Deep in the Dromara Hills and on the fringe of the Mourne Mountains lies the townland and small village of Leitrim, or 'Grey Ridge'.   


Approaching the village, one can't help but be struck by the old world charm of the place.
Very little has changed over the years and it was here that Francis Scott and Elizabeth Herron's children spent their early years, with 'Herron's Bar' and the adjoining FS Herron mill also at the hub of local life.


Indeed, that same mill still flourishes to this day with the sound of it's breathing contrasting with the silence of the village and the surrounding area.


Only if you have a few hours to spare should you mention the name of Tom Herron in the area, once you initiate a conversation about Tom, especially with folk from his generation, chances are you could be there for quite a while. Stories of his 'unofficial testing' round the Backaderry Road/Heron's Road/Kilnhill Road/Dromara Road 'circuit' abound, as do his 'car runs' to Newcastle and back.

To the people of Leitrim, Tom was much more than a superstar in his chosen sport, he was one of their own, the 'quiet man' of Mourne who never forgot where he came from. Some of Tom's relatives still live in the area where he spent many happy years growing up and his name is still revered in the village to this day by young and old alike, indeed locals are almost protective of it.




In the late 1950's Tom and his friend Tony Steele were mad keen on grass-track racing and around this time they hung out at the garage of Patsy Mullen in nearby Castlewellan. Patsy acquired the former police barracks which dated back to the 1830's
and belonged to the Annesley Estate. The premises were vacated by the R.U.C. and leased to Patsy in 1960 for 200 years at 85 per annum where he 
built a motor repair garage at the rear with petrol pumps on the square.
 
(Patsy later bought the building for 1750 in 1976)
The two teenagers spent most of their free time working at their bikes in the garage and would be away racing most weekends. 
However, with a family history steeped in road racing, (his uncles Wilfie and James both raced with much success) Tom soon got the bug and turned up one day with a van load of bike bits and asked to have a road racing machine made up as Tom intended making his debut in the road sport that Saturday. The two lads worked all week through the night and as dusk approached on the Thursday their newly built machine was pushed up Claremont Avenue in the town by Patsy and Tony for an 'unofficial' test session.
Tom was unsuccessful that weekend in the 1960's, but the rest as they say is history.......





The Two Pot Inn

The pub, once owned by the Herron family in Leitrim, is still in operation today. 
The present owners have paid their own tribute to Tom by adorning some of the walls with newspapers clippings, photos etc from his racing days.

Newcastle


"Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea" goes the famous line by Percy French. 

These beautiful, world famous mountains overlook the seaside resort of Newcastle Co. Down and it was to 'Ashleigh' on the Bryansford Road that the Herrons moved from Leitrim. 

The grounds around the house now consist of a new development (called Ashleigh), but the Herron's former home still remains as does Tom's 'local', the Brook Cottage on the same road.




Tom'TW'Herron.com
November 2008

Backaderry Road
Leitrim Co. Down


Tom with his good friend Tony Steele in Joe's Bar at the 1970 Isle of Man TT.
Photo Kindly Supplied by: Eddie Mateer 

Main Photos
Leitrim Village Co. Down, with the former Herron home and bar visible in the centre of the photo.
Tom'TW'Herron.com
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The former Herron home and bar with Tom's workshop to the rear. The mill, once owned by Tom's late father, is in the background.
Tom'TW'Herron.com
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Carefree summer days for a young Tom in Leitrim c. 1950's. In the background is the village shop and pub with the photo on the right depicting the same building from a similar angle in October 2008.
Photos: Herron Family Archive / Tom'TW'Herron.com 
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Riders from N. Ireland pictured with their awards at the Dundalk Club Grass Track Racing end of season dinner, c. 1960. In the back row are, Tom Herron second left, his friend Tony Steele fourth left and Tom's Uncle James Herron fifth right. 
Photo: Herron Family Archive
By Kind Permission
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The Two Pot Inn, Leitrim Co. Down
Tom'TW'Herron.com
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Fun and games at Ashleigh with Tom, Andrea and the great Stanley Woods.
Photo: Herron Family Archive
By Kind Permission