Kerr's Corner

Kerr's Corner is a regular feature in East Antrim and Newtownabbey editions of The Wizard. David Kerr would like to hear your memories of life in your own area. Maybe you'll trigger some thoughts for a future column. kerrscorner@ulsteronline.org.uk

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Around and About

Fermanagh Break – just the tonic

AFTER deciding to visit the Marble Arch Caves and the National Trust’s Florence Court, what better a location for a one night stay than the Customs House Country Inn in Belcoo, right on the doorstep of both our intended visits.

Consisting of nine rooms (all en-suite) with most having a spectacular view over Lough McNean, the Customs House Country Inn provided us with a warm welcome and top-notch accommodation.

The Brassiere Menu was well varied and the roast half duck, cooked to perfection and served with a gorgeous rich plum sauce must be recommended. The atmosphere in the lounge was warm and friendly and kids are welcomed with plenty of colouring books and crayons at hand.
The full Irish breakfast the following morning was as expected, superb. The Inn also has an adjoining restaurant Fiddlesticks and live entertainment at the weekends.
Customs House County Inn, Main Street, Belcoo, Co. Fermanagh. Tel: (028) 6638 6285. E-mail: info@customshouseinn.com Website: www.customshouseinn.com

IT’S BEEN ten years since I visited the Marble Arch Caves and it was certainly an experience to do so again. Definitely one of Europe’s finest show caves, a young and enthusiastic guide gave us a great tour. The tour, which is partly by boat, lasts 75 minutes and is simply breathtaking. My seven year old really enjoyed it, imagining himself to be on an Indiana Jones style adventure.
Check out the website on: www.marblearchcaves.net

THE following day, after a relaxing stay at the Customs House County Inn, we visited Florence Court. The house and grounds have been in the possession of the National Trust since 1953. After a devastating fire in 1955 the house has thankfully been restored to its former glory.
The house was built by the 1st Lord Mount Florence between 1756 and 1764, being situated amongst the mountains and forests of west Fermanagh. The vast gardens are an absolute delight to explore and a holiday cottage on the grounds is available for accommodation all year round. With a Tearoom and gift shop and events from March to September, Florence Court offers a great family day out.

For more information, contact Florence Court (028) 6634 8249 or visit the website http://www.ntni.org.uk/

Friday, September 02, 2005

In Conversation with Calton Radio

IN a previous issue of Kerr’s Corner I spoke to John Jenkins who helps with the publication of The Twelfth and it’s associated website: http://www.the-twelfth.org.uk/ Mr Jenkins has since kindly sent me a copy of The Twelfth, which I may review in due course. One article that immediately caught my eye was about a loyalist internet radio station called Calton Radio: www.caltonradio.com

I’ve still got a mental image of Tony Blackburn or Dave Lee Travis sitting behind a microphone surrounded by turntables, hundreds of records and various electrical instruments or the fearsome John Humphries barbecuing slippery politicians on the Radio Four Today programme. Great stuff, but largely inaccessible to most ordinary folk.

However, in this new age of democratic accessibility through the internet, Calton Radio does not need to have expensive studios and all that palaver.

I was intrigued by the idea that you can run a radio station via a computer, so I decided to talk to Calton Radio. I spoke to a young Glaswegian called Bluefin 221, who seems to be in charge of the station. I also met a delightful lady who calls herself Proddy Girl, who is one of the station’s regular DJs.

Bluefin 221 told me that Calton Radio started life as part of the Calton Protestant Defenders (LOL 221) site. (Calton is an area in the East End of Glasgow). This Orange lodge site was well known for its own music download centre, forums and chatroom. LOL 221 found that there was a great demand for an Orange radio station – so Calton 221 was launched in March 2004 as an attachment to the CPD site.

However, this Orange internet radio station took on a life of its own. In June 2004 it changed its name to Calton Radio and started to operate independently of the CPD site, “to maximise its potential”.

It now plays all types of loyalist music and is also financially independent from LOL 221. Donations pay for the running of the station and server costs. Bluefin 221 told me “if it wasn’t for the members then we would be seriously struggling month to month to pay the costs which, as we grow, have become larger and larger”.

The thinking behind the radio station was to use a modern medium to promote the Orange cause and culture. However, as Bluefin 221 notes, “in reality the members make the site. You can put up the greatest site in the world but if no-one shows an interest then it’s a waste of time!”

Bluefin 221 told me that Calton Radio is “very progressive and is run by the loyalist DJs who were streaming on the site”. DJs take the decisions to play whichever type of music they desire “within a responsible manner”.

All music promotes “our culture and heritage which has been secured for us by our forefathers who fought and died for civil and religious liberties for all, special privileges for none. We remember them by song and by prayer and we would ask our listeners to remember this”.
He also said that Calton Radio has also started to hold socials – to raise money for themselves and various charitable causes.

I invite Kerr’s Corner readers to check it out. I’ve always had a secret ambition to be a radio DJ. Who knows? Perhaps there’ll be a Radio Kerr’s Corner some day!