Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Gunrunning 1912 - The Clyde Valley and The Mountjoy II

One of the most interesting books that I read recently was Fred Crawford - Carson's Gunrunner, by Author Keith Haines.

Mystery surrounds Major Crawford, he is described as 'The Shadowy figure with Anonymous Face' to others he was best known as 'The Unacceptable gun-running face of Unionism'

With the backdrop of the Home Rule crisis and the possibilities of WWI on the horizon, these were very troubled and difficult times in Ulster. Many, many men, worked tirelessly for the Unionist Cause - hero's were to emerge Sir Edward Carson - Lord Craigavon and others, but who was Major Fred Crawford?

In this pivotal year 2012 - Centenary of the Signing of the Ulster Covenant, I would urge everyone interested in Local Ulster History, around the 1900 to 1925, to purchase a copy of this book - you won't be disappointed!

From a Lambeg Drumming perspective there is a drum with Major Crawford's portrait painted on it, (which I don't have) also the Clyde Valley (the boat that brought the GUNS into both Larne and Bangor Harbour - also known as The Mountjoy II) - Bobby Magreechan recently purchased a new lambeg drum and named it 'The Mountjoy II - Bangor.

The Clyde Valley was famed for delivering the UVF guns into Larne and Bangor Harbour - but history will tell us that the boat was renamed The Mountjoy II for this adventure!!

The Clyde Valley Lambeg Drum
Owned and made by Denis Morrow, Belfast - Painter William Magowan

The Mountjoy II Lambeg Drum
Owned by B. Magreechan, made by Denis Morrow - painted William Magowan


Sunday, 22 January 2012

Through The Years - Lambeg Drums in Ards 1

Newtownards Co. Down, would not be the 'hotbed' of Lambeg Drumming in Ulster, that said there has been a Lambeg Drumming tradition for many generations.

Most Orange Lodges at one time took lambeg drums on the 'Twelfth Day' however as the years passed, bands of one description or another comes along, pipe bands, brass bands, accordion bands and flute bands which inevitably pushed the drums out.

Now this is story could be true of most towns and villages, nevertheless there are those who keep the tradition alive - one such Orange Lodge is Rising Sons Of William LOL 240, now only 2 drums remain in the North Down 12th.

Here are a few photos from the archives, that I have selected from 'by gone days of yore' and one photo taken at the Holywood 12th in 2011.


Saturday, 21 January 2012

Ulster Scots - Burns Week

For century's the connection between Scotland and Ulster has been fantastic and for mutual benefit of course. Financial, Musical, Religion, Agricultural, Fishing, Education, Crafts, Dance.............. you get my drift; I could go on and on!

Not to bore you all with 'things' that are all around us in Ulster Scots Connection - here are two very small items - but fun items, that I noticed today whilst out shopping. There were many more examples but I pick these two out.

1/ Burns week lies ahead, so local firm Mash Direct, produced the traditional Neeps & Tatties, which is essential at any Burns Night Celebrations.

2/ It’s a little more of a ‘sweet connection’ Iron Bru – the national soft beverage from Scotland, Iron Bru Lollies - I bought 3 today: one each for the children in my house, Matthew, Christopher and of course the biggest wean of all – Yes Me!!


Sunday, 15 January 2012

Lambeg Drums - A Selection of Painted Shells 24

Hi Folks - here is a selection of 5 drums from The Ulster Drum book.

I do have the details of the drums, owner - maker - painter, etc, which I intend to post later (misplaced the book)

Hope you like the shells and paintings.


Friday, 13 January 2012

Identity - Who do they think they are!!

Northern Irish?

Who you are and the label you choose for yourself - in this part of the world, is hugely important and can be as divisive as it is multi-dimensional.

If you live in Northern Ireland you can be many things - a British Citizen, an Irish Citizen, an Ulster-man, an Ulster Scot, a European....... but now you can be Northern Irish!

I was shopping in Sainsbury's today and bought a pint of milk (pictured above) - it has not been lost on me that the name used Northern Irish, together with the colours of the pie chart (green, white and gold/orange)

Flags, colours and identity are important in Ulster - but Northern Irish is pure tripe and absolute folly!!

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Wonderful Song

As you look through family history, tragedy is lurking around every corner.

Here is a tune with heart, sole and meaning - quite apt I think!

For all those broken dreams!


Family History Trail - 2012 1

For several years now I have been 'futtering aboot' with my family history - so in 2012 I have decided to really give it a go, using a lot of my spare time to explore my family history and other locally based stories.

I have found a few very sad tales - not too many happy stories yet (I have been looking for the skeletons first mind you!) that said I look forward to tracing what is out there.

I very much believe that - to use a term, toss the cards and let them fall where they may!

Here goes, so tune in every now and again for a story or two!


