Saturday, 26 December 2009

A wheen mair o buiks

Among my Christmas gifts was a copy of Marshal Schomberg 1615-1690 – The Ablest Soldier of His Age by Matthew Glozier, a research associate at the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Sydney. This is the first book-length, scholarly appraisal of the man since 17789 and the first ever in English based on new research. Schomberg held high command in British, Portuguese and French armies but he is remembered as second-in-command to William of Orange during the Glorious Revolution. He arrived in Ulster on 13 August 1689 at the head of a Williamite army and then in the summer of 1690 he accompanied William as they marched south to fight James and the Jacobite army at the Battle of the Boyne. Schomberg was killed at the Boyne and buried in St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. This is a well-researched book and a welcome addition to the range of books on the Glorious Revolution.

The Man with the Golden Flute is an autobiography of Sir James Galway, written jointly by him and Linda Bridges. The story starts in Belfast, where Sir James was born in 1939, in a house in Vere Street. This was bombed during the Blitz and after that they moved to 17 Carnalea Street. His grandfather was the conductor of the Apprentice Boys Flute Band and his father was also a member of the band but their band-room was destroyed during the blitz and the band did not reform after the war. Sir James himself started in the Onward Flute Band, which still parades and performs today. Writing of his grandfather he said, ‘Although my grandfather was self-taught, he was good enough that he had often played in the opera orchestra. His real passion was playing in the flute bands that we had in Belfast. These bands were the equivalent of marching bands in the United States, or the brass bands they had up in the north of England.’


  1. I've just begun reading The Plantation Of Ulster, by P Robinson, over Christmas; and, to be honest, I'm finding it a bit heavy and academic so far! I'll persevere, though, because I bought it.

    Changing the topic of great Ulstermen, heard of George, 1st Earl Macartney, KB? Born in 1737 and his seat was Lissanoure in Co Antrim:-


  2. Yes, The Plantation of Ulster by Dr Philip Robinson is an academic book rather than a populist one but it is an excellent book and is recognised as one of the classic works on the subject. Moreover there is a place for both - we need academic works as well as populist ones. The tragedy is that, as we approach the 400th anniversary of the official plantation, there are simply not enough good books on the subject, either academic or populist. As a result many of the myths and misunderstandings remain unchallenged.

  3. Earl McCartney was indeed a great Ulsterman. You are the second person to mention him to me in the last few days. The other person mentioned him in the context of an exploration of Ulster connections with China, of which there are quite a number.