THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Agrarian violence erupts in Fermanagh after fair day

From the News Letter, May 19, 1829

Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 6:00 am
Rosslea, Co Fermanagh. Picture: Kenneth Allen
Rosslea, Co Fermanagh. Picture: Kenneth Allen

The fair at Rosslea which had been held on May 8, 1829, had been a “scene of a most daring outrage”, reported the News Letter on this day in 1829.

Further details told how at about four o’clock that evening that “about 200 Catholics” marched into the fair.

One Protestant fair goer was then attacked and a general cry of “the bill has passed, the country is our own, to hell with the heretics” was heard from those who had invaded the fair.

There then ensued a further general attack on Protestants in the vicinity.

The correspondent from Fermanagh related how there had been “but five police” stationed in Rosslea that day and that they “could not effect anything against such a multitude”.

The Protestants “having their lives thus in jeopardy” had sent messengers to their friends in the country who came to their assistance but were also attack by another large body of men as they rushed to the aid of the Rosslea Protestants.

Three days it was fair day in Enniskillen and the paper’s correspondent wrote that it had been much “disturbed by party quarrels”.

The quarrelling rose to such a pitch, added the correspondent, that the parties “by mutual consent” chose a field outside of the town “to try their strength”.

When the battle commenced, it was reported, “many hard knocks were given and received”.

The police in the district who were under the command of Captain Colclough had great difficulty splitting those involved in the fracas.

Meanwhile, a few days previously about 600 men who had assembled under the pretence to plant potatoes at Derrylin had run amok carrying green and white flags.