Speaker for 10th March 2020

President Derick Woods greets Frank Rodgers with club member Reggie Patterson (R) and Club Vice President John McKegney (L).

Coleraine Probus take a musical tour

The speaker at a recent Probus Club meeting made club history, when he had members humming and singing along to his talk. The speaker was Frank Rodgers, and the topic of his 'talk' was “A Musical Tour of Northern Ireland".

Frank's presentation was not like any other the club had seen/heard before. Frank's playlist included twelve folk songs from the six counties, that illustrated the wonderful heritage of folk songs few have in Northern Ireland. The first song played, not surprisingly, was “Danny Boy”. As most people know, the song (written in 1910) was set to the much older melody “The Londonderry Air”. This air was collected in Limavady by Jane Ross in 1851 as she listened to a blind itinerant musician, James McCurry*. The lyrics were later provided by English Lawyer, Frederick Weatherly.

A sea shanty “Sailing Southwards from Rathlin” was next followed by “The Auld Lamas Fair” and “The Green Glens Of Antrim”. Moving on to Belfast and the children's song “I'll Tell Me Ma” sung by Sinead O'Connor. Co Down followed with “The Star of the County Down” and “The Mountains of Mourne” by Percy French performed by Daniel O'Donnell.

Journeying on to visit Co. Fermanagh and Tommy Makem's rendition of “Fare Thee Well Enniskillen”. The final three songs were “The Flower of Sweet Strabane”, “The Boys from the County Armagh" and the last verse of “Danny Boy/Londonderry Air”.

As a bonus, and not forgetting the local folk song “Kitty of Coleraine”, was played at the end of the presentation. Surprisingly the vocalist for that last song was none other than Bing Crosby. Franks musical tour was enhanced by a splendid scenic accompaniment, and the club members showed their enthusiastic appreciation for an outstanding and uniquely entertaining presentation.

Following the Club meeting, and the surge in the Coronavirus 19 infection rate that has led to province (and World) wide isolation recommendations, ALL further Probus Club meetings have been cancelled until the Autumn, when, subject to the Government infection advice, the club aims to restart on the 8th September.

(And for the last time for some time, a BIG thank-you to Graham for his help with this report)

James McCurry, one of six children of John and Isabella McCurry, was born in 1830, in Carrowclare, County Londonderry. He was blind from birth and became know as 'The Blind Fiddler of Myroe'. He married Elizabeth Forrest, but she died not long after their marriage. Their only child, a daughter, died at the age of twelve. Jimmy lived to the age of 80, dying in the Limavady workhouse on the 26th October 1910. Three days later he was buried in an unmarked grave in the churchyard of Tamlaght Finlagan Parish Church. It is unlikely that he ever heard the combination of his melody and the lyrics from Frank Weatherly, that together have become, possibly, the most famous of all 'Irish' songs, and famous the entire world over too!