Sunday, 28 May 2017

Skipper Street, Belfast

Merchant Hotel

Skipper Street, Belfast, runs from Waring Street to High Street.

This is one of the the oldest streets in Belfast, where the River Farset used to flow openly along High Street itself (it still does, though it's culverted).

High Street ca 1830

The street was thus named because skippers of sailing vessels lodged here.

This street is mentioned as far back as 1685; it was, however, significantly affected by the 1941 blitz.

In 1974, The Albert Inn stood at 3 Skipper Street; then it changed its name to the Blackthorn Bar.

High Street

The buildings are now all relatively recent since many, if not most, were destroyed by bombing during the 2nd World War.

The most notable premises today are The Merchant Hotel - formerly the Ulster Bank head office - which now runs along the entire left-hand side of the street (the even numbers).

The Spaniard Bar  is at number three and Jackson Sports is located at the corner of Skipper Street and High Street.

First published in July, 2009.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Wheaten Bannock


I do enjoy wheaten bread.

It's particularly popular here in Ulster, though many wheaten loaves or bannocks sold in the supermarkets don't enthuse me at all.

I decided to make my own.

I have been experimenting with various recipes and I think I've found a good one.

For this recipe I use a greased (buttered) baking-sheet.

Heat the oven to 200º C.


  • 280g coarse wholemeal flour (the coarser the better)
  • 20g rolled jumbo oat flakes
  • 1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp treacle
  • 270ml buttermilk


Measure the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix them.

Pour the treacle into the buttermilk and mix in another bowl or dish.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk and treacle.

Mix well with a wooden spoon.

With your hands make the mixture into a round and place carefully on to the baking-sheet.

Cut a deep cross on it.

Sprinkle the top with wholemeal flour (I often forget to do this).

Bake for about 40 minutes.

Remove from the oven, brush with melted butter and allow to cool on a cooling-rack.

Campbell Dinner

I had the most enjoyable evening last night. An old pal, NCS, picked me up at Belmont GHQ and took me the short distance to that venerable academic institution, Campbell College.

There were a couple of stinkers at Campbell during my time, though thankfully they weren't there last night.

It was such a glorious evening that some of the former staff and guests were standing in the quadrangle, drinking Pimm's.

I leapt out of NCJ's car and joined Keith and a few others.

The refreshing glass of Pimm's was duly collected at a side table.

A waiter offered delicious little canapés from a large tray.

It was truly a pleasure to meet my friend and teacher, Johnny Knox.

Johnny - Mr Knox as I knew him when I was a pupil - and his wife chatted with me in the warm sunshine.

After a while we all moved in to the Dining Hall.

Keith introduced me to the Headmaster, Robert Robinson MBE BSc. I can recall apprising him that my Number was "SIX ONE TWO EIGHT".

My name was on a place-card and I sat opposite Keith.

Johnny and Mrs Knox sat within roll-throwing distance.

This was a formal dinner, of course, and the meal was first-rate.

The main course comprised perfectly cooked salmon.

I wish I'd taken a few photographs: my camera was in my pocket, though I was enjoying myself so much that I was oblivious to it.

Keith very kindly gave me a lift home.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Prince Philip at Hillsborough

The Duke of Edinburgh, Patron, The Duke of Edinburgh's Award, attended Receptions at Hillsborough Castle, County Down, on Thursday, 25th May, 2017, for young people who have achieved the Gold Standard in the Award.

His Royal Highness was received by Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast (Mrs. Fionnuala Jay-O'Boyle CBE).

Marquess's Coronet


THE coronet of a marquess is a silver-gilt circlet with four strawberry leaves around it, alternating with four silver balls, known as pearls, on points.

The coronet itself is chased as if in the form of jewels (like a royal crown) but is not actually jewelled.

It has a crimson cap (lined ermine) in real life and a purple one in heraldic representation, and a golden tassel on top.

The alternation of strawberry leaves and pearls is what distinguishes a marquess's coronet from those of other ranks.

Coronets are rarely worn nowadays, although they are customarily worn at coronations.

They can, however, still be seen depicted on peers' coats-of-arms as a badge of rank within the five degrees of the hereditary peerage.


The coronet of a marchioness sits on top of the head (instead of around it).

A marquess is a peer of the second degree in the peerage, ranking above an earl and below a duke.

First published in May, 2010.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

1st Baron Beresford

LORD CHARLES BERESFORD WAS A MAJOR LANDOWNER IN COUNTY CAVAN, WITH 8,817 ACRES

ADMIRAL LORD CHARLES WILLIAM DE LA POER BERESFORD, BARON BERESFORD, GCB, GCVO, was born in 1846 at Philipstown, County Offaly.

He was the second son of John, 4th Marquess of Waterford, and brother of John, 5th Marquess.

Lord Charles married, in 1878, Mina, daughter of Richard Gardner, in London.

He was educated at Bayford School, and Mr Foster's School, Stubbington, Hampshire.


His distinguished career is very well documented already.

Admiral Beresford was elevated to the peerage, in 1916, as BARON BERESFORD, of Metemmeh and Curraghmore, County Waterford.

Lord Beresford died three years later, in 1919, when the barony became extinct.


He died at Langwell, Berriedale, Caithness, aged 73.

After a State funeral at St Paul's Cathedral,  Lord Beresford was buried at Putney Vale Cemetery in south London.


Lord Beresford inherited the County Cavan estate of his relation, the Most Rev Lord John Beresford.

The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Lord John George de la Poer Beresford (1773-1862), Lord Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland, possessing great wealth, was known for his considerable largesse.

His patronage extended largely to Trinity College, Dublin; to the College of Saint Columba; and he restored Armagh Cathedral, at a cost of £30,000.

Furthermore, His Grace augmented the salaries of his clergy.

The bust of this distinguished prelate stands in the private chapel at Curraghmore, County Waterford.

He is interred in Armagh Cathedral.

The Archbishop bequeathed his County Cavan estate to Lord Charles Beresford.

Learmount Castle in County Londonderry, belonged to the same family through marriage.

First published in May, 2013. Beresford arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

The Slieve Donard Acquisition

SELECTIVE ACQUISITIONS IN NORTHERN IRELAND

PROPERTY: Slieve Donard Lands, near Newcastle, County Down

DATE: 1990

EXTENT: 1284.76 acres

DONOR: Gerald Annesley Esq

First published in January, 2015.