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'An afternoon at Bonnybefore' celebrates Ulster Scots tradition

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Mid and East Antrim Borough Council recently hosted an Ulster Scots event at the Jackson Centre and US Rangers Museum called ‘An afternoon at Bonnybefore’ which celebrated Ulster Scots language, music and song.

Central to the event was a look at author Charlotte Riddell, who was born at Scotch Quarter and became one of the most famous ghost story writers in Victorian times.

Her father James Cowan lived at The Barn, Carrickfergus, and extracts from stories written by Charlotte as a teenager were read at the event by Hilary Bailey.

Ulster Scots writer and poet Davy Moore also read several of his poems, while Dr. David Hume, Civic Events Coordinator at MEA Council, delivered a paper on “The Aul Leid in Amerikay” which drew on use of Ulster Scots language in American literature.

Local musicians Ami Ogilby and Lisa Dawson – who perform as La Petite Duet – provided a selection of Scottish, Ulster-Scots and Ulster American music, transporting guests across the Atlantic and back.

The event was opened by the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna, who said:

“This site is central to the Ulster Scots tradition and heritage – with Scots settlement from the 17th century, movement to America in the 18th and an Ulster Scot author from the 19th century, Charlotte Cowan – it is an historic and appropriate location for this event.

“I want to thank our readers and musicians for the wonderful entertainment and express our thanks to the Ulster Scots Agency for their support of this event.

“We have a rich Ulster Scots linguistic tradition in the Borough and nowhere more so than here at Bonnybefore and surrounding area. The cottage – which is now the Jackson Centre and this US Rangers Museum – was once the farm of the Donaldson family, neighbours to the Jackson family, who gave America its seventh President.

“They, and all those who lived in this area in bygone times, would have used words and phrases which came with their forefathers from Scotland, just as the Jacksons and their neighbours and family members in the Waxhaws region of the Carolinas would have used those words and phrases. Words and statements which they would have used are still in usage today in this area of the Borough.

“This is a proud legacy and worthy of celebration”

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