I was on my travels again on Thursday 5th July when I did a whistle stop tour of Ulster Scots Summer Schools in the North West of the Province. I was met bright and early (the day that was, not me!) at New Buildings by James Kee who, after a hearty breakfast, took me to Ballylaw. I never heard of it before and it turned out to be a townland but that only illustrates further the interest in the Ulster Scots culture and the dedication of the good folk of the area when I was confronted with a spacious community hall packed with children. Dividing the kids into two groups and with the help and supervision of leaders, I gave two adresses on the language of the Ulster Scots. My only difficulty was speaking English between times in a bid to be understood!
After that, I stopped off at Bready where the local Presbyterian Hall was alive with various activities and children again eager to learn more about the language and culture of the Ulster Scots. The Ulster Scots community in Bready are a step ahead of most and have a huge new builing going up in the village dedicated to the various strands our culture.
I was then sent to Donnemanna where another hall full of keen children awaited me. The kids there were again being supervised by a determined and dedicated team of leaders who gave me every assistance as I introduced the language to everyone present.
My last call for the day was to New Buildings and what can I say? With over 100 kids enrolled in the summer school there and a team of the best leaders to keep order and keep the momentum going, it was a pleasure to play a small role in adding to their schedule by bringing the kids an introduction to Ullans. I did get some light-hearted banter when I forgot myself and shouted "Come on ower here across tha fleur aa o yez!"
It was a very enjoyable and fulfilling day and tribute should be paid to Edd Hanna, the Ulster Scots Agency, the regional organisers, leaders and the kids themselves for making the summer schools such a huge success in the West.