Friday, 30 September 2011

Military Honours

St. James’s Palace, London SW1
30 September 2011

The Queen has been graciously pleased to approve the following promotions in, and appointments to, the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Afghanistan during the period 1st October 2010 to 31st March 2011:


To be Additional Officers of the Military Division of the said Most Excellent Order:

Lieutenant-Colonel Christopher John Ghika, Irish Guards


Major James Alexander Humphreys, The Royal Irish Regiment

30 September 2011
The Queen has been graciously pleased to approve the following appointments to the Distinguished Service Order in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Afghanistan during the period 1st October 2010 to 31st March 2011:


To be Companions:
Major Ian Alexander Jonathan Turner, Irish Guards,
Lieutenant-Colonel Colin Richard James Weir, MBE, The Royal Irish Regiment

Military Cross


Sergeant Peter Keogh, The Royal Irish Regiment
Lance-Corporal Ratu Apenisa Qalitakivuna, The Royal Irish Regiment


The Queen has been graciously pleased to grant unrestricted permission for the wearing of the following awards which have been conferred on the undermentioned in recognition of meritorious, gallant and distinguished services during coalition operations in Iraq:
Legion of Merit (Degree of Officer) (2nd Award)

Brigadier Neil Alexander Crerar Baverstock, OBE, late The Royal Irish Regiment

What Ho, Horatio!

The ambiance and numbers at Horatio Todd's, a bar-restaurant in east Belfast, were spot on last night. We arrived at about seven o'clock. Despite it not being too busy, it still took them a while to serve us drinks. About five minutes, I imagine. In fairness, though, the staff behind the bar seemed to be preparing other orders.

A bit about the real H Todd:
Horatio Todd OBE JP was the first president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland; he was appointed an OBE and was also a Justice of the Peace. Within his Holywood Road pharmacy he prepared and dispensed many of his own products and he was an expert perfumier.  A range of original fliers and bottles from the pharmacy are on display in the bar.

We got a cushy sofa at a window beside the Upper Newtownards Road, which had what I think was a polished black granite table (and which was remarkably heavy: I moved it away slightly).

I stuck to the Tanqueray for most of the evening; though, at about ten-fifteen, a jolly pleasant waitress brought us all complimentary cocktails (was there a Promotion?), the names of which I cannot recall.

Moreover, when I returned from the loo, a platter of grub had mysteriously appeared: A veritable tray of really chunky pieces of battered chicken breast (exceedingly tender); some kind of savoury breads or pizza; and chunky chips in a piquant sauce.

Just what the doctor ordered. Ha! Complimentary food and drink.

In fact four girls arrived, students, two of whom were would-be doctors and the others solicitors. They sat opposite us.

Horatio's was more enjoyable for me on Thursday evening. I don't like it too crowded. I dislike having to stand in a crush in the middle of the floor or up at the counter.

It was a good evening. I walked home.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Fishery Cottage

I've read that the Salmon Fishery restoration project at Carrick-a-Rede, a property of the National Trust on the north Antrim coast, is progressing very well indeed.

Several of the original stone steps which lead up from the cottage to the path have been unearthed; hence new replacement steps can be replicated.

The collection of artifacts and tools, including pith helmets, dulse hooks and old boom bolts has been inventoried and placed in storage.

Apparently the Fishery required four men to operate it, a feat which would be impractical and uneconomical today.

The boom's hand-rail has been rebuilt  and the Wee Bench in front of the cottage has been restored, too.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Amazon Kindle

A good friend has generously given me a new 3G Amazon Kindle, complete with leather case and light. I have been aware of ebook readers, though hadn't realized their capabilities.

This little gadget has wi-fi Internet access, albeit basic. It can pick up wireless signals anywhere and even Lord Belmont's blog is available!

I have already downloaded about three free ebooks on Project Gutenberg: Right Ho, Jeeves, Dracula and one other. It takes a matter of seconds to download a whole book on my Kindle.

Do any readers have a Kindle and have you any tips, ebook recommendations?  I'd welcome your comments. It will be most useful on holiday. The screen can be read in bright sunlight, I have been assured.

Thriving Red Kite

Having been introduced to Northern Ireland four years ago, it seems that the red kite is thriving.

After an absence of 200 years, red kites have successfully bred in the forests of Northern Ireland.

This brings to 80 the total number of birds released by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in Northern Ireland.

Altogether five chicks have fledged from four nests across south Down.

