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Kevin Barry was just a lad of eighteen summers

  Ardoyne singer Jim Sherrie was taking a break and enjoying a bit of fresh air. Tony Strong was also outside enjoying a smoke from his crooked pipe (he’s a devoted pipe smoker as well as being an authority on ballad singing). Earlier he had commented on Sherrie’s singing style. In particular he was impressed […]

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Nelson blast echoed across Ireland

  I’m quite sure that Belfast-based teacher Finbar Carolan and his colleagues John Sullivan, Eamon McGirr and Gerry Burns never heard of Seamus Sutcliffe or Francis Johnston. Yet they all had a connection to one of the momentous events in Ireland in the twentieth century. Nelson’s Pillar had stood in Sackville Street, later O’Connell Street, […]

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1916 centenary year full of so many great events

  AS WE head to the final quarter of 2016, I have to say I’ve always felt that a year only starts when St Brigid’s Day has come, and it has all but ended when the All-Ireland football final has been played. I think it’s worth reflecting how successful the celebration of the centenary of […]

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The train, the pub, the match: it’s All-Ireland day again

  BILLY Gillen was impatient. You see, it was the day of the All Ireland hurling final and Billy, as usual, had a ticket for the match. Having arrived at Central Station at 8.30am he found there was a queue stretching out to the street. One of the ticket booths was unmanned and one of […]

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A lifetime of union struggle

  Patrick McKeown was born on March 16, 1854 and, as was the custom in those days of high infant mortality, he was baptised the following day, St Patrick’s Day, in St Michael’s Catholic church near Dromara, Co Down. In all probability you will never have heard of Patrick McKeown. That comes as no surprise, […]

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When McNamara’s Band were kings of the local music hall

  “OH, my name is McNamara, I’m the leader of the band. Although we’re small in number, we’re the best band in the land.” These are the opening lines of the famous song McNamara’s Band. When I was growing up this song vied in our neck of the woods with The Boys from the County […]

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