Friday, 30 September 2011

Ulster-Scots 'A Forenoon Aroon the Ards' Part 3

Well Saturday 1st October 2011 is upon us, so it is time for our "A Forenoon Doon the Upper Ards" bus trip.

The bus has been fully booked, I could have filled 2 buses but lets not get carried away!!

We are very fortunate that Mr. Mark Thompson will act as tour guide for the trip. Mark designed and prepared this leaflet for the trip, so each person will receive this leaflet and a copy of the Thomas Smith booklet I blogged about before.

I will publish a few snaps and a full report soon. Hope the weather improves though!


Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Ulster Covenant - 99th Anniversary.

Today, Wednesday 28th September 2011, is the 99th Anniversary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant. Hundreds of thousands of Ulster men throughout the world signed the covenant in support of strengthening and maintaining the Union.

The next 10 years witnessed a series of events that was to change the face of Ulster forever.

Sadly, today I was in a school, which I shall not name - I asked all students aged between 13 + 15 what historical event happened today, the 28th September in Ulster? Of the 30 or so children I asked none / nil / zero - knew what anniversary was today. When I explained the Ulster Covenant to them again sadly, only 2 of the 30 children have vaguely heard of the Ulster Covenant.

Dear oh dear oh dear!!

Another reason why our schools are failing our Protestant children. We need Ulster history taught in our school system........ urgently!

Lord Carson signing the Ulster Covenant at the City Hall Belfast

Thanks to Ian Carlisle USCN for this photo - Carson + Craig march to the City Hall


Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Lambeg Drums - A Selection of Painted Shells 19

Hello Folks, here are another selection of painted lambed drums for you to have a look at, they are taken from 'The Ulster Drum' booklet

The Burning Bush - owned by M. Johnston from Kilwarlin

Lord Mountbatten - owned by Articlave Lodge LOL 1017

Secret of England's Greatness - owned by Knocknadona Lodge

Sir Winston Churchill (The Architect of Victory) - owned by Articlave LOL 1017

The Killyman Defender - owned by I. Johnston (Derrymain)


The Battle Cry of Freedom(confederate version)

Back to the American civil war again so, here is a great wee tune - some great flags on display!


Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Lambeg Drums - A Selection of Painted Shells 18

I am not sure how many memorial lambeg drums, dedicated to the memory of Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Officers are in existence, however here are three drums that I have photo's of.

They are taken from the booklet 'The Ulster Drum' published by the Ulster Scots Agency - with photographs supplied by Mr. Bobby Magreechan - with my quiet assistance in the background!

Congratulations to the families of these men, who had the courage to have their portraits painted on the front of their Lambeg Drums in loving memory.


Monday, 19 September 2011

Loughries Historical Society - New Crest?

Over the past few day's one of Loughries members Stephen Rodgers, has been working through a few designs for our organisation.

Of the designs he produced we both felt that this was the best.

What do you think?

Scrabo Tower / Red Hand of Ulster / Our motto - Promoting the Ulster Scots Tradition through Education / Est. 2005 / Blue - Scottish Tartan / Cross of St. Patrick.


Friday, 16 September 2011

Ulster-Scots 'A Forenoon Aroon the Ards' Part 3

This afternoon Friday, I drove the proposed route of the upcoming trip around the lower / upper Ards - It was very enjoyable and interesting.

We plan to leave Newtownards at 0900 on Saturday 1st October 2011 for Conway Square, driving to Kircubbin - Portaferry - Quinten Bay - Cloughy - Portavogie - Ballyhalbert - Balligan - Ballywalter - Millisle - Newtownards - return for around 1pm.

We have a number of stops planned - we intend to concentrate on 1572 Sir Thomas Smith items of interest - 1606 Hamilton / Montgomery matters and some Rebellious 1798 stuff thrown in.

Mark Thompson will act as our Tour Guide for the trip and we are all looking forward to an enjoyable morning.

Yes, I booked the Portaferry Hotel for tea, coffee, scones with butter, cream and jam!!

If you want to travel - sorry you are too late - all seats booked / SOLD OUT!

We at Loughries would just like to at this time convey our sincerest thanks to Ards Borough Council for solely funding our Ulster Scots Festival.

Ulster Scots Language - The Ards 2

I intend to do two blog posts with a similar theme 'Burns Night Suppers' here is the first.

