Saturday, 11 May 2013

Final Blog Post!

Sadly, I have come to the end of what at times has been an adventure, but I will close on a positive note, as I look forward to starting my new job.

Firstly my new role is - Working for the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland as an Outreach Officer being based at Sloan’s House, Loughgall. My responsiblities include the New Interpretive centre / Museum at Loughgall Co. Armagh.

The overall purpose of the job, as the Museum Outreach Officer, is to play a central role in the development and management of a major cross-community outreach programme for the Sloan’s House interpretive centre which will help explain the history and ethos of the Orange Institution to as wide an audience as possible, in line with the REACH programme initiative. I may well be responsible for the day to day management of the centre, including a volunteer programme, exhibitions and artefacts.

Quite a range of responsibilities attached to the job then, but I feel I have the necessary skills to make the envisaged project a success. Teamwork is an essential part of this project - 5 new posts have been created, however there is a wealth of experience already at Grand Lodge and I look forward to learning from those with a vast experience in Orangeism.

To give a little background as to why I decided to move away from my previous job as a self employed peripatetic music tutor.

I have been a member of the Orange Institution for 31 years, joining as an adolescent aged 17. Being a member of any organisation it has not all been plain sailing however, I have remained in the Orange Institution as I believe in the ethos and fundamental principals of the organisation.

What attracted me to the post is that having worked in schools for the past 6 years,  I had the pleasure of teaching in many schools and coming into contact with many school children, students, teachers and parents. My work was primarily in the state controlled schools sector, that said I also worked in a number of cross-community schools projects. Here I gained a lot of experience dealing with students from different backgrounds both agreeing to come work together in a common goal.

Last year the Orange Institution organised a huge Ulster Covenant parade in Belfast to commemorate the centenary of the signing of this important historical document. Tens of thousands took part in the parade watch and supported by many thousands more. During that day I came in to contact with many, many past and present students, their parents and friends that I had been teaching Ulster Scots music to over recent years, and the reality is that the majority of these students and young people are not from an Ulster Scots background - but Orange, Pro-British - Unionist folk! (a small minority were of course from a genuine Ulster Scots background)

Therefore, I was aware that the Grand Orange Lodge was set to develop a new strategy in promoting and developing the Institution in the coming years - and I simply wanted to be part of that. I worked extremely hard preparing for the application process and thankfully by the end of the process I was the successful applicant!!

I am looking forward to a fresh start, working with a team of professional and dedicated people who want to work for the Orange Institution for all the right reasons !

The Orange Institution has its own professional PR officer - therefore no need for me to blog or Facebook anymore.

My sincerest thanks are extended to three men I respect and admire, who kindly agreed to provide written references - M.T - D.C - G.P., I believe their kind words contributed greatly me getting the job!


Thursday, 9 May 2013

Penultimate Blog Post

Hello Folks - this will be my penultimate blog post, sadly! 

I set up my blog in order to help promote my work. I was working as a self employed fife & lambeg drum tutor with the occasional tin whistle class along the way. I worked part time for a couple of years and went full time for a further 4 years. In that time, I had the very greatest of pleasure in providing this musical tradition throughout the 9 Counties of Ulster, to schools, community groups and other organisations. 

My work in these schools was incomplete, nevertheless during this time I had a great deal of success promoting this wonderful musical tradition!

I also blogged about the work with my Orange & Ulster Scots Community Group - Loughries Historical Society from Newtownards Co. Down. Here too we had great success turning around a struggling lodge into a vibrant Orange Lodge and highly respected community group.

I also included some personal items over the few years.

I thank you all for looking in and I trust you have gleaned something about me, my work and my hobbies. I am off to begin a new job later in May and I look forward to a fresh start, this will be the subject of my last blog post.

The organisation I was contracted to work for was the Ulster Scots Agency - all I want to say about that organisation is that it was an experience and one that I will never forget. Also, there are a few people I won't forget either!


Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Grow Your Own Vegetables - 2013

Well, it is that time of the year again - planting the vegetables. My garden is a reasonable size with my vegetable patch measuring around 20 feet x 6 feet, I also have a patio area with good size area for planting.
The weather has been very cold, therefore I firstly prepared the plots with organic fertiliser and compost. My potatoes last season although tasty and plentiful were a little small for my liking - I blame the nearby conifers for that!
I visited Walkers Shop in Newtownards last week and purchased some items (photographed above), so with a slight increase in temperature and the welcome arrival of some rain, I started to plant on Monday afternoon 15th April.
1/ 3 x rows of British Queens
2/ 4 Garlic Cloves
3/ 12 x bulbs of shallots
4/ Beetroot
5/ White onions
6/ Red Onions
I intend to wait a couple of weeks then plant another lot of items listed above along with some strawberry plants and peas- however I will wait 3 x weeks then plant another 3 x drills of Dunbar Standards, followed by 4 drills of Maris Pipers.
My Eclinville apple tree did not produce any fruit last year - so I fed it with some 'stuff'' recommended by Noel Walker, lets hope it produces some fruit this year as I have been looking forward to homemade apple crumble and custard !

Sunday, 14 April 2013

A wee sing along!

Last Thursday I was at Movilla School in Newtownards as mentioned before, I met with Peter Forbes who teaches in the school. Peter is very much into his military history and was accredited recently for bringing the SAS War Diaries home to Newtownards.

I don’t know how Peter finds time to teach as he seems to dabble in most things including collecting old record players and records. He showed me this old wind up record player and played a couple of records one of which was ‘The Star of the Co. Down’.

During some of Peter’s research into the SAS Diaries, it took him in the inevitable direction of Newtownards most famous sons, Lt. Col. Blair (Paddy) Mayne – one of the SAS Originals. Paddy’s favourite song was Mush – Mush – Mush (Tread on the Tail of me Coat) and Peter had a copy of it! He kindly played it through a few times and it sounded quite fantastic, with the old scrapes and crackles and mono sound really, really authentic.

You can just imagine Col. Paddy the worse for ware of drink playing this record and singing at the top of his voice, along with a few of his Regiment – priceless.
Altogether now..............                                Click here for music

Mush – Mush – Mush (Tread on the Tail of me Coat)
Oh ‘twas there I learned readin' and writin',
 At Bill Bracket's where I went to school,
 And ‘twas there I learned howlin' and fightin'
 From my schoolmaster Mr. O'Toole.
 Him and me, we had many-a scrimmage,
 And the devil a copy I wrote.
 There was ne'er a garson in the village
 Dared tread on the tail of me
 Mush, Mush, Mush tural-i-addy
 Singin' Mush, Mush, Mush tural-i-ay.
 There was ne'er a garson in the village
 Dared tread on the tail of me coat.
Oh ‘twas there I learned all of my courtin' --
Many lessons I took up in the art --
Till Cupid, the blackguard, in sportin',
 An arrow drove straight through me heart.
 Molly Connor she lived right forinst me,
 And tender lines to her I wrote.
 If you dare say one hard word against her,
 I'll tread on the tail of your
 Mush, Mush, Mush tural-i-addy
 Singin' Mush, Mush, Mush tural-i-ay.
 If you dare say one hard word against her,
 I'll tread on the tail of your coat.
But a blackguard called Mickey Maloney
 Came and stole her affections away.
 He had money and I hadn't any,
 So I sent him a challenge next day.
 That evenin' we met by the woodbine.
 The Shannon we crossed in a boat,
 And I lathered him with me shillelagh
 For he trod on the tail of me
 Mush, Mush, Mush tural-i-addy
 Singin' Mush, Mush, Mush tural-i-ay.
 And I lathered him with me shillelagh
 For he trod on the tail of me coat.
Oh me fame went abroad through the nations,
 And folks came a flockin' to see.
 And they cried out without hesitation,
 "You're a fightin' man Billy McGhee."
 I cleaned out the Finegan's faction,
 And I licked all the Murphy's afloat.
 If you're in for a row or a ruction,
 Just tread on the tail of me
 Mush, Mush, Mush tural-i-addy
 Singin' Mush, Mush, Mush tural-i-ay.
 If you're in for a row or a ruction,
 Just tread on the tail of me coat.
There are several good reasons for drinkin',
 And another one enters me head:
 If a fellow can't drink when he's livin'
 How the hell can he drink when he's dead?
 Mush, Mush, Mush tural-i-addy
 Singin' Mush, Mush, Mush tural-i-ay.
 If a fellow can't drink when he's livin',
 How the hell can he drink when he's dead?


