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!!


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