Thursday, 30 September 2010

Loughries Mini Ulster Scots Festival - 2010

Tonight Thursday Loughries held their first event in the Mini Ulster Scots Festival - funded solely by Ards Borough Council.

Somme Talk

Over the past 5 years since the formation of Loughries Society we have explored a number of history events - Local history, Ulster Scots History like Sir Thomas Smith, Hamilton Montgomery, Covenanters, Robert The Bruce, World War I -tonight it was the Somme and the 36th Ulster Division.

Jack Greenald, writer and historian: gave a talk, assisted by PowerPoint, on the Local (Newtownards) 13th Battalion of the UVF / 36 Ulster Division, focusing on the local men who fought and ultimately died at the Somme and other theatres of battle during WWI. Once again an excellent and informative talk from Jack.

Philip Orr, author and historian: gave a talk again assisted by PowerPoint - using many images from his brilliant book 'Road to the Somme'. At times the talk was very moving but informative and particularly realistic, as he took a fictional character 'Billy' from Newtownards through the pre war years, home rule crisis, formation of the UVF, 36th Ulster Division, training, uniform, transportation to Europe, battle, trenches, realities of warfare and his subsequent return home.

Loughries room was packed to capacity with our friends and members of the Society, who were quite and respectful of our speakers, the audience listened intently to the stories and the various thought provoking information being bestowed to them by two very competent speakers.

Tea, coffee, and biscuits were provided by the Society following the talks - with most folk staying 45minutes to an hour chatting about the evening and the subject matter - the Somme.

Great night - looking forward to Saturday now and the eagerly awaited 'A Forenoon Aroon the Ards' tourist trail.

Photo's of tonight's events to follow.


Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Londonderry Trip 3

I started a number of new schools in Londonderry this month. Here are a few snaps of my trip to L'Derry today.

The Guild Hall
The War Memorial - The Diamond

Old Windmill outside Ballougry - Where the Jacobite's held an arsenal during the Siege 1689

Balloughry Primary School

View of Craigavon bridge from the City Side a few miles outside the City
It was a good day at work, but I am shattered - bed early! Hope you liked the pics.

Benefits of Bangor

Matthew, my eldest boy was competing at the Irish schools swimming event at Bangor Leisure Centre last Saturday. Whilst I was minding Christopher, we happened upon the plans for the new swimming pool complex in Bangor - very impressive. (see photo)

So, living in Bangor does have its benefits!


What gives you a fright!

On Saturday Matthew and I cut the grass and weeded the flower beds, just to give the place a bit of a spruce up pre winter.

Well I put my hand under some old weeds / flowers and felt something slimy, then this jumped out at me - well I nearly jumped out of my skin. I don't scare easily but this did surprise me!


Loughries Mini Ulster Scots Festival - 2010

Thursday 30th September 2010, at 7.30pm in the Orange Hall, Newtownards, Loughries Mini Ulster Scots Festival - that we planned back in April, begins.

We will be delighted to welcome to Newtownards, eminent historian, expert on the Somme and the men of the 36th Ulster Division - Mr. Philip Orr. Philip will give a talk with aid of PowerPoint on the Somme and the impact it had on the Ulster People at that time. He will take a fictional character from that time and talk us through the 'Ulster Day' signing of the Ulster Covenant 0n 28th September 1912, through the formation of the UVF in Newtownards and over to the Battlefields of Europe and the soldiers return home after the 'Great War'

Jack Greenald will also give a talk on 'Local Men' who fought and died at the 'Somme'

There will be music and light refreshment following the events. You are all very welcome to attend, but get there early as we are expecting a full room, for what will I am sure be an emotional evening!


Phone Call

Last night, Tuesday 28th September 2010 at around 6.30pm, I received a telephone call - just as I had arrived home from Unislim!

It was the MP for Strangford, Mr. Jim Shannon.

He offered great words of encouragement to me, for the work I have been doing to promote, develop and enhance the Ulster Scots Tradition in his Constituency area. Of course I was delighted to speak with Mr. Shannon and was especially pleased that the work Loughries Historical Society and myself - through my work as a peripatetic music tutor for the Ulster Scots Agency, has been recognised and indeed had come to his attention.

There are a number of exciting projects happening in Mr. Shannon's area and during the call he agreed to give his full support to any of the projects that is in need of help and support.

A lot of Mr. Shannon's conversation was around the importance of the Ulster Scot's Tradition in the local Ards and Ards Peninsula area, and I know he is very passionate about the music, history and the language.

