Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Two men from Seapatrick: Joseph Scriven and James O'Neill

Seapatrick Blog Graphic

Seapatrick is the area where Banbridge is situated in County Down. Joseph Scriven was born at Ballymoney Lodge (just off today's A1 carriageway, where it meets the A26 or Dromore Street roundabout) on 10 September 1819. His life story is remarkable. In 1845 he emigrated to Canada. His musical contribution to the world was the hymn What A Friend We Have in Jesus which he wrote the words of in 1855. He was accidentally drowned in a millpond and was buried at Bailieboro, Cavan County, on the shores of Rice Lake (source here). Interestingly, there is also a Bailieborough in County Cavan in Ulster, so-named after the Bailie family from Scotland who had moved there from County Down. What A Friend We Have in Jesus is one of the world's most famous hymns, and has been translated into many different languages

John O'Neill was born in the same area around 1837. He collected a huge repertoire of fiddle tunes, as detailed in Nigel Boullier's book Handed Down which was published last year. John taught his children to play the fiddle and left his collection of tunes to his son James. James O'Neill appears in the Catholic baptismal records in Seapatrick RC parish in 1862, but he emigrated to Chicago in 1881. He assisted Francis O'Neill to publish O'Neill's Music of Ireland in 1903, contributing about 21% of the tunes for that landmark publication.

Both men had a huge musical impact on the world - James O'Neill helped define the Irish traditional genre, and Joseph Scriven wrote one of the most famous hymns of all time. Not bad for a wee townland in County Down.

Ella Fitzgerald's version is at 22:20 in the video below.


Friday, May 23, 2014

Ulster-Scots, the Law and the Gospel


As mentioned in my previous post, one of the things which was revealed (or recovered) at the time of the Reformation was that the Bible's central message is of the Law and the Gospel. This idea seems to have been widely understood for centuries. I have found a reference to it in Robin's Readings (1880) by WG Lyttle. On page 36 of Life in Ballycuddy, County Down, he writes of a Presbyterian minister from Newtownbreda called 'Mister Wurkman' who was being brought before the General Assembly by manipulative troublemaker within his own congregation. A conversation between two onlookers includes this reference: 

'... "A dinnae ken, " sez he, "but he maun be sumthin' mair nor ordnor', whun he'll mak his meinister an' fowk dae jist what he wants; an' no' that alane, but he'll shew ye efter a bit that he can lay doon the law an' the Gospel till Presbytery, Synod an' General Assembly" ...'

The idea of the Law and the Gospel was once commonly understood. Not today.

• Here is the Scottish martyr Patrick Hamilton's work on the subject, called Patrick's Places, from around 1520.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Give this a whirl


Tullian Tchividjian is a Presbyterian minister in Florida and is the grandson of Billy Graham. His explanations of "Law v Grace" are I think some of the clearest around these days. 'Law v Grace" was one of the huge discoveries of the Reformation times, it was writing of this concept which got a young Patrick Hamilton burned at the stake in St Andrews in the 1500s. Since then, a religious fog has crept over the landscape and that message has become shrouded in tradition and routine. Refreshing stuff - the stuff of a Second Reformation.

Romans: Part 15 | Tullian Tchividjian from Coral Ridge | LIBERATE on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Glasgow, Clydebank, Dunfermline and Belfast - the United Co-Operative Baking Society Ltd.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Flag design of the future, from the past

This is from around 1906!


Home Rule All Round

Saturday, May 10, 2014

"The Gun into Irish Politics"

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A few weeks ago there were some commemorations of the 100th anniversary of Sir Edward Carson's Ulster Volunteer Force landing thousands of guns at Larne, Bangor and Donaghadee, carried out by Fred Crawford and overseen at Donaghadee by James Craig, the future Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. Carson tried to quash rumours of his intention for the UVF - saying that 'Our quarrel is with the Government alone, and we desire that the RELIGIOUS and POLITICAL views of our opponents should be everywhere respected. We fight for equal justice for all under the Government of the United Kingdom." (see previous post here).The Irish Volunteers brought guns into Howth a few months after.