Family History - GRO Visit 2

I visited the General Records Office (GRO) in Belfast on Friday morning, I had planned to go on Wednesday but sadly it was 'booked out' so I had to postpone until Friday. Again the GRO was almost full to capacity, so there seems to be a huge rise in history / family history related research.
My own reach went fairly well, I managed to trace quite a number of dates that corrected much of the information provided by family members - which helps immensely. I was able to provide answers to a few premature deaths that occurred in the family, some sad stories - but thankfully no shocks that I endured on my last visit.
As usual the research provided me with many more questions, that will spur me on to another visit to the GRO, I may need to look at obtaining some professional help as I can't seem to trace several births of relatives, however they do appear in the 1901 and 1911 censes forms!!
So all in all a good trip - a note of caution try and book the GRO 3 days in advance it will save disappointment. 


Saturday, 13 April 2013

On my Saturday Hike!

A couple of years ago Mark Thompson produced a wonderful booklet telling the story of: - 'The Thomas Smith's Forgotten English Colony - of the Ards and North Down in 1572'.
It was a very well researched to be local history article by Mark and published with the help of Loughries Historical Society with both Ards Borough Council, North Down Borough Council and the Ulster Scots Community Network seeing the merit of the booklet who all contributed finically to the production costs.
Read so much more here! Marks Blog Post - Sir Thomas Smith
Today I parked at my Mum's house at Greenwell Street in Newtownards and went on a 5 mile hike - with my trusted 4 legged friend Dudley. As we proceeded along the 'tide bank' Strangford Lough was coming in and I noticed that the farmers were busy in their fields preparing the land. It came into my mind the Thomas Smith booklet and one of the more memorable quotes contained therein: - 
“going to win and replenish with English inhabitants the Country called The Ards to possess a land that floweth with milk and honey, a fertile soil truly if there be any in Europe, whether it be manured or left to grass. There is timber, stone, plaster & slate commodious for building everywhere abundant, a country full of springs, rivers and lakes both small and great, full of excellent fish and fowl, no part of this country distant above 8 miles from most plentiful sea, have I not set forth to you another Utopia?”  

When growing up in Ards I was blissfully unaware how lucky we Andersons were - as Newtown Folk, to have been graced with all the goodness that Mother Nature can provide! 

Thursday, 11 April 2013

1613 - A Borough Is Born

I blogged previously 1613 - 2013 Events regarding events that are happening in the Borough of Newtownards throughout 2013.
Today when I was visiting my opticians in Newtownards I parked my van on High Street, beside where I parked was this telephone box, adorned with a suitable local advertisement - so I took a quick snap!

Movilla High School - In Remembrance


Movilla High School – ‘In Remembrance’

Today Thursday, I visited my old school – Movilla High School in Newtownards. I attended the school as a pupil from September 1975 through to June 1980. I was not the brightest pupil academically, I was more interested in football and cricket – with my two worst subjects were music and history.

Interesting that two ‘things’ that have dominated much of my life for the past 12 years has been……. yes, history and music. I am a bit of an amateur history buff particularly local history around Ards and the Ards Peninsula and I have been a music tutor for around 8 years. (so don’t predict your future by your chosen school subjects!)


Well, the purpose of my visit to Movilla High School was to meet with Mr. Peter Forbes, who is a teacher at the school. Peter has persuaded me (I volunteered) to assist in a very interesting and worthwhile project.

Peter, with the full support of colleagues and senior management is planning to erect a memorial to past pupils who have died in the service of their country, in the armed services - including Army, Navy, Air Force, Ulster Defence Regiment, Royal Ulster Constabulary incorporating the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Prison Service.

The plan is to have a memorial plaque placed within a mural (painted by the school art department) in the assembly hall as a mark of respect for those who died in all conflicts both foreign and domestic.

Movilla High School is very much part of the local community and has played a significant role in Newtownards over the last 80 years. I taught fife and drum in the school for around 3 years as well as assisting in a number of other projects - I as a an ex pupil wanted to put a little something back and if possible have a positive influence on the young people at the school.

