Sunday, 29 April 2012

Andrew's Memorial - Comber

I visited a good friend on Friday, George Mawhinney (principal Castle Gardens Primary School) whilst discussing the planned Ulster Scots Summer School, I noticed a book on George's desk - A Titanic Memorial, The Andrew's Memorial Hall.

Now that the whole Titanic hullabaloo has died down, it is good to read up on a few bits n pieces of the lesser known aspects of the Titanic Legacy!

I don't have too many connections to Comber, however I am interested in Local History - so very well done to the school, keeping history alive!!


Cookstown - Lambeg Drum Competition 4

Finally, the last selection of drums from Cookstown - all in all a great selection of drums with various themes, historical themed, famous people, family memorial drums and plain shells - some with ribbons.

Thanks for lookin in!!


Cookstown - Lambeg Drum Competition 3

I meant to post these a few weeks back, sadly I have been very busy with other things, nevertheless I have found a bit of time to upload a few more drums that were at the Cookstown Drumming Competition on Easter Tuesday.

I don't know the names of the people who own these drums, I do recognise their faces, sadly I don't attend as many drumming competitions that I would like to, however hopefully that will change in time.

Enjoy the photo's.


Saturday, 21 April 2012

The Story of Ireland - Fergal Keane

I caught a short glimpse of this TV series a while back, but did not get to see it all. One of my favourite journalists is Fergal Keane, I admire his passion, presentation skills and his balanced reporting. Fergal presents this DVD Irish history story........ when I get time I will hopefully get to see it.

This next few words is taken from the RTE web site......
The Story of Ireland - a groundbreaking new series presented by Fergal Keane about the history of Ireland - cultural, social, and economic, and its role on the international stage.
The Story Of Ireland is a five-part landmark history of Ireland, to be presented by Fergal Keane.
Ireland is living through a significant period in its cycle of history - since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the island has been at peace. This is unprecedented in the history of modern Ireland and so seems like a perfect time to reflect on the Irish as a people now, as a modern European nation, and how we got to this place.
The big ambition of this telling of the story is that it should be expansive and outward looking. When the previous television history series was told by the historian Robert Kee in 1981, Ireland was in a very different place, at war with itself in the north and economically ravaged in the south. The series naturally reflected those conditions and primarily viewed our story through the prism of our troubled relationship with our nearest neighbour.
This series will show us that this view is narrow and self - limiting. The Story of Irelandwill look at the evolution of the country in a world context and will show that as an island people our very DNA has been formed by successive waves of peoples coming from outside and that we in turn have travelled and influenced world events for nearly 2000 years.
As a BBC foreign correspondent, Fergal Keane has nurtured a world view of current affairs and history for over 20 years and will act as a knowing and trustful guide for this new Story of Ireland.
The story of Ireland is vivid, exciting and immensely varied. It is far more than the sum of old cliches and myths which set the Irish as a people who were prisoners and victims of history. This series sees Ireland as an international island which is both changed by and helps to change the world beyond her shores. As a foreign correspondent who has traveled on every continent I have tried to bring my experience of the wider world to this story of Ireland and. I have tried to see our past with a clear eye and an open heart.


Sunday, 15 April 2012

Family History - Who Do You Think You Are?

Each month I buy the family history magazine - Who Do You Think You Are, I find it a great read and most helpful. It is full of tips and time cutting ideas for tracing your family history.

I sadly don't have too much spare time at the moment and I should really make more time for this, nevertheless I am still chipping away gathering information here and there. It is vitally important to everyone is to know who you are and where you came from....... including as Mr Cromwell noted 'Warts and All !!'


Ulster Scots Words - Tangle

Whilst I don't consider myself a natural Ulster Scots speaker, I do read a little and speak a little (does this make me bilingual), however my vocabulary is a way short of those I converse with regularly.

During a recent conversation with Eric Cully (Portavogie Fisherman) he joking called me 'a big tangle!' He being a very good friend was having a laugh, I laughed and asked what a tangle was? Eric laughed then asked me to 'go an fin oot'.

I called my Ulster Scots walking encyclopaedia - Darren, he was able to tell me that a tangle was a long piece of seaweed, like a stick shaped, here is a photo Darren sent.

Also, if you are from the Ards Peninsula or should I say from below the floodgates in Newtownards a tangle is in my case 'a big skinny fella!'

Well, I was naturally pleased as recently I have lost almost 3 stone - so I take it as a compliment.

Note - I used to do a bit of courting in Ballywalter, when the girl and I split up she referred to me as 'a big lang drink o water'!!

Ah well........


Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Cookstown - Lambeg Drum Competition 2

As mentioned in previous post - here are a few of the young lads strutting their stuff in Cookstown.


Cookstown - Lambeg Drum Competition 1

On Easter Tuesday - on a cold showery afternoon I attended a Lambeg Drum Competition, in Cookstown Co. Tyrone. I don't normally attend these events, apart from the big competition 'Claddy Day' in Markethill that is held annually on the last Saturday in July.

I travelled up with Eric Cully, Willie Palmer and Bobby Magreechan, sadly no drum with us it is had broken (skin exploded) earlier that morning. The plan was to take Bobby's Drum - The Mountjoy II and young Andy Bickerstaff from Rathfriland was to play it - sadly this did not happen - best laid plans...........

Anyway, it was a great day out, very, very cold but quite dry with the odd passing shower. There were 40 drums in the competition and it was judged over 2 round (usually 3) but time constrains, number of drums and weather dictated a 2 round competition - which was the right and proper decision.

What pleased me was the amount of young faces at the competition - I don't know too many of them sadly, nevertheless it is refreshing to see so many young enthusiastic, interested and talented up and coming drummers!!

Over this - and the next blog post, I will show a selection of drums that were in attendance - my favourite drum The Pride of Taylorstown was there....... it is drum 2 in this montage.


Tayto - Factory Visit

Over the Easter Holiday's Mrs A the boy's and myself embarked on a trip to Tandragee, Co. Armagh for a visit to one of Ulster's most famous food brands Tayto.

The Tayto crisp factory is located in the grounds of Tandragee Castle -  It was built in 1837 by The 6th Duke of Manchester as the family's Irish home. The Duke of Manchester acquired the estate through his marriage to Millicent Sparrow (1798–1848). During the Plantation of Ulster the castle at Tandragee became the property of Sir Oliver St. John, Lord Deputy of Ireland. He rebuilt the original stronghold of the O'Hanlon Clan. During the Irish Rebellion of 1641, however, the O'Hanlons attempted to regain their lands - the result was the castle being ruined; it remained so for two hundred years.The castle and estate were sold by the 10th Duke of Manchester (who was born at Tandragee) in the 1950s, and it was purchased by Mr. Hutchinson, a businessman from Tandragee. 

We met Mr Tayto then had our trip around the Tayto factory (our tour guide Jen was excellent) sadly we were not allowed any camera equipment into the factory - for obvious reasons, however I can comment that is was a great trip and wonder experience for us all.

We Anderson's are all self confessed crisp-aholics, especially me!! This visit was a great experience to see the crisp making process.

Visit the Tayto Web Site Here -

In all a very worthwhile excursion and I would highly recommend this trip to all you crisp eaters out there!!


Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Lambeg Drums - A selection of Painted Shells

Here are a few more shells for your perusal - all taken from 'The Ulster Drum' - Bobby Magreechan. 

I have identified 4 of the drums - any thoughts on the un-named 2 ?

Bro. John Baker Drum - One of the famous Johnston Drums owned by J. Beck, Loughbrickland.

Lord Arthur Hill - Owned by Jacob Hull - Lisadian.

William Johnston Memorial - Owned by Aughnacloy Carson Drumming Club.

The Craigboy Challenger - owned by Alfie Magill Newtownards.


Sunday, 8 April 2012

Service of Tenebrae - Good Friday 2012

Easter 2010 I was invited to play at the Friends of Portaferry Presbyterian Church Easter Tenebrae service, this year I was invited back.

Portaferry Church Building

The Service of the Shadows: - Howard Goodall's Requiem 'Eternal Light'

During this service the Narrator (Adam Goodwin - Dublin Actor) reads, in turn, each of the seven 'shadows' from the gospel of St. Matthew dealing Christ's journey from the Garden of Gethsemane to the Crucifixion.

As each lesson ends the musicians perform a movement of the Requiem, a candle is extinguished and the lights dimmed a little - with the Church in near total darkness, the Minister reads of the earthquake that accompanied Christ's death. Traditionally this passage ends with the 'Strepitus' - the great noise (me on the lambeg drum)

At the conclusion of the service the congregation leaves in silence.

Other performers - Lynda Barrett (soprano) - Luke Sinclair (tenor) - The New Quay Singers - Richard Campbell (organ) - Ciara McGlade (harp) - Gill Withers (double-bass) - Ryan Molloy (piano)

This is a very emotional and quite a moving service - if you ever get the chance to attend the service you will not be disappointed.............. bring a handkerchief with you!!