In the last 6 years, we at Loughries have hosted a number of Burns Night Suppers - in the Town Hall, Newtownards. They have become so successful, that we have had to limit numbers of guests. The first year we had around 100 guests, earlier this year we reduced the numbers to around 86, really to assist the caters.

Each year we invited guests, Mayors, MPs MLA's really to promote primarily the great work being done by Loughries Historical Society!

Again we such a richness of talent that we able to call upon different groups, acts and performers to make the event something special.

Here is a snippet of the burns supper 3 years ago - addressing the haggis is none other than Willie McAvoy half of the double act 'The Twa Wullies'. Willie McAvoy addressed the haggis with great poise - in a poetic & dramatic way - the guests almost lifted off the roof with a loud cheer as he tore open the haggis with his ceremonial knife. Later in the evening the Twa Wullies entertained us with some local Ulster Scots poems & yarns told as these stories are meant to be told in their native tongue. I remember the tears of laughter streaming down many faces of the audience as the stories rolled out - fantastic!

Once again as I reflect on 6 years work at Loughries, it is easy to have a great night - when you have a richness of great, talented folk, again I emphasise - high quality authentic Ulster Scots material, should they be musicians, dancers or in this case in question Natural Ulster Scots Speakers.

Below are a few snaps of one of the Burns Night Suppers: -

Will McAvoy - addressing the Haggis, holding the audience captive.

Toasting the Haggis - Piper Stephen Rodgers, Amy Johnston, Will McAvoy & Willie Cromie.

Willie Cromie - Native Ulster Scots speaker, in full flow.

A full house in the Londonderry Room of the Market House N'Ards.

Wilbert Magill & Will McAvoy.

Wilbert Magill will be the subject of my next post!!


Thursday, 15 September 2011

Rule Britannia - BBC Proms - 2011

Sorry, can't resist - FANTASTIC - Rule Britannia!!!!!!!!


Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Ulster Scots Language - The Ards

I have been looking through some of Loughries Historical events, since our formation back in September 2005 and came across this photo (see below).

In the early days we (Loughries) decided to go back in time to the beginning of the local Ulster Scots story - in the 'Great Ardes' - known as the Hamilton / Montgomery Settlement of 1606, or known locally as 'The Dawn of the Ulster Scots'

As with all local history, the more you explore the more you want to know and this has been true for Loughries and me personally. With the help of local knowledgeable folk - like the gentlemen in the photo below, we have developed a better understanding of who we are and where we came from. We have developed a better understanding of the way we talk, how we play our music and well do all the things we do - in every day life.

Again in the early day's of Loughries Historical Society, Michael McCullough (Director at Ulster Scots Agency) had a vision for Ulster Scots Summer Schools, we at Loughries planned and developed the summer school that Michael had envisaged - music & dance, local history, language, arts & crafts, football, cookery - all rolled into a fun week for the children. Now 5 years later Michael's dream is still going, Loughries is one of the premier Ulster Scots Summer Schools in Ulster.

To have a successful summer school, or any Ulster Scots event, you need help from local experts, no fake or as we say in Ards no impostors welcome! In Newtownards and the Ards Peninsula we have the real deal, fantastic history, wonderfully talented musicians, great Ulster Scots speakers etc. We have a number of great exponents of the Ulster Scots Language and seasoned poets & story-tellers a couple of whom are pictured below - Mr Willie Cromie and Mr Willie McAvoy.

Both men have brought the Ulster Scots Language to life made it fun, interesting and accessible to many including folk like me. I am not an Ulster Scots speaker - I do enjoy a good yarn or poem and I do feel that there is a place for the language in everything that we in Loughries do, summer schools, festivals, musical night, Burns suppers, etc. Loughries are fortunate, that we have some great friends and contacts - that can deliver high quality authentic Ulster Scots material.

L to R Willie Cromie - Mark Thompson - Willie McAvoy - the late George Holmes


Gettysburg Civil War (1863) History Channel Trailer

On Sunday 25th September 2011 - The History Channel will begin showing 'Gettysburg' a new documentary type film, telling the story of the famous battle during the American Civil War. This is not the end of the Civil War, however it is the beginning of the War for the Confederates, sadly.

Ridley Scott and his brother Tony Scott - two brilliant film makers show all the horror of war.

