Wednesday, 30 March 2011

It's coming! - Cars 2: Official Trailer 2

My boys' can't wait (neither can I)


Sunday, 27 March 2011

Family outing to Mount Stewart

Family outing to Mount Stewart, on the shores of Strangford Lough - mid way between Newtownards and Greyabbey. It was a beautiful sunny spring day, well the first day of British Summer Time - there were a lot of visitors around enjoying their Sunday afternoon walk.

Mount Stewart was formed by the Stewart family (later Vane-Tempest-Stewart), holders of the title Marquess of Londonderry since 1816. The family bought the estate in 1744with money acquired by Alexander Stewart (1699–1781). This new wealth came from the sales of materials like linen. At the time, the house was known as Mount Pleasant. Alexander Stewart's son, Robert Stewart, became the first Marquess of Londonderry.

In about 1800 he added a temporary wing to the west. He died in 1821 leaving the house to his son, also Robert, better known as Viscount Castlereagh, a prominent politician. Robert lived in Mount Stewart during his childhood until he went to University in Cambridge.

The inscription on the sundial below reads:

Serene I stand among the flowers

And only count life's sunny hours

For me dark days do not exist

I'm a brazened faced old optomist

Then up to Cafollas at the Square for a dipped 99 - GREAT.


Lambeg Drum - A selection of Painted Shells 6

Here is another selection of drums - this time memorial shells, dedicated to Ulstermen who served their Country and paid the ultimate sacrifice.

As mentioned before these drums belong to families throughout Ulster -their decision was to mark the death of a family member by having their portrait painted on a Lambeg Drum.

Every drum has a story to tell - I wonder what stories lie behind these paintings!


Coastal Walk at Strangford Lough

Saturday morning was a beautiful morning, so I decided to return to my hometown - Newtownards, I parked my van at my Mothers house in Greenwell Street and departed for a walk along the coastal path at the tip of Strangford Lough. As a youth I spent many day's and hours along the 'tide bank' as it was known then, fooling around in the old World War II air raid shelters etc. By the way this is Dudley, our family pet - he keeps me reasonably fit and is good company on this 6 mile walk.

As you can see Ards Private Airport is a busy place on a Saturday, obviously the good weather brought out the flying enthusiasts - there were auto giros - twin engine planes, single engine planes, gliders and helicopters, it all made for a little extra entertainment on my walk.

Further along the coastal path is Ards Allotments - my friend Mark McDonald recently bought one, so I decided to pay him a visit. There he was digging up his future vegetables beds - all looked very hard work, after a chat and a light drink it was my return walk.

I think sometime we forget how beautiful an area we live in and perhaps a return visit home is also good for the soul!


Saturday, 19 March 2011

Lambeg Drum - A selection of Painted Shells 5

Here is another selection of painted Lambeg Drums.

Have a look at each painting and put yourself in the mind of the person who owns the drum, try to imagine why they felt the person painted on the drum merited such an accolade.

Throughout the lambeg Drumming community, many unsung hero's are out there - many have dedicated their lives to maintaining one of the richest and most important musical cultures in the world. Ordinary folk who have been held in high esteem by their friends, family, Orange Lodge, community group or perhaps a drumming club.

I selected the paintings below because they give an overview of the type of ordinary people out there whose lives have been commerated and celebrated by their portrait being painted on a Lambeg Drum. As I mentioned in a previous post Cultural Art has made a major contribution to life in Ulster - wall murals, Orange and Black banners, lambeg drums, etc, art is all around us and should be recognised and celebrated for its diversity, as many of these images reflect what is around us everyday.

It does not have to be hanging on a wall in a museum or art gallery to be classed as art!


Thursday, 17 March 2011

Cultural Art - Pencil Drawing

Recent visitor to Loughries Fife & Lambeg Drum class, Billy Neill dabbles a little in cultural art - here is one of his pencil drawing - and yes I am that grumpy!


St Patrick's Day 2011

Today I decided not to drive 30 miles to be offended, I decided not to attack a parade, I decided not to coat trail or fly a foreign flag during St. Pat’s day and decided not to encourage others to do so, nor did I did get drunk and attack Her Majesties Police Service.
Instead I decided to spend the day with my family, with an outing to Crawfordsburn Country Park and then tonight to attend my Black Preceptory meeting, followed by an evening meal with 18 of my colleagues - offending no one!
You see, it is possible to have a better and shared future if you really want to.

Bruce Springsteen-Secret Garden

Nothing to say excepy enjoy!


David Bowie - Life on Mars?

Sorry, if you are looking for an Ulster Scots/Orange/Black/Lambeg Drum type post - sadly this is one of those other posts that springs up from time to time from me - Perhaps that defines me - kind of odd!

I may loose a few followers over this blog post, but you must be true to yourself.

D.B. is a wonderful singer/musician - I normally close my eyes when the videos are on, that said the power of his music is there!

