Sunday, 31 January 2010

Ulster Scots Agency Booklet - The Ulster Drum

When I started working full-time for the Ulster Scots Agency back in November 2008, I was keen to help promote and develop the Fife & Lambeg Drum Tradition as much as I could - be it workshops, tuition, publications or media etc. I was subsequently involved in two publications one being The Ulster Drum. The other booklet I will post later.

Sadly, and quite strangely, I was not allowed to work on the booklet during my hours with the Agency (contractual reasons) nevertheless on my own time, I continued to work with Michael McCullough on the booklet, after all I had the contacts to deliver quite a few articles for the publication.

Bobby Magreechan - a friend of mine is a collector of Lambeg Drum photographs and over the years he has amassed a huge amount of drum photos. I persuaded Bobby to speak with Michael at the Agency regarding publishing his work. I set up the initial meeting and assisted for the first few weeks then let them to it.

George Holmes - another friend of mine and drumming enthusiast, helped to ‘write up’ the book.

The booklet was printed and ready for sale & distribution on Saturday 25th July 2009, Clady Day in Markethill – the biggest lambeg drumming competition of the year! Congratulations to everyone involved in the project

I received no payment or recognition for the publication; however my satisfaction was that Bobby had published his book / booklet, the Agency had its publication and I managed to get the painting I commissioned for my dad into the booklet!


Friday, 29 January 2010

Haggis with a zing!

I was in Tesco's Bangor store this morning as Mrs Anderson had sent me for the weekly grocery shop. Whilst in the fresh foods / deli part I noticed a very large queue at the counter mostly elderly folk - I took little notice and carried on going down the list Mrs Anderson had prepared for me. As I dithered at one of the shelves I overheard 2 elderly ladies giggle and talking quite low, it reminded me of Les Dawson and the 2 ladies in his show!

The reason for the queue became apparent - Tesco's was selling 3 types of haggis, original - vegetarian and Viagra laced haggis.

Well Loughries Burn's supper is on Saturday night, so I bought one of each to see how it goes!

No seriously - we had 90+ at our Burn's Supper in 2009 and following the event it became to pass that 2 ladies had fallen pregnant - So be careful:-

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.


Thursday, 28 January 2010

Loughries Burns Supper

Loughries Historical Society - an Ulster Scots Group of which I am Secretary, will once again host a Burns Supper on Saturday 30th January 2009, at the Londonderry Room, Town Hall, Newtownards. We had a similar event last year 2009, it was a great night - this year we have arranged a similar night although changed things around a little.

Meet 7pm eat 715pm. The folks will be greeted and welcomed by our Chairman Cllr Hamilton Gregory, with the meal to commence following this short welcome. Haggis will be piped in by Mr. Stephen Rodgers and addressed by Mr. Wilbert Magill. The Toast to the Lassies will be offered by the Mayor, Cllr Montgomery. I will act as compare and introduce Wlbert who will receipt a few of Burns Poem's.

Then the main part of the evening 9pm if timing is good the Broken String Band will entertain us for the remainder of the evening. We do intend to hold a ballot with 5 prizes donated by Society members. All proceeds from the Ballot will go to Charity - with equal amount split between the Mayor's Chosen Charity for 2010 and the Renal Unit at the Ulster Hospital.

Should be a good night 87 have booked a seat - so a sell out once again!


Fifing Tunes

A wee bit of American Civil War for you - A tune I like to fife is Turkey in the Straw, well we call it Old Zip Coon - not intending to offend anyone! George Holmes loves to drum to to the tune. Here is a medley of fifing tunes Turkey in the Straw is the first tune.

The bass drums are a bit small though!


Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Bonfire Committee - Ballymena

The Braid Centre Ballymena:- As I previously mentioned in a blog entry I attended the Braid Centre Ballymana, on Tuesday 26th January, with Philip Orr to discuss various aspects of the Protestant traditions, such as traditional music and bonfires.