Once widespread across Europe, red kites have suffered from persecution, including shooting and poisoning.

News of the breeding success news was announced by the RSPB at the third and final release of the majestic birds in County Down, part of the reintroduction programme.

The RSPB praised the co-operation of farmers and landowners in achieving the conservation milestone. The birds are now regularly seen across County Down and further afield. 

The RSPB said it was thrilled that, from having no Red Kites in Northern Ireland four years ago, there was now a fledgling breeding population.
"It has been a real labour of love and so many people have contributed to this process," Adam McClure, RSPB Red Kite officer said.
"The return of Red Kites to our skies is a tribute to all of them. Most important was the co-operation given by local farmers who have been extremely supportive; the fact that the Ulster Farmers' Union now has the Red Kite on their logo is superb."
Despite the successes, however, it has not all been good news for Red Kites.

Since the project began in Northern Ireland in 2008, they have suffered a number of losses due to misuse of pesticides in the countryside.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Jay and Squirrel

Motoring up the drive of the old school this evening, I spotted a jay and a grey squirrel within yards of each other in the grounds.

Although Campbell's campus comprises about forty or so acres, there is abundant wildlife within the grounds.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Country Weekend

Well I have been staying with good friends in the heart of County Antrim the whole weekend. That explains the inactivity of the noble earl on his blog. Ha!

Mandy, Robert, Clare and self dined in Cloughmills on Friday evening and, unsurprisingly, copious amounts of liquor were consumed throughout the weekend.

On Saturday I was a guest at the local Rugby club in Dunaghy, where we were most generously entertained to lunch. Dunaghy were playing Clogher Valley or Vale - I cannot recall the precise name.

Today, after Sunday lunch with my friends, exceptionally generous and hospitable hosts indeed, I'll depart later.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Royal Visit to Australia

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will visit Australia this Autumn.

Her Majesty and His Royal Highness will arrive in Canberra on Wednesday, 19th October before travelling to Perth on Wednesday, 26th October for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

Additionally, the Royal Party will undertake two “away days”: One to Brisbane on Monday, 24th October; and one to Melbourne on Wednesday, 26th October.

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will depart Australia on Saturday 29th October.

HM and HRH last visited Australia in 2006.

Castle Christmas

I have been apprised that ABF, The Soldiers’ Charity, will be holding “Christmas at the Castle” on Wednesday, 14th December, 2011, 11am – 2pm in Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, County Down. 

The event will comprise: mince pies, mulled wine, a buffet of “Hot Bites” , Tea/Coffee and good company.  

The entry fee per person will be £25 ( or a cheque made out to ABF).

Dress will be lounge suits for the gents and cocktail dresses for the ladies.  

It is hoped that some form of musical interlude will be available.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

M&S Food Bar

I popped into central Belfast on the two-wheeler today and parked, as usual, in Fountain Street outside the Linenhall Library, where I was researching the Villiers-Stuarts of Dromana.

I had a quick bite in Marks and Spencer's, where I grabbed a sandwich and orange juice. Their hot food bar seems jolly good in terms of value and service - a gourmet Stilton burger not costing much more than a sandwich; and they'll bring it to your table when it is cooked.

To their great credit - and to the benefit of the citizenry of Belfast - Marks and Spencer is one of the very few stores which has remained open for business, in the city centre, throughout the civil unrest, or Troubles, since the 1970s.

I see the brand new Belfast Met is open for business - or, should I say, study - judging by the steady stream of students flowing in and out. On display is a bright pink "eyecatcher" notice bearing the legend Hey Smarty Pants!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Clermont Graves

Hugh Rowland has very kindly taken several photographs of the neglected and forgotten grave-stones of the 1st Lord and Lady Clermont. The graveyard is within the parish of Jonesborough in County Armagh.


Thomas Fortescue (1815-87) was elevated to the peerage as 1st Baron Clermont. His wife, née Lady Louisa Grace Butler, was the daughter of James Butler, 1st Marquess of Ormonde.

The 1st Baron's brother, Chichester Samuel Parkinson-Fortescue, 2nd Baron Clermont (1823-98), had been created the 1st Baron Carlingford in his own right. Lord Carlingford died in France.

The Fortescue seat was Ravensdale Park, near Dundalk in County Louth.

