Thursday, June 3

Story of Ballyferris.... How it all Began.

This is the story that I started writing a few years ago. Life came along in the meantime, and the tale has progressed in fits and starts. But it's all true. Well that is according to me and my memories, though I think my family may differ on some of the points that I make. But isn't that what  storytelling is all about? Life from an individual's perspective, and maybe a bit of embellishing...  to add to the flavour!
Here begins the story that Mary, Dougie and the three children lived through.


It really all happened because of the baby. She was born in December... properly messed up Christmas for me. And on the morning that she was born, Miss Vint asked me if it was a boy or a girl, ( Miss Vint, the scourge of the third year infants ).  I said a boy, Christmas was more important, and anyway Miss Vint always confused me. Dad wanted to call her Mary after our mother, but mum thought that was a shame for such a pretty baby, so they called her Rosemary. And over the years it became “wee pet” or “the baby”, but I liked to call her Rosie Posie ....Now I call her Ro, it’s quicker.

Here’s what occured. It was decided that Dad should build a caravan. With five in the family, holidays needed some thought. And apart from that it was a tradition for the men in our family to do that. Uncle John  and uncle Cecil  had already made their's, and you know they did things properly..... or so I had heard.

And so it came about. Oh, I could tell you how exciting it was, what with the noise of sawing and planing, hammering and Dougie ( dad-type) expletives. The smell of the glue, as it was heated up to melting point and ladled on to wooden joints, seemed like magic some magic potent.....though doubtless it was because I was as high as a kite on the fumes! I was dad’s little helper and always under his feet until the whole job was finished. So, I could tell you each screw had to be in the right the cupboards slotted into the walls so perfectly and..... but you might get bored. Anyway however great  all of that was, it was just nothing, compared to the holidays we were about to have in it.

On the day that the finished caravan was rolled out of the driveway, all the neighbours came to watch. No doubt many prayers were said for Mr. McC. In particular by “Auntie Orr”, my godmother, who lived three doors away. But I should think it more likely that others were displaying that great Belfast character builder... cynicism! However, all went according to plan and the caravan rolled safely out on to the street. Did I mention that at this time, the family didn’t actually own a car?

No? Oh well, merely a minor blip in the Dougie world. There were always friends, neighbours and relatives to call upon in the community that I grew up in. So that’s what was done.

Wednesday, June 2

A Poem for Thursday

                                            This Thin Place.
The view from my sister's cottage in Donegal is one that looks out over the Atlantic Ocean and is framed by the peninsula on the left of the Sligo Mountains. A magic place!

The Peninsula

When you have nothing more to say, just drive
For a day all round the peninsula.
The sky is tall as over a runway,
The land without marks so you will not arrive

But pass through, though always skirting landfall.
At dusk, horizons drink down sea and hill,
The ploughed field swallows the whitewashed gable
And you're in the dark again. Now recall

The glazed foreshore and silhouetted log,
That rock where breakers shredded into rags,
The leggy birds stilted on their own legs,
Islands riding themselves out into the fog

And drive back home, still with nothing to say
Except that now you will uncode all landscapes
By this: things found clean on their own shapes,
Water and ground in their extremity.
                                           Seamus Heaney 


Tuesday, June 1

Prom Art In May

Another Prom Art and the weather which was not supposed to be good was great. I've worked hard on the stand, and it looks a lot better,albeit still a Punch and Judy set!

Penguins flew and  a large shell was taken home to live with a 90 year old ex-potter who regularly visits our stand each month.  A big part of the joy of exhibiting at Grange, is the people who come to see what is new and have a chat. We gave a couple of pieces of work to the organisers to put in the show window in Grange.

There were quite a few new artists this month.

This is the work of Christine Rooney, artist, demonstrator and teacher. She paints in oils, inks, acrylics and mixed media. Contact :
Lovely quirky illustrations.

Richard Davies runs F.W. Forgeworks in Milnthorpe. Interior and exterior ironwork. I think next time he may even consider bringing an anvil!
I wish I could aford a weather vane for the Potters House....nice.

Ralph Marra has over 40 years experience in the design and advertising world. he brought some canal-ware which he paints in what artists laughingly call "retirement"! and to see more of his art.
Keith Reynolds  a local Ulverston painter, has been a regular at Prom Art  for the last two seasons.His work has an edge of the style of Paul Klee to it, linear and colourful. Contact him at

The west coast railway runs along side the prom. It all adds to the atmosphere of the occasion. May brings the blossom to the gardens along the edge and each area is cared for by a group from the town.
I love to take a walk along the prom each month . At the west end was once a Lido style swimming pool. I tried to take some pics to let you see what a great place it must once have been. Wouldn't it be amazing to have this restored. Perhaps English Heritage or some other group could get interested and set the ball rolling!Who knows.

I think this could apply to my life!