A guide to trace your ancestors from Lurgan, County Armagh and from the County of Armagh

Loyalist Demonstration At Lurgan 1886

Loyalist Demonstration At Lurgan.

The Belfast News-Letter,
Thursday, March 4,


LURGAN, WEDNESDAY – A great meeting of Loyalists was held in the Town Hall here to-night under the auspices of the Loyal and Patriotic Union, for the purpose of protesting against Home Rule. The hall was crowded for a considerable time before the hour fixed for the meeting, and the greatest enthusiasm was manifested on behalf of the Loyalist cause.

Amongst those on or near the platform were : –

Claud Brownlow, J.P.; W. A. Gilbert,
Dr. Adamson, J.P.; W. Anderson,
Robert McConnell, James Jackson,
E. J. Parkinson, John Carrick,
Thomas Reburn, W. Fitzsimons,
William Mahaffy, Dr. Moore,
Samuel W. McBride (chairman of Town Commissioners); Hugh Hayes, Solicitor;   
W. J. Fleming, W. J. O’Neill,
George Douglass, John B. Mahaffy,
James Johnston, Robert McGeown,
J. P. Mathers, John McCormick,
William Gourley, Robert Thompson,
Anthony Cowdy, Robert Cope,
W. J. Thompson, James Campbell,
John N. Thompson, V.S.; H. H. McKee,
John Long, John Gilchrist,
Samuel Taylor, &c., &c.
William Hazleton Alexander,  


On the motion of Mr. J. P. MATHERS, seconded by Mr. JAMES JOHNSTON, Mr. CLAUD BROWNLOW, J.P., was called upon to preside.
The CHAIRMAN, who was received with applause, said they all knew the purpose for which they had come here. That was not a political meeting. (Hear, hear.) They were ready to greet with the right hand of fellowship all who were Loyalists – (applause) – whether Conservatives or Liberals. That was their platform. He was glad to see such a large meeting. It would show that there was a numerous and important party that would never pander to treason nor shake hands with rebels. (Applause.) They must not only attend such demonstrations and show by their presence what they thought on the subject, but they must also endeavour to bring on the subject, but they must also endeavour to bring their friends who differed from them to a right way of thinking on the question. (Hear, hear.) It was their duty to assist by their personal services and by their purses in maintaining the cause of loyalty. (Applause.)

Mr HAYES stated¬†that he had received a telegram from Mr. G. H. Smith, Armagh, regretting his inability to attend; also one from Rev. Thomas Whaley; and a letter of apology from the Ven. the Archdeacon of Dromore (Dr. Campbell). He read the following letter from Mr. William Crawford, who is a Liberal : –

“Lurgan, March 3rd, 1886. – Dear Sir – My sympathies are with you in the object of your meeting to-night, and I heartily wish you success; but as a Liberal in politics, and a believer in many of the measures which Mr. Gladstone has been instrumental in passing for this country, I would prefer waiting till I see whether or not he really contemplates measures which might threaten the unity of the empire or interfere with the well-being of the loyal classes of the country; but should his promised measures, when they be made public, tend to place the control of this country in the hands of the ignorant and lawless classes. I would at once separate myself from his policy, and join with any party that would stand up for the integrity of the empire. I may add that I have serious misgivings as to the result of Mr. Gladstone’s examination and inquiry, not that I in the least suspect his honesty in his endeavour to deal with a truly difficult problem; but I do fear that, as one unacquainted with the general lawlessness of character and widespread desire to possess themselves of other people’s property that actuates a large class of the inhabitants of this country, he may precipitate a crisis from which the only retreat would be civil war. – I am, dear sir, yours truly (signed), W. Crawford. – Hugh Hayes, Esq.”

Rev. MICHAEL BEATTIE, who met with a warm greeting, having apologised for the absence of Rev. Dr. Hannay, vicar of Belfast, moved the following resolution : –

“That this meeting representing a population which has ever been loyal, alike to our gracious Sovereign and to the Constitution of the British Empire, strenuously protests against any attempt to loosen or tamper with the cords which bind us to Great Britain, and emphatically declare our firm conviction that any attempt to govern Ulster by an Irish Parliament will meet with an uncompromising resistance from the Loyalists in all parts of this province.”