I must be honest and say I was a little apprehensive as I sat in the room waiting to deliver my presentation on the Fife & Lambeg Drum Tradition. We had expected 12 - 15 people to turn up in fact 35 - 40 arrived and filled the room.

The Braid Centre is a beautiful modern building and although I did not get the opportunity to view the whole building, what I seen was very impressive.

Philip Orr is a very competent, knowledgeable and professional speaker and set the scene for the evening, talking about aspects of the protestant traditions including the significance of bonfires. I gave my presentation which included my PowerPoint and to be honest it went very well, the audience from local Loyalist - Orange - Protestant communities in Ballymena seemed enjoy the talk and fully interacted. There was full engagement from those gathered as we discussed the fife & lambeg drum tradition and its significance with in the Protestant ethos. To conclude 'my bit' we had some fifing and drumming - some of the guy's and girls gathered, were fifers and drummers - so we played a few tunes - 100 pipers, Boy's of Belfast and the Heights of Alma. It went well.

Philip Orr finished with a 20 minute PowerPoint on a bit of history - Hamilton Montgomery - Queen Elizabeth - Spanish Armada - Guy Fawkes - Oliver Cromwell - all interconnected with the theme of Bonfires.

It was a very worthwhile event - I think those who attended went home with some food for thought on the Bonfire issues in 2010. I received several invites to other events that I will consider.

Thanks are extended to Jackie, Jane from Ballymena Council and Philip Orr for the invitation.


Monday, 25 January 2010

Ulster Scots Fife & Lambeg Drum Class

The Ulster Scots Agency asked me to assist in a pilot Fife & Lambeg Drum Class at the Boys' Model School in Belfast back in January 2008. The pilot lasted 16 weeks and proved a great success.

During the early few weeks of the project I was assisted by Denis Morrow and George Holmes. There is no history of either the fife or lambeg drum in the school, so it was a new and challenging project. With the support of Mrs Sharon Baird - Head of Music, I firstly gave a workshop to 52 pupils on the history of the fife & lambeg drum tradition in Ulster and from those who attended, I set up the classes 3 x classes in drumming and 1 x class fife - 38 students participated.

Over the next weeks the pupils really enjoyed the new classes and many showed great promise - some were time wasters who were sent back to class as expected but the majority stayed and embraced the tradition.

The class was so successful that by the 'New Term' in September 2008, the school wanted the classes to continue the Agency also incorporated into the project along with the tuition 3 x educational trips - visit to Lambeg Drum maker, drum painter and fife maker. The school with the help from the Agency also purchased their own lambeg drum that was later painted.

The picture above shows the Minister for DECAL Gregory Campbell, Mr David Cargo, Belfast Education & Library Board, Belfast Councillor Jim Rodgers with myself and some of the students from the classes. As you can see the drum finished well and was very well played at its unveiling by the Boys'.

The classes are still going well with in the school - it has brought many benefits for the school, attendance is up on a Monday - increased interest in the Music Dept. over demand in the lambeg & fife classes and of course a keen interest in the Ulster Scots Tradition with in the school.

This class has been a great success - a new initiative taken with apprehension but those who took the initial decision had great vision & trust - and very much with a 'leap of faith' by the Ulster Scots Agency and of course the Boys' Model School. It has worked out well and I still hold classes on Monday's at the school.

Other schools have shown a great interest in this project - Glengormley High School, Rathfriland High School and now Castlederg High & Movilla High Schools have taken the plunge and are keep to take traditional Fife & Drum classes during school hours.

As their tutor it has been a very challenging but rewarding experience being involved in the Ulster Scots Tutor Programme - I never saw myself as a musician or even a music tutor, nevertheless we all have some hidden talent somewhere - even me!


Friday, 22 January 2010

Ulster Scots & Ards Peninsula Schools

Ulster Scots & Ards Peninsula - I have been working in the Newtownards & Ards Peninsula area for almost a year. I took part in taster session at Londonderry Primary School - Ards Town, after school clubs at Castle Gardens Primary School - Ards Town, Ballyvester Primary School - Donaghadee, Portavogie Primary School and Carrowdore Primary School.

