Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Emigration, Orangemen and a St Patrick's Day violin (fiddle) in Portavogie, March 1911


From the Newtownards Chronicle, 25 March 1911

The members of this lodge met last week to do honour to two of their members, Brs. W M'Master and Alex M'Vea, who left for Chicago, USA on St Patrick's Day. Br. Wm Clint was moved to the chair, and in the course of his remarks thanked the members for placing him in that position, and expressed regret at the departure of their brethren, but wished them every prosperity in the land of their adoption. The chairman also presented each with beautiful certificates. The secretary of the lodge, Br. David Kelly, also spoke. He said he could not let the occasion pass without saying a few words, and he knew he was only expressing the heartfelt wish of all the members of that lodge, when he wished their much respected brethren (Brs. A M'Vea and W M'Master) health, happiness and prosperity in the land they were going to, and hoped that before many years they would have made enough to enable them to settle down at home in Portavogie once more. He concluded by wishing them a safe passage over, and to say he hoped they would not forget the happy times spent in No 552 (applause). Brs. M'Vea and M'Master amicably replied. During the evening gramophone selections were given by Br. Alex O'Prey. A dance was subsequently indulged in, the music being rendered by Br. Hugh O'Prey (violin). Br John Kelly, W.M. kindly acted as M.C. and rendered valuable assistance. The dancing continued until a late hour, after which the singing of 'Auld Lang Syne' brought an enjoyable evening to a close.

• Alex and Hugh O'Prey were clearly musical; both lived at Ratallagh between Portavogie and Cloughey, and signed the Ulster Covenant at Ballyeasborough Orange Hall. According to the 1911 Census Alex was 19; he had a 16 year old brother called Hugh. Their father was also called Hugh, aged 45. I suspect the father was the fiddle player. The family was Church of Ireland (presumably Ballyeasborough again) and all of the men were blacksmiths.
William Clint of Cloughey also signed at Ballyeasborough
David Kelly of Kirkistown signed at Kirkistown Orange Hall