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An Ulster Log: Chorale is still in fine voice after fifty years

By Eddie McIlwaine

The King's Chorale, which can trace its beginnings back half a century to World Cup Year 1966, is about to celebrate that 50th anniversary. It was born out of the ashes of the Christian Endeavour choir which took a final bow in the mid-Eighties, but for passionate, younger voices pledging to keep singing.

The chorale took over that sacred music scene in 1987, but those 1966 roots have never been forgotten, says Paula Trimble, who with husband Rowland can look back to being in the original choir which in its heyday, conducted by the late Harry Carser, had 500 members.

"Rowan and I joined the CE choir together when I was 17 and he was 19," recalls Paula who is King's Chorale secretary now.

They have been married 47 years and have five children and eight grandchildren.

They are still singing in the chorale which will celebrate that special 50th anniversary at a concert in St Catherine's Parish Church, Aldergrove, on Saturday, March 12, to be conducted by Mark Spratt.

For old time's sake the chorale, of some 60-plus male and female voices, will be performing an inspirational piece called The Wonderful Grace of Jesus which was a Christian Endeavour favourite. Gillian McCutcheon and her clarinet will be star guest.

Another chorale singer and chairman, Robert Yarr, who can also trace his involvement back to CE days, says: "It will be an emotional night at St Catherine's when that anniversary is celebrated. The chorale has done a magnificent job since it took over the role of the CE."

St Catherine's, inside Flying Station Aldergrove (formerly RAF Aldergrove), is believed to be the only civilian place of worship inside a military base in the UK.

It is also the church where the late Ulster Unionist leader, Lord James Molyneaux grew up. Members of his family will be at the concert.

The concert is to raise funds for essential repairs to the church.

Angela, a girl whose career is set to soar

Angela Scanlon is the young woman who brightened up the TV holiday programme Getaways which has just ended a successful run on BBC2 and will be returning.

The 31-year-old from Meath co-hosts the series with Belfast broadcaster Joe Lindsay and they make a great team.

She worked in journalism before moving into television and on The Voice where she is a digital presenter.

Angela’s one to watch and was a hit on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, but it is on Getaways, visiting faraway beautiful places, that she has struck up an on-screen relationship with Lindsay which would definitely tempt you to book a flight.

Before Getaways, Angela was on RTE’s The Movie Show as a reporter and then helped singletons find romance in The Love Clinic. 

Her RTE 2 series, Full Frontal, saw her taking on subjects that are often considered taboo or too sensitive, tackling them with flair,  a  non-judgemental approach and an insatiable curiosity.  Angela has proved hugely popular with her audiences and  is heading in the right direction.

It would be a crime to miss Black’s ‘tec thriller

I’ve just been intimate with The Black-Eyed Blonde. Let me hasten to add this is the title of a book by Benjamin Black, the pen name of acclaimed Irish author John Banville of Wexford, who in this beautifully written thriller brings ace detective Philip Marlowe back to prominence. 

The legendary Raymond Chandler must be smiling for it was he who created Marlowe in his novel The Big Sleep (1939) and Humphrey Bogart played this ’tec in a movie of the same name.

The Black-eyed Blonde (£16.99) is a treat to read and must have been a joy to write for Booker Prize winner Banville (in more serious mood with The Sea in 2005). But why did he take up writing crime fiction as Black in the first place? “It’s essentially childish,” he claims, “making up stories and imaginary friends, but there is  great pleasure in it. I like having characters to go back to.”

He admitted once that he writes his crime novels much quicker than his Banville novels. “What you get with a Banville book is the result of concentration,” he explains, “and what you get with Black is the result of spontaneity.”

Egg-ing her on to find a husband

The controversy over choc cream eggs not being the same taste-wise reminds me of a folksy old tale about real hen eggs. 

According to a Granny Magill - who is long gone - if a girl wants to know whom she will marry she should boil an egg, fast for a day, then extract the yolk and fill the cavity with salt.

Next she has to eat the whole thing (including the shell) and walk backwards repeating an incantation to St Agnes.

If she takes a drink before sunrise the spell will be broken and she may never find a husband.

But who was St Agnes?

Tracing origin of religious roots

A guided tour tracing the  history of Presbyterianism in the province has just been launched in partnership with Heritage Experience.

The six-day tour is being called An Independent People and from September 26, until October 1, it will take visitors to key areas where Church roots were planted. Sites included are Belfast, Ards and North Down, the Giant's Causeway and Glens of Antrim, the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh and East Antrim and the Sixmilewater Valley.

Moderator Dr Ian McNie says the project will allow visitors to discover iconic sites "and find out more about a strong, determined people who provided the New World with presidents, prime ministers, generals and leading industrialists".

An accompanying DVD and booklet charts the history of Ulster Presbyterianism.

Lighting up my younger days ...

There used to be a huge lamp at the corner in my home village of Carnmoney, droning away up there above Granny Boyd's shop - as gas lamps do.

It came on automatically at dusk, according to the season, every evening. And my pals and I would gather underneath to discuss the girls and the football in that order and gaze longingly at the sweets in the window and put our coppers and few silver coins together to buy a quarter of dolly mixtures.

I only mention that long-gone friendly lamp today because this picture of a lamplighter at work in a Belfast street tumbled out of an old magazine I was about to scrap.

It reminded me of my late Granny Boyd in whose corner shop I used to serve.

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