The Lambeg Drum

The Lambeg Drum

Few other instruments can match the Lambeg drum for size and sheer volume.  This Impressive percussion instrument is unique to the province of Ulster, and its not made anywhere else.  It is in fact the largest double-sided rope tension drum in the world, and is thought to be the loudest folk instrument on the planet! The Lambeg drum is perhaps most usually associated with the Orange tradition, where it is often used to accompany marchers on parade.  However drumming matches and competitions are held independently by drumming clubs the length and breadth of the province.

The true origin of the Lambeg drum remains unknown, as there is very little historical evidence documenting this instrument.  However, the mystery surrounding its creation has given rise to many different folklores, which have become as much a part of the Lambeg drumming tradition as the music itself.

There are several different theories surrounding the origins of the Lambeg drum, one such theory explains the title ‘Lambeg’ suggests the drum was first built in the village of Lambeg, near Lisburn.  Another popular theory is that the drums were first beaten with canes at a meeting in Lambeg in the 1870’s.  Some argue that the drum was first introduced by continental Williamite soldiers in the summer of 1690, and that the drum was played by these troops whilst camped at Lambeg enrolee from Carrickfergus to the Battle of the Boyne.

Another prominent story in Lambeg folklore connected to the Battle of the Boyne explains the uniquee rhythms that are traditionally played on the drum.  Legend has it that King William’s drummer boy had fallen asleep after eating a supper consisting of bread.  An opportunist Wren flew down and began to peck at the crumbs lying on the drum head.  The noise caused the boy to wake form his sleep just in time to discover the camp was under attack.  He was then able to raise the alarm in time to prevent defeat.

Goat skins from female ‘nanny’ goats are preferred for drum heads, as they tend to be lighter and cleaner skin, making them easier to work with than a male or ‘Billy’ goat hide.

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Cider for King William III’s Army

Cider for King William III’s Army

Portadown provided cider for King William’s army during its campaign which ended in victory over James II and his men at the Boyne.  Records show that the Rev. William Brooke who was rector of Drumcree from 1679 until his death in 1700, wrote an account of the barony in 1682, from which it was learned that good cider was available in Portadown at thirty shillings a hogshead.

From the same source it was gathered that the farmers of Portadown district were compelled by their leases to plant apple trees proportionate to the quality of their land.  In 1690, King William’s cider maker Paul Le Harper was sent to Portadown with the necessary equipment to make cider for the Williamite Army.  Harper was a Huguenot, a member of the Protestant faith in France who were persecuted for their religion and forced to emigrate to other countries.

Lord Drogheda, who commanded a Williamite regiment stationed at Tandragee, part of which was quartered in Portadown had recorded that there was much cider there in the spring of 1690.  It is remarkable that so many apple trees in North Armagh had escaped the ravages of the 1641 rebellion, when farm houses and houses of English Protestant settlers were being destroyed.

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