THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Impressive funeral scenes as the toll of the gunmen rises

From the News Letter, February 19, 1922

By Darryl Armitage
Friday, 19th February 2021, 6:00 am

The News Letter on this day in 1922 reported that the 36th victim of ongoing violence in Belfast had died in the Mater Hospital the previous evening.

But the paper added that the impressive scenes at the funeral of Mr Hugh French earlier that day had been a stark reminder of the rising toll of the gunmen in the city.

Mr French had been killed during a shooting incident in the New Lodge Road district of Belfast earlier in the week.

Leaders of unionism, Sir James Craig and Sir Edward Carson. In a letter to the widow of Mr William Waring, the caretaker of the Clifton Street Orange Hall, who had been killed by a Sinn Feiner in February 1922 the private secretary to the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Sir James Craig, wrote: “Dear Mrs Waring – The Prime Minister of Northern Ireland wishes me to convey to you his deepest sympathy in your terrible loss. He is inexpressibly shocked and distressed at the treacherous death of your dear husband at the hands of brutal assassins.”

He had been a keen sportsman and was one of the pioneers of the Cliftonville Bowling Club and he was also associated to Cliftonville Football Club.

He was also connected with the Masonic and Orange Orders and was also a member of the Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes.

At his funeral, noted the News Letter, there was a large turnout of the special constabulary (“B class”) in which Mr French had served for some time.

Meanwhile, a letter from the private secretary to the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Sir James Craig, had been received by the widow of the late Mr William Waring, the caretaker of the Clifton Street Orange Hall, who had been killed by a Sinn Feiner earlier that week.

The letter read as follows: “Dear Mrs Waring – The Prime Minister of Northern Ireland wishes me to convey to you his deepest sympathy in your terrible loss. He is inexpressibly shocked and distressed at the treacherous death of your dear husband at the hands of brutal assassins.”