Duffy’s Circus is in town at the moment setting up in the car park of the Parochial Centre at the bottom of Annagher Hill. Duffy’s have been coming to Coalisland for many many years but their relationship with the locals hasn’t always been a happy one. The following reports are from the Irish Times in 1906.
“Circus Party Attacked: Coalisland, Tuesday. Duffy’s Circus arrived in this town at a late hour on Sunday evening and pitched their tents in a field at Annagher, adjacent to the village. Yesterday about dinner hour, James E. Bradley, a Gaelic Leaguer was crossing close by the circus near a route to his residence, when he was intercepted, it is said, by one of the circusmen, who, it appears, refused to allow him to proceed that way. Some words followed, and an encounter took place. It is alleged that thereupon a number of circusmen maltreated Bradley. The news of the affair rapidly spread through the mills and factories, with the result that about the hour fixed for the performance, fully 500 people had assembled on the surrounding hills, bent on a rigorous boycott. No sooner had a few parties taken their seats in the circus than a fuselage of stones came down upon the canvass, and matters assuming a serious aspect, about nine of the circusmen, armed with revolvers and swords, mounted their horses and kept the crowd at a distance. Shortly afterward the police arrived and several baton charges ensued. Some of the circusmen were injured, and in the melee, Sergeant M’Ehlinney and Constable Bell, Coalisland, and Constable Kelly, Stewartstown, were injured. The crowds kept their ground, the police unable to cope with them. Subsequently, the Rev. S. Brown, C.C. appeared on the scene, and the crown shortly afterward dispersed. . . . It is stated that Mr. Duffy intends to claim compensation to the extent of £25. . . .” (The Irish Times, 13 October 1906)
Twenty-five men were charged for the assault on Duffy’s Circus on October 8th at Stewartstown Petty Sessions (The Irish Times, 8 Nov 1906)