My part in the project will be to research past school pupils who were murdered during the troubles as they served in the Royal Ulster Constabulary. I appreciate that this will be a very delicate and sensitive issue for family and friends of those killed, however if handled sympathetically it will be a fitting memorial to those who died.

If you read this article and know of any past pupil from Movilla School who may have been killed during the ‘Troubles’ or in other conflicts please contact Peter of Myself at the following e-mail addresses.





Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Family History - GRO Visit

Time - is on your side.

With a few weeks of spare time left before I start my new job, I have decided to allocate more time to my Anderson Family History research.
In early February my good friend Jim and I visited the General Records Office in Belfast to do some research. It was my first visit to the GRO and I had a great time - quite, relaxing and thoroughly enjoyable visit.
Yes, you may well just be sitting in front of a computer looking and scrolling through names, dates and places, however you really get a buzz as you pick up vital information.
My last visit was enjoyable, even though I unearthed a most deeply tragic story concerning my Great Grandmother - sorry I can't publish it, too sensitive!
So for 4 hours tomorrow Wednesday, I will be searching away in the peace and quiet of the GRO offices in Belfast............... wish me luck!

Loughries Events - April 2013

Many of my future posts will concentrate on the work Loughries True Blues LOL 1948 are involved with, I do intend to continue to promote local matters involving Ulster Scots activity that either Loughries Historical Society are involved in.
Orangeism will be my main thrust of material in the coming months.
Two matters of interest for Loughries Lodge during April: -

1. Funding information in Mary Street Orange Hall Newtownards on Wednesday 24th April 0730pm  talk from Community Relations Council (CRC) re- funding opportunities from CRC for Orange Lodges. Also, talk on Good Relations from Andrew Carlisle (Orange Institution STRIPE project). Open Meeting.

2. Marshalling Course (qualifies you for Orange, Black ABOD & Band Parades) on Saturday 27th April 2013 at 0930 am in Mary Street Orange Hall, Newtownards. 24 place available.

If you are interested in either of these two events book a place through me (Mark) via this FB Page.


Sunday, 7 April 2013

Time for a Change!


There comes a time in ones life when change is inevitable and necessary - there are also times when change is merely a natural progression to something new and worthwhile! Therefore I see my imminent change in career as the latter - a natural progression.
I won't divulge too much at the moment as to my career change, as it is subject to a few technical & procedural matters, other than to say that I am looking forward to my new job with anticipation. I have been helped enormously along the way by a few very close friends (who shall remain nameless at the moment), who gave me excellent references, re my character and professional capabilities, as well as advice and support along the way - I am of course greatly indebted to all of them.

I have for quite a number of years devoted a lot of my time to the promotion and development of the fife and Lambeg drum musical tradition here in Ulster. I have met many very wonderful people who are genuinely interested in many aspects of cultural life here in Ulster - of which the fife and Lambeg drum plays a small but very important role.

I never lost sight of the reason I decided to work in this field, which was mainly to educate the next generation of children & students, something about the fife and Lambeg drum musical tradition. There may have been the occasional blip along the way, but by and large it was a very worthwhile exercise.

I am very proud of my achievements in recent years, it has been most rewarding to see young men and the occasional girl, taking up playing the fife and or Lambeg drum, participating in schools events, community festivals and parading with the Orange Institution on the 12th of July

Much of my future work will be within the education sector, where I know that my reputation is good and I have also built up a network of friends and contacts within schools, colleges, universities and throughout the general community sector. I have been in touch with quite a few folk regarding my new employment and spoke at length to many regarding potential projects in their school - all have agreed in principal to explore possible projects with me when my new job becomes live.

I will of course continue, although in a reduced capacity - to promote and develop the fife and lambeg drum musical tradition in any way I can, through workshops, lectures, advice or tuition, however my new job will take precedence and will take up most of my working time - but I will still look forward to playing at events and parades.


Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Ulster Scots Funding - Loughries

Loughries Historical Society is an Ulster Scots Community Group formed in September 2005, through Loughries True Blues LOL 1948. We adopted as the motto - 'Promoting the Ulster Scots Tradition Through Education'.

