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

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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.

    Like

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

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