Since April / May 2009 I have been working 1 hour per week at Ballyvester Primary School, teaching tin whistle. The pupils of primary 6/7 have really enjoyed the whistle classes, where they learn traditional Ulster Scots Tunes and we also chat about aspects of local Ulster Scots History - it is surprising how little the pupils are aware of their local history! Nevertheless the pupils show great skill and enthusiasm for the music and they have took part at a number of school events, such as end of term concert / Christmas concert. The tin whistles have proved very popular with the parents also!

I started a class in Castle Gardens Primary School in October 2009, this time Lambeg Drum & Tin Whistle to p6. Like Ballyvester the children have embraced the music and culture of the Ulster Scots and they look forward to the classes each week. Keith Lyttle the Ulster Scots Agency Fiddle Tutor has also commenced work in the school and we look forward to developing a tin whistle and fiddle group with in the school.

I had been trying to develop projects in Post Primary Schools some successful - some not - like Glastry College - sadly no success, however with the help of Maynard Hanna, our Development Officer, who has been instrumental in many of these initiatives, we made a break through at Movilla High School, Ards Town - my old school! I will start work there in February - Fife & Lambeg Drum Class. Also I commence two further projects in 1/ Kirkistown Primary School - Cloughey 2/ Portavogie Primary School both lambeg drum and tin whistle classes in early February.

A lot of ground work has been prepared by Maynard, but also it shows an ever increasing interest in the Ulster Scots tradition and associated cultures with in the education sector, particularly around the Newtownards and Ards Peninsula area. I really can't wait to get started!

I will look forward to working with the school Principal's their dedicated staff and of course the children.


Thursday, 21 January 2010

Pot Holes in Donegal

I am well travelled in my job - peripatetic music tutor for the Ulster Scots Agency. I would travel several hundred miles per week, as I visit schools and community groups - I do intend posting more information on my travels and visits, however yesterday sticks in my mind.

I left Bangor at 6.45am and travelled to The Fountain Primary School in Londonderry the roads were clear and in relatively good condition. On Radio Foyle / Radio Ulster a lady was interviewed on Good Morning Ulster about the state of the road pot holes etc, in Donegal and the North West in general - I took little notice.

Well I should have listened, I had to call into Raphoe in Donegal, on my way to Castlederg to visit my collegue Derek Rainey. The roads were absolutley atrocious, I have never see roads in such a bad condition - large holes every where, huge humps in the middle of the road, they were virtually impassible. If the roads had of been in Northern Ireland they would have been closed. The frost and snow certainly left their legacy and mark. I will have to remember to take a camera with me on my travels there is so much to see and record - beautiful views, historical buildings & landmarks and pot holes!


Tuesday, 19 January 2010


I have not posted too much in recent day's - My Stephen Fry's In America arrived on Monday morning and I have promised myself to watch 1 episode per night - 6 episodes in total. It is very amusing and enjoyable, well it appeals to me.

There are obviously plenty to complain about, not enough of this and not enough of that nevertheless Fry appeals to my sence of humour and his commentary is refreshing, not your average travel guide!

More Later!


I Enjoy Most Music

Well, I had a great response to my confession about my ABBA 'The Winner Takes It All' some very interesting e-mails and a few quips on the telephone from what I would describe as closet ABBA fans.

Here is another favourite: In his introduction to the tune / song, Bon Jovi describes this song as a confessional - well the words of the song, particularly the first few verses, would best adequately describe my - looking back on it now - my unsettled time - my 20's and lasted until I was 29! until I met the future Mrs Anderson. I over indulged in all the unnecessary evils that is best left in the past. My transformation has been stark but for the best - every day I get a wee bit stronger!

Enjoy the Song - One of my Classics!


