Monday, 30 May 2011

New Heliocopters

Thanks to cousin Jeannette for these photos.

You may think strange post - two brand new helicopters were recently delivered to Ontario Provincial Police Dept. - they cost around 8 million (Canadian)dollars - each, yes each. I am into symbols and yes it is great to see the crown on the side of the helicopters. Seems that someone in authority are planning for the future and investing in equipment as well as personnel.

Incidentally, in my previous employment I travelled for 3 years by helicopter 6-8 times per week, it was a great experience, Puma, Lynx, Sea king and Chinook. Great was to travel but................!

Jeannettes quote - 'I thought you might like the photos of the new helicopters. On your blog, that is very cool, don't mind a bit. They are so incredibly quiet. Love the Euro design of them. Each one costs 8 million dollars. We took two, one will be kept here and the other one is being kept in Sudbury which is about 3 hours north of us'.


The Story of Ireland - Fergal Keane

Tonight, if you are not doing much, tune into BBC2 for 'The Story of Ireland'.

This is the third of a five part series, by journalist and broadcaster Fergal Keane.

I have not seen either of the other two episodes, but what caught my eye in the Radio Times review, was the period in time that is being looked at this evening - between 1606 and 1798.

It will be interesting to view and note if the programe is balanced, however one note of caution I have picked up instantly from the Radio Times review, is the inclusion of the word sectarianism, lets hope it is used in the correct context.

I listened to a debate recently on BBC Radio Ulster when writer and broadcaster Ruth Dudley-Edwards described Sectarianism as 'a two way street, as common in the Catholic community as in the Protestant community' The panel that day on the radio did not challenge her comments - Ms. Dudley-Edwards is a Dublin born Catholic!

Monday 30 May
7:00pm - 8:00pm

The Age of Revolution 3/5.

You need to have your wits about you to keep up with Fergal Keane's excellent sweep through Irish history. His account tonight gallops along, dispatching key events of the 17th and 18th centuries with a few well-turned phrases and choice contributions from historians. It's strikingly done, but there's a lot packed in: blink and you'll miss another turning point, a massacre, a rebellion or a wave of settlement. And it's shot through with tragedy and dispossession, from the seeds of sectarianism in the Ulster plantation, starting in 1606, to the birth of republicanism in the rebellion of Wolfe Tone in 1798. With little fuss, Keane expertly dramatises his tale.

Radio Times reviewer - David Butcher

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Lambeg Drum - A selection of Painted Shells 11b

Another selection of Lambeg Drums with women featuring - again I have not researched the drums, other than to collate the photos.

Credit for all the photographs goes to Mr. Bobby Magreechan - who kindly gave me permission to reproduce the photos from his book, 'The Ulster Drum' published back in 2009.


Lambeg Drum - A selection of Painted Shells 11a

This blog entry and the next entry shows a number of Lambeg Drums with females painted on them, from members of the Royal Family to popular local women. I have not researched who, what, where and even why these women feature on the drums, nevertheless I think you agree they are an integral part of the Lambeg Drumming Tradition.


New Banner - Loughries True Blues LOL 1948

Recently if you have been following my blog, you may have read a few articles about gun running, signing of the Ulster Covenant, Lord Carson and a few other bits n pieces from the era around 1912 - 1916.

Well, here is another historical item to put into your memory bank, as perhaps you can try to piece together what story Loughries will be depicting on their new Orange Banner in 2012.

Enough said for now!

The Ulster Tower is a memorial to the men of the 36th (Ulster) Division. The memorial was officially opened on November 19, 1921 and is a very close copy of Helen's Tower which stands in the grounds of the Clandeboye Estate, near Bangor, County Down in Northern Ireland. Many of the men of the Ulster Division trained in the estate before moving to England and then France early in 1916.

It is located very near to the famous Schwaben Redoubt, which the Division attacked on 1st July, 1916. The Schwaben Redoubt was a little to the north-east of where the tower stands, and was a triangle of trenches with a frontage of 300 yards, a fearsome strong point with commanding views. It is also located close to the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

The front lines were at the edge of Thiepval Wood which lies to the south-west of the road between the Thiepval Memorial and the Ulster Tower. Troops of the 109th Brigade crossed about 400 yards of no man's land, and kept on going. They entered the Schwaben Redoubt, and advanced on towards Stuff Redoubt, gaining in all around a mile, though not without losses. To their left, the 108th Brigade were successful in advancing near Thiepval, but less so nearer the River Ancre.

The 107th Brigade supported them, but although men of the 36th Division held out for the day the Germans mounted counterattacks, and as their stocks of bombs and ammunition dwindled, many fell back with small parties remaining in the German front lines. The casualties suffered by the 36th Division on the 1st of July totalled over 5,000.

