Belfast Telegraph

Daughter's tribute as Smithfield Market's 'matriarch' dies at 88

Memories: Angel Torley
Memories: Angel Torley

By Staff Reporter

A link with old Belfast was broken this week when it was announced that Annie Torley (88) - for decades a familiar face in the Smithfield Market area - had died.

Mrs Torley (nee Fields) died at her home in Winetavern Street, in the room where she was born, her daughter Angel told the Irish News.

Born in 1931, Mrs Torley worked in the family's grocery shop close to the former main bus station, later diversifying into other retail opportunities in the busy market area.

"When we were kids we remembered the chairs and sofas were piled high with cardigans and coats," Angel (57) told the newspaper.

"She specialised in tights as well and bought them straight from the factory to sell on.

"She was the matriarch of the family.

"She never drank. She never smoked. She loved her chocolate. She was a real people person and everyone loved her."

The old Smithfield Market was just a few feet from the family's terraced home in Winetavern Street.

The characterful, vibrant 19th century market was bombed in 1974.

Packed with small shops selling furniture, carpets and second-hand books, it was tinder-dry, and was consumed within hours by the flames - an irreplaceable part of the city's heritage destroyed.

The heart of the area had gone but the Torleys stayed on, through the following decades of demolition and decay, the closure of the bus station and the construction of CastleCourt shopping centre.

Paying tribute to her mother, Angel wrote on her Facebook page: "We have lost the most beautiful soul our mother Annie after a long battle with dementia...

"Please watch over us we will be so lost without you but now you are with the love of your life once again.

"In life you only get one mother and father we were blessed with the best."

Mrs Torley died peacefully at home on July 16.

The widow of the late Brian Torley, she is survived by her son Pat and daughters Angel and Brenda.

Her remains were cremated at Roselawn on Tuesday.

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