Since Sept. 2005 we have held numerous Ulster Scots events, educational tours, lectures, dinners, burns suppers, concerts and musical evenings - with our most high profile event Loughries Ulster Scots Summer School, rated by the Ulster Scots Agency itself as their flagship summer school.

Sadly over recent years Loughries have been become more and more disenfranchised by the Ulster Scots Agency – so much so that in September 2012 Loughries held a meeting to discuss our relationship with the Ulster Scots Agency and we unanimously decided not to apply for funding to the Ulster Scots Agency for any events or projects in 2013.

This of course is very disappointing and somewhat sad in a way that an Ulster Scots Community Group refusing to ask a funding body such as the Ulster Scots Agency for funding to promote and develop the Ulster Scots Tradition in Newtownards.

Loughries instead will still proceed with our Good Relations projects and Ulster Scots Community Festival, both funded through Ards Borough Council. Also our 2 x Summer Schools will still go ahead as planned, however they will funded through Ards Borough Council Good Relations Office and OFMDFM (Stormont) – more details soon.

So no change in promoting our Ulster Scots Culture just won’t be using the Ulster Scots Agency as our funder……….!


Sunday, 31 March 2013

Rainbow Drops and Sunday School

I have been a member of Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church all my life, Sunday School, 3rd Ards BB, Church in fact Anderson's have been members of the church since around 1884, perhaps even earlier than that.

Well, my children came home the other day with some packets of Rainbow Drops - I had not seen these for many years and instantly it brought back memories for me.

Whiskey Haw Public House - Front Deed Corner

Each and every Sunday us wee Anderson's were packed off to Sunday School at Greenwell Street Church, it was held in the afternoon around the same time as 'The Big Match' was on ITV (coincidence)?. Anyway just at his corner (above) was Bertie Moorhead's shop and yes with our Sunday collection we called in and purchased as much rainbow drops as our collection would allow us!

Mum if you read this - I'm sorry!


Saturday, 30 March 2013

Assembling Prudence

Building a Lambeg drum is a little time consuming but enjoyable. It is a very important part of the musical tradition, some men can't be bothered, too lazy or simply can't assemble a drum. I have always found it to be enjoyable and great fun especially during the weeks running up to the 'Twelfth' 
I owe a great deal to Eric Cully and Denis Morrow for passing on a number of 'top tips' when preparing a drum. The drum will do together with out much bother providing all the component parts fit. You get to know your own drum and how best to assemble it, you would usually or at least I do mark the drum where certain bits line up.
Once the brace hoops are laced up with the rope you don't need to unlace the rope again as the drum can be assembled and disassembled by slackening off the rope and removing a few buffs.
This is my drum Prudence - I took a few pictures of it as I built it a while back. It is good if there is at least two folk present as it is a lot easier, this time I had Bobby Magreechan with me.
Prudence - stripped!

One head on.

Second head on.

A piece of curtain material comes in handy!

Brace Hoops laced with the rope and buffs - drum slips in. 

Prudence built and in the drum press for a tighten.
In bygone years of yore there were no drum presses, these are a relatively new invention, all drums needed to be pulled by hand - usually with a case or two of stout handy just in case the men got a little thirsty!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Tenebrae Service on Good Friday 29th March at 7.30pm

A couple of years ago I was invited to take part in this service, by Neil McClure, through our mutual good friend Mark Thompson - here we are 4 years later and I have invited back once again.

The Lambeg drum of course is a particularly unique musical instrument and well suite to play the part of Strepitus - the great noise.

This is a very moving and dark service and one I really enjoy participating in.

See details below.


friends of  PORTAFERRY


Irish actor, Roma Tomelty, will be returning to her roots in Portaferry as narrator at the annual Tenebrae Service on Good Friday 29th March at 7.30pm. 

Local choir, the NewQuay Singers, will perform Haydn’s “Seven Last Words of Christ”.  Four outstanding young soloists will join them: Mary McCabe, from Downpatrick, soprano; Laura Lamph, Belfast, contralto; Luke Sinclair – a leading young English opera star , tenor and Páidí Ó Dubháin, Brussels (and Warrenpoint), bass.  The Ireland String Quartet, Richard Campbell, (organist in St George’s) and Gill Withers (doublebass) will provide the accompaniment. 