It is often said that Carson either introduced, or re-introduced, 'the gun into Irish politics'. I doubt very much that this is true, but it got me thinking. The local militia Volunteer movement of the late 1700s were certainly armed with guns. The furore over the Boston College recordings of the recent 'Troubles', reminded me of earlier recordings of a similar nature  - the 1641 Depositions which are held in Trinity College in Dublin (searchable website here). These are first-hand accounts of the massacres of English and Scottish settlers which took place in Ireland, and which led to the arrival of the Scottish army in 1642, the chaplains of which formalised Presbyterianism in Ireland. If you do a text search on the website for the word 'shot', it gives 431 results. So guns were very much around in the Ireland of the 1640s.

In the 'Killing Times' in Scotland in the 1661-1688 period, armed government troops faced down Presbyterian Covenanter civilians - including shooting people found in possession of Bibles (George Wood of Sorn in Ayrshire was just 16; John Brown of Priesthill was shot in the head in front of his family outside their cottage home).

The Montgomery Manuscripts refer to guns in the post-1642 period, but also they give an account of the Montgomery v Cunningham feud back in Scotland during which in 1586 Hugh Montgomery the 4th Earl of Eglinton was shot dead by John Cunningham of Colbeith, described as a 'foul deed', and that in the aftermath '... all the country ran to arms... there was a scene of murder and bloodshed in the West (of Scotland) that had never been known before...'. Around 1603 a similar feud in Galloway saw the murder of a Maxwell who was killed by a supporter of their rivals the Johnstons, the killer then fled across the sea to Ulster - but the Maxwells tracked him down and shot him dead on his way to church at Caledon near Armagh.

In 1605 you'll recall that the new Scottish King James I was the target of an audacious assassination bid in London known as 'The Gunpowder Plot'. And just a few years earlier in 1597 there was the Dublin Gunpowder Disaster in which 126 people were killed - the gunpowder was being shipped to the English army for the Nine Years War in Ireland - during which I have heard there is one very rare document which suggests that the Scottish Montgomeries were supplying guns and weapons to the Irish O'Neills. (this might explain why Con O'Neill's wife was keen to cut a deal with Hugh Montgomery in later years which led to the settlement of County Down with Scottish families).

The earlier English colony of the Ards Peninsula led by Thomas Smith junior in 1572 resulted in him being shot dead - "... the revolting of certain Irishmen of his own household to whom he overmuch trusted, whereof one ... killed him with a shot ...". The horses belonging to two other Englishmen, Norreys and Malbie, were also shot.

Some say that we have exported these attitudes to. In the 1996 book Culture of honor: The psychology of violence in the South, responsibility for a quickness to take up the gun is blamed upon the Ulster-Scots/Scotch-Irish emigrants who settled in the New World.

So when did the gun first arrive here? An article in the 2007 edition of the excellent periodical The Irish Sword, the Journal of the Military History Society of Ireland, claimed that the first gun in Ireland was recorded in 1332 - so not long after Robert the Bruce had retreated from Ireland after the failed invasion which his brother Edward led in 1315-1318.

As usual, there's a more interesting story underneath the lazy soundbites.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Fed up with Giro D'Italia mania?

... then here's what you need - an Ulster-Scots perspective on cycling from 1902 - "... for weemen it's maist unbecomin...". Cycling was a fairly new thing back then, and not everybody approved!  (scanned page below is from The Humour of Druid's Island by Ballyclare-born Drumbo author Archibald McIlroy, 1902).

In The Auld Meetin-Hoose Green (1898), McIlroy described Ballyclare people as wearing "... magenta-coloured mufflers..."So pink-clad cyclists are nothing new to County Antrim, or to the Ulster-Scots!


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