He said he was pleased to see before him so large a meeting of all classes and sections of loyal people gathered together to protest against the disintegration of the empire. (Cheers.) They were confronted with a state of things in Ireland which made it imperative on every Irishman to be at his post, and to render what service he could to avert disaster to his country. Trade was paralysed, the national industries crippled, capital banished, merchants threatened with ruin, manufactories closed, land unsaleable, artisans and labourers with their families starving, unable to procure employment. What was the cause ? (Voices – “Parnell and the Land Leaguers.”) This was not all. A crusade of hatred had been preached between class and class, and, worse of all, liberty lay prostrate, trampled under foot, and all classes in the community were made the victims of the vilest system of slavery and terrorism that was ever invented. (Cheers.) One class had been taught to hate another. An odious system of spying had been introduced, until every man had become afraid of his neighbour. Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church had held up Fenian Communists to the people of Ireland as patriots. (Shame.) The most trenchant exposures that had been given against the National Leaguers – Parnell and his followers – had come from Roman Catholic writers. Mr. Gladstone a very short time ago invited all sections to enlighten him on the subject of Home Rule. The late Mr. P. J. Smyth from his dying¬†couch declared in plain language that Parnell’s coercion laws had made the “Island of Saints” a Golgotha, and declared that “murder is unnecessary where the Land League is established,” and that if “Christ himself were to come on the platform and oppose the League he would be booted.”
These were not the emendations of a protestant, but of a sincere Roman Catholic, and an Irish patriot, who in another passage declared, “That where the moral law is ignored the solidarity of the human race perishes, society dissolves, and humanity itself loses its spiritual element, and ceases to be human.” He (the speaker) would trouble the meeting with another reference to a living Roman Catholic – Dr. Maguire, of Trinity College, Dublin. He recently wrote a short pamphlet, “England’s duty to Ireland.” It was to be hoped that so manly an utterance would find its way into the hands of every English statesman. He stated – “We are told the majority will tolerate and protect the minority.” (A Voice – “We will protect ourselves.” (Great applause.) “Everything tells the other way. Boycotting has reached the Dublin tradesmen and shopkeepers.” He declared that under Home Rule “the national police would be composed of the local idlers and village ruffians. (Applause.) The Moonlighter is the miscreant who dances in the blood of a murdered man, and howls for mercy when a brave girl catches hold of his stolen gun.” Those are the degraded serfs who prate about liberty. “Ireland a nation.” Loyalists of Lurgan were gathered there that night to declare that the assumption put forth by the paid agitator was a barefaced fraud. (Cheers.) Were the Loyalists of Ulster going to submit to laws made by Parnell, Sexten, and Healy in College Green ? (Voices – Never.) The Union with Great Britain was the life in their lease. They in Ulster preferred one treasury, one system of taxation. (Hear, hear.) The credit of the United Kingdom stood the highest in Europe, money was ever ready, on payment of a small interest, for drainage, piers, harbours, land purchase, and for labourers’ cottages. (Hear, hear.)
He asked who would supply money to Ireland with a Parliament in College Green ? (A Voice – “No one.”) No, not even the “Old Parliamentary Hand” himself, or a capitalist in Europe, would lend a ten-pound note on any terms. (Cheers.) Within living memory every act calculated to benefit the country had only increased the hatred towards England; and at no period had anti-English rancour been so rampant as at present. (Hear, hear.) The Nationalist Press had taught the people to hate England, and Irish soil had been sown with the seed of rebellion. Should not statesmen, of all shades of politics, rise at the present juncture above party, and declare with one voice that the union between the two countries was as permanent as the monarchy itself, and should be placed under the shelter of a law making it treason-felony to speak or write against it. (Cheers.) England would be less hated if she was more feared. Surely Mr. Gladstone had read Parnell’s statement in Galway, when he declared “he would not have taken off his coat to the work if he had not in view the regeneration of Irish legislative independence.” Again, he declared “who can fix the boundary to the march of a nation.” What further information did Mr. Gladstone and Mr.¬†Morley require than these public utterances of Mr. Parnell.¬†A million and a half of Protestants – and he would add another million of Roman Catholics who had a stake in the country – now appealed to Englishmen to beware of the traitorous designs that were hatched by rebels against the integrity of the empire, against liberty, and religion. (Applause.) Parnellites had too long traded on the good feeling of Englishmen. The Protestants of Ulster appealed to English manhood and justice not to be a party to the handing over of the loyal to the¬†disloyal, to robbery and massacre. (Hear, hear.) A policy embracing Home Rule in any shape would surely bring about a collision and a resort to arms.
If Englishmen should cast them adrift they could not logically hold India or a single foreign possession. (Cheers.) Ulster had spoken recently with a power and meaning unexampled in the annals of Irish loyalty. He referred to the demonstration in Belfast on the occasion of Lord R. Churchill’s visit. (Cheers.) The one hundred and fifty thousand who marched through Royal Avenue had a meaning and a purpose which he hoped would be taken to heart by rebels. The Protestants of to-day were influenced by the same motives which inspired the heroic deeds of their ancestors during the period of the Revolution. They had heard from the lips of penniless poltroons insulting epithets. The plots hatched to kill high and low, rich and poor, could not be forgotten, and it would be difficult to find parallels in any age. Men moved about at night with masks on their faces taking men’s lives, carding women, mutilating dumb, inoffensive animals, just with as much ease as they refreshed themselves with whisky. (Hear, hear.) As long as the intense hatred to England existed and the Irish character unchanged, and until Irish Protestants forget Irish history Home Rule was impossible. (Applause.) Let them remember the solemn words of warning given them by Lord Randolph Churchill. The integrity and unity of the United Kingdom was at stake. England had won her empire by the sword. Were thirty-three millions of British people going to be dictated to by Parnell’s brigade ? (“Never.”) They should never accept Home Rule. They should never accept Parnell’s stipulations and Irish Protestants would never accept the safeguards of any statesman. (Applause.)

