The song Black Velvet Band which I’ve always loved starts .with the lines ..
In a neat little town they call Belfast,
apprenticed to trade I was bound
and manys the hour of sweet happiness
I spent in that neat little town
Well, thats tnot entirely true, I was born and bred in Glasgow and served an apprenticeship in the Glasgow shipyards as an engineer then draughtmand before going to uni and changing career to IT and now designing banking systems..
But having an Irish heritage and going to the old family place at Clady near Portglenone as kid I’ve found memories of Ireland. and currently in the process of applying for an Irish passport having an Irish grand-parent.
Anything to get away from this Brexit madness and be able to travel in the EU without any hassle at borders.
But what a weekend that was. … a long overdue trip to Belfast with the tall blonde and my cousin Christine and her husband Jack.
A couple of nights in that fine, vibrant city, which was amazingly busy considering we are in the middle of a global pandemic and a supposed lockdown.
There really are some fine bars and resturants, to enjoy and as luck would have it, we started at the top. The Observatory Bar on the top floor of the Grand Central Hotel is the highest bar in Ireland with great views over the city including the famous landmarks of the cranes of Harland and Wolff shipyard were the Titanic was built.
The highest bar with prices to match .. 55 quid for a bottle of rosie .. aaallch!
But you have to remember where you are and that you’re on holiday.
Robinsons Bistro on Great Victoria Street is also worth a visit, more traditional, with booths, good food at reasonable prices.
The main purpose of the journey was a trip to the old family place in Clady which we did on Saturday and it was like bathing yourself in history and the memories of Granda and family coming flooding back.
We parked at the Watermill Bar, formerly John O’Kanes were we used to go with Granda or walkd down on our ownfor a bottle of soda and crossed the street to the river Bann were we used to swim as kids.
Seeing a few gentlemen standing at the new angling club, we walked over and asked them for directions,, explainging that we were looking for the olf family place.
Whats your family name .. asks one of the men?
Wheen i told him, he says thats my name!
Wow, whats the chances of that! He took us up to the old family house pictured above and introduced us to the family now living there, who remembered us from 50 years ago when we last visitted.
We all took a walk about top the Holy Cross on Moneyshagen hill were we used to play. It was like going back in time, so many memories coming back into my mind.
Got to tell you, I was a bit choked when i met an old auntie of mine Brigid and wish we hadn’t left going over for so long.