Thursday, 27 October 2011

Wilbert Magill - Ulster Scots Native Speaker.

Newtownards and the Ards Peninsula is a wonderful place!

Well, I am very proud of the fact that I was born in the 'Front Deed' (Wallace's Street N01) in the Movilla end of the town. My father was Blakely Anderson and a lifelong friend of Wilbert Magill.

Wilbert is a fine man and of great character, a writer & musician of note and one time local Politician and Mayor of Ards.

Wilbert has attended a number of events hosted by Loughries - he visited our Ulster Scots summer school, reading local poetry from his book Aboot Tha Airds, we also were blessed by his attendance at a couple of our Burns Night Suppers where Wilbert addressed the haggis in a wonderfully theatrically way. He also graced our guests with a number his poems. I recall having to wipe away tears of laughter as Wilbert had me and the audience in roars of laughter and of course we were in the grasp of his Wilbert’s hand – what a fine exponent of the Ulster Scots Tongue!

It is my understanding that Wilbert is unwell at present – I wish him well on his road to recovery.

It makes me intensely proud to know 3 great local Ulster Scots Speakers Wilbert Magill, Willie Cromie and of course Willie McAvoy!

Here are a few snaps from one of Loughries Burns Night Suppers.

Wilbert Magill's Aboot Tha Airds

Recent Loughries Burns Night Suppers with performers and invited guests

Piping in the Haggis - with Piper Stephen Rodgers

Wilbert preparing to address the Haggis

Wilbert in full flow!

Fabulous Champion Scottish Dancer Michelle Johnston

Packed Londonderry Room N'Ards Town Hall Celebrating Burns

Two local Ulster Scot characters Wilbert Magill and Willie McAvoy


Fife & Lambeg Drum in Ulster Schools

Earlier this year I was contacted by Miss Jenny Hill - a student teacher at Strandmillis Teacher Training in Belfast. Jenny was working on her college dissertation, her chosen subject being The Fife and Lambeg Drum Tradition in Northern Ireland.

Jenny travelled around Ulster visiting schools that I was working in, whilst there Jenny carried out her own research, speaking with teachers, pupils, as well as noting my working practice and exploring my thoughts on the fife and lambeg drum musical tradition as well as my view on the Ulster Scots Culture.

Jenny promised me a look at her dissertation, after it had been submitted for marking and evaluation, thankfully Jenny honoured her promise and allowed me to view her work.

The dissertation was well written and meticulously researched - Jenny has encapsulated the tradition and developed an understanding of where this musical tradition fits within the overall patchwork quilt - that is Ulster Culture. I was fortunate to read the article in its entirety and pleased at with the final product, so congratulations to Jenny on an excellent project.

Jenny has started work in a Primary School in East Antrim.

Front cover of the Dissertation

Inside cover of Jenny's Work


Thursday, 20 October 2011

Loughries - Broken String Band

Loughries - The Broken String Band were in great form last Friday at our musical night - there was a great appreciative crowd at the Town Hall, Newtownards for one of the top traditional stringed bands from Ulster - not a bodhran in sight!!

Rather than give a full report, I thought I would let the pictures tell the story of the night!!

Loughries would like to acknowledge the help, support and guidance of the Community Development / Community Relations office at Ards Borough Council during the planning of the Ulster Scots Festival.

Loughries are also pleased to announce that £280.00 was collected / donated to Loughries during the Festival Events for our 2 x chosen charities for 2011 - N.Ireland Children’s Hospice and Diabetes UK, presentations to both charities will follow later this year.

Great night - see you all next year!


Wee Geordie

Geordie McAdam is a wonderful musician, accomplished fisherman and all round entertainer.

I had the very good fortune to meet George around 12 years ago, as we both had developed a keen interest in the fife.

George has been a life long musician, firstly a flute player, then as we all know him to be one of Ulster's finest fiddle players. He prefers bluegrass / Hillbilly music, sprinkled with a touch of Scottish and Ulster Scots tunes.

Despite his best efforts, George won't make a lambeg drummer - although he does keep good time, but he is an accomplished fifer and I am always pleased to either fife along with George or indeed drum along to his fifing.


Saturday, 8 October 2011

Newtownards Welcomes home - 1st Battalion Irish Guards

This morning Saturday 8th October, I spent an hour or so in my hometown of Newtownards.

The 1st Battalion of the Irish Guards were given a civic reception by the Mayor of Ards and his fellow Councillors. Huge crowds turned out for Parade and Church Service - The Service was held at St. Marks Church of Ireland, then followed the parade and march pass by the flute, pipes and drums of the Battalion Band and Officers and Men of the Irish Guards. The Mayor of Ards and the Lord Lieutenant of Co. Down took the salute.

It is wonderful to live in a democracy where - what the majority of the community wants happens, where all the citizens of the Borough of Ards can pay respect to 'Our Troops' as they return from active service serving Her Majesty's Armed Forces.

Conway Square and Town Hall with welcome home banner.

