Ballygiblin Riots in Carleton Place — Were We Bad to the Bone?

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My friend Dave Goodings told me yesterday that legend was:  Almonte folks are not supposed to associate with the Carleton Place Irish folks, and especially on St. Patrick’s Day.  As he said, “it’s something to do with us being Scottish, me thinks.” The 19th century magazines such as Punch Magazine have long bastardized the image of Irishmen. It’s not that the Irish are cynical. It’s been said that they have a wonderful lack of respect for everything and everybody.

My grandfather was a tenant farmer on the estate of The Beechers of Ballygiblin House, North Cork, Ireland where a mass immigration erupted from the area. We Ballygiblins did not settle in Bytown/Ottawa like some of the other Irish, but instead settled in Lanark County around the Mississippi River and in and around the towns of Perth, Innisville, Carleton Place (Morphys Falls) and Almonte( Shipmans Mills). As if there wasn’t enough of us, in 1823 another wave of Irish from County of Cork came to settle in Ramsay township, including locations near Carleton Place.


The Ballygiblin riots of 1824 began at a militia muster at Morphy’s Falls/Carleton Place, and were incited in part by objectionable conduct on the part of one of the local officers, Captain Glendinning. Sparked by local Protestant colonists in the Lanark military settlements who resented what they felt was the preferential treatment given to Robinson’s new Catholic arrivals. Hugh Bolton of Carleton Place was taken prisoner by drunken rioters during the riots. In a one-sided brief skirmish at Shipman’s Mills on the first day of fighting, several of the Irish settlers were wounded. What the hell difference does it make if it was left or right? There were good men hurt!


The affrays ended in a misguided raid on the Irish settlement headquarters at Almonte by a large force of militiamen and others, sponsored by district authorities of Perth. One of the Irish was killed by gunfire from one of the raiders.

At least 40 deaths in Bytown/Ottawa were attributed to shiner attacks and the Brockville Record called the shiners “demons in human shape”. In fact three shiners had been arrested in Perth for an attack on James Johnston, but a local gang of Irishmen broke in and rescued them. What’s the use of being Irish if the world doesn’t break your heart?

This group partially represented the beginning of the Shillelagh as a weapon in Ontario. It was nothing but a simple long slender, blunt, hand-held, generally wooden ‘sticks’ for fighting. In 1836 the Shiners became the terror of all the local lumbermen.

Better the staff than words, as the English language does not bring out the best in the Irish. The Irish court the English like a beautiful woman. They make it bray with donkey laughter. They hurl it at the sky like a paint pot full of rainbows, and then make it chant a dirge for man’s fate and man’s follies that is as mournful as misty spring rain crying over the fallow earth. I mean, there are only two kinds of people in the world, the Irish, and those who wish they were.
“It’s Not so Bad Being Bad as an Irishman.”  After all–The quiet Irish are about as harmless as a powder magazine built over a match factory.

Quotes from JFK, Yeats, and Brendan Behan

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About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

3 responses »

  1. What a great article Linda! love hearing about the old rivalries and my understanding of it only goes back to the old high school days where the two towns competed in sports…my Dad only arrived in Almonte in the 70’s so I don’t have any family heritage with Almonte or CP but know many that do.

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  2. Pingback: What I Did on Beckwith Heritage Days – Alexander Stewart – Ballygiblin Heroe | lindaseccaspina

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