So yes, I will avail of Mr. Shannon's offer of help and guidance as Jim has considerable influence in his constituency, which will assist in my work, both as a tutor for the Agency and as a community activist with Loughries Historical Society.


Ulster Scots - Lambeg Drums 18

The Bronte Challenger

This drum hails from Rathfriland, Co. Down and is owned by the Bickerstaff family. The scapegoat is an unusual painting, however it has been used here in a Biblical context. ' Suffered for the sins of Others - Ballinaskeagh'

Coincidentally, I tutor the owners son at Rathfriland High School, Andrew Bickerstaff each Thursday - he is an excellent drummer and a Markethill Champion of the future!


Unislim - 5

Well, that is the end of week 6 - still going OK at the moment. Only a solitary 1lb off this week sadly.

I was out for a meal on Thursday and over indulged, nevertheless still on the downward direction.

I will have to knuckle down this week and try to get below the 2 stone loss barrier, then take things from there.

I would like to loose 3 stone - that's a whopping 42lbs, but on step at a time!


Ulster Scots - Lambeg Drums 17

The Terror

The drum is the portrait of the late Sir Henry Wilson.

The drum was made and painted by Mark Hewitt, Belfast and is a memorial drum for Field Marshall Sir Henry Wilson who was murdered on 22nd June 1922 on the steps of his house at Eaton Place London.

Here is a little more on Sir Henry:-

Wilson was born in Currygrane, Ballinalee, County Longford, Ireland and was the second son of James and Constance Wilson, of Currygrane. He was educated at Marlborough College, and made unsuccessful attempts to get into the British Army colleges Royal Military Academy and Sandhurst between 1880 and 1882.

In 1882, he succeeded in being commissioned as a lieutenant in the Longford Militia (which was a militia battalion of the Rifle Brigade) and then transferred to a regular battalion. He briefly transferred to the Royal Irish Rifles in 1884, but quickly returned to the Rifle Brigade.
Wilson was posted to India in 1885 and in 1886 went to Burma to serve in the Third Burmese War.

He received several serious wounds, including an eye wound and one which forced him to use a walking stick for the rest of his life. His injuries refused to heal in India and he returned to Ireland until 1888 when he was passed fit for regimental duty. Wilson in the meantime has been studying for the Staff College at Camberley which he graduated from in December 1893. He was promoted captain in 1893. From November 1894 he worked in the Intelligence Department of the War Office, where his fluent French and German were useful.

He was seconded to the staff in 1895, and in 1897, he became Brigade Major of the 3rd Brigade at Aldershot, and from 1899 to 1901 he saw active service during the Second Boer War with the 4th (Light) Brigade (as a Brigade Major) before becoming Deputy Assistant Adjutant-General and assistant military secretary to Lord Roberts and was Mentioned in Dispatches’, awarded the Distinguished Service Order, and was recommended for brevet promotion to lieutenant-colonel on attaining a substantive majority.

He returned to England in 1901, and gained both the substantive promotion to major and the promised brevet in December, and became Commanding Officer of the 9th Provisional Battalion, Rifle Brigade at Colchester in 1902. In 1903 he became an Assistant Adjutant-General. Promotion came in 1907 when he became a substantive colonel at the beginning of the year, and later a temporary brigadier-general commanding the Staff College, Camberley, Surrey until 1910, when he became Director of Military Operations at the British War Office.

While there he advocated the landing of a British Expeditionary Force in France in case of German attack. The Naval Staff was against this idea, arguing that it would take too long to organise; the Germans would be halfway to Paris by the time it was done. Further, the four to six divisions Britain was expected to be able to muster would have little effect in a war with 70-80+ divisions on each side. They favored keeping the Army at home, to be landed by the Navy at Antwerp or on the German coast, as the opportunity arose.

Wilson, however, successfully argued against the sailors, saying that the high quality of the British soldiers and their use to strengthen the French left against the strong right wing of the German Schlieffen Plan would have an effect out of proportion to the numbers involved. Further, the British landing to fight alongside their allies would have an incalculable effect on French morale. He realized the organisational difficulties involved, though, and spent much time planning the deployment of the proposed British Expeditionary Force to France in the event of war. He even spent many of his leaves from duty cycling around Belgium and Northern France. In 1912 he was appointed Honorary Colonel of the 3rd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. He was promoted major-general in November 1913.