Saturday, 16 January 2010

Hard Times Come Again No More

Plagiarism – Mr. Nelson McCausland MLA is the Minister Culture Arts & Leisure -I met Nelson a couple of time so he won't mind me calling him by his Christian name. Nelson is penning a Blog, giving an insight into his time as Minister. I found this item on his blog and I thought it appropriate to ‘Borrow’ the article as it blends in with an earlier post I entered regarding Stephen Collins Foster – Hard Times Come Again No More.

The Ulster Scots Community Network recently published a booklet on Ulster Scots in America – I can’t recall or check its correct title as I gave the last copy I had to an American friend at Christmas. Anyway it highlights a number of famous or influential Americans with an Ulster Scots connections / ancestry – Stephen Collins Foster made the booklet.

Here is Nelson’s post:- Stephen Collins Foster

Stephen Collins Foster (1826-1864) was the pre-eminent songwriter in America in the 19th century and he is known as the 'father of American music'. Among the best known are Beautiful Dreamer, Old Folks at Home and Old Kentucky Home, which is the offical state song of Kentucky.

His songs are still extremely popular and in April 2004, in an interview with the LA Times music critic Robert Hilburn, Bob Dylan said, ‘Anyone who wants to be a songwriter should listen to as much folk music as they can, study the form and structure of stuff that has been around for 100 years. I go back to Stephen Foster.’

As a result of that interview American Roots Publishing decided to celebrate his legacy with a CD entitled Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster. Steve Fischell, producer of the tribute CD said that Dylan’s quote was our inspiration for this project.’ The artists featured on the CD included such well-known singers as Alison Krauss and John Prine.

Stephen Foster was of Scotch-Irish descent and the family was very much aware of its Ulster ancestry. Stephen's brother Morrison Foster (1823-1904) was a member of the Scotch-Irish Society of America. Their father William Barclay Foster was a businessman in Pittsburgh and his grandfather Alexander Foster (1710-1767) emigrated from Londonderry around 1728.


Some Free Time

Well, as you can see I have had some free time today Saturday - my third post, I tidied up a few chores - pruning in the garden and cleaning my van - Now, Mrs Anderson and my children have gone to Granny Girvan's for the afternoon, so it is whistle time and a little practice, much needed I can assure you.

Ashoken Farewell is another of my favourite tunes, it is a haunting and beautiful piece that suits the fiddle perfectly - Keith Lylle is masterful playing this tune on his fiddle! but it does sound fine on the whistle, although a little tricky to play, you must concentrate all the way through.

Here is a little about the tune -

'Ashokan Farewell’ is a piece of music composed by Jay Ungar in 1982. It was later used as the title theme of the 1990PBS television miniseries, The Civil War as well as the 1991 compilation album, Songs of the Civil War.

The piece is a waltz in D Major, written in the style of a Scottish lament. The most famous arrangement of the piece begins with a solo violin, later accompanied by guitar.

Before its use as the television series theme, "Ashokan Farewell" was recorded on Waltz of the Wind, the second album by the band Fiddle Fever. The musicians included Ungar and his wife, Molly Mason, who gave the tune its name. It has served as a goodnight or farewell waltz at the annual Ashokan Fiddle & Dance Camps that Ungar and Mason run at the lakefront Ashokan Field Campus of the State University of New York at New Paltz, Ashokan was the name of a Catskill Region village that is now mostly covered by the Ashokan Reservoir.

In 1984, filmmaker Ken Burns heard "Ashokan Farewell" and was moved by it. He used it in two of his films: The Civil War, which features the original recording by Fiddle Fever in the beginning of the film, and his 1985 documentary Huey Long.
The Civil War drew the most national attention to the song. The song is played 25 times throughout the eleven-hour series, including during the emotional reading of Sullivan Ballou's letter to his wife in the first episode; it underlies almost an hour of film.

Viewers of The Civil War frequently and erroneously believe the melody is a traditional tune that was played at the time of the Civil War. In fact, it is the only modern composition on the Burns documentary's soundtrack; all other music is authentic 19th century music.




