I had to do a bit of driving today to see a few clients, so I put the camera in the car and in between meetings I tracked down a few cultural photo opportunities. Finding the site of the Buchanan plaque was tricky enough, but eventually I got it. It's just under three miles east of Omagh, along the Deverney Road (or if you're driving from Sixmilecross, it's along the Bencran Road). Easily visible just on the road side, the house looks like a private farm rather than a visitor centre, so I didn't bother harassing the residents by knocking on their door.
Sixmilecross is where the minister/poet/author W.F. Marshall was from (his house is still there, with an Ulster History Circle blue plaque on the gate post as well as one on the house itself). The area includes a 'Marshall Country Trail' with brown signs along the route (click here for an example of one). Last year the Ulster-Scots Community Network, working alongside the Marshall family, published a booklet about Marshall's life. It was launched in City Hall and WF's granddaughter spoke at the event. I wonder if he was aware of the old Buchanan homestead just a few miles from his own house, and if that was one of his inspirations for his 1943 classic Ulster Sails West? After all, Marshall was born in Omagh and his father was the principal of Sixmilecross School, so the family would have travelled the Deverney Road / Bencran Road, past the old Buchanan homestead, every day.
Clearly Marshall is important to the people of that part of County Tyrone; in fact it has been said that Marshall 'virtually single-handledly... created a culture and heritage for the Ulsterman of which he could be proud'. With a brown-signed 'trail' in place there is a great opportunity to renew a wider interest in the man and his writings, and to enjoy the landscape he lived and worked in.
No matter which county, and whether east or west of the River Bann, rural Ulster is the place to be.
Friday, June 03, 2011
Posted by Mark Thompson at Friday, June 03, 2011