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Ulster log: Why miracle worker is still talk of the town

By Eddie McIlwaine

I'm sure parishioners will remember the stag that miracle worker Aidan saved from a pack of hounds when they celebrate the 120th anniversary on Monday, at 7.30pm, of the church that is named after this saint.

The story goes that the hounds were snapping at the heels of the distressed animal when Aidan made it invisible and whisked it to safety.

That was way back when the Blythe Street district of Belfast in the shadow of Sandy Row was all green fields and trees without a house or a church in sight. St Aidan's today is a thriving parish bearing the name of a preacher with deep Christian beliefs.

The Bishop of Connor, Alan Abernethy, will be the guest speaker on Monday at the anniversary of the consecration of the church in 1895 on what will be a happy day.

But it wasn't all happiness and joy at St Aidan's. In spring 1941 during the Second World War Blitz, the Luftwaffe dropped a parachute landmine on Blythe Street, killing 10 people, including children, and wrecking many houses and damaging the church, too.

This awful tragedy of the war will be remembered by the minister-in-charge on Monday evening, the Rev Bobbie Moore, whose husband Raymond is minister-in-charge of St Simon's on the Donegall Road.

But getting back to Aidan the miracle worker from Connaught (590AD-651AD) who loved animals as well as people.

He was an old boy of St David's Monastery in Wales where, according to legend, he was miraculously saved from an attack by a Saxon war party.

He eventually returned home to Ireland to perform good works and deeds, and become a bishop.

Apparently there was another St Aidan, born in Scotland's Iona, who built a monastery in Lindisfarne which is now a ruin.

Fairytale come true for our Dana

This year’s pantomime at the Grand Opera House, Belfast, next Christmas will be Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

May McFettridge, as ever, will be the star, but Dana Scallon played two memorable seasons at the theatre as Snow White many years ago.

 Panto lovers still talk about the charming way she performed — not only in Belfast but in theatres around the UK in other years.

So there’s a chance that the lady, who will always be associated with that song All Kinds Of Everything, will be making a comeback in the fairytale story she loves.

The Opera House people have hinted to me that they could be asking her to take on the role of Snow White’s mother for old time’s sake.

Dana’s musician brother Gerry Brown likes the idea and is certain his sister will be favourable.

Dana won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1970 when she was just 18. Wouldn’t it be lovely to hear her singing All Kinds Of Everything on the Opera House stage once more?

Gatherin’ of  hearts lead Meaghan to new home

It was love that brought piper Meaghan Proudfoot to Northern Ireland. She was making music with the Hamilton Police Band from Toronto at the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow six years ago and came face to face with Ulsterman William Lyons who was there to support his brother Ian, a member of the Field Marshal Montgomery Band.

It was an instant attraction and the couple eventually became man and wife in 2010; the lady from Maxville, Ontario, now plays with Bleary Pipe Band and works at Queen’s University.

Meaghan Lyons, as she now is, has been a piper since the age of 14, first with the Royal Canadian Army Cadets Band.

She is the co-organiser of the Spring Gatherin’ at The Ramada Plaza, Shaw’s Bridge, Belfast, over the weekend of Friday to Sunday, April 24-26.

She and the Bleary Band will be performing at the Spring Gatherin’ on the Saturday and at Belfast Tattoo at the Odyssey in September.

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