In 1914, he surreptitiously supported British Army officers who refused to lead troops against Ulster Unionist opponents of the Third Irish Home Rule Bill in the Curragh Mutiny. He was a staff officer, acting as liaison officer to the French Army from the start of First World War until December 1915 when he took over command of IV Corps in France, a post he held until 1916. He was promoted to temporary lieutenant-general in January 1915, knighted as a Knight Commander of the Bath in the 1915 King's Birthday Honours, and made a Commander and later Grand Officier of the Légion d'honneur for his services. He was also given the honorary appointment of Colonel of the Royal Irish Rifles on 11 November 1915.

In September 1917, he took over the Eastern Command, which allowed him to live in London and worked closely with Prime Minister David Lloyd George. In December 1917 he was given the temporary rank of general. In February 1918, he was appointed Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS), after the removal of Sir William Robertson and was the principal military adviser to Lloyd George in the last year of the First World War. Winston Churchill wrote "In Sir Henry Wilson the War Cabinet found for the first time an expert advisor of superior intellect, who could explain lucidly and forcefully the whole situation and give reasons for the adoption or rejection of any course". One of his first acts was to nearly triple the size of the Tank Corps from 18,000 to 46,000 men.

He was promoted to substantive general on 3 June 1918, and appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath on 17 December 1918. As CIGS, he was a member of the Army Council.
After the war, on 3 July 1919, he was promoted to field marshal, awarded £10,000 by the British Parliament and made a baronet. He was made a Grand Officier of the Belgian Order of Leopold and awarded the Belgian Croix de guerre, and was given the Chinese Order of Chia-Ho (Golden Grain), 1st Class "Ta-Shou Pao-Kuang", the American Distinguished Service Medal, the Siamese Order of the White Elephant, first class, the Grand Cordon of the Japanese Order of the Rising Sun (later "with flowers of the Paulownia"), the Grand Cross of the Greek Order of the Redeemer, and promoted to Grand Cross of the Légion d'honneur.

At the Paris Peace Conference, he acted as Britain's chief military adviser but found himself in increasing disagreement with Lloyd George. He resigned from the army (being replaced as CIGS by The Earl of Cavan on 19 February 1922) and became a Member of Parliament for North Down in a by-election victory. In March 1922 he was invited by Sir James Craig's to become the Northern Ireland Government's adviser on security.

On 22 June 1922, two London based volunteers of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), Reginald Dunne and Joseph O'Sullivan, shot and killed Sir Henry as he returned to his house at 36 Eaton Place in London after unveiling the Great Eastern Railway war memorial in Liverpool Street Station.

Two policemen and a chauffeur were also shot as the men attempted to avoid capture. They were then surrounded by a crowd and arrested by other policemen after a struggle. The guns used by the assassins were sent to David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill in the Cabinet Room (10 Downing Street) at 10 Downing Street; "There was no Henry Wilson. The Prime Minister and I faced each other, and on the table between us lay the pistols which an hour before had taken this loyal man's life". The House of Commons was immediately adjourned as a mark of respect and King George V sent his equerry, Colonel Arthur Erskine, to Eaton Place to convey the royal sympathy to Lady Wilson. A dinner to celebrate the Prince of Wales's birthday arranged at Buckingham Palace for the evening was also cancelled. Dunne and O'Sullivan were convicted of murder and hanged on 10 August 1922.

T. Ryle Dwyer suggests that the shooting of Wilson was ordered by Irish Free State General and Commander-in-Chief Michael Collins in retaliation for the continuing troubles in Northern Ireland. However, this claim has been challenged several times. Any order to assassinate Wilson would have had to have been relayed to them by Rory O'Connor (then in charge of British IRA operations) and the last assassination attempt contrived against Wilson had been set to be executed in 1921, not 1922. Tim Pat Coogan has suggested that Reginald Dunne, who had the confidence of both Michael Collins and Rory O'Connor, undertook the shooting as a last-ditch effort to provoke the British Government into retaliating, thereby uniting both sides of the Nationalists.

Wilson's funeral was a public affair attended by Lloyd George and the cabinet, Foch, Nivelle and Weygand from France as well as many of his former army colleagues including French, Macready, Haig and Robertson. The field marshal was buried in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral, between Lord Roberts and Lord Wolseley

Monday, 27 September 2010

Ulster Scots - Lambeg Drums 16

As I mentioned before I plan to put a series of drums on the blog in the coming weeks, as I know there is a very keen interest out there for the lambeg drum tradition.
Victoria's Invincible - The Pride of Derryhaw.