As the service progresses Roma will read St Matthew’s story of Christ’s journey from the Garden of Gethsemane to Golgotha and the Crucifixion.  At the end of each lesson the lights are dimmed a little until the church descends into complete darkness and Mark Anderson uses his Lambeg Drum to provide the Strepitus - the great noise, signifying the earthquake and thunder that accompanied Christ’s death.

More information on

 Roma Tomelty Returns!

Roma Tomelty, the distinguished Irish actress, returns to Portaferry on Good Friday as narrator at the annual Tenebrae Service in Portaferry Presbyterian Church at 7.30pm.  This is a dramatic and ancient Passiontide service where the Gospel of St Matthew is divided into Seven Shadows – ‘The Agony of the Spirit’; ‘Betrayal’; ‘Desertion’; ‘Remorse’; ‘Accusation’; ‘Humiliation’ and ‘The Crucifixion’.  Each ‘shadow’ is represented by a candle and as each lesson is read its candle is extinguished bringing the church, eventually, to almost total darkness – just as darkness descended on Golgotha at Christ’s death.  In the darkness the earthquake and thunder that St Matthew related will be symbolised by the playing of the Lambeg Drum.
 Roma’s readings will be punctuated by Haydn’s ‘Seven Last Words of Chirst’ sung by the NewQuay Singers.  They will be joined by four superb young professional voices – Mary McCabe (soprano) from Downpatrick; Laura Lamph (contralto) from Belfast; Luke Sinclair, a brilliant young English tenor; and Paidi O Dubhain (bass) from Brussels (and Warrenpoint).   The Ireland String Quartet, Richard Campbell, organ and Gill Withers, double bass, will accompany the performance.  
The Rev David Gray, who will take the service, commented: “Good Friday is one of the most important days in the Christian calendar.  This will be the fourth time that we have held a Tenebrae Service and without doubt it is a dramatic and very moving occasion.  There are few better ways to remember the momentous events of the Crucifixion and we welcome everyone to join us as we contemplate and celebrate this pivotal point in the Christian calendar.”
Ian McDonnell, Chair of the friends of Portaferry Presbyterian Church said “We, the friends of Portaferry Presbyterian Church are very pleased that our community choir is again joining the congregation to mark Good Friday in this very special and memorable way.  We are particularly pleased to welcome Roma Tomelty back to Portaferry to read the lessons and such a wonderfully accomplished group of musicians to support our community choir.  Portaferry’s Grade A listed Greek Temple makes a spectacular backdrop for the occasion and it is always inspiring to see so many people, of all ages, attending.”
Everyone is welcome to join the congregation for this inter-denominational event.  There will be a retiring collection at the end of the service in aid of the church restoration funds.  Further information can be found at


Roma Tomelty: The daughter of Portaferry’s most famous literary son and sister of the celebrated actress Frances, Roma has been a professional actress for over 40 years.  She has worked in Theatre in Ireland, England, Scotland and San Francisco.  Currently, she is Artistic Director of Centre Stage Theatre Co.  Roma is also the author of several plays including 'The Wind and the Sleeping Harp' on Moore's Irish Melodies, written..."to force Uncle Peter (the late Peter Tomelty) out of retirement!"  It worked and the play was performed across Ireland, Scotland (including the Edinburgh Festival) and represented N Ireland at London's Prestigious Sense of Ireland Festival in both London and Brussels. 

Portaferry Presbyterian Church is widely acknowledged as one of the best neo-classical, Greek revival buildings in Great Britain and Ireland. 
The NewQuay Singers is a ‘community choir’ run by the friends of Portaferry Presbyterian Church (fPPC)

For this performance the choir will be joined by the Ireland String Quartet, Richard Campbell, organ; and Gill Withers, Double-bass.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Loughries Grant Applications 2013

Well, it it that time of the year again - I used to dread but have gotten used to recent years.

By the end of this month I will have completed 1 festival funding application and 1 Good Relations funding application. Also, I have already submitted a funding application for Loughries 2 x summer schools to be held in July 2013.

Community development grant in April, then some STRIPE (Orange Institution Project) stuff like marshaling courses, good relations project - that said our membership has increased 400% in 7 years so it is working!!

