Sunday, August 03, 2008

Last weekend

Last weekend was jam-packed. Jacob and I started Saturday by watching Linfield Legends v Man Utd Legends, and Glentoran Legends v Liverpool Legends, at the Oval. Must admit I was delighted to see the still skilful Jan Molby controlling the midfield, and with a belly even bigger than mine. He was my hero as a 14 year old, and still has superb touch, control and passing ability. Then we headed to the European Pipe Band Championships in Lisburn for the afternoon.


Then we went up to the Cairncastle Ulster Scots Folk Festival for the highlight of the day, their evening soiree. I reckon there were close to 500 people jammed into the big marquee; Willie Drennan had talked me into bringing my mandolin and I joined in with the mass ensemble of folk musicians (about 30 people!) for a version of "I Saw the Light". Great stuff!

My oldest son Jacob (10) then led the band on the tin whistle for a pretty raucous version of the old Belfast street song "I'll Tell Me Ma". It was funny playing in public again (I had wanted to take this whole year off, but when Willie asks and it's Cairncastle, well... it's kinda hard to say no), but I was really proud of Jacob. 10 years old, a big performance, thanks to the quality tuition he's had for lambeg drum and tin whistle from Joseph Long at the Greyabbey Junior Drumming Club over the past two winters.

The next afternoon the whole family drove back up (a 3 hour round trip!) for the Praise Service. Again I got roped in, and it was great. Unrehearsed and rough, but really enjoyable to be among such great folk. Nothin fancy, just simple and authentic. You can't invent what they've got at Cairncastle. Here's the communal singing of Amazing Grace (apologies for the shaky camerawork, I was trying to show the size of the audience)


Then that evening Graeme was preaching at Brooklands Gospel Centre in Ballybeen (it was his own church while he lived in Newtownards), and he twisted my arm into playing there too. We did a brother duet version of three old hymns, which were so well received that we were asked to do two or three more at the end of the meeting. Mandolin, guitar and two voices.

Drew Craig (for those of you who don't know him, Drew has been a missionary to Romania for most of his life, and he must be in his 70s by now) got up after we'd finished and told a story of his childhood near Cullybackey. In their house they had an old organ his father played, an old piano his mother played, and a mandolin that his brother played. Every weekend they had communal family hymn singing. One evening, an American GI who was stationed nearby was walking along the road outside their house, heard them singing, and came up to the house and asked if he could join them. He was a Christian, he was welcomed into their home, and for the next few years during his time based in Northern Ireland he went to their church each Sunday.

So three musical performances inside two days. Hopefully nae mair for the rest of the year, but word has spread like wildfire and the enquiries are flooding in again!

Some photos below of me and Jacob, and of me playing mandolin with the Whitlees Community Church band from Ardrossan - both pics from Cairncastle. Thanks to Cathy and Davy Angus of Angus Fifes in Donaghadee for sending these to me.


John Killian said...

This article was really a blessing. I was thrilled to know of your son enjoying life with his dad.