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Rural life... the highlights from the vaults of history

Published 22/06/2016

A look back at the 1976 Benson and Hedges fishing festival in Fermanagh, one of the few events in Northern Ireland which could still attract international visitors despite the Troubles.

Song of Ulster is a musical journey through Northern Ireland's scenic highlights and includes material as diverse as cruising on Lough Erne and children skipping in Belfast's Victoria Park, plus Gloria Hunniford singing at the Slieve Donard Hotel.

The Quiet Land is a travelogue through a more tranquil Northern Ireland in the Troubles showing - in the producer's words - "a land where the pace of life is more friendly, where everybody cares and nobody minds".

Other travelogues include Walter Love narrating the beauties of Northern Ireland in Charm of Ulster, while Land of Ulster covers agriculture, including the introduction of the Marketing of Eggs Act in 1924.

Another film charts Northern Ireland's sporting scene, from the Ulster Grand Prix to the lesser-known horseshoe throwing, alongside kart racing, golf, sheepdog trials and angling.

A series of films record Northern Ireland's spring and summer fairs, including the Holywood May Queen extravaganza, the Oul Lammas Fair in Ballycastle and the May Fair in Ballyclare from 1960, filmed by local teacher Archie Reid.

As well as his Sodom and Begorrah film, there's also Reid's quirky study of the Twelfth of July and how the Battle of the Boyne celebrations were seen by young people in 1971.

The UTV collection includes backward glances in 1966 at farming through the ages in Northern Ireland, as well as James Boyce's reports on weird and wonderful aspects of life in the province, including a feature on the contrast between the villages of Camlough and Bessbrook in Co Armagh.

At the time, Camlough which had a population of just 98 people, boasted six pubs, but nearby and bigger Bessbrook was a dry village, with no bars to its name.

Other UTV reporters who are seen in the collection include Charlie Witherspoon, who tries to find out the truth about Ardboe's wishing tree, and Lesley Dawes, who visits a pub with no beer opened by Armagh Pioneers in a bid to provide craic with no temptations for its customers.

Belfast Telegraph

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