On Tuesday 24th July, Noel and myself left the familiarity of Ballymoney and headed to the uncharted land of County Down in search of Ballyroney. It may only differ from our Hame Toon by one letter but there the similarity ends!
Noel navigated our way to Moira and, with the use of a handy AA map, we even made it to Katesbridge. After a phone call or two, we found Ballyroney and we were glad to make in aa in tha yin piece! The imposing Orange Hall by the side of the road was literally swarming with kids. When we asked how many were attending, Margaret told us there were over seventy as she calmly made us a cuppa!
Again we split the mass of kids into two groups and did our double-act. The younger kids were predictably excitable but equally well behaved and eager to learn more about their lugs, heid and thrapple! When tested, they proved to have been listening as they answered correctly and getting the pronunciation just right.
The older kids then had a turn and we explained the origins of the language, making it plain that the Plantation was the return of the lowland Scots who had been driven out of Ulster by the Celts. It was these people who brought the language to Ulster when they returned to their native lands thus dispelling the notion that we are in some way invaders and usurpers. Again, we had no difficulty in getting the attention of the class as each of them were keen to learn more about Ullans. The end of the lesson proved they had listened and taken in the vocabulary we brought to Ballyroney.
It was a pleasure for us to have visited Ballyroney and very encouraging to have seen first hand the demand and interest in Ulster Scots. My thanks to the helpers, leaders and children for a great day and, again, fair play to the Agency and big Ed for a tremendous effort in organising the school.