"I recently visited the graveyard at Jonesborough and as you can see it is very overgrown. It was difficult to locate the grave that I assumed was Lord Carlingford's. The inscription on the base of the stone on the left states....This stone was laid by Lord Carlingford whereas we thought it stated this is where Lord Carlingford is laid. 
It was laid in memory of the daughter of the [1st Marquess of Ormonde]... I find it disgraceful that the Church of Ireland vacates a church and also closes its eyes to the state of its graveyards. Incidentally this graveyard is also used by the Roman Catholic population and the local Republican groupings who keep their side in immaculate condition."

Squirrel Babes!

I couldn't resist this little story, having listened to it on the BBC Today Programme on Radio Four this morning. 

Four baby red squirrels have a closer bond than most after surviving being just hours from death. They were blown out of their tree-top nest by high winds as Britain was struck by the tail-end of Hurricane Katia last week.

The squirrels, who are just five weeks old, were found by a passer-by in the aftermath of the gale-force winds. The rescued animals were  taken to a vets' surgery in nearby Alnwick, Northumberland before being sent to the Sanctuary Wildlife Care Centre at Ulgham near Morpeth.

Sanctuary owner Kim Olson said that if the animals had not been found they would have died within hours, attacked by either magpies of cats. She added that the animals, which weighed just 70grams, had gone into shock and were very sleepy and still.

The woman who found the baby squirrels was not able to find their mother and sanctuary workers fear that she may still be looking for her offspring. Before they can be released the five-week-old animals need round the clock care and are being looked after by volunteer Eileen Welsh at her home.

She uses a tiny bottle to feed them goat's milk every three hours and will continue to care for them over winter. Kim said: 
'At this time of year the squirrels would be collecting food for winter but even if we released them in November they wouldn't have enough time.
'We're planning to release them gradually back into the wild next spring at our special unit, which is at a secret location in Northumberland.
'They're doing absolutely brilliantly now, they're extremely lively and mischievous.'  

Monday, 19 September 2011


One benefit of the schools reopening for me is that the swimming-pool is now up and running, so I had my customary sixty-length swim - front crawl - this evening.

I usually swim two hundred lengths weekly.

The water temperature is ideal presently and, apart from two, well-behaved kids playing at one side, I had the twenty-five metre pool to myself.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Sunday Dinner

The tenderest lamb shank in a mint gravy; mash and lashings of Jersey butter; spinach; accompanied by redcurrant jelly.

Pudding: home-made County Down blackberry and apple crumble with double cream poured over.

Hey-Ho! Best attach the ancient nose-bag as firmly as poss.

Goodwood House

Readers might like the article in the Daily Telegraph with some terrific pictures of Goodwood House and its contents.

Do have a peek and online tour of the House here.

Goodwood is the country seat of His Grace the Duke of Richmond and Gordon; and his heir, Charles Henry Gordon-Lennox, Earl of March and Kinrara.

Buying back furniture sold at auction, restoring picture-hangs and reverting to original colour schemes were all part of Lord March's revamp of his family seat, Goodwood House.

Today Charles March, who will in time succeed his father as the 11th Duke, shares Goodwood House with his wife, Janet; their four children, Charles Lord Settrington; the Hon William, Lady Eloise and the Hon Frederick; and Lord March’s daughter by his previous marriage, Lady Alexandra.

Their home occupies a self-contained wing of the house, not so much a private apartment as a house-attached-to-a-house. It has formed the family’s living quarters since the end of the 18th century.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Stuart Hall Estate

Lady Castle Stewart tells me that Stuart Hall, near Stewartstown in County Tyrone, has a brand new website.

The old Rickyard within the demesne has an open-air theatre, the only such venue in County Tyrone and possibly the only one of its kind in Northern Ireland.

A  rick yard was a farm-yard containing ricks - built stacks of grain or hay.

Stuart Hall is a member of the Historic Houses Association and seat of the Earl and Countess Castle Stewart.

The estate also has pheasant and partridge shoots.

RUC GC: A Tribute

 In the gracious words of Her Majesty The Queen,

And the Royal Ulster Constabulary George Cross Foundation continues,

When I arrived at the Police Headquarters, Knock Road, Belfast, last night I was greeted by various volunteers of the Foundation, who accompanied me inside, where I signed the Visitors' Book.

The function room was modest in size, suitable for the three dozen or so guests, including the NI Minister of Justice, David Ford MLA, Mr Jim McDonald, Chairman of the RUC GC Foundation, Mr and Mrs Freddy Hall, Mr and Mrs Richard Gordon, a brigadier (in mufti) who, I am informed, was from HQNI and looked quite young - or I am ageing!

