Network.  That’s a baffling one.  The war’s been over for 16 years.  They broadcast each evening.
There were no car radios, nor cheap portable transister radios.
If any of the 55 guests did have a TV, then they had a choice of two channels, BBC (the national broadcaster) and UTV (Ulster Television, commercial station). 
It’s also interesting to note that the channels back then closed down each evening between 11 and 12 midnight. The national anthem was often played at close-down.  Here are the TV shows they would have seen that Friday and Saturday.



BBC TV – Friday Evening

logo bbc 1960s

logo bbc 1960s

UTV – Friday Evening

logo utv ulster television

logo utv ulster television

6.30 News 5.54 Weather
6.37 News From N. Ireland 5.55 News
6.47 The Weather 6.06 This Wonderful World
6.50pm Bob Harvey 6.35 Roundabout
7.05 The Best of Bilko 7.00 Life of Riley
7.29 News 7.30 Emergency Ward 10
7.30 Mantovani 8.00 This Week
8.00 Hancock 8.30 Take Your Pick
8.25 Zoo Quest 8.55 Bootsie and Snudge
8.55 Magnolia Street 9.25 News
9.25 The Burns and Allen Show 9.35 No Hiding Place
9.50 News: Sports News 10.30 Sportscast
10.15 Sahara 11.00 Loretta Young Show
10.45 The Low-Back’d Car 11.30 Close
11.10 Weather and Close
Saturday Morning Saturday – first programmes of the day
1030am Science on Saturday 2.40 Sports Preview
10.45 The Artist Speaks 2.45 News
11.25 Cricket: England v Australia 2.50 Horse Racing from Doncaster
1.35 Summer Grandstand 4.10 Motor Racing from Silverstone
3.00 Billy Bunter 5.00 Lassie
3.30 Cricket: England v Australia 5.25 Summer Scoreboard

The News

Nationally, that final Saturday in June 1961, the big news was of a ten man prison escape from Wandsworth prison in London. In other news, American preacher Billy Graham and his wife had tea with the Queen at Buckingham Palace. There was a cricket test match ongoing that weekend, between England and Australia.

Locally, the awful news that Saturday afternoon, was the death of a Welsh motor-cyclist C.S. Todd at the 350 C.C. race at Dundrod.  The young man went off the road while at the head of the race.  His fiancee had been watching the race.  Tragic events.

Top of the Pops

At number one that week of the wedding, in the UK Singles Chart, was “Good Luck Charm” by Elvis Presley.  It had been at the top for four weeks by that point and would spend another week at number one.


FIRE AT PORTSTEWART. A fire broke out in the Carrig-na-cule hotel premises, the property of Mr. S. R. Henry, on Wednesday evening. Fortunately the outbreak was discovered before very serious damage was done; and the utmost credit is due to those who assisted in extinguishing the flames. The fire originated in a back room of the hotel occupied by the “boots”; but cause of the outbreak is not at present known. The contents of the room were destroyed.Coleraine Chronicle, 18th September 1909
CARRIG-NA-CULE HOTEL, PORTSTEWART, FAMILY AND COMMERCIAL (NO LICENSE); New Lounge added; overlooking most beautiful bay in Ireland; convenient to Golf Courses, 9 and 18 holes. Moderate rales. Special for large families. SAMUEL R. HENRY. Proprietor. G.P.O. Telephone No. 3. Wires – Henry, Portstewart.Belfast News-Letter, 2nd June 1910