I had the privilege of attending the first session of Portglenone Ulster Scots Summer School today (Tuesday 3rd July 2007). The school attracted 15 children from the village and, as I had been invited to speak to them about the Ulster Scots language, I was gye feared they micht naw sit still fer mae!!
As it turned out, the children were generally receptive though the opportunity to be less than attentive at times in the absence of their regular schoolteacher did tend to inspire the occasional bout of excited chatter. Still, dour Ulster Scot that I am, I continued regardless and ended my session with a recap of the words I had introduced. To my relief, almost the whole class recalled every word without difficulty.
Next up was William Wilkinson who introduced the kids to various aspects of the Ulster Scots history and culture. Again, the kids were receptive, punctuated by the odd bout of whispering and laughter! They certainly enjoyed the crack and enthusiastically answered all the questions put to them by William who concluded by setting a quiz that soon proved that the children had learned something new.
After a short break, Mark and Bobby from Conlig arrived with a lambeg drum, kettle drum and miniature lambeg as well as a selection of fifes and whistles. A history and description of the workings of the lambeg was duly delivered to a more captive audience and the subsequent quiz demonstrated that the kids had paid close attention to the speakers. The kids then got the chance to rattle out a roll or two on the lambeg and William and myself did likewise as Mark fifed. I was not offered a job as a drummer!
The archery session then followed but alas I had to leave before the arrows began flying but I spoke to William afterwards and no casualties were reported!
All in all it was a great day and a great idea. Its heartening to know that the uptake on the Summer Schools is up this year as the children certainly enjoyed learning all about their identity. My thanks to William, Angela, Betty and Harry for their invitation and their obvious commitment to the Ulster Scots culture.