I regularly get invitations to many varied places since I commenced this work with the Ulster Scots Agency and I am pleased to go where the invitation takes me. I am comfortable and confident in who I am and where I stand politically, on Religion, and Culturally, so I am happy to attend events where invited to talk on my chosen Ulster Scots musical tradition.

My latest invitation arrived yesterday, Friday via e-mail from a Fiona Keane who is a Television Producer, who is currently working on a t.v. series for and about children aged 3 to seven living in Northern Ireland. The project Fiona would like my help in is called 'Sesame Tree' and is being made for the BBC in conjunction with the Children's Television Workshop (the people behind Sesame Street).

I don't want to go into too much details in case the project does not happen, as I am sure you can understand, however it goes to show that there is an interest and an ever increasing interest in 'all things' Ulster Scots and if managed properly, the real work being done on the ground in Schools etc, will come to the fore and positive publicity will begin to overshadow the negative publicity that continues to blight the Ulster Scots Culture.


How Did Get Into This

Following on from a previous post regarding my job - Well the Ulster Scots Agency continued to develop ideas and projects in the area of Education and my experience of the Ulster Scots Tradition convinced me that if the Tradition was to flourish / develop a huge investment of time and resources was to be put into the Education sector.

After School Clubs - This was a further realisation for me that the Ulster Scots Agency was moving down the correct avenue. Ulster Scots After School Clubs were being developed in schools throughout Ulster it involved a 10 week 1 afternoon per week where children would stay after school to learn about various aspects of our Ulster Scots Culture. For example music & dance, history, language etc, tutors would visit the schools and provide a workshop on there preferred subject - Mark Anderson Fife & Lambeg Drum, Keith Lyttle Fiddle, Gary Blair Language and so on. My experience of these clubs was very positive - children, parents, teachers, board of governors, principals we all very enthusiastic about this 'new' initiative. Children are just so interested and keen to learn - it is at times overwhelming and many, many times I left the schools with very excited children wanting more and more Ulster Scots. I was getting Paid now - although I was still technically employed in my real job! Getting paid for this work - my hobby was very strange - I had given my time in the past voluntarily without payment.

The next stage was Ulster Scots Peripatetic Music Tutor post - What? Yes, well I looked up the dictionary to see what Peripatetic meant first then I applied for the job as a travelling music tutor. I was successful and began work on 7th November 2008 on a 1 year contract to work as a self employed music tutor for the Ulster Scots Agency!

How I got on will be revealed in a later post along with a few photo's!


Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Hard Times Come Again No More

Further to an earlier post regarding Songs of the American Civil War and Stephen Foster - I listen occasionally to this version by Canadian musician Robert Benoit. For two reasons. 1/ You can play a Lambeg Drumming Rhythm to it. 2/ The photographs are terrific.

At the end of the video there is a quote by William Tecumseh Sherman - A senior Officer in the Union Army - War is Hell! - well he created hell, as he marched his Union army through Georgia, destroying everything in its wake - ruthless, ruthless man!


How did I get into this?

As you can see from my profile I am presently employed as a Peripatetic Music Tutor working as a self employed basis for the Ulster Scots Agency. Now how did this come about - well I ponder that question every day!

I have been actively involved with the fife and the lambeg drum tradition since the middle of the 1990's, I am not born into the tradition - by that I mean my family are not fife of drummers. I was very interested in the tradition and enjoyed listening to the music. I wanted to learn to play the lambeg drum but despite asking various people - no one would teach me, most did not know how to teach, others would not teach me because they did not have the time - they said!

So how do you learn to play one of the most iconic musical instruments in Ulster? Most people associated with the Lambeg Drumming Tradition are Orangemen who are members of various Orange Lodges and unless you join a particular Orange Lodge, you won't be taught to play the Drum, simple as that. Unknown to me at this time although it became more evident as the years progressed there were many people in my position, who wanted to learn to play these instruments, but they did want to join an Orange Lodge to learn how to play them?

