1914 news report shows Pittsburgh no stranger to donnybrooks

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Doug Cavanaugh, a Californian putting together the book, "Pittsburgh Boxing: A Pictorial History," posted on Facebook a story about a century-old Irish brawl on the North Side.

The story headlined "Irish Riot in Pittsburgh" was a contemporary account in The New York Times that depicted a clash between those who thought Ireland should be independent of the United Kingdom and those who didn't:

PITTSBURGH, April 6 [1914] -- In a desperate battle between Home Rulers and anti-Home Rulers in the Woods Run district tonight, "Patsy" Brannigan, a well-known lightweight pugilist, was badly beaten.

... Brannigan, his brother, Martin, and four others were taken into custody by the police. They were in such a badly battered condition that they fell an easy prey to the bluecoats.

According to the police, the trouble was caused by the Brannigan brothers, who are ardent Home Rulers. When several Ulster sympathizers took issue ... soon all the residents in the immediate neighborhood became involved.

The upcoming Donnybrook between Irish and Pittsburgh fighters will take place only about a couple of weeks shy of a century later and just a few miles away.

But the similarities end there to the boxing tournament to be held St. Patrick's Day evening in the Grand Hall at the Priory, organizers say.

Some of the event proceeds will help the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh continue its mission to foster peace in Ireland through the Walsh Visa Program, which brings Irish youth from both sides of the cultural divide to live and study in Pittsburgh.

The Western Pennsylvania Police Athletic League and the Hibernian Celtic Athletic Fund for Pittsburgh youth also will benefit.

The event is sold out.

For more information: www.pittsburghdonnybrook.org.


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