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Lurgan Coat of Arms The Armagh Guardian

3 September, 1879  

CATHOLIC RIOTERS IN LURGAN

The disturbances which were commenced on Lady Day by the Home Rulers in Lurgan, were resumed again next evening, and for several hours, Edward Street and the principle thoroughfares adjoining, were the scene of most serious and determined rioting on the part of the Roman Catholics. The remains of the unfortunate lad, Furley, who was shot on Friday were interred in the local Roman Catholic Cemetery. A large number were present and everything in connection therewith passed off quietly. A number of Home Rulers and Nationalists gathered in from the country districts during the day, and many of these, as far as can be ascertained, remained in town during the night.

Up till dusk there were no signs that any disturbance would take place, but as darkness wore on, groups of grown up boys and men began to assemble in Edward Street and at the corners of streets occupied by Roman Catholics. In a short time these groups amalgamated in Brown Street and began to throw stones at houses occupied by Protestants. Without the slightest provocation several houses in Edward Street, between Hill Street and John Street were wrecked.

Another Roman Catholic mob assembled at the junction of Shankill Street and Edward Street and conducted themselves in the most riotous manor. A small number of Protestants gathered in self defence and stones were eventually interchanged. The Catholic mob then proceeded to Hill Street and were going up that street indulging in party cries, when they were met by the Protestant party and send back to Edward Street. Shortly afterwards a mob from Arthur Street attacked the windows of a widow called Mrs. Smith, a Protestant who keeps a public house, and a general state of disorder prevailed and the Catholics wrecked whatever houses they found occupied from those differing from them in Edward Street. The grocery establishment of a Protestant named Mr. Robert Nicholson, situated at the corner of Shankill and Edward Streets was wrecked from top to bottom. The violence of the mob did not satisfy itself with throwing stones at the glass which was exposed, but they tore off the shutters and shattered the shop windows to pieces, not a particle of the sashes being left.

The rowdies also went upon plunder and took some grocery goods and the sum of 35 shillings which was lying in the till. The house of another Protestant named Samuel Taylor, baker, was also treated in a similar manner, the windows being smashed, but not goods were taken out of the premisses, as the two cwt bags of flour piled on the floor were perhaps too heavy to be easily carried away. The furniture in both houses was injured. The police, when this was going on, charged the mob several times as well as they could in the darkness, but on hearing them the rioters disappeared down by streets or into houses. Repeated charges were made, but to no effect. The mob continued to act in the same lawless and excited manner, firing at times regular volleys from firearms and throwing stones. During the riotous proceedings, the house of one of the most inoffensive men in the town, a scripture reader named David Evans, who is at present in a delicate state of health, was wrecked. The police barrack also suffered three windows being broken in it.

Towards midnight the Catholic mob threw stones at the gate lodge of the manner house, the residence of the respected agent of Lord Lurgan, Mr. John Hancock J.P. No one is resident in the lodge at the present time, but beyond breaking the panes in the gable siding Edward Street, the rioters did no further damage. While this was going on the Protestant party in Hill Street, who never were in large numbers, remained principally on the defensive and they only came in contact one with the Catholic mob. That was when an attempt by them was made to proceed up that street, in which the houses are almost all occupied by Protestants.

The windows of three Roman Catholics were broken. At about half past 12 o'clock matters began to improve if such a word can be used and the rioting became less serious, simply because the rowdies who had held the streets for such a lengthened time, had left little more work in the shape of wrecking houses to be done, there being scarcely a Protestant house in the lower end of Edward Street and some of the adjoining streets which has not suffered. When the rioting was proceeding a Roman Catholic named Thomas Rowan, a weaver residing in Shankill Street, had his right hand blown off by some explosive, or the bursting of some weapon. It has not yet been explained how he received his injury, but he was taken to the union hospital where he was attended to. After matters had quieted the police patrolled the district, and shortly after the peace of the town was restored.

The disorder which prevailed has scarcely ever been equalled in Lurgan. The exact nature of the damage done was not known until daybreak. The upper end of Edward Street and the streets adjoining, from Shankill Street down presented the appearance of a little town that had withstood a siege. The streets were thickly strewn over with stones, many of which must have been carried some distance as they were the type such as would be found in a field. The locality was visited by a considerable number of inhabitants from other areas of the town and great surprise was expressed at the extent of the depredations. Mr. Nicholson, whose shop had been broken open and goods stolen has been obliged to leave the dangerous position which he occupied in the very midst of the pound and take premisses elsewhere.

The bad feeling which prevailed in Lurgan appears to have spread to the country, for on Saturday night a disgraceful outrage was perpetrated on an inoffensive Protestant named David Corner, in the townland of Derrytrasna, in the district known as the Montiaghs, about six miles from Lurgan. It seems that Corner and two or three others were proceeding home to the Bannfoot with horses and carts, when a mob of about 100 attacked them. Corner's companions succeeded in escaping, but he was not so fortunate, as he was severely kicked and beaten by the ruffians and his horse killed. None of the perpetrators of this outrage have been arrested. The owners of the houses which were maliciously damaged in Lurgan applied for compensation in the amount of 555.9s and it was expected that other claims would be made.

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