I will post further details in the coming weeks, nevertheless it is time consuming and draining at times, however I am happy as an Orange & Ulster Scots community activist to put in the time as the rewards far out-weigh a few hours at the computer.


Road to the Twelfth Starts Here!

It may be a very bitter cold, wet and miserable March day, however the road to the 12th of July starts here!

For a few hours today Bobby, Jackie and myself spent time in Ballyrobert pullin a few drum and getting a few heads / skins ready for the upcoming events.

Above are only a few of the drums that we have been working on in recent weeks and months, behind me, where I took this photo - are 2 x more shells and 1 drum in the press ready to be pulled.

Loughries are working to organise a fife and lambeg drumming event in Newtownards on 21st June 2013 as part of our yearly Ulster Scots Festival - funded by Ards Borough Council Festival Funding.

More details to follow!


Friday, 15 March 2013

Fife Cleaning

I received a call earlier this week from a teacher (Shaz) who works in a school that I had been teaching in a while back - she is very keen to get a fife & lambeg drum project up and running.
Anyway, whilst having a chat about the project she enquired into purchasing some fifes, well I had around 20 fifes gathered up, 6 I have kept by for the Lisneal Collage project, so I agreed to sell 4 to Shaz. Sadly I went to get the fifes they looked the rather worse for ware, so I ended up oiling and cleaning 10 fifes, including my own - which got a spring clean! (over 2 hours)
They are like new now and looking forward to delivering them to the school, yes they were a bargin at £*&.%$ each !

A Couple of Turkey's

I was out for my daily walk yesterday and came across these two........ it reminded me on a couple of folk, so I had a wee chuckle to myself - little amuses the innocent!


Bangor Grammar Spring Concert 2013

On Wednesday evening I attended Bangor Grammar spring concert at their impressive new school. My eldest boy Matthew is in year 8 and a member of the training orchestra and year 8 choir - he played a supporting role throughout the night.
Having worked in schools for over 5 years now, preparing children for performances - it was great to sit back back, relax and be entertained, and entertained I was!
It was a fabulous concert with some particularly talented young musicians, playing a wide range of musical instruments. The programme was also quite varied, from film/tv theme-tunes, pop,, rock, classical, choir/barbershop, orchestral, solo's etc. My favourite piece was Bluebell of Scotland, piano & Trombone it was terrific.
All in all a great night out -  with Matthew although quite nervous, performed very well and it was a great experience for him!


Thursday, 14 March 2013

Lambeg Drums - Brian Jamison (Artist)

Well, as I was posting regarding the new Lisneal Collage Lambeg Drum I thought I would share with you some of Brian Jamison's previous work.
Now, Brian paints many varied items, milk churns, stones, wood, lambeg drums and of course canvasses - so I have kept Brian quite busy over recent years.
Here are  few examples of Brian's work:-
Blakley's Glorious Traditions

Ulster's Twin Towers

One of my drums - Prudence

Aul Samuel

Therefore you can be quite certain that the Lisneal drum will be a wonderful painting.


Lambeg Drum for Lisneal College - Londonderry 2

While others still talk about it..................

On Sunday10th March 2013 I posted an article regarding a new Lambeg Drum and associated equipment for Lisneal Collage in Londonderry.
Well on Tuesday evening 12th March I took the drum shell to the artist, Brian Jamison of Ballywatticock to begin the process. I spoke at great length to Brian about what was required from the school and I took along with me a print out of what is to be painted on the drum along with a sketch that had been prepared by Darren Gibson (teacher at Lisneal).
I can't disclose what is to be painted on the drum as it is a closely guarded secret, however think of Londonderry...... that is all I an divulging!

So, here you see the drum prepared with primer and ready for the painting.

I don't intend to photograph various stages of the painting process, however I will keep you all regularly updated on its development.
Darren and I have further plans for the project - more later!
On another matter...............I have been contracted by an organisation to do 2 x similar projects in schools - one from the Catholic Maintained school sector and one from the state school sector, not only to provide the drum and drumming equipment but also to take up to a 20 week tuition course also along with visits to the drum makers and drum painters......... more later !!


