by ehistoryadmin on February 19, 2015

‘Rioting in Derry. Celbridge Constable shot.’

James Durney

The Leinster Leader 16 August 1913 carried a page column headline ‘Rioting in Derry. Celbridge Constable shot.’ The shooting occurred during the marching season in the north of Ireland and the Leader had this to say:

On Tuesday, the Orange celebrations in connection with the anniversary of the “Relief of Derry,” were marked by serious riots. Trainloads of Orange men from Belfast, Portadown and other centres paraded the streets using provocative party expressions and conflicts with Nationalists occurred. Constable John Barry, of Celbridge, was shot in the region of the heart. Three hundred extra police were drafted into the city and mounted police charged the crowds with drawn swords.

Rioting was renewed on Wednesday and Thursdays nights, and a man named Armstrong in a Unionist quarter was shot dead by a member of the revolver firing Unionist crowd while looking out of a window. A boy and a girl of a Nationalist quarter are also reported to be wounded. Constable Barry is being treated in hospital and his condition is grave.

The Relief of Derry celebrations were held every August to commemorate the events of the same month in 1689 when the 105-day siege of the city by Jacobites was broken. The 1913 parade attracted a large crowd from outside Derry and Orange supporters arrived by train from Belfast, Lurgan, Portadown, Coleraine and other major unionist areas across Ulster. Following a religious service in the Cathedral the Orangemen marched through the main thoroughfares of the city, led by banners and bands playing traditional Orange tunes like ‘Boyne Water,’ ‘Protestant Boys,’ and ‘Dolly’s Brae.’ The rioting came as no surprise as 300 RIC men had been drafted into the city from around the country, including policemen based in Co. Kildare.

Earlier in the week there had been disturbances in Belfast when an excursion party of transport workers and their wives and children were attacked as they made their way to the seaside town of Portrush. The RIC had to protect the day-trippers as they made their way to the trains and a large mob also attacked them on their return.

The disturbances in Derry and Belfast came within a week of the end of Edward Carson’s tour of Ulster, which began on 12 July and ended on 8 August in Omagh, Co. Tyrone when Carson reviewed 3,000 members of the Ulster Volunteer Force. The militant mood was encouraged by Carson who told the assembly that ‘we will not have Home Rule – we will not have it!’

Constable Barry was shot as he tried to apprehend one of the rioters on Foyle Street. According to the Derry correspondent of The Freeman’s Journal, Constable Barry was spared death when the bullet, on striking him, glanced off the notebook that was in his breastpocket. Nevertheless, the young constable was seriously injured, the bullet having lodged in the muscles of his back after coursing the round from the breastbone at the point of entry.

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