“The Belfast Riot”


Election day, going to vote, Malcolm McKay is murdered by "bloodthirsty Irishmen"; "the Irish ... Each one with his weapon [blessed by a priest] ... Our noble Scotch heroes made them all run away"; 27 Irishmen and no Scotchmen are killed.


"...election day, March 1, 1847 ... pitted 200 mainly Irish supporters of the Reform candidates against 200 mainly Scottish adherents of the Conservative candidates.... Three were killed, one Scotsman and two Irishmen. That this incident occurred in a district incidentally called Belfast, that one side was predominately Irish and Catholic and the other predominantly Scottish and Presbyterian, and that a contemporary controversy over the use of the Bible in the public schools was a proximate issue -- these circumstances gave credence to the belief, especially among the Scots, that the Belfast riot was a critical battle in a holy war, or at least in a contest of national pride and honour." (source: _A 'New Ireland Lost': The Irish Presence in Prince Edward Island_ by Brendan O'Grady on The Irish in Canada site.

"Malcolm McRae ... died March 01, 1847 in Belfast, PEI, Canada." (source: The [Prince Edward] Island Register site); the ballad makes the name "Malcolm McKay." - BS

Historical references

  • Mar 1, 1847 - Election day riot Belfast, PEI; Malcolm McRae killed (see notes)

Cross references


  1. Dibblee/Dibblee, pp. 74-76, "The Belfast Riot" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Roud #12462
  3. BI, Dib075


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1973 (Dibblee/Dibblee)
Found in: Canada(Mar)