I am at that age.


Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Shenandoah (James Galway)

I have practised then memorised this beautiful tune, as I have mentioned in previous posts - sadly and with regret I can't quite get my Low D whistle to sound like this - nevertheless here is the maestro Sir James Galway - playing it properly!
There is something drawing me back to this tune - I wonder?

Ground Control to Major Tom

In my previous employment when we had difficulties trying to get through to some folk mostly drunks or the drunk on themself types - we always referred to them as Major Tom, so to all those Major Tom's out there this is for you!

After School Club - Limavady Central Primary School

I visited Limavady Central Primary School - for an after school club. Great school, wonderful happy pupils and friendly staff. The all thoroughly enjoyed my fife and lambeg drum presentation - and a few free sweets!

I was in a rush home, so just a quick stop to take this pics from Limavady, across to the Donegal Hill, it was beautiful day and I am sure in the past as the Ulster Scot settlers witnessed this view they kept heading west looking and hoping for a better future!


Monday, 14 March 2011

Fife & Lambeg Drum - Cultural Art

Tonight as usual, I was at Loughries fife & lambeg drumming class in Newtownards. Usual crowd gathered in for a bit of drumming, fifing, a cup of tea and a chat.

However, tonight was a little different, as there was a surprise waiting for me - the chap with the beard, Roy Hogg comes to the class and tonight he brought a painting with him.

Last year at one of our drumming evenings, Roy and his wife came along and took a number of photo's, nothing unusual about that, except Mrs Hogg (I don't know her first name) used one of the photo's and spent a number of weeks working on this wonderful painting!

Roy is drumming my lambeg drum - Prudence and I am fifing beside him. I am delighted with the painting as in many way's it encapsulates the fife and lambeg drumming tradition - so I thought I would share the painting with you.


Sunday, 13 March 2011

Loughries Ulster Museum Visit 2

Just visited the Ulster Musuem web site and found this - interesting!

We will be able to find our way about now - looks promising!!!


Loughries Ulster Scots Summer School - 2011

Following on from another highly successful Ulster Scots Summer School in 2010, Loughries intend to host another in 2011 - this will be year 5. Once again it will be held at Castle Gardens Primary School, on the last week of July - 25th to 29th - planning is at a very early stage.

There is scope for groups like Loughries to host talks, lectures, trips, musical events etc, perhaps aimed at the 'mature folk' - however it is vital to offer something to the younger folk also - they are the future for Ulster Scots, the next generation. We must encourage our young people to explore their culture and feel happy and comfortable in who they are - they will be better equipped for life.

We have a dedicated team of leaders who gladly give up 1 week of their summer holidays to organise and take part in the summer school and this year is no different - except one of the teachers, Rachael is pregnant and won't make it sadly, however the rest of the team is eagerly planning away.

I attended a Summer School seminar on Thursday evening and it is very interesting to see a few changes in the summer school criteria - obviously someone has been looking at Loughries Summer School in recent years and utilised some of our ideas!

In 2010 we had a visit from DECAL Minister Nelson McCausland, who had a great time with us and I hear was suitably impressed with the summer school - as a result of the Ministers visit we had huge publicity - 5 minutes on BBC Newsline - BBC Radio, Newsletter, Newtownards Chronicle, Culture NI and a few others.

This year we intend to have a very low profile and keep the summer school low key - we are a victim of our own success, as in 2010 we had a waiting list of 15 children, we are only permitted to have 60 children per day and if truth be told we could have twice that number, the demand is there.

More on this later!


Loughries - Ulster Museum Trip

On Saturday 16th April 2011, Loughries will embark on our first trip of the year. We do try to vary where we go on the trips - in order to appeal to the diverse tastes of our members.

We are going to visit the Ulster Museum - link here: - Of our 23 members, sadly NONE have visited the museum, shamefully myself included. So we felt it right and proper we arrange a visit to explore further Ulsters interesting past.

After the trip is concluded, we are going to discuss what impressed us and what did not. We do hope to see Ulster Scots items, as well as 'Loyal Order' items - but we wait and see!

Photo's to follow.


Saturday, 12 March 2011

Loughries - Exploring Cultural Art.

As part of a series of events in 2011, we at Loughries Historical Society - (an Ulster Scots Group in Newtownards) have organised an ‘Exploring Cultural Art Evening’ on Friday 29th April 2011, in our meeting room - at Mary Street, Newtownards.

Ards Borough Council - Arts Department, were giving out small grants to local organisations involved in 'The Arts' - this of course is a very loose term, as the arts can come in many shapes and forms, this small grant was something I thought was worth applying for.

I received unofficial news on Friday, that the grant application was successful, luck favours the brave! However I believe there were a number of folk who sit on the panel - that approves the grant, were let’s say - a little uneasy about funding this event. What swung it for us in the end, was a member of the panel spoke on the very fine reputation Loughries has with different departments at Ards Council, who know that since our formation in 2005 we are a reputable hard working reliable and honest group.