I met a number of these guests and introduced myself to the Dean of Clogher, the Very Rev Kenneth Hall, who knew an old school pal of mine. We chatted about Nigel, Yvonne and a country parish near Kesh in County Fermanagh.

The finger buffet was good: cocktail sausages, sausage-rolls, dainty sandwiches, pastries, wine. All very civilised.

Just as Timothy Belmont was getting into his stride, it was announced that we would be taken on a tour of the Memorial Garden, which is on a slope below Brooklyn House. We were split up into small groups of about eight in number.

It immediately became apparent that an enormous amount of diligence and thought has been expended on the design and layout of the Garden. Virtually every detail has been carefully considered in the sculptures, the planting of the shrubs, their colours, the types of flowers, and the great symbolism of everything.

I found it both humbling and immensely admirable. On polished granite plaques, the names of 312 RUC officers murdered or killed as a consequence of terrorist activity, and more than 10,000 injured, some gravely.

The Memorial Garden is a calm and dignified place for quiet contemplation; remembrance of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Visits to the Garden can be arranged by either ringing 02890 700116 or by email. The Garden is open subject to availability and appointment.

Never forget the Royal Ulster Constabulary GC.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

RUC Reception

I have spent a most uplifting evening at the Memorial Garden of the Royal Ulster Constabulary GC, Brooklyn, Belfast.

The Chairman of the Foundation invited me. In the company of others, I enjoyed a reception and then we were given a tour of the Garden, a memorial to all those valiant members of the constabulary to whom we owe such an immeasurable debt.

a fuller report will follow tomorrow, with photographs.

Chain Reaction!

I was whizzing along Oxford Street, Belfast, this morning, past the Royal Courts of Justice, in the trusty two-wheeler, when I hit one of those yellow bollards or traffic cones. The wretched thing knocked my chain off!

Naturally I stopped immediately. Nothing was damaged. The bollard was a dud and had already been run over by a vehicle. As a consequence, it was unstable and I knocked it accidentally as it sat at the road-side.

By Jove I felt like hurling the ruddy thing over the wall of the court-house!

After about ten minutes and oily hands, I managed to re-fit it.

I abandoned the bike outside Ross's auction-house, had a quick peek inside, cycled over to Marks and Spencer's. May I add that I am most grateful to them because I was able to wash my hands in hot, soapy water.

Thence I made for the Linenhall Library where I was researching the Pakenham-Mahons of Strokestown.

Before I cycled home I had a creamy hot chocolate and a rather tasteless baguette (sorry!) in Caffé Nero at Fountain Street. It's an agreeable place, though. The smokers were all puffing away in the street.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Titular Elucidation!

For the benefit of any new readers, a mere note that my Profile states:
"The Christian names on my display are real; the other titles are fictitious and reflect the part of Belfast I live in. I am not a Peer of the Realm."

So you shan't find me in Debrett's, Burke's, Who's Who or any other illustrious journal that I am aware of!

The title of my blog has occasionally been confused with that of the Lord Browne of Belmont, a life peer; and the Earl of Belmore, a hereditary peer.

I felt I ought to clarify that though, as I say, It has always been on my Profile on the left-hand column of the Blog.

Butter Barometer

Unwelcome news, readers. I carried out the usual rigmarole of putting on the kettle, tossing a tea-bag in the beaker, taking a slice of Irwin's high-fibre Nutty Crust out, trimming it slightly (it's an irregular shape) and placing it in the toaster.

So far, so good.

However, when I scraped the knife along the butter, I immediately noticed its firmness, more so than of late.

My butter is my barometer. It is an indicator as to the state of the weather.

Summer, I fear, has ended.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Euro-Heritage Day

At the weekend I visited a number of places as part of the Euro-heritage days.

Netherleigh House, now the headquarters of a government department, was once the residence of the Robertsons; then the Hall-Thompsons; then a military hospital; and latterly part of Campbell College.

I was at Netherleigh myself, as a schoolboy, about 1973-74 and there used to be a path from the main school buildings to Netherleigh.

I also visited Knock burial ground.

On Sunday I visited the Belfast Harbour Commissioners head office, a fine Victorian building with many grand reception rooms, ceilings and plasterwork.

The Titanic Room contains a dining-table intended for the Captain's quarters on RMS Titanic.

On the hall landing there is a large portrait of Anna, 2nd Marchioness of Donegall, who died in 1849 (top).

Also on display is a commissioner's uniform, as worn during the Victorian era, consisting of navy tailcoat, cream waistcoat and gilt-brass buttons.

