We're aware of the sometimes violent antagonism between Irish and Welsh workers in 19C South Wales and even Pennsylvania; but in early May 1863, during the construction of the Mid-Wales railway line, Radnorshire, too, had its very own anti-Irish riot.
The trouble seems to have started at Marteg Bridge with rumours of workers being laid off in favour of the Irish. A demand was put to the contractors, Watson & Co, insisting that all Irishmen be gone within 24 hours. This led to fighting between the two groups and the out-numbered Hibernians were soon fleeing in all directions. Some reached safety in Llanidloes while others were caught and savagely beaten in St Harmon, where one man lost an eye.
The workers marched, some 200 or 300 strong, down the track into Rhayader where they proceeded to drive the Irish from their lodgings. Soon a crowd - the press claimed it was a thousand strong - had assembled in the town. A Scotsman, mistaken for an Irishman, received a beating, as did a native of Somerset who had refused to answer the mob's queries as to his nationality. A handful of locals did try to protect the Irish from the depredations of the crowd. A Mrs Lloyd, who reporters waggishly dubbed the heroine of Cwmteuddwr, set about the rioters with a poker as they sought to eject a lodger from her dwelling.
The three days of rioting - the local police had decided that intervention was impossible - culminated with the mob driving the Irish before them into Newbridge where the village was searched. The rioters finally ending their pursuit at Pontarithon on the Builth road.
A local clergyman said that the riot had began inside a beer barrel, although the Irish practise of working at below the usual rate for the job seems to have been at the root of the unpleasantness.