This drum was made and painted by Mark Hewitt, Belfast.

This is an excellent drum and quite famous, as it was presented to Queen Elizabeth II at Hillsborough Castle - following which Andrew Young added a small portrait of the Queen to the original painting.

The drum is now owned by David Lester, Killyrea.


Friday, 24 September 2010

Loughries Ulster Scots Summer School 2010 - 4

To conclude the Loughries Ulster Scots Summer School Project 2010, we (all the leaders) booked a meal at 'Molly Brown's' South Street, Newtownards.

All eleven leaders turned up for the meal and evening of chat. The meal was delicious, excellent value and great service. We reflected on another very successful summer school, exchanged stories of the week and discussed the summer school in 2011.

So thanks to the ladies and 3 men who helped with the arrangements in July and it was an excellent way to relax and enjoy each others company.


Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Ulster Scots School Work - Co. Londonderry 2

Again another busy day for me, which I like, as Wednesday sees me in Co. Londonderry.

Today I start a series of workshops and tuition classes in Lisneil College, Londonderry City. It is a brand new purpose built school on the Waterside of the historic city. A few weeks ago I met Darren Gibson, a former native of on 'the Ards' who married and settled in the city. Darren is an art teacher in the College and very keen to get Ulster Scots in to the College.

To give you just one example of the work and ideas of Darren and his pupils come up with, one pupil has devised an animation exploring the Plantation of Ulster, and is working away developing characters to play roles in the short animation film - ingenious! These are the ideas that come from young people once you get that 'foot through the door' of schools and collages.

Once again a huge amount of credit must be given to development officer - Derek Rainey, quiet unassuming, particularly dedicated and highly motivated member of the Agency Staff.

I also have 3 x satellite primary schools that feed Lisneil College and I will post details / photographs etc of these Primary Schools, in the coming weeks.


Ulster Scots School Work - Co. Antrim 2

Tuesday is my day for travelling o schools inn Co. Antrim - in the coming weeks I will post a few photo's of the schools listed below. Each of the schools have shown a very keen interest in the Ulster Scots Schools Programme provided by the Ulster Scots Agency.

I am going to honest and say the Ulster Scots has had it critics over recent years, nevertheless credit must be given to those who devised the tutor programme. Every school that we get 'our foot through the door' quickly embrace the Ulster Scots Tradition music, which leads to interest in Ulster Scots history, usually local, then interest in language, dance, cookery, etc.

The tutor programme is a successful project lets hope the powers that been see the merit in the project and in turn they shall reap the reward of investing in schools and in particular school children - the future of Ulster Scots!

Schools I visit on a Tuesday:

1/ Longstone Primary School, Ahoghill
2/ Groggan Primary School, Randalstown
3/ Kilrea Primary School, Kilrea (Antrim / L'Derry border)
4/ Rasharkin Primary School, Rasharkin

It is a bit of a rush to fit the four schools in, however it is always a pleasure to visit Co. Antrim and work with the very hard working and dedicated development officer Gary Blair - in fact I could spend 3 x days a week in Gary's area such is the demand for my work!


Unislim - 4

Well, Tuesday night was once again weigh in time at Unislim Bangor. Things are still going great, as this week I lost another 3lbs - that's 25lbs in 5 weeks. If I am fortunate enough to loose another 3lbs by Tuesday 28th September that will be an amazing 2 stone, 28lbs in 6 weeks.

When this project began, I did not expect to be in this amazing position in such a short space of time, but with hard work, dedication and help & encouragement from the all the ladies at Unislim Bangor, weight loss has been a bit of a team effort and a rewarding experience.

My goal was to get down to my marriage day weight (12 years ago) of 15st 10lbs but I think I can get just a little lower! Getting the weight off is just one of the objectives, keeping it off will be the real challenge!


Mamma Mia! The Winner Takes It All

I blogged before regarding this song, yes I received a few unusual remarks from a few folk, best now described as closet ABBA fans, however this video clip encapsulated the song for me.

Yes, I have been slapped across the face by angry women who felt let down by me, well that’s the way it was.

Perhaps on reflection it was rather embarrassing at the time, but if you don’t really care what the girl though, well too bad.

Looking back now it was rather barbaric of me to treat some women, the way I did, however I was 33 before as my late Father Blakely said over a Black Bush in La Mon Hotel, ‘Well Mark, you have eventually got a little sense of responsibility – it took you a while though!’ but that was not until I had married Mrs Anderson.