Later I called in to St Malachy's RC Church, Alfred Street, which has had a marvellous restoration.

In May Street, I visited May Street Presbyterian Church, a large Georgian building. I chatted to several members of the congregation and concern was expressed as to its future.

The congregation numbers about thirty, of which six belong to the choir; it was designed to accommodate 1,700.

The church is an important part of Belfast's Georgian heritage.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Airline Surcharge

As if readers weren't already aware, the airline Flybe charges passengers a "Transaction Fee" of £9 for the privilege of using one's debit card. I choose to describe it as a surcharge.

Belfast City ‭(BHD)‬ to London Gatwick ‭(LGW)‬

Fare 0.00 GBP

Taxes and Charges 17.03 GBP
Seats 0.00
 London Gatwick ‭(LGW)‬ to Belfast City ‭(BHD)‬
Fare 0.00 GBP
Taxes and Charges 42.94 GBP
Seats 0.00 GBP
Transaction Fee 9.00 GBP
Total so far
   GBP 68.97
Includes fuel recovery of   6.00

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Duchess of Cornwall at Memorial Garden

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall visited the RUC George Cross Memorial Garden at Brooklyn in Belfast on Friday and presented The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service to the RUC George Cross Foundation.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service was awarded to the fifty-seven volunteers of the Foundation on 2 June 2011 in recognition of their role as guides to the Memorial Garden, volunteer gardeners and as interviewers in an oral history project.

On arrival HRH was greeted by The Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast, Dame Mary Peters DBE.

HRH was accompanied throughout the visit by Mr Jim McDonald CBE LVO KCSG KGCHS DL, Chairman of the RUC GC Foundation.

HRH met a number of RUC GC Foundation Trustees and went on to meet RUC widows and representatives of the Forgotten Families and Parents’ Association.

Later at the History Trail, HRH met retired senior Northern Ireland Police Officers and their spouses and representatives of Stakeholders, Retired Police Officers’ Association, GC Association, Disabled Police Officers’ Association, Carers’ Association, Parents’ Association, and the Police Federation and Superintendents’ Association, RUC GC Historical Society

In the Memorial Garden Mr McDonald presented Members of the Oral History Group and family representatives and, later in the “Area of Peace” HRH met volunteer gardeners and representatives of the Boys' Brigade.

During the tour HRH viewed the replica stained glass window erected in the “Area of Peace”. The window was erected in 2008 in St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast and presented to the RUC GC Foundation in October 2008.

Following a few words of welcome, Mr Jim McDonald invited HRH to present The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service to the RUC George Cross Foundation.

The Award of a Cut Glass Bowl and a Certificate were received by Ms Heather Miskelly, the wife of a retired Police Officer and a volunteer gardener and Mr Joe Rawson, a retired Detective Chief Inspector and, at eighty years of age, the longest serving volunteer.

Prior to departure twelve year old Zoe Latus, who’s grandfather, Reserve Constable William Findlay was murdered by terrorists in 1983, presented HRH with gifts of an RUC GC scarf and brooch.

Her Royal Highness was accompanied during the engagement by the Hon Rose Paterson.

On arrival HRH was greeted by Dame Mary Peters DBE,  Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast, and went on to meet:
  • Alderman Ruth Patterson, Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast,
  • Mr Ian Adamson OBE, Sheriff for the County Borough of Belfast,
  • Mr David Ford MLA, Minister, Department of Justice,
  • Mr Nick Perry, Permanent Secretary, Department of Justice, and
 The Garden was opened by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales on 2 September 2003. His Royal Highness last visited the garden on 14 May 2010.

HM Palaces

Cognizant that the Corporation has promulgated its new series already, I shall mention it myself due to my passion in all matters royal.

Beginning on Monday, 12 September, BBC One will broadcast a three-part landmark television series presented by the BBC News reader, Fiona Bruce. 

The series tells the stories behind the creation of Her Majesty’s official residences – Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse – of the Kings and Queens whose vision and taste left their mark on these great buildings. 

Throughout each programme Fiona Bruce meets curators from the Royal Collection and discovers how the works of art housed within the Palaces shed light on both the history of the royal residences and the artistic development of the nation.

Series schedule on BBC One:

Buckingham Palace: 9pm on Monday, 12 September
Windsor Castle: 9pm on Monday, 19 September
Palace of Holyroodhouse:  9pm on Monday, 26 September

Friday, 9 September 2011

Royal Visit: Day II

Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall have concluded their visit to Northern Ireland in Gracehill, County Antrim.

