Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ayrshire connections, 2011

Last Saturday I had the great privilege of spending about 2 hours with a retired man from Ayrshire, who was en route to County Leitrim (with his wife and two grandchildren) to spend a week with his son who lives there now. We met up near Lisburn, having emailed each other off and on for the last year and a half - it was a bit like meeting a pen pal! He found me online shortly after getting his first computer, whilst searching for the words of 'My Ain Countrie'. He lives between Dunlop and Beith - Hamilton & Montgomery country.

We got on like a house on fire, he brought me about 16 'Scotch brick' with the names of Ayrshire brickworks moulded into them. He also brought about 30 old 78s, of William MacEwan, Duncan McNeill, Jimmy Shand and fiddle player Mackenzie Murdoch. He told me of how his father used to cycle into Glasgow on a Sunday afternoon to listen to William MacEwan's open-air singing! He sang me four songs (which he let me record) one of which had been given to him in 1963 by a Robert Thompson from Sorn in Ayrshire who had learned it from his mother as a child in the 1890s. It has never appeared in print or in any university library in Scotland.

I could have talked to him all day, and I'm sure his wife and grandchildren feared that I would do just that! I am planning to meet up with him in June when I head over to Scotland for a few days on a research and photography mission for a project I'm tinkering at, and to give him his records back once I've digitised them all.

It was a brilliant afternoon, a wealth of common culture, and an example of how blogging has a value far beyond pixels and keyboards.