Monday, 9 January 2012

Burns Night Supper

Later this month I will be attending a traditional Burns Night Supper at Lisneal College, Londonderry - on Friday 27th January 2012. I think I am right in saying that this is the schools first attempt of hosting an 'Ulster Scots' event within the school.

Through the Ulster Scots peripatetic music project I have been working in the Lisneal for just over a year and this event proves the manifestation of this work, where staff begin to develop their own projects and ideas to compliment this work in schools.

If you are available why not book your seat - Ring Mr. Darren Gibson at the school.

Some of the pupils that I have been tutoring will be performing a short piece during the evening - I may even fife a wee tune or two myself !!


Sunday, 1 January 2012

Poem - A Dream of Home

Well if you are far from home, feeling homesick, fed up with the War and wanting back to Newtown, pen a few lines of a poem and it will magically transport you back home - if only in spirit!


Loughries True Blues LOL 1948 - Fallen Hero from WWI

Those of you who have been following my blog over the past 2 years, will note that the majority of the items that I post are to do with local history, Ulster Scots items, my work, lambeg drumming items, a little on my family and a little on the Orange and Black Institutions, etc. - well here is an Orange Lodge based item.

During another visit to the newspaper library in Belfast I uncovered this news item. Now I was aware of the story from a WWI presentation that Jack Greenald gave to Loughries Historical Society a couple of years ago.

To add a personal interest to the story - I am the Secretary of Loughries True Blues LOL 1948, so it is somewhat interesting to me that a century ago, the Secretary of Loughries served his King and Country - he sadly died at the Somme!

Robert Lowry was a man of his time - he like many signed the Ulster Covenant, then joined the Ulster Volunteer Force (Carson's Army) prepared to fight against Home Rule, then a twist of fate and they are all off to Europe to fight a war not of their making! There are so many stories of this nature that lie forgotten, lost over time, but it is important to remember those who have gone before - hope you enjoyed this story, sad of course.


Lambeg Drums - A Selection of Painted Shells 23

Three drums for you have a look at!

'The Duke of Gloucester - Earl of Ulster, drum owned and on display at Lisburn Museum

'Rule Britannia' (Secret of England's Greatness)drum owned by Mr. McAleenon from Brookhill.

'Old Comrades' - I don't know anything else about this drum, sadly!

The Ulster Covenant Centenary - 2012

Great to see some of 'Our History' beginning to be told! A simple table with a huge historical significance attached to it.

I picked this article up from Yahoo News - something I don't normally read, however this story caught my eye, so I felt it was worth Bloggin about.

This year 2012, sees the Centenary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant - I intend to blog a number of items on this very important period in Ulster History. My friend, colleague and local historian Jack Greenald - will supply me with some of the information.

Keep looking in to the blog as Loughries Historical Society and my Orange Lodge - Loughries True Blues LOL 1948, will have a lot to celebrate this year. We have organised a number of events to highlight 'Orangemen who died on the Titanic, the Signing of the Ulster Covenant and a New Banner relating to items of historical significance around 100 years ago, beginning Lord Carson.

A rather basic table is set to take centre stage at Belfast City Hall as the building marks the centenary of one of its most significant events.

This year will see the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant - the famous Unionist protest against efforts to introduce Home Rule in Ireland. Unionist leader Sir Edward Carson was the first to sign the petition and almost half a million people followed him.

The wooden table upon which the renowned barrister and firebrand politician leant as he inked the document inside City Hall will be one of the most viewed pieces of furniture in the building this year.

But for all its historic significance, City Hall tour guide Dianne Leeman concedes it is not the prettiest table in the world.

"The Covenant table was used by all the dignitaries - Lord Carson and the dignitaries - to sign on," she said.

"It was very late in the day they discovered they hadn't got a large enough centre piece for this use and it was made quickly and roughly by craftsmen from the ship yard specifically for the signing.

"There are lots of myths about it - stories went about around the city that it was lost in City Hall and found in that awful condition but it always looked like that, it was made so quickly and roughly. At the time of the signing they draped it with a huge Union flag and the purpose really was to camouflage the table and make it look better."

The table now sits at the back of the main council chamber.

While interest in the table will peak in the autumn, Mrs Leeman revealed that an important guest has already asked to see it.

"The Taoiseach visited City Hall on November 29 and that was one of the particular artefacts in the building he specifically asked to see and he had a great knowledge of the event," she said.


Lambeg Drums - A Selection of Painted Shells 22

To begin 2012 I have selected a few drums at random - all the photo's are taken from 'The Ulster Drum' by Bobby Magreechan.

'Ship of the Empire' - 'None So Good As Thou Art', drum owned by Mr. T Richardson from Deneight

'Lily of the Valley' - owned by Mr. C Hasley from the Maze

'Chiming Bells' of Ballynadolly - This drum was made by Mark Hewit, painted by David Thompson and owned by Robbie Kennedy of Castlerobin

The Scarva Challenger - 'Heeled to Win' - drum owned by Mr. W Fleming