Also, if you have an interest in the 1798 Rebellion in The Ardes - Portaferry Church is the place for you!

This plaque hangs on the Church wall


Monday, 2 April 2012

Don't judge a book by its cover!

Mark T if you read this I have the book ready to deliver to you at your earliest convenience!

It's a well used saying 'don't judge a book by it's cover' however in this case - in my opinion it's so very true!

Every Wednesday in the course of my work I travel to Lisneal College in Londonderry, where I meet an old Low Country lad - living in exile, Darren Gibson. Darren gave me this book to transport to another Low County lad, who still lives below the floodgates outside Newton - Mark Thompson.

Am, I forgot that I had it as it was placed in a safe place in my van for a few weeks, I lifted it the other afternoon and had a wee look, now the cover is quite plain with the book title on the side of the book - it did not interest me to read the text as it looked so plain, however I began to read.

The story relates to 'The Ardes and the 1798 rebellion' and is written bilingual - in the Queens English and the language of the Ards Peninsula then and now - Ulster Scots. I don't class myself as an Ulster Scots speaker, as my vocabulary has changed somewhat since I moved to Bangor from Newtownards back in the 1990's, that said, I had a chat with my good friend Eric Cully this morning - discussing our plans for the lambeg drums these coming months. Eric is a fisherman from Portavogie and the words we use and the phrases we naturally spoke were very much Ulster Sots!!

The Pikemen. A romance of the Ards of Down by S. R. Keightly - London: Hutchinson & Co 1903.

This is a story of the year '98 in the county of Down, written in vivid and telling language by one who has an excellent knowledge of the period of which he writes, and a thorough grasp of local circumstances and the common dialect of the people. There is not a dry or uninteresting chapter throughout the hook, and it will afford ample pleasure to the general reader of romance, and more especially to those who are residing in the county in which the principal scenes described in the book are laid. We heartily recommend to the cultured author the desirability of a cheaper and more popular issue of this work, so as to make its pages accessible to everyone. The principal characters are painted with a decisive brush, but if anything, we consider the scene in the old meeting-house at Greyabbey a little over-drawn. Here we have the Rev. James Porter balloting in the communion cup for the name of him who was to do away with the informer Newell. We doubt the accuracy of this incident, and even the death of Newell at this place ; nor do we think this wretched man was such a character as is so skilfully portrayed by the writer. Be this as it may, it is ill to cavil with dry historical details in a work that has many charms, a store of information, and the deepest interest to even the most casual reader.

Read more at on this subject at Mark Thompson's Blog:

Plain green cover - The Pikemen

The Pikemen book - Dr. S. R. Keightley - 1903

The period of 1798 in and around the Ardes is a very sore subject - it is like the elephant in the room that no-one seems to like to discuss - what happened happened, but it is a subject that has been somewhat ignored as time has slipped by.

I have enjoyed reading bits n pieces on the subject and had I been living in the Ards around that time - I most certainly have been carrying a pike against the Red Coats!!


Sunday, 1 April 2012

iPad 3 - taking the plunge!

Well, having asked my Facebook friends (and my accountant) I took the plunge and bought an new iPad 3.

Matthew and I visited the Apple Store at Victoria Square shopping centre in Belfast on Saturday morning at 9.00am. The store was not too busy and the staff were very professional, helpful, charming and friendly - something unusual for large retail outlets!

We took the iPad home and had a lot of fun playing with it - we also bought Apple TV - its fantastic.

I have not seen too much of the iPad now, Matthew and Christopher seem to have played all their games through it, however I hope when they go to bed get a chance to explore the iPad a little more in-depth. 

One thing is certain life won't be the same again - it is truly fantastic!!


Lambeg Drums - A selection of painted shells.

From 'The Ulster Drum' book printed by with the vision and foresight of Michael McCullough, photographs by Bobby Magreechan (wee snapper) and words by the late George Douglas Holmes (Geordie).

I have selected a few drums with a nautical theme. Now, not the 'middle class who-ray henry yacht club type vessels' - but ships that have played a part in Ulster of British history throughout the years.

There is a drum from Newtownards in existence with the Titanic painted on it - owned by the Gordon Family - I will try to track a photo of it down and display it soon!!


This is an Orange Lodge drum LOL 159? - known as the Knocknadona Ship 

This drum is owned by T. Richardson, Duneight -  Ship of the Empire 

Owned by Blagh Orange Lodge LOL 256 - Remember Derry, Mountjoy & Phoenix

Mountjoy at the Boom - Owner not known

This drum is owned by W. Dilworth, Portadown - known as Admiral Lord Nelson - it shows HMS Victory