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St Johnston & Carrigans
Donegal

CARRIGANS SKIRMISH 1938

The newspaper report below, taken from the Derry Standard in October 1938, outlines a 'battle' between local Catholics and Orangemen, who were returning from the Twelfth of August celebrations in Derry, which took place in the village of Carrigans on the night of 13th August, 1938.


A bit of fisticuffs might describe the situation better, perhaps.

What might seem strange, or perhaps not so strange, was that most of the men involved, knew each other well and normally would not have been engaged in such behaviour, but when the drink was in and the old politics of Green and Orange was thrown into the mix, tempers got a bit frayed.

But nobody was seriously hurt and the matter resulted only in a 'day out' in court, where a few shillings of fines were handed down. A few local men were among those who had to hand over the princely sum of five shillings, as a fine. There doesn't seem to be any reports in the following year's papers of a 're-match!' Thankfully, since then, all the citizens of Carrigans have lived side by side, in complete harmony.

Carrigans Riot 1938.

Court hears of Battle Royal in border village.

Derry Standard, October 23rd, 1938.

A battle between Orangemen and Catholics in the Donegal Border village of Carrigans on the Derry-Donegal Border was described at Newtowncunningham court yesterday.

 The event occurred on the night of the Relief of Derry celebrations, August 13th last, when civic guards had to battle charge rival crowds and send to Letterkenny for reinforcements.

Seventeen men from both sides were charged with conduct calculated to a breach of the peace. Two local men, were also charged with being drunk and disorderly and they were each fined five shillings.

The cases against the other defendants were either dismissed or adjourned.

Mr. H. O’Doherty, defending solicitor for some of the defendants, suggested to District Justice Louis J. Walsh, that all the defendants should be formed into a dramatic society and to produce the Justice’s own play, “The Pope in Killybuck.”

The State’s case was that when the Orangemen and Apprentice Boys returned from the Derry celebrations, there was trouble, which became so serious that the guards had to draw their batons and send for more police. One of the defendants said he was a B Special and if he had had a gun, he would have shot ‘all round him’.

During the hearing the evidence of Sergeant Long, there was a scene in the Court and the defendants and spectators, who had gathered round the solicitor’s table, were ordered to stand back. Replying to cross examination by Mr. O’Doherty, Sergeant Long said that Protestants were preponderant in Carrigans.

Mr. O’Doherty to Sergeant Long: “Do you think, as a police officer in such a district, the minority should be afforded special care?”  Sergeant Long: “They have”.

Witness went on to say that in normal times, both parties were law abiding.

A Civic Guard testified that that he took a Union Jack from one defendant, as he was afraid it might cause trouble.

District Justice Walsh said that there was no harm in carrying a flag, but it was provocative in certain circumstances. Superintendent Kelly stated that the trouble had its origins in incidents in May 1935, when shots were fired on Binion Hill, St. Johnston, a nearby village, when bonfires were lit for King George V’s jubilee.

District Justice Walsh said that Donegal was practically free from party trouble as the people were too civilised.

The hearing was adjourned.