A Borough Is Born - Dinner Invite

Following on from the successful '1613 A Borough Is Born' launch a few weeks ago at the Town Hall in Newtownards, Mrs Anderson and I have been invited to the first event.
A dinner hosted by the Mayor Cllr. Gregory to celebrate the 400th Anniversary of the first granting of the Royal Charter, on Monday 25th March 2013.
The event is to be held at 'Rosemount Estate' the ancestral home of the Montgomery Family in Greyabbey Co. Down.
Mrs A and I very rarely get out together mainly to due to babysitters, this time we have accepted the invitation and look forward to the event. The great and the good are to be there - not sure what category I fit into!!
I may have had a bit of a hand in organising the music........ shhh!

Ulster Scots in Schools - Kilmaine Primary School

Wednesday morning Matthew and I attended Kilmaine Primary School in Bangor Co. Down for a series of Ulster Scots musical workshops. This is the 4th year that we have attended the school, so we must be doing something right !

We performed at 3 x workshops this time for Primary 1, Kilmaine is a large school with 3 x classes per year. The children learn about their senses touch, smell and that type of thing - Matt and I were the sound element.

We brought with us a range of Ulster Scots instruments, 3 lambeg drums - small, medium and large, fifes, selection of flutes, tin whistles and bagpipes. We talked and interacted with the children as well as getting quite a few of them up to play the instruments

It was terrific and very well received by the children, teachers, classroom assistants and we also had a visit from the school principal Mr. Mann.

For Matt and I, who are genuinely interested in promoting our musical tradition through education, it was a very successful event. For us it is about planting the seed of our Ulster Scots traditions and giving children an opportunity to learn about this culture brought down to their level, in this instance using their P1 theme of sounds.


Sunday, 10 March 2013

Old photo of a Lambeg Drum Maker / Painter

Thanks to Mark Thompson for this photo.

Here is a photo from the past! The fife and lambeg drum is one of the oldest musical traditions in Ulster and it is right and proper that it continues to be promoted and developed as an equal to other traditions - it is generally accepted to be a vital cog in the wheel of our Ulster and British Cultural Identity.
Sadly scenes like the one above are not as familiar as they once were, that said there are dedicated drum makers dotted throughout Ulster who continue on with the drum making tradition - as well as the artists / painters, who through art - express our cultural identity.
In a previous post I mentioned that a school in Londonderry, Lisneal College, have ordered fifes and a new lambeg drum for the school. There are plans for the fifes and drums to be used during the UK City of Culture events throughout 2013 - I personally feel that it is vitally important to showcase this musical tradition, its unique to Ulster and deserves to be promoted in a positive light!!

Lambeg Drum for Lisneal College - Londonderry

Whilst other talk.............

I began a fife & lambeg drum project in Lisneal College Londonderry some time ago, the school and I were promised equipment to keep the project moving forward, sadly and predictably we were let down, as were many other fife and lambeg drum projects - we won't go there!

Anyway, not one to let the grass grow under my /our feet my good friend Darren Gibson (teacher at Lisneal) made alternative plans. We contacted the UK City of Culture office and spoke to Marty, who agreed with our plan - 1 painted lambeg drum, 6 fifes, drum canes, drum stand, neck strap and other bits n pieces that makes a good project, in fact something quite similar to the Boys' Model Project that was so very successful a couple of years ago in Belfast!

The Lisneal drum has now been made and is presently at the artists workshop ready to begin the painting. Darren Gibson has designed the painting in its entirety, using some familiar images of Londonderry and dare I say an excellent design.So Brian Jamison, the artist, will begin the painting on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week and if all goes to plan the drum painting will be completed by May Day.

Darren Gibson and I have a few plans for the project to progress at a later date, sadly however no photo's of the drum as yet, that said I will post something in a while to keep you updated.

Lisneal has continued to promote and develop Ulster Scots projects in the school, they have developed a Burns Night supper now in its second year.

The school has also been working with Georgina Kee the local Highland dance tutor to promote dance in school. All this has come from an embryonic fife and lambeg drum class in the school run by Darren Gibson..... long may this good work continue!!

So, great days ahead at Lisneal

Promoting the fife and lambeg drum through education!