Saturday, 11 May 2013

Final Blog Post!

Sadly, I have come to the end of what at times has been an adventure, but I will close on a positive note, as I look forward to starting my new job.

Firstly my new role is - Working for the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland as an Outreach Officer being based at Sloan’s House, Loughgall. My responsiblities include the New Interpretive centre / Museum at Loughgall Co. Armagh.

The overall purpose of the job, as the Museum Outreach Officer, is to play a central role in the development and management of a major cross-community outreach programme for the Sloan’s House interpretive centre which will help explain the history and ethos of the Orange Institution to as wide an audience as possible, in line with the REACH programme initiative. I may well be responsible for the day to day management of the centre, including a volunteer programme, exhibitions and artefacts.

Quite a range of responsibilities attached to the job then, but I feel I have the necessary skills to make the envisaged project a success. Teamwork is an essential part of this project - 5 new posts have been created, however there is a wealth of experience already at Grand Lodge and I look forward to learning from those with a vast experience in Orangeism.

To give a little background as to why I decided to move away from my previous job as a self employed peripatetic music tutor.

I have been a member of the Orange Institution for 31 years, joining as an adolescent aged 17. Being a member of any organisation it has not all been plain sailing however, I have remained in the Orange Institution as I believe in the ethos and fundamental principals of the organisation.

What attracted me to the post is that having worked in schools for the past 6 years,  I had the pleasure of teaching in many schools and coming into contact with many school children, students, teachers and parents. My work was primarily in the state controlled schools sector, that said I also worked in a number of cross-community schools projects. Here I gained a lot of experience dealing with students from different backgrounds both agreeing to come work together in a common goal.

Last year the Orange Institution organised a huge Ulster Covenant parade in Belfast to commemorate the centenary of the signing of this important historical document. Tens of thousands took part in the parade watch and supported by many thousands more. During that day I came in to contact with many, many past and present students, their parents and friends that I had been teaching Ulster Scots music to over recent years, and the reality is that the majority of these students and young people are not from an Ulster Scots background - but Orange, Pro-British - Unionist folk! (a small minority were of course from a genuine Ulster Scots background)

Therefore, I was aware that the Grand Orange Lodge was set to develop a new strategy in promoting and developing the Institution in the coming years - and I simply wanted to be part of that. I worked extremely hard preparing for the application process and thankfully by the end of the process I was the successful applicant!!

I am looking forward to a fresh start, working with a team of professional and dedicated people who want to work for the Orange Institution for all the right reasons !

The Orange Institution has its own professional PR officer - therefore no need for me to blog or Facebook anymore.

My sincerest thanks are extended to three men I respect and admire, who kindly agreed to provide written references - M.T - D.C - G.P., I believe their kind words contributed greatly me getting the job!


Thursday, 9 May 2013

Penultimate Blog Post

Hello Folks - this will be my penultimate blog post, sadly! 

I set up my blog in order to help promote my work. I was working as a self employed fife & lambeg drum tutor with the occasional tin whistle class along the way. I worked part time for a couple of years and went full time for a further 4 years. In that time, I had the very greatest of pleasure in providing this musical tradition throughout the 9 Counties of Ulster, to schools, community groups and other organisations. 

My work in these schools was incomplete, nevertheless during this time I had a great deal of success promoting this wonderful musical tradition!

I also blogged about the work with my Orange & Ulster Scots Community Group - Loughries Historical Society from Newtownards Co. Down. Here too we had great success turning around a struggling lodge into a vibrant Orange Lodge and highly respected community group.

I also included some personal items over the few years.

I thank you all for looking in and I trust you have gleaned something about me, my work and my hobbies. I am off to begin a new job later in May and I look forward to a fresh start, this will be the subject of my last blog post.

The organisation I was contracted to work for was the Ulster Scots Agency - all I want to say about that organisation is that it was an experience and one that I will never forget. Also, there are a few people I won't forget either!


Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Grow Your Own Vegetables - 2013

Well, it is that time of the year again - planting the vegetables. My garden is a reasonable size with my vegetable patch measuring around 20 feet x 6 feet, I also have a patio area with good size area for planting.
The weather has been very cold, therefore I firstly prepared the plots with organic fertiliser and compost. My potatoes last season although tasty and plentiful were a little small for my liking - I blame the nearby conifers for that!
I visited Walkers Shop in Newtownards last week and purchased some items (photographed above), so with a slight increase in temperature and the welcome arrival of some rain, I started to plant on Monday afternoon 15th April.
1/ 3 x rows of British Queens
2/ 4 Garlic Cloves
3/ 12 x bulbs of shallots
4/ Beetroot
5/ White onions
6/ Red Onions
I intend to wait a couple of weeks then plant another lot of items listed above along with some strawberry plants and peas- however I will wait 3 x weeks then plant another 3 x drills of Dunbar Standards, followed by 4 drills of Maris Pipers.
My Eclinville apple tree did not produce any fruit last year - so I fed it with some 'stuff'' recommended by Noel Walker, lets hope it produces some fruit this year as I have been looking forward to homemade apple crumble and custard !

Sunday, 14 April 2013

A wee sing along!

Last Thursday I was at Movilla School in Newtownards as mentioned before, I met with Peter Forbes who teaches in the school. Peter is very much into his military history and was accredited recently for bringing the SAS War Diaries home to Newtownards.

I don’t know how Peter finds time to teach as he seems to dabble in most things including collecting old record players and records. He showed me this old wind up record player and played a couple of records one of which was ‘The Star of the Co. Down’.