The event: - We are going to have an in-depth look at Cultural Art surrounding ‘Orange Black and Apprentice Boys Banners’ and ‘Lambeg Drum Paintings’ As I have mentioned before in previous blogs, every painting on a drum or on a banner has a story to tell, so we intend to spend an evening exploring and discussing cultural art. A few ‘friends of Loughries’ have a vast collection of photographs of lambeg drums and banners, so through the visual aid of PowerPoint we will view several hundred photographs of drums and banners.

It is something different – a little unusual perhaps, nevertheless there is a very keen interest in exploring these topics, so let’s see what understanding of Cultural Art Work we can attain.

I was informed that this grant was available at Ards Council, from my friends at the Ulster Scots Community Network – who keep member groups like Loughries apprised of available grants etc, so thanks to the USCN for the info, then I set about applying for financial assistance - and as you can see was ultimately successful.


Lambeg Drum - A selection of Painted Shells 4

Below I have selected a few military themed lambeg drums, for you to have a look at. As you can see some are new painting others are quite old - nevertheless all in their own way are interesting and have a story to tell.

There are a number of renowned artists / painters throughout Ulster, however some painted shells appear to be done by not so well known folk - maybe in some circumstances the drum owner may have tried his hand at painting his drum himself!

I do have the details of who owns what drums, however in the montages of drums I feel it best just to let you view the painting for your enjoyment.


Monday, 7 March 2011

Sweet toothed Drummers

Loughries fife and Lambeg drum class is back into full swing again.

Tonight we had a visitor, local artist and writer Mr. Billy Neill. As part of his surprise visit, Billy brought along some buns and cakes, that Mrs Neill made specially for us poor drummers - the buns went down well.

You can't beat a bit of Ulster Scots home baking!!! Billy is now allowed back next Monday!


Lambeg Drum - Boconnell

The Orange lodge originated in the town land of Silverwood (just off the m1 at Lurgan) Boconnell lane runs behind the ski slope at Craigavon. The Lodge was forced out of the local Orange Hall a number of years ago around the time Craigavon was built, the Lodge subsequently moved to Brownlowe House, Lurgan.

The drum was originally 3 foot, however some time in its history the shell was let out to 3 foot 1, the drum was never the same - eventually the shell was brought back to 3 foot by the owner.

It's a Johnston shell and painting - not too sure how old the drum is but it's a single board shell, very dark stain so hard to tell. Down the years the drum was nicknamed The Buck, but the owners are not sure why. It now belongs to the McCusker family!!


Sunday, 6 March 2011

Mr. Percy French

Another snippet from the Newtownards Chronicle 1916.

For generations Orange and Protestant hall, have been at the hub of community life - hosting events such as drama's, musical evenings, historical talks & lectures, etc.

Here is a report that famous entertainers happily performed in the halls - none other than world famous Mr. Percy French.

Mr French gave us a great fifing tune I play - 'Eileen Ogue the pride of Petravore'



Jack Greenald and myself put on our new 'historical anoraks' and headed for the newspaper library in Belfast, on Saturday morning past.

We were both searching for information on different projects that we are working on - Jack's is far more important than mine of course!

Whilst searching through the Newtownards Chronicle from 1916, I came across this unusual advertisement - Although I am very much a Newtownards man, I reside in Bangor, and us Bangorians tend to round our words a little more - that the folk fae Newton!

Here is the proof of imported speech therapists from Bangor to N'Ards as far back as 1916!


Lambeg Drum - A selection of Painted Shells 3

For my next montage of painted shell, I have selected what are known as 'Bust Drums'. They depict various imaged of King William III Prince of Orange.

Although all the drum below are different they do look quite similar. I won't go into detail - who owns what drum, who they were made by, or painted by, other than to say enjoy the paintings and feel free to leave a message.


Lambeg Drum - Unusual Drums 1

I have seen many, many drums in the last 12 - 15 years, everyone different, everyone special and each with a special story to tell.

This drum below, is owned by the highly respected drumming family the 'Bickerstaff's' who hail from Rathfriland Co. Cown, Northern Ireland. I have the good fortune to teach young Andy Bickerstaff in Rathfriland High School, each Thursday - or should I say Andy teaches me!

Andy made his debut at Markethill in 2010 and drummed very well indeed, he was unfortunate not to get into the last round, but he assures me he will make it into the top 10 in 2011.

This drum - known as 'The Scapegoat' is a Hewitt shell - painted around 2006/7 by Mr. Willie Magowan, from Garvagh, Co. Londonderry.

The town land of 'Balinskegh' (the owner of the drum was born and raised there) is painted below the main painting - the humble goat, with the inscription ' Scapegoat - Suffered for the sins of others' a Biblical quote from the New Testament. .

The drum is called the 'Bronte Challenger'