Footage from Scarva Sham Fight in 1959 unearthed

Footage of the Sham Fight in Scarva dating back to 1959 has recently been made available online.

Northern Ireland Screen’s Digital Film Archive (DFA) is a free public access resource containing hundreds of hours of moving image titles, spanning from 1897 to the present day.

Advertising its Sham Fight footage DFA said: “On the 13th of July in Scarva, a small town just outside Banbridge, is the scene of the “Sham Fight” – a hugely popular event attracting tens of thousands of visitors each year.

“This film dating back to 1959 depicts a humorous battle reconstruction, showing various stages of the re-enactment with the participants playing their part with gusto. Watch as the groups of men march and ride amidst the tightly-packed crowd and trade (blank) gunfire shots. This film was digitised as part of the British Film Institute’s Unlocking Film Heritage project.”

The Sham Fight at the demesne is the only remaining one of its kind in Ireland.

At the top of the field where the re-enactment is staged, is the chestnut tree where it is said King William tied his horse on the way to the Battle of the Boyne and where his troops rested.

Under normal circumstances King William is played by John Adair and King James by Colin Cairns. The main protagonists are accompanied by soldiers in period costume and a number of horses.

The Sham Fight is normally preceded by a large parade, with up to 90 preceptories and as many bands taking part in the procession through the village.

RPB members walk to the tune of a wide selection of music including flute, pipe, accordion and brass bands.

The archive boasts a mass of footage, for example a search for ‘Down’ throws up some fantastic hidden gems including footage of former US President Dwight Eisenhower in Hillsborough in 1959, the Irish Cup Final in 1952 and a clip from the Kilkeel Prawn Festival in 1962.

The Digital Film Archive can be accessed from the comfort of your own home at or via special terminals at DFA partner sites across Northern Ireland including library branches, museums, art centres and universities.

Published on the 13th of July 2020
Article taken from the Banbridge Leader

The video can be viewed here by clicking the link –

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