THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: News Letter refutes claims of alleged Orange rowdyism

From the News Letter, May 10, 1906

Monday, 10th May 2021, 6:00 am
Rathfriland No 3 District officers accompanied by the Master and Deputy Master of Drumlough Heroes LOL No 153 lead the 12th morning parade in Rathfriland in 2005. Picture: News Letter archives

On this day in 1906 the News Letter responded to a “long report” which had been published in the Irish News which was published under the “glaring heading” of Orange Ruffianism Rampant in Rathfriland.

The News Letter remarked that one of the newspaper’s correspondents had “made full inquiries” into “the charges contained” in the report.

They remarked: “Much indignation exists amongst the respectable inhabitants of Rathfriland, both Roman Catholic and Protestant alike, at the virulent report.

A more untruthful and exaggerated report it would be impossible to conceive.”

The correspondent continued: “It is nothing short of a public outrage to stigmatise the town of Rathfriland as being rampant with Orange ruffianism and blackguardism. The whole report is a complete tissue of falsehoods from beginning to end, and was evidently written for the purpose of creating ill-feeling and sectarian bitterness amongst the people of the town.”

As far as the authorities in the town, noted the correspondent, the state of the town had “was never in a more peaceable and satisfactory state, there being a great decrease in drunkenness and everything that would tend to riotous or disorderly conduct. The town was never freer from anything of a party element than at the present time, and it is simply scandalous that any newspaper should print such a fabrication”.

In reference to the incident at Rathfriland as was reported by the Irish News the News Letter’s correspondent asked: “If such a state of affairs existed as described in the report, how is it that not a single summons was ever lodged in reference to the matter at the police barracks, or not a single summons taken out by any of the aggrieved parties?”

They continued: “Last Wednesday was the monthly fair and as it was the May hiring fair there were a large number of farm servants in Rathfriland. The day was wet and consequently there was a good deal of drunkenness in the evening and one or two altercations took place but nothing in the nature of a party row occurred nor anything in the nature of a riot.”