A new book which focuses on a prize-winning flute band from Castlederg during the 2009 marching season has been launched in Omagh library.

Written by former Ulster Herald editor Darach MacDonald, Blood and Thunder Inside an Ulster Protestant Band follows the fortunes of Castlederg Young Loyalists Flute Band throughout last year. Woven around the diary of an outside observer with an insiders view-point, it examines the cultural, historical, social and political nature of Blood and Thunder bands.
In the book, Mr MacDonald argues that, in many respects, the Blood and Thunder bands fulfil a similar role for protestants in Northern Ireland that the GAA does for the Catholics in the Republic by espousing their culture, passing on traditional skills and instilling local pride in young participants who compete against each other over a season that extends from March to October. The launch event on Thursday night last was attended by Strabane District Council vice-chairman Thomas Kerrigan, Castlederg councillor Derek Hussey, who was on of the founders of the band, representatives from a variety of community groups and interested members of the public.
After a short intorduction by Dr Paul Moore, Professor of Creative Arts at the University of Ulster, who said it was a �real privilege� to help with the launch, the author read tow extracts from the book the first describing his first contact with the band and the next about a parade in Omagh, which was one of the first outings in the 2009 season.
The audience was then entertained by several pieces of music played by Cultural Connections, a group of musicians from Castlederg from all traditions. click There was a strong contingent present from Castlederg Young Loyalists Flute Band, led by bandmaster, Trevor Donnell.
The Cultural Connections group first played together at the Border Arts exhibition last September and have performed several times since then.

The biggest cheer of the night was reserved for the Young Loyalist, Michael Brown, a talented musician who treated the audience to an extended drum solo.
In a break in the musical programme, an emotional Mr Hussey said he was �overwhelmed� by the occasion.
He said: �This has been absolutely fantastic. Darach, thanks for what youve done for our community.
Mr Hussey then sang a song he had written about the Castlederg Young Loyalists.
The entertainment finished with a song that the Young Loyalists learnt to play in 2009, and is memtioned several times in the book Lannigans Ball.
Speaking to the Tyrone Constitution after the launch, Mr MacDonald explained the reasons that led to him writing the book.
�As a journalist, your always asking questions and it was the one thing I didnt pretend any knowledge about, but was a thing which fascinated me.
�I previously wrote a book �The Sons of Levi�, about the Ulster Protestant experiance in the loast counties of Monaghan, Donegal and Cavan at the time of Partition. I became curious about Ulster protestant experience.
�I think the Blood and Thunder bands are the most vibrant form of Ulster protestant cultural experiance, so I was curioius about it. I thought it would be an interesting thing to do because nobody else had done it.
�I think that people say that you write the books that you want to read and I certainly wanted to read something like this to find out.�
Mr MacDonald, who was editor of the Ulster Herald for eight years, said the most important early lesson he had learnt was that the band, and other bands, were not parading to annoy their neighbours.
He said: �They are doing it to express their culture, to assert their identity and to show their pride in Ulster protestant identity. Really, it doesnt matter to them whether there are nationalists or anyone else around. This is what they do, its written into the Ulster protestant DNA.
�They enjoy parading and the music and the fellowship that the bands mean. Its a vibrant form of Ulster protestant culture.�
The author said he had been �absolutely thrilled� by the reaction to his book, but admitted that it had been a �huge learning curve� for him.
He said: � When the band members were so welcoming, the least I could bring along was an open mind. They brought me an awful lot, so thats what I brought them. Its been a huge learning curve, but Ive enjoyed it.
Ive enjoyed actually being with them and Im sure Ill go to the odd parade.

Published date on the 17th of June 2010
Article taken from the Tyrone Constitution


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