THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: From the News Letter of November 1930

Church anger at coursing meeting to be held on Armistice Day

Thursday, 12th November 2020, 8:43 am
The Mayor of Carrickfergus, Alderman Hugh McClean looks over the cannon which was flown in to the castle by military helicopter in October 1977. He is pictured with Sergeant George Turner (74) (AA) Engineers, left, and Lieutenant S Wilson 114 Field Squadron. Picture: News Letter archives
The Mayor of Carrickfergus, Alderman Hugh McClean looks over the cannon which was flown in to the castle by military helicopter in October 1977. He is pictured with Sergeant George Turner (74) (AA) Engineers, left, and Lieutenant S Wilson 114 Field Squadron. Picture: News Letter archives

A vigorous protest had been made in the Protestant Churches of Ballymoney during this week in 1930 against the holding of a coursing meeting near the town on Armistice Day.

The Reverend J T Armstrong, MA, preaching in the parish church on the words, “Whence come wars,” said that “wherever we saw callousness we have an answer”.

He asked: “Was callousness only to be found in Germany? What about its place in Ballymoney?”

King William arrives at Carrickfergus Castle in June 1969. Picture: News Letter archives

The Rev Armstrong continued: “During the last few weeks we have seen posters announcing a coursing meeting on 11th November. A feeling of shame and disgust fills me. I consider it an insult to our community that a day which calls up many memories should have been selected for to brutal a form of so-called sport. The thing in itself is a nasty business, but to choose that day and the hour at which it was to be held was an unpardonable offence.

“I have been told it is a legal sport. I want to associate myself with the outcry which has been going up in many districts of the province, and I hope you will all join in demanding that it should be stopped at once.

“A sport which is engaged in so callously must be stopped.”

‘The interesting origin of the two- minute silence’

Council dignitaries process in front of Carrickfergus Castle in the 1980s. Picture: News Letter archives

It is not generally known that the two-minute silence now observed the length and breadth of the British Empire, on Armistice Day, had its origin in Belfast, reported the News Letter in November 1930.

In July, 1916, when the great conflict was at its height, Sir Crawford McCullagh, who was then Lord Mayor, issued a request that instead of holding the usual Twelfth demonstration the citizens, as a tribute to the memory of the men of the Ulster Division who had fallen, should remain at their work, and at noon pause for five minutes.

The News Letter commented: “The idea of hushing the city into silence at its busiest hour in memory of the gallant dead and out of sympathy with the wounded, made an instant appeal.

“The Grand Lodge of the Orange Institution adopted the suggestion, as also did the brethren of the Independent Orange Order, and at the appointed hour a great silence fell upon the city. Blinds in houses and shops were drawn, business and traffic ceased, and the people stood solemnly and sadly in the streets.”