Funny how songs get you – Sorry again for the ABBA post but there you go.


Sunday, 19 September 2010

Wedding Anniversary

Oh yes, I almost forgot.

Mrs A and I are 12 years married today, Sunday 19th September 2010.

We were married in Carryduff Presbyterian Church by Rev. Alastair Smyth on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. The wedding photo's were taken at Rowallen Gardens in Saintfield, with our Reception held at La Mon House Hotel. We then flew to Switzerland the following morning for our 10 day Honeymoon.

On reflection over the past 12 years, I personally have undergone a complete transformation and although life in general has been good, it has at times been difficult, Deaths, change of jobs, Children etc, etc, the usual mix of emotions in life, nevertheless Mrs A and I have a strong Marriage, which sees us through - get the hankies out!


Forms, Forms, Forms

I must be completely daft, thick, stupid or simply dedicated.

Here it is, 0215hrs Saturday Night into Sunday Morning and I am sitting on my laptop filling in forms, writing letters, planning events, the list goes on and on. But I suppose when you are focused and determined like me, form filling is a necessary evil.

This is very much the unseen part of a Community Group's work - such as Loughries, however I get a lot of support from other trusted members of Loughries group, hence I don't mind completing the paperwork.

Any sympathy out there.


Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Art - Murals

Billy Connolly - Northern Ireland's Murals

During a visit by 'The Big Yin' - he spent some time travelling around Belfast visiting various sites. Part of the programme he toured some Belfast Murals, here is a clip.

Many of the mural's are excellent pieces of art, depicting history, etc, etc. Of course I won't agree with the meaning behind quite a few of the murals, however I do enjoy looking and the images.

In the lambeg drum tradition the art work is painted on the front of the shell - not on the side like the flute band tradition. Symbolism is vitally important in Ulster, so for example if you own a lambeg drum you choose the images that say something about you.

I have already posted 15 drums on my blog, a few months back, touching on or explaining the artwork on the front of the drum - I stopped posting for a while as I did not have my drum book for a time - I gave my copy to Billy Montgomery of Rosemount, now I have a new copy I will again publish a few snaps of drums.

Image is everything to a tradition - you can't say you're one thing, then try to be something else!


Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Unislim - 3

Well, still going great at Unislim Bangor - 2lbs off this week, making a total of 20lbs in 4 weeks. I suspect my body is growing used to the change and has naturally slowed down on the weight loss, however 2 - 3lbs a week from here on in will be brilliant - if I could achieve that I'm happy.

But wait, slimmer of the week is my great friend, Hamilton Gregory, who joined just last week - a whopping 11lbs off in 1 week, ELEVEN POUNDS in on week - well done Hammy.

Thanks again to Nicola and her Mum for the vital words of encouragement.

Folks, men as well as women have a weight issue from time to time, I would highly recommend Unislim to every man or woman out there, the weigh in on a Tuesday is an incentive and a focus to loose something each week - so don't be shy join Unislim (Bangor) look better - feel better !


Monday, 13 September 2010

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band - The River

I am not the No. 1 fan of 'The Boss', however he is a fantastic entertainer, great singer and brilliant mouthorgan player.

He is also very Patriotic and an Ambassador for his Country - the United States of America, it is just a pit that his fellow American, Mr. Clinton, could not recognise that we Ulster Folk are equally as Patriotic about Northern Ireland and our Ulster - Ulster Scots identity.

We are not Irish or Ulster Irish!


Saturday, 11 September 2010

Rosemount - Greyabbey 2

We visited Rosemount Abbey - in Greyabbey as planned, thankfully our trip was worthwhile as the premises were open and staffed.

It has been many years since I last visited the site and I have to say that it is still a most impressive place indeed.

Mrs, the boy's and I spend 1 ½ hours looking around and it was great!

I took a few minutes to visit the adjacent old cemetery and I came across the grave of the Revered James Porter – it will make a blog post on its own later. Here are a few snaps.


Ballycopeland Windmill

We visited the windmill as planned this morning, the weather was perfect, but sadly the windmill was locked up!

We made a few enquiries with other visitors, who thought like us it would be open both days, so we plan to visit again on Sunday afternoon, to see if we can get in! - Here are a few snaps.


Friday, 10 September 2010

Chasing Cars (Grey's Anatomy Version)

I'm not Snow Patrol's biggest fan, but I do enjoy some of their music.