The tower (plus a small cafe nearby) is staffed by members of the Somme Association, which is based in Belfast.

At the entrance to the tower is a plaque commemorating the names of the nine men of the Division who won the Victoria Cross during the Somme. There is also a memorial here commemorating the part played by members of the Orange Order during the battle. The inscription on this memorial reads:

"This Memorial is Dedicated to the Men and Women of the Orange Institution Worldwide, who at the call of King and country, left all that was dear to them, endured hardness, faced danger, and finally passed out of the sight of man by the path of duty and self sacrifice, giving up their own lives that others might live in Freedom. Let those who come after see to it that their names be not forgotten."


Lazy Sunday Afternoon.

Today, Sunday 29th May, I had a lazy Sunday - first in a long, long time.

Recently, I was given a signed copy of 'Yarns from the Ards' - tall tales and true stories! It is the third book in a series, written by award winning local author and broadcaster Hugh Robinson.

The stories are short, some humorous, with a few more serious stories, including a local murder!

I would highly recommend the book, particularly as it describes areas around N'Ards and parts of the Ards Peninsula, local shops, cinemas, football teams, and a fair sprinkling of local characters - excellent!


Saturday, 28 May 2011

A Selection of Images - Newtown.

Well, here are a few old photo's from the archives of Newtown in the late 1960's I think. My goodness, as you can see the town was in much need of development and investment. I can vaguely remember some of the streets - but not them all.

Can you name them?

The wee toon has changed quite a bit!


Day out at the Elim - Bangor

We spent a great family afternoon out at the annual Bangor Elim car and motorbike event today. Below are a selection of what was going on.


Loughries Ulster Scots Summer School 2011.

Great News! Loughries Ulster Scots Summer School will take place as planned in July!

Sadly, it was in serious jeopardy of collapsing due to funding issues - thank goodness common sense prevailed.

I met with Derek Rainey (Development Officer) on Friday afternoon in Belfast, in a last ditch attempt to save Loughries summer school from not taking place. We spoke for quite some time, going through all the issues and difficulties that Loughries as an Ulster Scots Community Group face, when planning a Summer School. I must say that Derek has a full grasp of what is needed when putting together an application for financial assistance, planning in detail the summer school, then encountering what may be described as a blockage in the funding process - Derek is from our community, live and works in our community and understands our community.

Loughries and Derek were keen to compromise, as Loughries summer school has been generally accepted as the Flagship Ulster Scots Summer School in Ulster. It has taken 5 years of hard work and dedication to get the summer school up to that standard, however thanks must go to our wonderful staff, fantastic school facilities, supportive school principal and Board of Governors, great parents and wonderful children.

Our Chairman, Cllr Hamilton Gregory (who has just been elected to Deputy Mayor of Ards Borough Council) did not want the summer school to fail. It is the only Ulster Scots summer school in the Ards Borough Council and the Westminster Constituency of Strangford. Well I could go on and on about the importance and significance of the summer school, however to sum up this is fantastic news for everyone connected to the Ulster Scots Tradition in 'The Ards' - we now look forward to planning and participating in this summer school on 25th - 29th July 2011.

Also, Loughries have agreed to run a Pilot Ulster Scots Residential Summer School in August, for slightly older children - more news on that later!


Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Ulster Scots in Schools - Investing in the Future

Back in January 2008 I was persuaded by Mr. Michael McCullough from the Ulster Scots Agency to take part in a pilot fife and lambeg drum class at the Boy’s Model School in Belfast. I had been doing some voluntary work for Michael, working in mostly primary schools holding workshops on the fife and lambeg drum tradition throughout Ulster.

I gave a workshop to 3 x classes of year 8 + 9 boys at the school and then was overwhelmed with the number of students wanting to learn the fife and drum.

Now the fife and lambeg drum tradition had died out in Belfast, except for a couple of enthusiasts. – Now as we know, boy’s being boy’s - I spent a few weeks getting rid of the slackers, those wanting out of class, no music ability etc, eventually I had around 36 students attend 5 x drum classes and 1 fife class.

Part of the project along with the tuition was to equip the school with a drum and fifes – so invest in time and resources, as well as 3 x educational trips to drum maker, drum painter and fife maker! Well to cut a long story short I will single out one pupil for the benefit of this blog entry, there are quite a few of these students springing up all over Ulster as I visit schools but here is one example.

Here is a class of young students year 8 or 9 - starting their tuition.

Simon Menabney – When I began in the school Simon was just a boy with no knowledge of the fife and lambeg drum tradition. As the weeks and months passed Simon was very keen and showed signs of developing a great interest in the lambeg drum, not really interested in playing the fife though!