I am an Orangeman of 28 years standing and can fully understand the quandary people were in, so with the help of 3-4 other like minded men – back in 1999, we formed Conlig Drumming Club - Conlig is a village situated between Newtownards and Bangor and had a tradition of Lambeg Drumming back in the 40's and 50's - an all too familiar story of a once thriving tradition. We found a man Robert Paden and his friend Trevor Shaw who agreed to teach us the rudiments of lambeg drumming.

As the years progressed we introduced the fife to accompany the drumming at our Club, hence the club grew into a thriving group, musicians and other interested people came along to enhance their knowledge and interest in the Ulster Scots / Fife & Lambeg Drum tradition – they were great times.

Conlig Drumming Club had been asked to assist the Ulster Scots Agency in a number of Educational projects that they were developing, Summer Schools were first and our club agreed to help. These were very successful and enjoyable- sadly our members did not have the time to take the project further - but I remained very keen to develop what I saw as a wonderful opportunity to bring the fife and lambeg drum tradition to the next generation.

There is obviously a lot more to it than that, nevertheless that is a brief synopsis for now.

More in the next post!


Monday, 11 January 2010

Helen's Tower

Like my last post and during the European Heritage Open Day back in September, Matthew (he took the photo) Christopher, Dudley (our dog) and I spent a very enjoyable 2 hours at Helen's Tower. It is quite a walk through the woods at Clandeboye, but we had great fun along the way as we gathered & ate wild blackberries. We arrived at the Tower - which we have been up to before but never been inside, and I was very suprised how small it was compared to Scrabo Tower in Newtownards.

There were a few volunteers in the kitchen of the Tower where we were refreshed by a glass of cold orange juice and a few wipes which removed the purple mess from our mouths left by the blackberries!

The view from the top of the Tower was breathtaking - it was a beautiful warm, sunny and clear day, perfect for the visit, we had a panoramic view of North Down, Belfast and the Ards Peninsula.

It was a great day out we all really enjoyed ourselves - something unique and so very important to our local heritage - Oh Yes, a Cafollas Ice Cream on the Way home!

A wee snippet about the Tower - Helen's Tower lies in the woods of the Clandeboye Estate in Bangor, Northern Ireland. The tower was commissioned by Lord Dufferin of Clandeboye, designed by Scottish architect William Burn and completed in October 1861. The tower was named in honour of Dufferin's mother, Helen Selina Blackwood, the Lady Dufferin.

A close replica of Helen's Tower, the Ulster Tower, was built at Thiepval in 1921 to honour the men of the 36th (Ulster) Division who fell at the Battle of the Somme. Clandeboye Estate was used for army training by the 36th (Ulster) Division during the First World War.


Sunday, 10 January 2010

Old Priory - Newtownards

I spent a very enjoyable hour at the Old Priory, Newtownards back in September 2009 - during the European Heritage Open Day. It is a very impressive building and an important landmark within the town of Newtownards. The weather that Saturday was warm and sunny, which added to the pleasure of the visit and I managed to take this snap of the building and its immediate surroundings - Here is a snippet about the building

Anglicans worshipped in The Old Priory in Castle Street built by Sir Robert Colvill in 1632 on the ruin of the Dominican Priory. The tower is the only remains of a Dominican Friary founded in 13th century and burned in 1572. Services were then held in a small chapel at the east end of the church. The steeple was finished in 1636 and a large bell place there by Lord Viscount Montgomery. The entrance arch has the names of many Montgomerys carved and a large tomb of the Colville family stands in the aisle. In 1764 there were only 60 Anglicans in the town, but it got badly into disrepair by end of 17th century. The walls were repaired in 1836, but refurbished as a church & consecrated 27 Jan 1860. Its dimensions are 63 by 46 feet. The rector 1789- 1809 was Rev John Cleland followed by Rev Mark Cassidy. The church was used until St. Marks was built in 1817.It then served as a court house.

There is no graveyard, burials at Movilla Abbey, the building is now in the care of Department of the Environment Historic Monuments.