Mr Lightbody was quoted as attributing some of his musical talents to his 'Ulster Scots Roots'

Nonetheless this is a brilliant tune and an excellent video, although typical Hollywood hogwash!


Harvest Time 3

Well, harvesting the beetroot was next on the 'list of things to do' – with a little help from two industrious children, the beetroot was harvested this evening Friday 10-9-10.

I prefer my beetroot pickled - so here are a few pictures of my ‘soil to jar in just over an hour’

Picking the ripe beetroot


Steamed until just right – with a bit of a bite

Picked with the Anderson secret recipe – beetroot with a zing!
I have saved you from viewing all the messy bits – but a worthwhile evening. Don't forget a wee bit for the Mother - in Law!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Rosemount - Greyabbey

These splendid ruins of a Cistercian Abbey church and conventual buildings are the finest example of Anglo-Norman ecclesiastical architecture in Northern Ireland.

Affreca, daughter of the King of Man and wife of John de Courcy, Anglo-Norman invader of East Ulster, founded the abbey in 1193. The Abbey was colonised by Cistercian monks from Cumbria. The French background of the Cistercian Order and the English origins of Grey Abbey resulted in an elegant Gothic building with tall pointed lancet windows, the first truly Gothic structure in Ireland.

The monks had great knowledge of plants and made use of them in their practice of medicine. One of the great features of Grey Abbey today is a carefully recreated Herb Garden, containing over fifty varieties of medicinal plants and herbs that you are free to stroll through.

The Abbey is set in the beautiful landscaped parkland of 18th-century Rosemount House but visitors should note that these grounds are PRIVATE. You are welcome to wander among the ruins and the lawns, where you can also picnic.
There are other sites linked with John de Courcy, the most important of which are: Cathedral Hill and Mound of Down, both at Downpatrick and the castles at Carrickfergus, Dundrum and Inch Abbey.

Ballycopeland Windmill

Ballycopeland Windmill - Windmills were once very common in the grain-growing area of east Down, but with the exception of Ballycopeland all are now in ruins. Built in the late 18th or early 19th century it was worked by the McGilton family until the First World War, and between 1950 and 1978 it was gradually restored to full working order after falling into disrepair.

Inside the kiln house there is a video explaining how the mill works. Depending on weather conditions, there may also be a chance to mill some barley. The Millers house is also open with its impressive kitchen and fireplace containing a unique double flue. The outbuildings now serve as visitor centre with displays, models and audio-visual theatre.


European Heritage Open Day's

If all goes well I, hopefully with Mrs A & the boys, intend to visit 3 x places - Ballycopeland Windmill, just outside Millisle - Rosemount, Grey Abbey's Cistercian Abbey and an old favourite Helen's Tower at Clandeboye.

I suspect the weather is to be getter on Sunday, so I will visit Helen's Tower then - as the views from the top should be stunning!

Took this piece from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency's Web Site.

European Heritage Open Days (EHOD) are held annually in September in 49 countries highlighting not only the dazzling diversity of Europe’s heritage but also its intercultural links.

During this weekend the public are given the chance to explore buildings and grounds that are not normally open, for free. 2010 is the 13th year of EHOD in Northern Ireland. Over this time the event has become Northern Ireland’s largest cultural programme with over 56,000 visits recorded during last year’s EHOD.

This year EHOD will take place on 11 and 12 September. Keep this weekend free and take your family and friends along, enjoy the opportunity to explore behind closed doors and experience many of Northern Ireland’s most interesting and beautiful places!

We are currently organizing this year’s events and we’re trying to add new properties and events as well as including ‘old favourites’ for you to enjoy. The EHOD brochure will be available from your local Tourist Information Centre or library and online from mid August.

In December 2009 over 100 guests attended the European Heritage Open Days (EHOD) 2009 Thank You Event in the Ulster Museum. The EHOD Thank You Event is an annual event to thank those owners who open their homes and properties to the public as part of EHOD.


Family Sunday BBQ at Montalto

This picture was taken at Montalto last Christmas, as you can see the lake was frozen but it give a great view of the old country house

Sunday was a BBQ at Montalto. David invited Loraine, Matthew, Christopher and myself to Montalto where we joined David, Jane with three of their children, sister Joy with daughter Johanna, Mum Ellen and finally cousin Claire, husband Jimmy and their 3 children.

