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

Lurgan (Lady Day) Riots – Extensive House Wrecking 1879

Renewed Disturbances – Extensive House Wrecking.

The Belfast News-Letter,
Monday, August 18,


LURGAN, SUNDAY – The disturbances which were commenced on Lady Day by the Home Rulers in this town were renewed again last evening, and for several hours Edward Street and the principal thoroughfares adjoining were the scene of most serious and determined rioting on the part of the Roman Catholics. The greatest excitement prevailed, and the inhabitants were much terrified by the riotous behaviour of the mob. Yesterday afternoon the remains of the unfortunate lad Furfey, who was shot on Friday, were interred in the 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 at 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 collected at the junction of Shankill Street and Edward Street, and conducted themselves in the most riotous manner. A small number of Protestants collected 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 sent back into Edward Street. Shortly afterwards a mob from Arthur Street attacked the windows of a widow, named 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 by 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 a sum of 35s, which was lying in the till.

The house of another Protestant named Mr. Samuel Taylor, baker, was also treated in a similar manner, the windows being smashed, but no goods were taken out of the establishment, as the 2cwt bags of flour piled on the floor were perhaps rather heavy to carry away easily. 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 manor 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 not do further damage. This lodge is the last building on the one side of the street, and the mob then retraced their steps and renewed their attack on those houses which remained intact in Edward Street.

While all 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 once with the Catholic mob. That was when an attempt was made by them to proceed up that street in which the houses are almost all occupied by Protestants. The windows in the houses of three Roman Catholics were broken. About half-past twelve o’clock matters began to improve – if such a word can be employed – and the rioting became less serious, simply because the rowdies who 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. To show the persistency of the attacks made on the houses of the Protestants it might be stated that one dwelling-house has no fewer than thirty-one panes broken. 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 the injury, but he was taken to the union hospital, where he was attended to by Dr. Adamson, Dr. Russell, Dr. McCorry, and Dr. Gibben, and it was found necessary to amputate a portion of the forearm. The man lies in a precarious condition, and about two o’clock today Mr. James Malcolm, J.P., and Sub-Inspector Webb attended at the hospital to take his depositions, but he was then in a deep sleep. It was stated that there were indications of lockjaw setting in, but up to a late hour to-night such had not taken place. After matters had quieted the police patrolled the district, and shortly after two 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. It only then became known how general had been the wrecking. The upper end of Edward Street and the streets adjoining, from Shankill Street down, presented this morning the appearance of a little town that had withstood a siege.  The streets were thickly strewn over with stones, and these must have been carried from a distance, as some of the missiles lying on the roadway were stones such as would be found in a field. A bag was picked up in which it is supposed stones were carried. During to-day the locality was visited by a considerable number of respectable inhabitants belonging to other portions of the town, and great surprise was expressed at the extent of the depredations.  Among the places wrecked are the houses belonging to the following Protestants : –

The premises of 
Mr. Thomas McCarrison,  Baker;
Mr. William Gilbert & Co.,  Linen Manufacturer; 
Mr. Joseph Comer,  Linen Manufacturer;  
Mrs. Smyth,  Publican; 
Mr. Charles Neill,  Pawnbroker; 
Mrs. Black,   
Mr. William Robinson,  Painter; 
Mr. J. C. Hanna,  Grocer; 
Mr. George Linn,   
Mr. John Linn.   


The town was quiet to-day, but a very uneasy feeling prevailed, and the disturbances were the constant theme of conversation. It was also remarked that on Lady Day there was no opposing mob to cause the disturbances. The magistrates, Captain Redmond, R.M. (Dungannon); Captain Whelan, R.M. (Portadown); Captain Peel, R.M. (Letterkenny); Mr. J. Malcolm, J.P.; and Mr. Johnston, J.P.; together with County Inspector Reamsbottom, Sub-Inspectors Fulton,(King’s County), Barry (Leitrim), and H. B. Lynch (Roscommon), held several consultations during the day, and arrangements were made for the preservation of the peace in the evening. At dusk the police were stationed at the several points where it was apprehended that disturbances might take place. The evening was very wet and the streets presented a quiet appearance. Here and there were to be seen knots of grown up lads collected in gateways, but up to the time when this despatch was forwarded no further breach of the peace occurred. During the riots in the morning twenty of the police sustained injuries by being struck with stones.



LURGAN, MONDAY MIDNIGHT – This evening has passed off peaceably. Serious apprehensions were entertained that the disturbances would be renewed; but the authorities placed the 200 extra police on duty in the disturbed districts, and these were afterwards reinforced by 50 men who arrived in town during the evening. In Hill Street and Edward Street, crowds collected, but they did not manifest a desire to engage in hostilities, nor would it have been possible for them to have done so, as, at the junction of the two streets a large force of constabulary was stationed, and smaller bodies were located at every place where there was any danger of disturbances breaking out.

Several parties of police at the same time patrolled through the disturbed district. Firearms were occasionally discharged by the crowd. It is stated that the employes in Lord Lurgan’s demesne have requested that a searching investigation should be made with reference to the allegation that stones were thrown at the procession out of the demesne, which they say, is wholly devoid of foundation. 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 homewards to the Bannfoot, with horses and carts, when a mob of about 100 persons 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 the outage have been arrested.


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