[Summary: The October Fair was not just an agricultural event; as it represented a massive gathering of the rich, powerful, and not so prominent, it was the scene of major political meetings, especially before the arrival of mass transportation. These articles, taken from 1826 and 1828, report on the sectarian activities of Lord Clancarty and the attempts by the restless Catholic gentry and emerging middle class to counter them.]
BIBLICAL OUTRAGE AT BALLINASLOE
[From the Freeman's Journal]
We, the undersigned, certify that we attended the adjourned meeting at Ballinasloe, for considering the proceedings of the London Hibernian Society, on Thursday, Oct. 12th, 1826, and that after the resolution was disposed of, and Lord Dunlo had quitted the chair, Mr. Eneas McDonnell moved that the Hon. Gonville Ffrench should take the chair; upon which a large body of police, amounting to about 30 in number, were set upon the people with drawn swords, carbines, and bayonets, and violently assaulted the Catholics, without in any way molesting any other persons; and though frequently commanded by the Hon. Gonville Ffrench, a magistrate of the county of Galway, to desist, and the meeting being perfectly peaceable, they did not desist, and were not restrained or countermanded by Lord Dunlo, Archdeacon Trench, Dean Mahon, or Walter McDonough, magistrates of the county of Galway, then present. Several were struck and knocked down in the presence of those magistrates:--
L. Dillon, P.P.
Denis O'Callaghan, P.P.
Thos. Tully, Rathfarm
N. P. McConnell
N. J. French
And about 30 other gentlemen. The certificates of 17 persons present are added.
Source: The Times, 17 October 1826, p. 3
CONNAUGHT PROVINCIAL MEETING
The great Provincial Meeting of Connaught, held on Wednesday last at Ballinasloe, should be considered the most important which has been held in Ireland, for at this meeting the resolutions adopted may be justly described as the joint work of the Catholics and Protestants of the province. It was, in point of fact, as stated in the requisition, a meeting of the Friends of Civil and Religious Liberty, and the resolutions passed at the chapel of Ballinasloe were moved alternatively by Protestants and Catholics. A Protestant Gentleman, one of the Members for the county Galway, Mr. James Lambert, was in the chair. The first resolution was moved by the Most Rev. Dr. Kelly, the Catholic Archbishop of Tuam; the second by Mr. Fitzstephen French, brother of the member for the county of Roscommon, and whose pretensions to the county of Sligo we expect to see realized at the next election. Another resolution was moved by Lord French, a Catholic nobleman; the next by Mr. Dominick Browne, the late member for the country of Mayo, and whom his county and his province expect again to see elevated to that proud station; one by Mr. Hearne, of Hearnsbrook, a Catholic gentleman of large possessions in the county of Galway, and who, for the first time, came forward in Catholic polities, roused by the taunts and insults of the Brunswickers to those public exertions for which his talents manifestly quality him so well; and another by Mr. Kelly, of Cargans, a Protestant gentleman of high rank in the same county. In this way the series of resolutions were disposed of, and the Catholics and Protestants of this interesting province have manifested to the empire, that all the efforts of the Orangemen and Brunwickers have proved unavailing -- and that Connaught, at least in its three principal counties, Galway, Mayo, and Roscommon, have repudiated with contempt and indignation, the slanders heaped upon the Protestants of Ireland by the rev. organs of the Orangemen and the Brunswickers. The resolutions were drawn up on the model of those passed in Munster, and in several instances in the very words of the resolutions passed at Clonmel. All the scruples, therefore, of Mr. Thomas Martin and his friends were removed, and that gentleman most cheerfully in the spirit of the Munster resolutions, and with the qualification adopted by the meeting at Ballinasloe. Thus, in the proceedings there was no allusion made to county politics, and whatever may have been the personal predilections of the individuals concerned, we had the gratification of witnessing at the dinner which followed, in an assembly of 170 Connaught gentlemen, Catholics and Protestants, where the utmost harmony, hilarity, good-fellowship, and good feeling prevailed. To show the utter failure which the conspirators against the peace and happiness of the country sustained, it is only necessary to state, that while the gentlemen of Connaught, Protestant and Catholic, were engaged in preparing their resolutions, there was an attempt made to get up a Brunswick club in Ballinasloe; and in the assembled province (for the may be said to have assembled in the place) they mustered two gentlemen, -- namely, Lord Dunlo and Mr. Kelly of Castlekelly. -- Dublin Evening Post
Source: The Times, 15 October 1828, p. 3
We are authorized to state, that the Protestant Archbishop of Tuam discountenanced the late meeting of Brunswickers in Ballinasloe, and to add, that none of the clergy of his see assisted at the meeting.
This paragraph is important as it regards the Ballinasloe Brunswickers; but it is more important in another way. We give Dr. Trench credit for not joining his brother, the Earl of Clancarty, in the futile attempt to plant dragon's teeth in the county of Galway. But we beg the reader to observe the effect which the Archbishop's prohibition produced. Not one of the clergy under his Grace's immediate control, not even Archdeacon Trench, assisted at the meeting. The persons who speeched away upon that occasion were from the dioceses of Dr. Butson and of Dr. Leslie. If these prelates -- in the Irish Protestant prelates in general -- if Dr. Magee, Dr. Mant, the two Drs. Beresford, and all the rest of the Right Reverend and Most Reverend Doctors prohibited their clergy from assisting at those meetings, the great scandal which has fallen on the Protestant Clergy of Ireland, and the intolerable mischiefs which they are endeavouring to do their country, would be avoided. -- Dublin Evening Post
Eleven hundred and seventy-four pounds and ten shillings and four-pence are the costs in the late proceedings of Dean Trench against Counsellor Eneas McDonnell.
Source: The Times, 5 November 1828, p. 3