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……….!