The great and the good gather in anticipation of the march past.

Some of the crowd that gathered to welcome the Troops home.

1st Battalion Marching past taking the Salute.

The flute, pipes and drums of the Battalion Band approach.


Friday, 7 October 2011

Northern Ireland Football International

Friday 7th October 2011 - kick-off 7.45pm.

Not often I get the opportunity to attend a Northern Ireland International Football Match, however tonight I was given 2 x tickets to the game. It is always vitally important to support your National team at any sport, so tonight I look forward to supporting Northern Ireland Football Team.

Only one problem - 2 tickets and I have 2 children, both want to go one will miss out sadly!

Come on Norn Iron!


Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Bangor Methodist Breakfast Club

On Saturday morning I have been invited to speak at the Bangor Methodist Breakfast Club. I have spent a few hours preparing a powerpoint and talk on Ulster Scots, Orange Order and my Job!

I intend to take one of my lambeg drums, a fife and a box full of Ulster Scots booklets, pamphlets and information sheets.

Eric Morrison - who talked me into doing this, informs me that the group knows nothing about the Ulster Scots tradition / culture......... lets see how it goes!


Monday, 3 October 2011

Newtownards and District Boys Brigade (BB) on parade.

On Sunday 2nd October 2011 the Newtownards and District Boys Brigade held their annual parade and Church service through Newtownards to 1st N'Ards Presbyterian Church.

There was a huge turn out of all the local BB's including my own boys who are members of 3rd Ards BB in Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church.

I was a member of Greenwell Street BB for many years - it is a wonderful organisation and something I as an adult and a parent would highly recommend to all boys of school age.

We have a anchor...........


"Three Cheers for the Derrys!"

Darren Gibson (Lisneal College) made me aware of a book that was re-released recently 'Three Cheers for the Derrys' - a history of the 10th Royal Inniskillen Fusiliers in the 1914-1918 War, based on recollections of the final veterans.

It so happened, that the author was Mr. Gardiner S. Mitchell, a friend and colleague of Darren's. I gave Darren £20.00 to buy the book, which is on sale at all good book stores for £16.90 - an interesting number!

At Loughries bus trip on Saturday, Darren drove down from L'Derry for the trip and handed me a copy of the book, and £20.00 back! The author have sent me a signed complimentary copy with personal message written on the inside cover - great!

I am really looking forward to the read, I have 1 more book in the queue before I settle down in the coming cold winter nights to enjoy this book.

So thanks to Gardiner and Darren for their acts of kindness and benevolence.

I will be doing a number of talks and presentations in the coming weeks - so I will take the opportunity to promote this wonderful book 'Three Cheers for the Derrys'


Sunday, 2 October 2011

Loughries Bus Trip - Ards Peninsula

Part 1 Loughries Ulster Scots Mini Festival - funded by Ards Borough Council.

On Saturday 1st October 2011, Loughries Ulster Scots 'A Forenoon Doon the Upper Ards' trip took place as planned - it was very, very, wet all morning!

A full bus of 31 hearty folk including our bus driver (Dessie) and tour guide (Mark) braved the appalling weather. We met as planned, at Conway Square Newtownards 0900 am and made our way down the Peninsula.

First stop was Kircubbin - to the green where Rev. Archibald Warwick was hanged for his part in the 1798 rebellion. We moved on to Ardquin Abbacy - an old ruin where King James I visited to authorise a land deal with local land owners including James Hamilton & Hugh Montgomery. It was then onto Portaferry Castle.

Following light refreshments at Portaferry Hotel we moved on to Newcastle - a townland outside Cloughey, where Sir Thomas Smith landed at a small harbour in August 1572 - then onto Kirkistown Castle.

We made 3 x stops - Portaferry - Newcastle - Kirkistown and visited three very important historical sites. Sadly the rain lashed down all morning and most if not all the folks were soaked at least once, some twice and a few 3 times!

Our tour guide Mr. Mark Thompson entertained us with many, many fascinating facts and stories from the local area, including some of the characters involved. Also were treated to some authentic Ulster Scots poems and songs – Brilliant!

I can say that the weather however how bad did not dampen our spirits or resolve, it was a great adventure and was enjoyed by everyone who attended.

Below are a few snaps of the trip thanks to Laura Spence and Bobby Magreechan for allowing me to use a few of their photo’s – I hope to post a few more in the coming days.


Folks entering Portaferry Castle

On the old harbour / lighthouse keepers cottages - Mark T explaining some historical information

Lighthouse Keepers Cottage - old Harbour (Thomas Smith 1572)

Enjoying light refreshments at Portaferry Hotel

Bobby, Peter, Alison and me - very, very wet at Kirkistown Castle

Mark T and George Mawhinney (soaked) in Portaferry Castle

Most of the folk who attended the trip - getting some shelter from the rain!

Tour going into Kirkistown Castle.

Last man out please close the gate! - a very wet Mark Thompson leaving Kirkistown Castle