The Royal Party have been in Northern Ireland on a two-day visit.

They ended the day at Gracehill, a village which is the only complete Moravian settlement in Ulster.

At Gracehill Old School, TRH were greeted by the Lord Lieutenant of County Antrim, Mrs Joan Christie OBE.

They also met representatives of Gracehill Old School Trust and Gracehill Primary School pupils.

In the Old School Room Their Royal Highnesses viewed a number of primary school children and two "living history characters" re-enacting a classroom situation from the 1820s.

Earlier, the Duchess of Cornwall visited the RUC George Cross memorial garden at Knock, Belfast.

Whilst at the memorial garden, HRH met RUC widows and received a presentation from 12-year-old Zoe Latus whose grandfather was killed while serving in the RUC in 1983.

Prince Charles visited a poultry farm in County Antrim. He travelled to Ballinderry Upper where he met a farmer and representatives from Moy Park.

Dublin: Finale

It was fine, warm and sunny in Dublin today, so a tram ride to Kilmainham was on the agenda. It left us off at the St James's stop and we walked about ten minutes to the old gaol.

Kilmainham Gaol is well preserved, apparently made of granite and over two centuries old. It must be seven or eight miles from Dublin city centre and would have been in the country in 1790.

After a fruit Pavlova and coffee in the café, we strolled back to the tram stop and made for Abbey Street, alighted and walked to Grafton Street, where We paid a visit to Bewley's for a bite of lunch.

I've taken a snap of O'Neill's Bar, which is at the corner of Suffolk Street and Church Lane. The carvery has a good selection of food here and the ambiance is buzzing.

Royal Dublin

This is my last day in Dublin and I've been impressed by its wonderful architecture, Georgian and Victorian buildings; its glorious British heritage, street names and indelible royal insignia.

I have visited Dublin many times previously, though haven't stayed here for thirty years.

Our itinerary has largely been that of the Royal Party several months ago.

Today it is hoped to visit Kilmainham Gaol prior to departure to the UK (viz. Northern Ireland).

Royal Visit to NI

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, accompanied by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall, arrived in Northern Ireland this afternoon and was greeted at Belfast City Airport by Dame Mary Peters DBE, Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast and The Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

TRH will be accompanied during their visit by the Secretary of State and his wife, the Hon Rose Paterson.

The Royal Couple have begun a series of engagements with a visit to Anglo-North Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation (ANIFPO) at Kilkeel Harbour in County Down.

Their Royal Highnesses were greeted at Kilkeel Harbour by Mr David Lindsay, The Lord Lieutenant of County Down, and went on to meet Mr Alan McCulla OBE, Chief Executive ANIFPO and Mrs Margaret More, Director, who accompanied the Royal visitors during the engagement.

  Following words of thanks from Mr McCulla, Their Royal Highnesses went on to accept an invitation to unveil a plaque to commemorate the visit.

The Royal couple were presented with gifts of a Shepherd’s Crook crafted from sheep’s horn carved into the shape of a fish, and a piece of jewellery crafted from antique recycled silver. TRH were also presented with a seafood hamper.

Their Royal Highnesses last visited Northern Ireland in February 2011.

On Arrival at Anglo-North Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation (ANIFPO) Office, Kilkeel Harbour, County Down, TRH were greeted by:

Mr David Lindsay, The Lord-Lieutenant of County Down
and went on to meet:
Councillor Geraldine Donnelly, Deputy Mayor, Newry and Mourne District Council,
Mr Thomas McCall OBE, Chief Executive, Newry and Mourne District Council,
Miss Margaret Ritchie MP MLA, Member of Parliament for South Down,
Mr Gerry Lavery, Permanent Secretary, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD),
Dr John Speers, Director of Fisheries and Environment, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD),
Mr Alan McCulla OBE, Chief Executive, ANIFPO,
Mrs Margaret More, Director, ANIFPO, and
Mr Dick James, Secretary/Chief Executive, Northern Ireland Fish Producers’ Organisation (NIFPO)
The Shepherd’s Crook was crafted by Mr Samuel Cunningham.
The jewellery was crafted by Mr John Bird.

The gifts were presented by Reece McCullough aged 11 years who attends Kilkeel Primary School and is the son of Arnold McCullough, Skipper of the “Voyager” fishing vessel; and Poppy Houston, who is 7 years old who attends Kilkeel Primary School and is the daughter of Pamela Houston, Chief Executive, Kilkeel Development Association. 

