When was the First "Bloody Sunday?"

By | April 18, 2019

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13th November 1887: Policemen fighting a contingent from Clerkenwell Green during a riot in Trafalgar Square. Source: (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

U-2’s song, “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” is well-known to children of the 1980s. But curiously, there is no singular Bloody Sunday. There are, in fact, at least nineteen different Bloody Sundays right up to 1991. But the very first one was well over a century ago.

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The Life Guards guarding Trafalgar Square. Source: (Photo by The Print Collector/Getty Images)

In 1887, economic depression and unemployment were wracking the city of London. There was a strong class system which divided Britain and exacerbated economic woes. Protesters organized by the Social Democratic Federation, the Socialist League, and other radical groups were filling up the famous Trafalgar Square daily. To the horror of the upper classes, these working-class protestors even used the fountains to bathe themselves.

These dissenters were joined by Irish nationalists who called for home rule in Ireland and to protest “Coercion” laws which suspended civil rights in Ireland. Trafalgar Square had become in effect a magnet for dissent since it opened in 1844.