As news of Swanzy’s assassination spread a crowd gathered in Market Square. Their anger soon turned to violence, and they rushed Isabella Gilmore’s confectionery shop on Cross Row (Market Square East today) – directly opposite the murder scene – and looted and burned the premises. Gilmore’s sons were well-known ‘Sinn Féiners’. Next, the mob turned to McKeever’s Public House on Bridge Street. In the process of looting the premises, the publican was shot. On nearby Linenhall Street, the A.O.H Hall was burned, as was O’Shea’s and Connolly’s in Market Square. On Haslem’s Lane William Shaw, Lisburn’s only Sinn Féin councillor was badly beaten, and James Strong, a recent Sinn Féin candidate for the Board of Guardians, had the contents of his home on Bachelors Walk emptied and burned in the street.
This initial wave of rioting broadly targeted the handful of Sinn Féin activists in Lisburn and the town’s constitutional nationalists, notably through the A.O.H. Hall. But, as the day wore on, the rioters turned to the wider Catholic population, and swathes of Market Square, Bow Street and surrounding streets were looted and burned. Many protestant-owned businesses were also damaged.
The military was brought in from Belfast to protect St Patrick’s Church on Chapel Hill and the Convent on Seymour Street. As the Belfast News Letter remarked, there was a great deal of burning, arson and looting. Lisburn was like ‘an episode in Dante’s Inferno’.
On Monday morning Lisburn was quiet, but by the early afternoon fires had been set in and around the town. Soon, the Comrades of the Great War Club and Todd Bros’ public house on Market Square succumbed to flames and Donaghy’s Boot Factory was burned, having been looted the previous day. A body, believed to be a looter, was found in the smouldering ashes. Further down Bow Street, Redmond Jefferson’s yard was burned, and – in just one scene of many – looters could be seen hurling armfuls of goods out on to the streets, and casually helping themselves.
The violence reached a crescendo late on Monday evening. On one end of the town The County Down Arms on Hillhall was looted while, at the other, there were ‘wild’ attacks on Catholic homes in and around Chapel Hill and Longstone street. The parochial house off Longstone Street was set alight. Rioters allegedly ‘danced around in priests’ vestments’ as the house was raised to the ground.