Dublin: II

Today began with a visit to Trinity College, where I saw the Book of Kells, the Long Room library and other fine buildings within the campus of almost fifty acres.

The old Parliament Building, now a Bank of Ireland, is directly opposite Trinity, so we crossed the road, walked in and saw the erstwhile Irish House of Lords where, on display, is the Lord Chancellor of Ireland's Purse. the last Lord Chancellor of Ireland was the Lord Glenavy.

Our next port o' call was Dublin Castle, a splendid place full of history and heritage, dating, I believe, from 988.

Dublin Castle was, of course, the seat of British rule in Ireland until 1922. It was the official residence of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the last of whom was the Viscount FitzAlan of Derwent.

Our guide showed us the principal state rooms within the apartments, including the State Dining-Room and St Patrick's Hall, with the banners of the Knights of St Patrick.

One banner on view is that of the Duke of Abercorn.

The Hall has a sumptuous ceiling.

A portrait of Lord Londonderry hangs in the State Dining-Room.

The Chapel Royal also displays the carved coats-of-arms of former viceroys, which continue on the stained glass windows - again, Lord Abercorn's armorial bearings can be seen.

From the Castle, we walked a short distance to Christ Church Cathedral, seat of the Lord Archbishop of Dublin.

After a bite of lunch, Jameson's old distillery was on the agenda. This was our final destination of the day.

Above is the Royal - or Viceregal, pew at Christchurch Cathedral.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Dublin: I

Timothy Belmont is spening a few days in Dublin's fair city. I'd forgotten how impressive this capital city truly is. Having bought a "hop on-hop off" bus tour ticket for €16, it seems to have been money well spent. The demi-open top bus stops at all the major Sights, including St Patrick's national cathedral, Dublin Castle, Trinity College and Phoenix Park, where we caught a glimpse of the stately Vice Regal Lodge, now the official residence of the Irish head-of-state.

The bus ticket lasts for two days. You can hop on and off where and when you wish and buses are every ten minutes.

I'm with the old drinking compadre, BP.

We visited St Patrick's Cathedral yesterday, a venerable and ancient place of worship, formerly patronized by the illustrious Guinness dynasty. The Viceregal Stall in the nave was pointed out to me. The banners insignia of the erstwhile Knights of the Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick hang above the Choir, including three royal banners, those of Queen Victoria and two of her Majesty's sons.

Thence we were brought to the Guinness Storehouse and its Gravity Bar on the top floor. I sampled some of the celebrated Black Stuff and I am assured that the St James's Gate variety is silky smooth, creamy and superlative.

We fancied a bit of musical entertainment and fodder, so we found an establishment called O'Neill's Bar, well known for its carvery and music. Indeed, I had a very good lamb shank on the bone with plenty of vegetables. Thereafter I drank London gin for the duration.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Pick of the Crop

Let's rejoice in Ulster's bountiful fruits of the forest. We Belmonts can be poetic (!) when we set our minds to it.

I was at Gibb's Island, Strangford Lough, this morning, for a spot of blackberry picking. The first crop seems to be small this year. Still, I'm hopeful that it produces a good, rich flavour. I picked three pounds of them.

Gibb's is popular with dog-walkers.

Having concluded the aforementioned task, I made for the fair village of Killyleagh and had a bite of lunch in the Dufferin Arms.

I had a rather good prawn open sandwich with well-flavoured wheaten bread and abundant salad vegetables, including a strawberry or two.

I noticed an old bollard - if that's its name - outside the Inn, obviously an official boundary marker for the Victoria Ward (within the Earldom!) in Belfast.

Next week I make plans for a brief visit to Dublin.

Hail, Thou Dirty Duck!

The Dirty Duck was a touch quieter last night, which suited Timothy Belmont. It was a cinch obtaining a seat. BP and self managed to procure one at the front of the bar, closest to the sea-side. Mind you, we were asked to vacate it later in the evening when the musical entertainment arrived!

The solitary, exceptionally agreeable lady-regular was seated in the middle and we had a chin-wag with her for a while.

The Belmont nose-bag was firmly attached and the trusty gnashers were in top gear for a tip-top gourmet burger with all the DD trimmings. I wolfed it down instanter.

BP had the customary scampi, which was professed to be up to standard!