Mr. JAMES JOHNSTON, in seconding the resolution, pointed out the necessity of holding such meetings, and urged that every effort should be made to prevent any form of Home Rule coming into operation. The Irish Loyal and Patriotic Union had already done good service, by making the views of Protestants on that question known among the people of Great Britain, and one of the foremost speakers was the member for North Armagh. (Applause.) Major Saunderson, by his address to various audiences in England, as well as by his effective speeches in the House of Commons, had earned for himself their lasting gratitude. (Cheers.)
The resolution was passed unanimously.

Mr. RONEST POLLOCK moved – “That this meeting, representing a population which has ever been loyal alike to our Gracious Sovereign and to the Constitution of the British Empire, strenuously protests against any attempt to loosen or tamper with the cords which bind us to Great Britain, and emphatically declare our firm conviction that any attempt to govern Ulster by an Irish Parliament will meet with an uncompromising resistance from the Loyalists in all parts of their province.”
In the course of his speech he advocated the abolition for the present of party names, and the union of all Loyalists in defence of the integrity of the United Kingdom, which was now so seriously threatened.

Mr. WILLIAM MAHAFFY, in seconding the resolution, said the Loyalists might expect considerable support from such self-sacrificing Liberals as the Marquis of Hartington, – (applause) – and Sir Henry James, who had refused the Lord Chancellorship, with a peerage and ¬£10,000 a year because he could not accept Home Rule. (Cheers.) Mr. Mahaffy also quoted from Dr. Maguire’s pamphlet, showing what an intelligent and educated Roman Catholic thought of the Parnellites.

Mr. HAYES supported the resolution, and said the question would soon be whether the Roman Catholic Church was to be supreme in Ireland, or were the Protestants to be allowed to live in the country. When it did come to that, whoever would leave the country the Protestants of Ulster would stay where they were. (Cheers.)
The resolution was passed.

Mr. Mahaffy having been called to the second chair. Mr. McBRIDE moved, and Mr. JOHNSTON seconded, a vote of thanks to the chairman for presiding.
The motion was passed by acclamation, and Mr. BROWNLOW having replied. The meeting concluded by giving three cheers for the Queen.


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