On Thursday 21 March a small group of Year 7s listened to an informative talk by local historian, Sandra Gilpin about the Bard of Moneyrea, Robert Huddleston.
They were also joined by Maynard Hannah of the Ulster Scots' Society for a commemorative photograph of 'The Poet' who was born 199 years ago and lived on a farm on the Tullyhubbert Road.
In this clip Sandra Gilpin tells the story behind one of Huddleston's poems, 'Doddery Willowaim' and provides a brief synopsis of Robert's life. His poem, 'Mary on the Brain' is a moving expression of the deep pain and torment Robert felt following the death of his daughter.
Check out this song written by Robert Huddleston.
Some Background information provided by Sandra Gilpin.
Robert Huddleston was a larger-than-life character and opinionated poet, popularly known as ‘The Bard of Moneyrea’.
Although he was born in 1814, the older inhabitants of Moneyrea still speak of him today!
Huddleston lived on a farm on the Tullyhubbert Road, seven miles south-east of Belfast, dividing his time between farming, gun-smithing and writing.
In 1844 &1846, he published two volumes entitled, ‘Poems and Songs on Rural Subjects’ and ‘Poems and Songs on Different Subjects’.
These were written in what he called ‘Ulster Irish’, known today as 'Ulster Scots'. His later works appeared occasionally in newspapers or broadsheets - but for the most part remained in manuscript form, carefully stored in a wooden cupboard.
“Doddery Willowaim” (see link at top of page for full text) was the first of Huddleston's published poems - a tale in which his imagination runs riot with a cast of rustic locals and supernatural beings.
The poem begins with a protest at the plight of the poor tenant farmer - a theme which, was common amongst Ulster’s rhyming weaver poets:
“T’was caul’ December r’ugh an’ drear,
The shortest day closed on a year –
A farm unlaboured rented prox,
Guid faith’s a muzzle for a fox.
The pleugh maun gae for next year’s corn;
The pleughman’s brogues are giely worn;
And tho’ the night’s baith wild an’ dun,
This night they maun be soled by some”