Belfast Telegraph

Blue Plaque honour for Armagh temperance minister Patterson

Movement: Rev Robert James 'RJ' Patterson
Movement: Rev Robert James 'RJ' Patterson

By Christopher Leebody

An Armagh clergyman behind the 20th-century 'Catch-My-Pal' temperance movement is set to be honoured with a commemorative Blue Plaque.

Rev Robert James Patterson was ordained at The Mall Presbyterian Church, Armagh in 1892, serving as minister until 1910.

It was during his time at the church that Robert James Patterson began his 'Catch-My-Pal' movement to combat what he saw as the growing trend of heavy drinking in the town, by encouraging friends to sign a temperance pledge together.

Growing from a small movement of what is originally believed to be "six drunk men" who signed the pledge in 1909, by 1910 the Armagh Protestant Total Abstinence Union had over 130,000 members.

Rev Patterson or 'RJ', as he later became known, died in Belfast in 1930. Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Rt Rev Dr William Henry, is set to unveil the plaque outside The Mall church on Friday morning.

He said: "Friday's Blue Plaque unveiling not only links the work of Rev RJ Patterson in his time and his generation, it brings to the forefront of our thoughts the work of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland in our day and in our context."

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