There is a lot more info from a very well read local historian, Mark Thompson here:-


Friday, 8 January 2010

A look Back In Time

Well, from time to time we look back at periods in our lives - perhaps a song, a smell or being in a place at a certain time - somehow a distant memory will come flooding back - well I am not ashamed to admit this, but my favourite POP song of all time is - The Winner Takes It All by ABBA.

Abba were and still are a music phenomenon and although I was a mere 15 when this song came out - it grabbed a hold of me and has had a hold on me since. Being at that age and seeing Agnetha with her blond flowing locks and.... well she was a beautiful woman - and still is.

Now I liked all types of music at that time and still do, nevertheless ABBA still bring a smile to my face and the occasional tear to my eye - but usually if not always a happy memory!

Enjoy the Video!


Thursday, 7 January 2010

Philip Orr - Bonfire Project

Philip Orr - Playright and Author whose book Road To The Somme was a huge success, has been intouch and asked me to help with a project he is involved with in Co. Antrim.

Ballymena Borough Council have an initiative going with local community groups engaged with bonfire committees, Philip Orr, myself and a few others are signed up to a 3 week programme that aims to educate and explain various elements of traditional music and bonfire celebrations.

It is something different - but it is worth exploring - here is the flyer for the event.


Workshops are FREE OF CHARGE and have been designed by Philip Orr & the Mid Antrim Museum Service to look at:

Bonfire History
& Bonfire Culture

Venue: The Braid, Bridge Street, BALLYMENA

Week 1 Tuesday 19 January 2010 (7.30 pm – 9.15 pm)

Evening includes: Military history collector and exhibitor David McCallion and Philip Orr will do a joint presentation with a range of artefacts and other material from the period and look at three bonfire nights 1) To celebrate the signing of the Covenant in 1912, 2) The bonfire night that wasn’t (in the aftermath of the Somme 1916) and 3) To celebrate the end of the war in 1918

Week 2 Tuesday 26 January 2010 (7.30 pm – 9.15 pm)

Evening includes: Philip Orr - who will present ‘Music and the Bonfire Tradition’ explaining how music can have an impact on a bonfire celebration. This will be followed by a Fife & Lambeg Drum Workshop by Mark Anderson. Mark is a Peripatetic Music Tutor, who works for the Ulster Scots Agency and he will explain the History of the fife & lambeg drum tradition, describe how a fife and lambeg drum are made, a performance on both instruments with everyone having an opportunity to play the fife and lambeg drum. The workshop will conclude with a question & answer session with a general discussion on bonfires and music.

Week 3 Tuesday 2 February 2010 (7.30 pm – 9.15 pm)

Evening includes: Philip Orr will do a presentation on bonfire traditions around the world including Celtic bonfires, Norse bonfires, Bonfires and Christian culture, Asian and American bonfire traditions, Bonfires and effigy burning and the Beacon Tradition. The idea will be to understand the universality of bonfires in human society and see what might be learnt from opening up exchange between various bonfire cultures around the world

Workshops will run as two 45-minute sessions (with a 15-minute break between each)

Workshops have been designed to be interactive, informative, fun and flexible!

Supported through Ballymena Borough Council’s Good Relations Unit.


Wednesday, 6 January 2010

I'm a Good Ol' Rebel

Well - I never considered myself to be a Rebel - I am of course a loyal servant to Her Majesty - Queen Elizabeth II, however when it comes to the American Civil War, I am that good Ol' Rebel.

I hope you enjoy this video and song, it is an excellent piece with a few good pieces of Civil War art - the words arn't too bad either.


Monday, 4 January 2010

Sprout - Big Sprout - Sproutie

What's in a name:-

I was in Newtownards today Monday, and I bumped into my old friend Peter Whitla, it has been sometime since we met and he greeted me with a big 'What about you Sproutie'.

Many years ago I was known as Sprout - if you knew me well - Big Sprout if you knew me very well - Sproutie if you were a close friend of mine.

