The Riot in Dooley Gate.

Community Historian, Brendan Matthews, with a piece that recalls a riotous event from 1917.

On a warm Sunday afternoon back in July of 1917 a newly formed Pipers Band from St. Mary’s Parish in Drogheda stepped out for the first time in public to take part in the Aerdheacht at the Shamrock Lodge on the north side of the town.

The pipers made their way down Mary St. followed by a large number of people with many of them wearing the Sinn Fein colours and they were joined by a number of men in James St. who carried a Sinn Fein flag which they began waving in a provocative manner much to the annoyance of a large group of women who had gathered to watch the procession on the pavement.

It was believed that these women were in fact relatives of men who were fighting for Britain in France and Belgium during this period of the First World War.

Anyway, when the marchers reached the Bullring the women began to throw stones at them and cries and counter-cries of abuse were also exchanged regarding Irish Nationalism and the Great War; however no one was seriously injured in the incident and the march was allowed to continue by the police to the field at Shamrock Lodge.

On returning home there was again some hostilities between the Pipers Band and members of the public in the Peter St. area.

The following Monday evening, a large crowd, numbering about 200, gathered outside Samson’s public house on Pitcher Hill, just opposite the entrance gates to Millmount, shortly after 10pm and began chanting Nationalist slogans, flag waving and cheering. Soon afterwards another group, which numbered upwards of 400, had gathered at the Bullring; many of these people were actually returning home from a day out at Laytown strand and were standing around as spectators watching the events on the hill above them.

Shortly after 11pm the crowd on Pitcher Hill began running down Mary St. shouting “Up the Rebels” and “Up the Green, White and Yellow”. Much of the crowd who had gathered at the Bullring began to disperse with women and children running in all directions, however a large number of them stood their ground and within minutes sporadic fighting had taken place in the Bullring, Barrack lane and the steps of Pitcher Hill.

The fighting and stone throwing became more intense and it soon developed into a full-scale riot leading into Duleek St. and the Platten road area.

Windows were smashed in many of the houses as the maddening crowd fought each other all the while shouting abuse such as, “Up the Rebels” which was retaliated by shouts of, “Up the Khaki”. A young police Constable by the name of Doherty had his house wrecked in Coolagh St., while a number of houses in Platten Road including the homes of the McEnaney`s and Flood’s were also badly damaged in the incident.

A large force of police arrived on the scene and peace was eventually restored shortly after midnight while the crowd dispersed into the darkness of the night.

In the follow up operations by the R.I.C. six men, all from the “Dooley Gate” district were arrested and charged with riotous behaviour namely Burke, Dyas, Murtagh, Mongay, Rourke and Connor with each one receiving a four month prison sentence; however, this sentence was later reduced by a hefty fine and a bond to keep the peace for twelve months.

The court was told that these young men were of good character and had never before come to the attention of the police and that things had gotten out of hand with the gathering of such a large crowd.

The night, which became known as the “Riot of Dooley Gate”.

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