Here is a very short introduction - For the 150th anniversary of America’s deadliest war, Ridley Scott and his brother Tony are teaming up with the History Channel to produce Gettysburg, a new feature documentary which reinvents how we look at the historic battle. In the four years of conflict between the Union and Confederate armies, over 600,000 American lives were lost. So it’s quite fitting that the Gettysburg is being described as “a visceral, terrifying experience.”

This is a must for all American Civil War enthusiasts - I will be glued to the programme. It is available now on YouTube - but I prefer to wait until it is shown on HD - well I may have a sneak preview!!



Sunday, 11 September 2011

Ralph McTell - Streets of London (TOTP 2-1-1975)

The harmonica is a great folk instrument - its sets the tone for this great song.

Great folk songs are mere stories or poems told to the accompaniment of an added tune.

Ralph McTell has that deep storytelling, easy to listen to voice - 'The Streets of London'

Here introduced by Jimmy Saville - And now at number 4 in the hit parade.............. classic

Sadly I am in the middle of more paperwork, hence I need some music to help me along the way!


Saturday, 10 September 2011

Green, Blue And Grey (Gray)

I was in Eason's (book-store) in Bangor the other day and came across this book - Green, Blue and Grey The Irish in the American Civil War.

I have read around 6 chapters so far and to be fair it is a good read, obviously telling the story of 'The Irish' during the civil war from a green perspective.

I will let you know my full thoughts when I have completed the book - so far it has held my attention, however I have the 916 page History of Ulster to finish, so if I loose my way - it is back to my Ulster story again.

From Amazon.

Modern Ireland may be dominated by American culture but Irishmen also helped to shape America. They fought in every important action in the American Civil War, a war many Irish are not familiar with. Irish participation is woven into and highlighted in this account of the war, emphasising the role of Irish individuals and units. Irish involvement began when an ethnic Irish unit was called into action during John Brown s abortive attempt to start an anti-slavery uprising in 1859.

When the war started the Irish Volunteers were the first unit in South Carolina to volunteer for service. The most famous Irish unit in the Federal army, the Irish Brigade, which included the famous Fighting 69th , was formed in 1861 at the instigation of Thomas Francis Meagher from Waterford, who rose to Brigadier General and commanded the Brigade.

The heroics of this brigade at Antietam, and elsewhere, became an important part of Irish American history. Many Irish made the supreme sacrifice in Union blue and Confederate grey, including Patrick Cleburne from Cork. He proved himself a capable commander on the Confederate side and earned the nom de guerre Stonewall of the West , counties are named after him in Alabama and Arkansas while a lake and city bear his name in Texas.

At Fredericksburg Irishmen killed Irishmen on soil which may have raised corn for famine relief in Ireland. At Gettysburg, where green and orange prayed and fought together, Colonel Patrick Kelly from Galway commanded the Irish Brigade. This is a story of bravery and courage, savagery and death.


Ards Peninsula From The Air - Part 1

For my birthday a while ago – Mrs A and my family presented me with a pleasure flight around the Ards Peninsula - folks from overseas may not be aware, but Newtownards has its own Private Airport.

We were very fortunate with the day we picked – it was clear, cold, dry, sunny and most importantly for a small aeroplane no wind!

An added bonus for me was that the pilot who took us up on the day was an old school class friend of mine Mark McMeekin – from the famous ‘milkmen family’ from Ards.

Mark took controls for the takeoff and landing - lucky old me, I took the controls of the plane for the rest of the flight – fantastic experience!

Here are a few snaps – I will put them on 2 blog posts.


Poised for take-off

Just after lift-off - view over Movilla end of Newtownards

Movilla flying towards Donaghaee/Bangor - Irish Sea/Belfast Lough in the distance

Peninsula - flying around Carrowdore - Mourne Mountains in the distance

Carrowdore looking towards - Barr's Bay - Ards Sailing Club

Flying over my house - its in there somewhere

Excited ready for take-off - my pal and best man from my wedding Peter Crawley!