I was 15 and the average size and build then guess what - I began to grow tall, then taller and soon I was the tallest boy at school and the tallest amongst my circle of friends. Hence a friend of mine one evening exclaimed 'hey you have really sprouted up' - yes the name stuck. All throughout my footballing day's at Rosemount Rec Football Club in Greyabbey (Greba) - I was known as Big Sprout. Even if you are in Greyabbey now and you asked someone who Big Sprout was - they would be fit to tell you.

It has been a very long time since I heard me being called Sproutie - I didn't really mind then and I don't really mind now, but it goes to show you that when a name sticks it sticks.

I have been called worse names!


Sunday, 3 January 2010

A song that almost ended a War - Lorena

A song that almost ended a War - Lorena. This is another of my Favourite American Civil War Tunes - I play it on Tin Whistle - slow air, and on the fife hornpipe time - but it looses its passion when played on the fife!

During the American Civil War, soldiers on both sides of the conflict thought of their wives and girlfriends back home when they heard the song "Lorena." One Confederate officer even attributed the South's defeat to the song. He reasoned that upon hearing the mournful ballad the soldiers grew so homesick that they lost their effectiveness as a fighting force.

"Lorena" is an antebellum song with Northern origins. Written in 1856 by Rev. Henry D. L. Webster, after a broken engagement to his sweetheart - He wrote a long poem about his fiancée but changed her name to "Lorena," an adaptation of "Lenore" from Edgar Allan Poe's macabre poem, "The Raven." Webster's friend, Joseph P. Webster, wrote the music, and the song was first published in Chicago in 1857. It became a favourite of soldiers of both sides during the American Civil War.


Brian Jamison - Blakley's Glorious Traditions.

I commissioned my one time school colleague and now great friend Brian Jamison to paint a street scene of an Orange Parade along Greenwell Street Newtownards involving - well I will tell you more in a later post, at this point the painting is 2/3 complete.

A little about Brian - Brian Jamison is a well known and highly respected local artist from the town land of Ballywatticock, which lies on the outskirts of Newtownards, Co. Down. Brian has established a fine reputation by the quality of his work and is noted for his meticulous attention to detail. Living deep in the countryside and close to the shores of Strangford Lough, Brian has been inspired by his surroundings and his love for the traditional way of life. He strives to capture through art, many aspects of rural county life such as music, animals, wildlife and country sports, which he regularly enjoys.

Over the years as his passion for painting has grown and his desire to paint many diverse subjects has developed, Brian is equally at home painting on canvas, stones or old milk churns. His paintings have included family pets, animals, tractors, farm yard or wild life scenes such as pheasants and wildfowl, however recent commissions have included famed motor cycle racers, a WW1 scene of the 36th Ulster Division “Going over the top” at the Battle of the Somme and various Ulster Scots topics.

Brian is one to relish any painting challenge and recently had been asked to paint two lambeg drums. Both drums are shown in this book “Auld Samuel” a portrait of Samuel Cully of Portavogie, and “Prudence” a drum depicting the old Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church, Newtownards. Keeping with this theme, Brian is seen here completing a street scene named “Blakley's Glorious Traditions”. It was commissioned by Mark Anderson and shows a typical “Twelfth Scene” in Newtownards, including the Fife & Lambeg Drum.

Brian holds tremendous pride in his work; he carefully plans all his paintings and spends many painstaking hours adding minute detail to his work, as he strives for artistic perfection.


Saturday, 2 January 2010

Just Before the Battle Mother

I have several American Civil War tunes that I like - this is a basic tune played very well by - The Excelsior Brigade Fife and Drum Corps - plays Just Before the Battle Mother, a sentimental Civil War favorite, during the 2006 Hamlin Beach State Park reenactment, Hamlin, NY.

It is quite similar to Lorena, another Civil War Tune - and a tune I will post later, however I play both tunes together on my G whistle as airs, they make a lovely sound and compliment each other.