Simon developed great rhythmic skills very quickly and soon became one of my best students. As well as being taught in the Boys’ Model each Monday, Simon joined the newly formed Shankill drumming club, that had been formed in West Belfast Orange Hall ( I had taught some of the Shankill members at my drumming club) his interest developed further. Simon began to perform at school events and community based concerts and events also. Later in 2009 Simon began to Parade along with me on the ‘Twelfth Day’

This is a brief synopsis of the last 3 ½ years with Simon at the Boys’ Model School and how if you invest time, effort and equipment in young people, it can have a positive impact on their lives.

Simon, along with other exams, took his GCSE music practical in April, I played the fife and Simon played the Lambeg Drum both as a solo and to the accompaniment of the fife!


The Fife

Well, a note of caution to all you fifers and budding fifers out there - Don't leave one of your new fifes sitting about with a 6 year old boy and a dog, why? Well one throws the stick (my fife) the other runs after it and retrieves it!

Great wee game and a good way to have fun with the family pet - just not with a £70.00 fife!!!!


Lambeg Drum - A selection of Painted Shells 10

There are only a few of these 'Family Crested' drums around Ulster - these two as you can see are The Allen and Wilson Families respectfully, both immersed in the Lambeg Drumming Musicial Tradition.


Monday, 23 May 2011

Untapped Ulster Tourist’s

Thankfully someone somewhere, had the brains to start to exploit the rich Ulster Scots history that lies within the Ards and North Down Area.

I blogged recently regarding the Ulster Scots tourist trail information at Ards Tourist Centre, which I believe has moved to our neighbours at North Down Museum.

Yesterday, whilst visiting the Mount Stewart Garden and craft fair, looked around quite a number of stalls and exhibitors – Ards Borough Council had a tourist stall set up with complete with pop up stands and leaflets. I picked up these two booklets relating to Ulster Scots tourist trail, the lady working at the stall was not too chatty - but I did glean from her that the two booklets I had lifted had ‘been the most popular today’

So there you go, a keen interest from the National Trust type folk – Oh yes, I am a member!!


Saturday, 21 May 2011

German Submarine - U19

In Ward Park Bangor, close to the Town's War Memorial, stands this lump of metal! Well, not any lump of metal of course - this is a deck gun taken from a German Submarine UB19 after the......... well you read for yourself!

This is Matthew, will he join the Navy in the years to come - hope not!

History is all around us.


Friday, 20 May 2011

WW I - John Condon - Singer Janet Dowd

I was asked to repost this beautiful song - John Condon.

The song pays tribute to the youngest soldier to die during WWI.


Gala Performance for The Ards - 2

A month or so ago, I blogged about a Gala Charity Performance of the Ards which was hosted by the Mayor of Ards Cllr Smyth. A number of local schools, a choir, and International Singers all from Newtownards, performed on stage at the Ulster Hall in Belfast, to raise money for a local charity – The Link.

Thanks to Mrs Ferris (Head of Music) at Movilla High School, who kindly gave me permission to show a few photographs of the boys on stage. They played very well - although extremely nervous!

Of the 7 students who performed, 5 of them initially attended an Ulster Scots Summer School I organise in Newtownards through Loughries Historical Society, a few years ago. They have gone on to join local flute and pipe bands and also play music at Movilla School.

As a tutor it was rewarding to see young people – who never get an opportunity to perform, being allowed to express their musical talents at a public performance, especially at a venue like the Ulster Hall in Belfast.


David Anderson - The Queens Visit

Big Bro. David Anderson appeared in a newspaper earlier this week - with regard to the Royal Visit by HM Queen Elizabeth to the Irish Republic.

Click on image to enlarge, then read the article!


Thursday, 19 May 2011

Old Drum

Again during my visit to Ballyrobert Drumming Club - this drum was there. It is a very old drum from Newtownards called the Defender.

It was used at many 'Twelfth Parades' through the years and was owned by the Tate Family. There is a tragic story attached to the drum in that during a Twelfth Parade back in the 1970's the man playing the drum Mr. Tate collapsed and died whilst playing the drum. As a result the drum has not been played since.

The drum is now owned by Billy Tate - a nephew of the man who died. Billy is a member of Loughries Orange Lodge and recently took an interest in drumming so I teach him on a Monday evening at our class. It is great to have another old drum back in action - the more the better!


New Drum

This evening I visited Ballyrobert Drumming Club, on the outskirts of Bangor. Along with all the other folk there was Denis Morrow, drum maker and a good friend of mine!

He had with him his new drum - one he made specially to get his late father William Morrow painted on it and as you can see its a beauty.

It was painted by William Magowan, from Garvagh Co. Londonderry and it has Denis's father in the centre with Belfast City Hall and the Old Gasworks - Ormeau Road.

A brilliant drum and we look forward to seeing it out in the coming weeks and months.