Ards Peninsula From The Air - Part 2

Birthday pleasure flight - me at the controls

Strangford Lough just outside Portaferry

Aerial view of Portavogie - harbour and fishing village

View of Greyabbey - village mid way along the west side of the Peninsula

A look up Stangford Lough towards Newtownards - flying over Mount Stewart

Over the Lough

Over the Lough - in the distance the Mourne Mountains

On our approach to landing at Ards airport runway - Scrabo Tower / Scrabo Hill

Almost touch down - I lived at the top of the hill as you look at the picture - on the flight-path!

Safely landed - Mark McMeekin, pilot with the suitcase


Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven Live (HD)

Long before I got some sense - my Dad always argued that I never quite grew up nor had any sense ever - that aside, here is one of my favourite tunes from a while back.

My taste in music has changed almost unrecognisably in the last 15 years, however it is always good to look back - recently I noticed there was a message in the song that I missed for many years, there is a line where he sings 'and the fifer calling you to join him' ;-) !!


Monday, 5 September 2011

Harvest 2011

On Sunday afternoon I harvested my beetroot - excellent crop this year. I managed to pickle 5 large jars of beetroot, some gifts - the rest for us over the winter months.

This beetroot was my biggest yet, it was massive and still in one piece, as I am unsure how to cook one so big, maybe boil it slowly - I steamed the other beetroot before peeling and putting into jars before adding the Anderson secret pickling recipe!!


European Heritage Open Days 2011

Folks, this weekend is the annual European Heritage Open Days. On Saturday and Sunday of this coming weekend many of our well known and perhaps lesser known buildings are open to the general public.

The last few years we visited the Old Priory, Windmill at Millisle, the Abbey in Greyabbey, Scrabo Tower, Helen's Tower to name but a few - not sure where we are visiting this weekend, maybe Rosemount House in Greyabbey might be worth a trip!

Below is a link to a site with a few day visiting ideas.

Enjoy your ideas where ever you visit!


Sunday, 4 September 2011

Ulster-Scots 'A Forenoon Aroon the Ards' Part 2

Last year Loughries Historical Society organised an event (amongst many events) 'A Forenoon Aroon the Ards'. The trip concentrated on the top half of the Ards Peninsula - Greyabbey, Carrowdore, Millisle, Donaghadee and Newtownards.

This time (Saturday 1st October 2011 0845am to 1.00pm) - we intend to tour the bottom half of the Ards Peninsula Greyabbey, turning right to Kircubbin, Portaferry, Kearney, Cloughey, Portavogie, Ballyhalbert and Ballywalter.

Our tour guide once again is Mr. Mark Thompson with coach driver Dessie Mitchell (Comfi Coaches)

The plans are at an advanced stage - we have 23 of the 28 seats sold, great interest once again.

Stay tuned for further information - like maps, tea stop and itinerary!

Above: - Pic 1 Tour Guide Mark Thompson. Pic 2: - Tour folk at the Abbey at Greyabbey.


Slieve Donard - My Personal Challenge 3

Well' on Saturday morning, Matthew and I set off for Donard Park, Newcastle, Co. Down - we arrived 9.20am and prepared for the hike!

We set off at 9.25am, as per map and instructions, through Donard Park, along the river bank and up into the 'Saddle' between Slieve Donard and Commedagh. It was slow going as the terrain was quite difficult underfoot, eventually we reached the Mourne Wall at the top of the 'Saddle'. After a brief rest bite, it was up Slieve Donard along the Mourne Wall - this was very, very steep and quite arduous, however we made it to the summit at 1205!

The cloud cover was low, however every few minutes the clouds would blow past and leave some breath taking views - magnificent!

Matthew and I took quite a few photo's, sadly something must have happened -as the camera memory only saved 12 photo's (I will try to find the others) so only a few snaps to prove we made it.

It is always great to fulfil a personal challenge - Matthew (my son) is only 10 - climbed to the summit with me, I am so proud of him!!.

The decent was as difficult as the ascent, it took a whole 2 hours 40 minutes to return to the car park - in all a 5 1/2 hour hike with a 20 minute break at the top.

More photo's later, maybe - and yes we slept well on Saturday night and we are very stiff this morning.


Friday, 2 September 2011

Slieve Donard - My Personal Challenge 2

Well, time has come for my walk up to Slieve Donard.

Matthew, my 10 year old son and me intend to travel to Newcastle on Saturday morning to climb Slieve Donard, providing of course the weather is clement.

Sadly and with regret the other Matthew took cold feet!!!

Photo's to follow on Sunday.