Quite a crowd. Our host David had prepared tea, coffee, home made scones with Montalto jam and sausage rolls. It was just the ticket as we had not eaten since breakfast, attended Church and went straight to Ballynahinch.

We all then embarked on a walking tour of the estate - through the rain, all the children had packed onto the electric golf buggy then back for a delicious BBQ. Nineteen gathered at what was a great afternoon for us all.

We have all agreed to return for an outing at Halloween - so looking forward to that.


Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Unislim - 2

Last week the leader was stuck in London, so sadly we did not get weighed in, Peter, me and 30 women. We even had another man come along to join - that's 3 of us, he had to wait until tonight though.

Well another successful weight loss week - well 2 weeks - including our non weigh in, so last week and this week combined weight loss was 8lbs - that is 18lbs in 3 weeks - great.

Most of the women I think are coming to terms that men have a weight issues also, and have to accept our presence. The 3rd man did join tonight and will remain anonymous for the time being, but well done to him for taking the leap of faith.

I am meeting Mark T on Friday - so I will have a bun with my sugarless tea!


Back on the Road Again

Well, summer over, children back at school and time to visit my schools throughout Ulster.

I have been inundated with schools requesting tuition - Lambeg Drum, Fife and a little tin whistle. I think teachers must have been on holiday's together and talking about what is going on in their schools, as it has been unprecedented the amount of schools seeking tuition.

Some schools will be OK and continue with tuition and some will miss out, but that is perhaps a good thing, a healthy sign of demand outstripping supply.

I will keep the photo's and reports going as I visit my schools - I am looking forward to the challenge as usual after a couple of barren summer months - at one stage the tumble weeds were blowing up the street!


Friday, 3 September 2010

Becoming Famous!

I blogged before about my visit to Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity Collage Dublin, based at Antrim Road, Belfast - back in early July 2010.

I was invited to attend by Philip Orr, in a private capacity and the students that attended the workshop were from all over the world.

One of the ladies who attended my workshop has blogged about the Ulster Scots Tradition - here is the link to the blog, you can read and form your own opinion!



Thursday, 2 September 2010

Black Saturday - Newcastle 2010

Well, it was a great day in Newcastle Co. Down on Saturday 28th August 2010. For me, as I mentioned before, Black Day is the highlight of the year - the sheer spectacle, music, atmosphere and the fellowship of our fellow Royal Black Institution members is brilliant.

As an organiser myself I was pleased with the planning, hard work and dedication of the County Officers.

To name drop I managed to get a photo with the Co. Down County Master Sir Knt John Smith and as chance would have it the Sir Knt. Millar Farr - Sovereign Grand Master.

Here is a montage of pics of the day:

Before it all began here is another one of my Brothers - Gary, and yes I was smiling!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Loughries Ulster Scots Festival

As promised in an earlier post, here are the details for Loughries Historical Society's Mini Ulster Scots Festival - Kindly funded by Ards Borough Council.

Three events are planned by way of exploring and promoting the Ulster Scots Culture in Newtownards and Ards Peninsula area.

If successful and the will and support is there Loughries intend developing a greater programme in 2011.

Thursday 30th September 2010 7.30pm £2.50 per person, with light supper provided
Newtownards Orange Hall - Dr. Philip Orr – Historian and Author (Road to the Somme) will give a talk on reflection 100 years since the Battle of the Somme.
Jack Greenald – Historian & Writer - talk on ‘Local Men’ who lost their lives at the Somme.

Saturday 2nd October 2010 09.00am – 1.00pm £10.00 per person + Tea & Coffee Break
Mark Thompson - Ulster Scots Historian and writer - will act as our tour guide on a Coach Tour / Tourist Trail of the Ards Peninsula, as we travel from Newtownards around the Ards Peninsula touring the local ‘Ulster Scots places of interest’ (30 seats available)

Friday 15th October 2010 7.45pm £6.00 per person, with light supper provided
Town Hall Newtownards is the venue for ‘An Evening of Ulster Scots Music and Crac’ Hosted by David Anderson MVO, MBE, acts include ‘The Thompson Brothers - Gospel Duet’, music from Lord Londonderry’s Own CLB Band, local poet Wilbert Magill, and the Newtownards Orange Male Voice Choir + a talk on Asha Koran School in India by Billy Curry.

A retiring offering will be collected in aid of the Asha Koran Special School in India

If you are interested in any of the events please e-mail me to reserve your place/s.

Looking forward to your support.