2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (British Army)
Date Of Birth:
30/09/1918 (Died of Wounds)
James Goan was the son of Thomas and Maggie Anne Goan. He was born in Castlederg on 7th November 1897. Like his father, James worked on a farm. James Goan enlisted in Omagh while he was still living in Castlederg. Private James Goan was serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers when he died of wounds in France on Monday 30th September 1918. According to the local newspaper, his parents had moved and were living at Mill Street, Caledon
James Goan was the third son of Thomas and Maggie Anne Goan (nee Montgomery). It is possible they were married in Londonderry as their first two children were born there. No record of their marriage can be found on GRONI, but this is not unusual.
James Goan was born in the Castlederg are in County Tyrone on 7th November 1897.
The 1901 census records James as three years old, living with the family in Listymore, County Tyrone. Thomas Goan was a farm labourer.
The 1911 census records James as 14 years old. James had left school and was working as a farm servant. He was still living with the family at Erganagh, Listymore, Tyrone.
Family: Thomas Goan, Maggie Anne Goan, Sarah Goan (born 25th December 1888), Thomas Goan (born10th May 1890), Lizzie Goan (born 11th August 1892), John Goan (born 3rd November 1895), James Goan (born 7th November 1897), Joseph Goan (born 20th April 1899), Maggie Jane Goan (born 5th November 1900), Catherine/Katie Goan (born 20th January 1903), Hugh Goan (born 25th April 1904), Francis Henry Goan (born 2nd January 1907), Evelyn Mary Goan (born 23rd May 1910).
James Goan enlisted in Omagh. He was residing in Castlederg at the time.
Private James Goan was serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers when he died of wounds in France on Monday 30th September 1918. He was twenty years old.
According to the local newspaper, his parents had moved and were living at Mill Street, Caledon. James was a signaller.
From the Tyrone Courier and Dungannon News dated Thursday 7 November 1918:
Signaller James Goan, died of wounds, was a son of Mr and Mrs Goan, Mill Street, Caledon.
From the Derry Journal dated 26th May 1919 - The Story of Caledon – A Plain Statement of Strike Events – and a Betrayal.
A strike has been going on in Caledon Woollen Mills, county Tyrone (near the border of Armagh) for nearly three months, writes a correspondent of the Irish News. The mill is connected with the Belfast firm Messrs. Fulton and Co., and before the present trouble arose, employed nearly 200 hands, about half of whom were Catholics, and the other half Protestants. It is necessary to refer to religion in view of the events dealt with below. Before the war the mill was noted for the quality of its tweeds, and during the war it did considerable amount of government work. The workers were peaceful inhabitants of the town, and all parties seemed to get along quietly together, and were happy. The wages paid were not high, though it is difficult to get a correct estimate. Girls in some cases were receiving from 12s to 18s per week, others from 20s to 25s on an average, though in some weeks 30s to 35s were paid, according to the work. Men were receiving from 15s to 25s per week, and in many cases a higher rate. The actual working day was one of ten hours, or including meal hours the day was eleven and half hours. Beginning at 6.30am and ending at 6pm. Worked ceased at noon on Saturdays, so that the hours were much the same as in other mills in Ireland – a 55 hour week.
Transport Union Comes
In January last placards were put up announcing that an organiser of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union was coming to the village to form a branch. After this announcement was made, the workers found that their pay was increased in the mill without any demand being made on their part. On 18th January a branch of the union was actually formed, about 100 workers joining on the first evening. Afterwards others joined, until all, with the exception of about five or six workers, with the foreman, were members of the union. By this time a second increase was given to the union by way of bonus, without demand, and at the same time without demand also, the starting hour was fixed at 8am instead of 6.30. The organiser’s work of showing the benefits of the union was thus made easy. At the 13th hour, over two months after the armistice was signed, the workers got a bonus and increase, totalling in some cases 13s a week, their working hours being reduced at the same time. They did not thank the employers for the better terms then, they thanked the union. The organisers of the union were looked upon as deliverers of the people, and it began to be discussed whether the workers were entitled to a retrospective bonus.
The Hidden Hand
But though the union had been ushered in with a favourable breeze, it was soon noticed that secret forces were operating to divide the workers, so as to break the union. The religious and political bogey was used, and gradually Protestant members of the union handed in their cards, until twenty five were left. It was whispered that the employers did not look upon the union with favour, and also those who remained in the union would be dismissed as soon as others could be found to take their places. Rumour had it too that the Catholic employees would all be dismissed and none employed in future by the firm. Whether there was any foundation for these rumours it is difficult to say; but it is significant that a few days before the crisis came, it was whispered that two Catholic boys (brothers Goan), were to be dismissed on the following Thursday because they were prominent members of the union, and that when Thursday came, these two boys were dismissed, the reason being that their jobs were required for ex-soldiers. The brothers themselves were ex-soldiers, and another brother had been shot in France some months before, so that the reason given for their dismissal was unconvincing, and it was evident there was trouble brewing.
Ordering the Strike
The crisis came next morning, Friday 21st February. One of the organisers had visited the town the previous evening, called a meeting of union members, put the matter before them from the workers point of view, explained the critical nature of the case, and said trhat some foremen were using threats of dismissal in order to influence workmen to leave the union. The remedy, he said, to safeguard themselves and the union was to demand that all the workers in the mill be compelled to join the union – otherwise that they should refuse to work with non-union members. By a vast majority, if not unanimously, the meeting agreed to strike unless all the other mill workers…
Private James Goan is buried in Haringhe (Bandaghem) Military Cemetery in Belgium.
Private James Goan is commemorated locally on Dungannon War Memorial.
In November 2020, the name of Private James Goan was added to Castlederg War Memorial.
Many thanks to Charles Goan, who has contributed much of this information.