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‘Playing Games with History’ – Arthur Donnelly, First Elected Catholic Representative in Lurgan

by Familia Ulster Genealogical Review: No. 29, 2013


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by David S. Cook

"In How Far from Austerlitz: A Study of Napoleon between 1801-1816, Alastair Horne suggests that students of history love to play with its “what ifs?”

For instance, given that the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 was in Wellington’s own words ‘a damned nice thing — the nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life. … By God! I don’t think it would have been done if I had not been there’, what if Napoleon had been feeling well that morning, or what if Marshal Blucher, ‘Alte Vorwarts’, had not arrived in time.

Horne recounts how both G.M. Trevelyan and Norman Strong entertained their readers with speculation about what might have happened had the result of the Battle of Waterloo gone the other way and Napoleon had won.

The town of Lurgan, County Armagh, is a long way from Waterloo, but the events that took place in the town in 1886 do allow us to indulge in some speculation."

This article examines the life of Arthur Donnelly, who was a very successful businessman and local politician in Lurgan, and one of the first elected Town Commissioners there.