We look leave of the Duck at ten-forty, having swilled an innumerable number of gins and real ale; thence made our way to the Holywood railway halt for embarkation in a northerly direction towards home.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Minnowburn Pond

I spent a most pleasant morning at Minnowburn, a property of the National Trust in greater Belfast, with several other volunteers.

We were slashing and eradicating weeds and foliage at the side of the pond. The Trust is going to develop and nurture the pond, which has been neglected in the past. There is a little island in the middle of it.

Today I spotted a newt, a spectacle which delighted Colin, our ranger. Is it a common newt?

We lunched in the warden's office, where I ate my chicken stuffing, coleslaw and mustard mayonnaise sandwiches. Colin was giving away crab apples and plums, so I acquired a handful of these fruits.

After lunch, we ambled over to the allotments and admired everybody's productivity.

New Deputy Lieutenant

Deputy Lieutenant Commissions


Mr Denis Desmond CBE, Lord-Lieutenant of County Londonderry has been pleased to appoint

Mr William H McKeown MBE

To be a Deputy Lieutenant of the County his Commission bearing date the 18th day of August 2011

Signed Denis Desmond

Lord Lieutenant of the County

Friday, 2 September 2011

Organ Concerto

Tonight at the Ulster Hall in Bedford Street, Belfast, the last BBC Invitation Concert of this Russian series took place.

Pride of place was given to the mighty Mulholland Grand Organ, the largest instrument of its kind in Northern Ireland. 

The Ulster Hall features one of the oldest examples of a functioning classic English pipe organ in the British Isles.

The Mulholland Grand Organ is named in honour of a former Mayor of Belfast, Andrew Mulholland JP DL (father of the 1st Baron Dunleath), who donated it to the hall in the 1860s. It was built by William Hill & Son and donated after the hall was officially opened. 

In the late 1970s the organ was extensively restored to Hill's own original design. Mulholland's great-great-grandson Henry, 4th Lord Dunleath, oversaw the restoration.

The citizens of Belfast and, indeed, Northern Ireland, are eternally grateful and proud of this generous and philanthropic gesture afforded by the Mulhollands, Barons Dunleath.

The soloist for tonight's performance of Horatio Parker's Organ Concerto was Colm Carey, Belfast City Organist and Master of Music at the Chapel Royal, HM Tower of London.

Mr Carey, sporting bright red socks and ponytail, played with great aplomb.

The Ulster Orchestra, conducted by Nicholas Braithwaite, played splendidly as usual and the Leader, Ioana Petcu-Colan, played a solo so sweetly and beautifully; as did several other musicians, to their credit.

Wogan on Wodehouse

Michael Hogan looks ahead to BBC Two's Wogan on Wodehouse, broadcast on BBC2 tonight at 9pm (except Wales) in which Wogan considers the work of the great comic author PG Wodehouse:

"Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse KBE was a consummate comic writer who died in 1975 aged 93. 

Sir Michael Terence Wogan KBE is a veteran broadcaster aged 73.

[Both men Knight Commanders of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire].

Put the two old twinklers together and you have a warm, evocative and gently enlightening hour of television, as Wogan explores his long-standing admiration for the work of the prolific author, lyricist and playwright.

Part of the Books on the BBC season, this film sees Wogan try to solve some of the paradoxes in the long life and 70-year career of the genius nicknamed “Plum”.

He learns about the childhood shuttling between aunts and boarding schools which shaped his values and the spell living in France which led to controversial accusations of collaborating with the Germans.

Through the observations of biographers and academics, as well as excerpts enthusiastically narrated by Alistair McGowan, Wogan explains how Wodehouse’s own experiences can be seen throughout his work, famed for its optimism and gentle fun-poking at the upper classes.

Wogan also meets fellow fans, including Joanna Lumley, Griff Rhys Jones, Richard Briers and Stephen Fry."

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Blackberry Heaven

I had a helping of the Belmont GHQ blackberry and apple crumble today, with double cream.

The flavour is sublime. So simple, too: County Down blackberries, Bramley apple, sugar and crumble topping.

I really must procure more wild blackberries instanter.

Linenhall Library Day!

Given that the old weather is fairly temperate today, I have cycled into central Belfast, parked the two-wheeler in Fountain Street and ambled into the Linenhall Library.

The focus of my research today has been the extinct Palmer Baronetcy of Castle Lackin, Charleville Forest in County Offaly and the origins of the Gore-Booth Baronets.

I wish to obtain a Euro-Heritage Open Days catalogue too, so I'll most likely ride over to Hill Street for that.