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Ulster log: Great-uncle still hidden in slides of Great War

By Ivan Little

Talking about the war… which we were last week — Karen O’Rawe is preparing to hand over her precious collection of photographs of First World War soldiers from Belfast to the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Cultra for safe-keeping.

The 137 images were on lantern slides which Karen’s mother found during a clear-out in the organ loft of Alexandra Presbyterian Church which used to be the Castleton Congregation on the York Road.

Karen painstakingly organised the slides into a project called the Castleton Lanterns which were on show at the Northern Ireland War Memorial in Talbot Street, an exhibition which closes today.

The hope was that members of the public might be able to recognise the soldiers from their old family albums or newspaper cuttings and Karen has been able to put 45 names to faces.

However, one of the men she hasn’t been able to identify is her own great-uncle Thomas McGarvey.

She knows his photograph is in the collection but has no idea what he looked like. He survived the war.

But Karen has been able to identify another great-uncle, Thomas Robinson, who was killed in action while serving with the Royal Engineers at the Battle of Langemarck on August 15, 1917. He was married six weeks before he died.

“I’m still hoping that people will be able to identify the unknown soldiers including Thomas McGarvey from our website or when the exhibition is returns in the future,” says Karen.

Dylan invented the Wheel

It's the anthem which has united Ireland. Yet it's got nothing to do with militarists or monarchs.

And, unless you're a hermit, it's a song which has been completely impossible to avoid in musical pubs or hotels across the island over the last few years.

For Wagon Wheel comes round time and time again and it's made a star out of Liverpool-born but Fermanagh-based singer Nathan Carter.

Yet its origins are worthy of a song all of their own.

And just like Galway Girl which was Ireland's most popular pub standard before the Wheel was invented, the song was the brainchild of an American.

Steve Earle and Sharon Shannon have made a fortune out of Galway Girl, but it's Bob Dylan who's credited with coming up with Wagon Wheel even though he'd probably forgotten all about his involvement in it 31 years ago.

He certainly didn't realise its potential when he wrote a rough version of the song for the 1973 movie Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid.

He didn't even bother finishing the song and his mumbled snippet appeared on a bootleg album.

Which was almost the end of the story until three decades later when US musician Ketch Secor from the band Old Crow Medicine Show heard the song and added several verses to it. He contacted Dylan's representatives and discovered that Bob thought the song had its roots in an old blues classic from another three decades earlier.

So it took 60 years to complete Wagon Wheel and another 10 for Nathan Carter to make it one of the biggest selling records in Ireland.

And all this despite the fact that the lyrics contain a reference to cannabis smoking.

Which after this week's revelations about One Direction might make a cover version from them a strong possibility.

Thrones stars back home down at the Lyric

Two stars from the hugely popular TV series Game Of Thrones will be returning to their roots at Belfast's Lyric Theatre over the next few weeks but behind the scenes.

Conleth Hill is directing a revival of David Ireland's comedy Can't Forget About You which played to sell-out audiences at the Lyric last year.

It's about Buddhism, fish suppers and sectarianism and runs on the main stage from June 12 to July 5 with previews beforehand.

The other Thrones star, Ian McElhinney, is directing a double bill of readings in the Lyric's studio space of two classic Ulster plays which were penned by Ballymoney's renowned playwright George Shiels in the 1940s.

The reading of The Rugged Path will take place next Wednesday and Thursday and its sequel The Summit will be performed on the following two evenings.

Antrim coast hitting right spot

The amazing Antrim Coast Road was the undisputed winner of the Giro d'Italia.

And now that it's been put well and truly on the world map singer Zolene Mayberry is making sure it has pride of place on YouTube too.

A video of 20-year-old Zolene, who was born in a house facing on to the road at Glenarm, has been posted on YouTube and the hits for her hit have been encouraging.

The song was written by local men Bill Allen and Paul McNeilly.

As well as the Giro, of course, the Antrim coast also has a famous ambassador in Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers who is from Carnlough.

Hollywood star Liam Neeson is another regular visitor to relatives in Cushendall.

Singer's new path with roadshow

A gifted singer and weaver from Co Donegal has launched a new career on the telly thanks to a Holywood production company.

Waddell Media has chosen Margaret Cunningham who runs the Glencolmcille folk village to front the Irish language historical roadshow Seoidini Staire which sets up pop-up museums around Ireland including south Armagh.

Local people were encouraged to bring along artefacts from their homes to show on the programmes which air on Thursday evenings on TG4.

Ulster editor defends paper's pics

A Northern Irish journalist who once worked for this newspaper has been appointed the editor-in-chief of one of Canada's most influential daily publications, the Globe And Mail, in Toronto.

David Walmsley who was with newspapers in London before emigrating has worked extensively in broadcasting organisations as well as in the print business in Canada.

Recently David gave interviews to defend his paper's decision to pay for photographs of Toronto's controversial Mayor Rob Ford smoking substances from a metal pipe.

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