Ullans launch new publication

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The Ullans Speakers Association launched their new publication ‘The Feats and Achievements of Kennedy Kane McArthur’ on Wednesday 26th September in Ballymoney Town Hall.

Guests were treated to music by the Vow Accordion Band as they took their seats.

The Development Officer for the Ullans Centre, Anne Morrison-Smyth, welcomed the guest to the nights book launch and invited Gary Blair from the Ulster scots Agency to say a few words. Gary talked about the importance of remembering Kennedy Kane McArthur as an Ulster Scot from Dervock and also praised the book as a brief glimpse into his life both in Ulster and his adopted in Potchefstroom, South Africa. Gary also talked about the importance of the Ulster Scots language and having a written record to preserve it for the future and that it was great to see Kennedy Kane’s story now recorded in his native Tounge.

Anne Morrison-Smyth then invited Keith Bettie, the Museum Manager in Ballymoney Town Hall, to talk. Keith told the guest that as the centenary of Kennedy Kane’s Olympic gold medal win approached, he decided to ask the Potchefstroom Museum in South Africa if Ballymoney Museum could have the Kennedy Kane McArthur collection they owned.

To Keith’s “Excitement” the Museum said yes. Thinking the collection would have to be returned by June 14, the date Kennedy Kane won his gold medal so that the Potchefstroom Museum could display it at this special time, Keith arranged to bring the collection as soon as he could. But to his “surprise” Potchefstroom Museum felt that the place for the collection to be displayed over the summer was in Kennedy Kane’s home of County Antrim.

Unfortunately the exhibition is now closed and started its journey back to Potchefstroom, South Africa on Monday 1st October. Keith finished by saying that this should not be the end to Kennedy Kane McArthur’s legacy and that we must work in remembering him not just this year but in the years to come preparing for the next centenary in 2112!

The book launch was also a celebration of European Language Day and Anne Morrison-Smyth read a poem written by Dervock resident Frank McLernon written in Ulster Scots.

“I’m gane tae tell yae o’ a legend, his name youse maybe know

How he won the biggest race o’ his life oor in Sweden lang ago

It was 1912 the race was run as his story has been told

When he won in them Olympics that medal made o’ gold

He was Kennedy Kane McArthur born in Dervock near the toon

An he bate the best in the hole wide world frea miles an miles aroon

A humble man, a postman that’s all he was at hame

Till he set a world records tumbling in his towering feat of fame

His country was noo South Africa whur he had settled doon

He’d donned a policemans uniform in a place called Potcheifstroom

They say he took tae all sorts o sport but rennin was his true style

Lang in the leg and a graceful gate he covered many a dusty mile

Soon a could see he was special and his heart was as big as a lion

An whun came the test wea the countrys best behin him they whur lyin

They say at first they didnae want him I suppose his face joost didnae fit

But naebody else could bate him naw if they wud a bine rinnin yet

So they sent him aff tae Sweden tae rin that marathon race

Under a shinning sun frae the crack o the gun he set himself a pace

An as he entered that big stadium before that assembled crowd

His body it was surely tiring when a lonely voice rang clear and loud

Come on Antrim come on yae boy yea he lengthened oot his stride

Tears filled oot his lovely his eyes and his heart filled oot wea pride

A garland lashed oot roon his neck near took him tae the gruun

But the colour minded him o hame ,he new the race was won

He smoked a pipe he loved a fry he was yin o natures special men

That’s why and I should never forgit that gentleman called big Ken

Whun he came hame a crowd in awe met him in the toon

They carried him an toasted him frae miles an miles aroon

But the candle lit procession that took him up his ma an da

Naw a dry eye was left wea yin a a the length o Dervock wass

So you can travel this whole world an back : before you meet the baetin o’ Marathon Mac”

The final guest speaker was Dr Ian Adamson, OBE who is a patron of the Ullans Speakers Association and opened the Ullans Centre back in 2009. Dr Adamson is also credited with coining the term ’Ullans’ to describe the Ulster Scots language and has written several books on various Ulster scots topics.

Ian talked about how this year we have been spoiled with events in history from the sinking of the great ocean liner, the Titanic to the celebration of the signing of the Ulster Covenant. Dr Adamson also told the guest were the origins of the name ‘Kennedy Kane MacArthur’s’ came from and its Ulster/Scottish roots.

Dr Adamson finished by thanking the group for the invite to the book launch and praised the work that both Anne and the team at the Ullans centre was doing as well as Gary and the Ulster Scots Agency.

Anne Morrison again thanked everyone involved in this publication, the guest speakers and the other guest who attended the launch. Guests were all invited to take a free copy of the book. The event came to a close and as guests stayed for a chat and light refreshment and Ulster Scot group ‘Scad tha Beggar’ played some traditional music.

For your free copy of ‘The Feats and Achievements of Kennedy Kane McArthur’ contact the Ullans Centre 4-6 Victoria Street Ballymoney or call 028 276 68897.