During some of Peter’s research into the SAS Diaries, it took him in the inevitable direction of Newtownards most famous sons, Lt. Col. Blair (Paddy) Mayne – one of the SAS Originals. Paddy’s favourite song was Mush – Mush – Mush (Tread on the Tail of me Coat) and Peter had a copy of it! He kindly played it through a few times and it sounded quite fantastic, with the old scrapes and crackles and mono sound really, really authentic.

You can just imagine Col. Paddy the worse for ware of drink playing this record and singing at the top of his voice, along with a few of his Regiment – priceless.
Altogether now..............                                Click here for music

Mush – Mush – Mush (Tread on the Tail of me Coat)
Oh ‘twas there I learned readin' and writin',
 At Bill Bracket's where I went to school,
 And ‘twas there I learned howlin' and fightin'
 From my schoolmaster Mr. O'Toole.
 Him and me, we had many-a scrimmage,
 And the devil a copy I wrote.
 There was ne'er a garson in the village
 Dared tread on the tail of me
 Mush, Mush, Mush tural-i-addy
 Singin' Mush, Mush, Mush tural-i-ay.
 There was ne'er a garson in the village
 Dared tread on the tail of me coat.
Oh ‘twas there I learned all of my courtin' --
Many lessons I took up in the art --
Till Cupid, the blackguard, in sportin',
 An arrow drove straight through me heart.
 Molly Connor she lived right forinst me,
 And tender lines to her I wrote.
 If you dare say one hard word against her,
 I'll tread on the tail of your
 Mush, Mush, Mush tural-i-addy
 Singin' Mush, Mush, Mush tural-i-ay.
 If you dare say one hard word against her,
 I'll tread on the tail of your coat.
But a blackguard called Mickey Maloney
 Came and stole her affections away.
 He had money and I hadn't any,
 So I sent him a challenge next day.
 That evenin' we met by the woodbine.
 The Shannon we crossed in a boat,
 And I lathered him with me shillelagh
 For he trod on the tail of me
 Mush, Mush, Mush tural-i-addy
 Singin' Mush, Mush, Mush tural-i-ay.
 And I lathered him with me shillelagh
 For he trod on the tail of me coat.
Oh me fame went abroad through the nations,
 And folks came a flockin' to see.
 And they cried out without hesitation,
 "You're a fightin' man Billy McGhee."
 I cleaned out the Finegan's faction,
 And I licked all the Murphy's afloat.
 If you're in for a row or a ruction,
 Just tread on the tail of me
 Mush, Mush, Mush tural-i-addy
 Singin' Mush, Mush, Mush tural-i-ay.
 If you're in for a row or a ruction,
 Just tread on the tail of me coat.
There are several good reasons for drinkin',
 And another one enters me head:
 If a fellow can't drink when he's livin'
 How the hell can he drink when he's dead?
 Mush, Mush, Mush tural-i-addy
 Singin' Mush, Mush, Mush tural-i-ay.
 If a fellow can't drink when he's livin',
 How the hell can he drink when he's dead?


Family History - GRO Visit 2

I visited the General Records Office (GRO) in Belfast on Friday morning, I had planned to go on Wednesday but sadly it was 'booked out' so I had to postpone until Friday. Again the GRO was almost full to capacity, so there seems to be a huge rise in history / family history related research.
My own reach went fairly well, I managed to trace quite a number of dates that corrected much of the information provided by family members - which helps immensely. I was able to provide answers to a few premature deaths that occurred in the family, some sad stories - but thankfully no shocks that I endured on my last visit.
As usual the research provided me with many more questions, that will spur me on to another visit to the GRO, I may need to look at obtaining some professional help as I can't seem to trace several births of relatives, however they do appear in the 1901 and 1911 censes forms!!
So all in all a good trip - a note of caution try and book the GRO 3 days in advance it will save disappointment. 


Saturday, 13 April 2013

On my Saturday Hike!

A couple of years ago Mark Thompson produced a wonderful booklet telling the story of: - 'The Thomas Smith's Forgotten English Colony - of the Ards and North Down in 1572'.
It was a very well researched to be local history article by Mark and published with the help of Loughries Historical Society with both Ards Borough Council, North Down Borough Council and the Ulster Scots Community Network seeing the merit of the booklet who all contributed finically to the production costs.
Read so much more here! Marks Blog Post - Sir Thomas Smith
Today I parked at my Mum's house at Greenwell Street in Newtownards and went on a 5 mile hike - with my trusted 4 legged friend Dudley. As we proceeded along the 'tide bank' Strangford Lough was coming in and I noticed that the farmers were busy in their fields preparing the land. It came into my mind the Thomas Smith booklet and one of the more memorable quotes contained therein: - 
“going to win and replenish with English inhabitants the Country called The Ards to possess a land that floweth with milk and honey, a fertile soil truly if there be any in Europe, whether it be manured or left to grass. There is timber, stone, plaster & slate commodious for building everywhere abundant, a country full of springs, rivers and lakes both small and great, full of excellent fish and fowl, no part of this country distant above 8 miles from most plentiful sea, have I not set forth to you another Utopia?”  

When growing up in Ards I was blissfully unaware how lucky we Andersons were - as Newtown Folk, to have been graced with all the goodness that Mother Nature can provide! 

Thursday, 11 April 2013

1613 - A Borough Is Born

I blogged previously 1613 - 2013 Events regarding events that are happening in the Borough of Newtownards throughout 2013.
Today when I was visiting my opticians in Newtownards I parked my van on High Street, beside where I parked was this telephone box, adorned with a suitable local advertisement - so I took a quick snap!