Derrybeg

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A view of Derrybeg from Maghergallon.

Doirí Beaga[1] (anglicised as Derrybeg)[2] is a Gaeltacht village and townland in the parish of Gweedore (Gaoth Dobhair) in County Donegal, Ireland. It includes a Roman Catholic church, RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta regional studios, a Gaelic Athletic Association club and a golf club.

History[edit]

During the Land War of the 1880s, the people of Derrybeg were led by Fr. James McFadden (Irish: Séamus Mac Pháidín), who urged his parishioners to support the Land League and the Plan of Campaign. After a series of anti-landlord sermons, the Resident Magistrate ordered Father McFadden's arrest.

On Sunday 3 February 1889, Royal Irish Constabulary District Inspector William Limbrick Martin (locally known as An Mháirtínigh) arrived at Derrybeg's Roman Catholic church, Teach Phobail Mhuire with the intention of arresting Father McFadden immediately after Mass. As Father McFadden left the church interior, he was still dressed in his vestments and was carrying the Eucharist in the Ciborium. Upon seeing Father McFadden, District Inspector Martin drew his sword and charged the priest with the blade upraised.

Horrified, Father McFadden's parishioners cried that District Inspector Martin was attacking the priest with a sword and attacked the policeman. District Inspector Martin was severely beaten and died upon the spot.

Father McFadden and his parishioners were arrested and tried for first degree murder. A change of venue was granted to Crown prosecutors, who were also allowed to pack the jury with Protestants.

In his 1928 memoirs, Tim Healy, who defended Father McFadden and his parishioners, described how he had argued the case at trial. Healy reminded the court that, under English law, it was a death penalty offense to strike a judge in his robes. He explained that, to the Catholics of Donegal, it was even more horrendous of a crime to assault a priest in his vestments. In response to Healy's statements, the Crown prosecutors offered a plea bargain which spared all defendants the death penalty. Father McFadden was sentenced to time served and his parishioners received prison sentences of varying degrees.[3][4]

District Inspector William Martin was buried in the Church of Ireland cemetery in Ballyshannon, under an inscription which described him as having been, "cruelly murdered while nobly doing his duty at Derrybeg."

References[edit]

Coordinates: 55°05′N 8°17′W / 55.083°N 8.283°W / 55.083; -8.283

External links[edit]