Ian Davidson: Arts and Heritage

Wednesday 25 October 2017: Ian Davidson: Head of Arts and Heritage, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council

Fionsa John Ian
[L – R] Fiona Crudden, Good Relations Officer, FODC with Probus President, John McCandless, and Ian Davidson. Head of Arts and Heritage FODC

Mr Davidson was accompanied by Miss Fiona Crudden, Good Relations Officer, FoDC, and together they provided an informative account of of the Council’s Irish Language Policy.  Adopted in 2015 following widespread consultation it was reported that 5% of the population have a working knowledge of Irish.    FoDC promotes the development of Irish Language and Culture in a variety of ways.   Grants and bursaries are available for groups and individuals to attend summer courses in the Gaeltacht.  There is support for local cultural events and Irish language classes are offered in both Omagh and Enniskillen.  Singing, drama and dance rooted in gaeltacht traditions are supported in local schools where programmes of ceili dancing have proved popular – even among boys.   When Fiona visits schools she finds considerable interest in the origins and Irish roots of townland names.    Mr Davidson’s and Miss McCrudden presentation was followed by a lengthy question and answer session in which members asked about the similarities and differences between Irish Gaelic and Scots Gallic, inquired about Irish phonetics and grammar and the meanings of some local place names.  The only question to stump the presenters related to the proposal for an Irish Language Act in the Northern Ireland Assembly about which, they asserted, little was known.


Mr Maurice Lee M.B.E: Scouting in Fermanagh

Wednesday 18 October 2017: Maurice Lee: Scouting in Fermanagh. 

Lee McCandless
Maurice Lee presenting President John McCandless with a copy of  his book, Scouting in Fermanagh

In his introduction Probian Jim McBain congratulated Mr Lee on the award of an M.B.E. for services to Scouting  in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List of 2017.  Maurice had brought with him an impressive display of scout memorabilia from World and European jamborees, as well as copies of his book, “Scouting in Fermanagh”.    Dressed in scout uniform decorated with badges which record his contribution to scouting both local and national Maurice began by telling members that currently there are some 40 million scouts worldwide, over 500,000 in the UK and over 1,000 in Fermanagh.  Formed by Lord Baden Powell in 1907 the organisation remains true to its founder’s aims of providing young people with character building opportunities in supporting each other and serving the community.     Illustrated by period photographs Maurice talked about scouting in Fermanagh from the formation of the first troop in Enniskillen in 1910 to the present day.  His talk included archive pictures  showing scouts at camp in the 20′ and 30’s and on parade with their band at important public events such as the unveiling of the War Memorial in Enniskillen shortly after the the First Word War, their participation in celebrations to mark the coronation of King George VI in 1937 and Queen’s first visit to the town in in 1946 when she still Princess Elizabeth.   He traced the changes in scouting down the years concluding with reference to the new £350,000 Scout Centre soon to be opened in Cladagh Glen, outside Enniskillen.  His talk was particularly well received by those members of the Club who had been in the Scouts in their youth.

40th Anniversary Dinner

Tuesday 17 October 2017: 40th Anniversary Dinner

Anniversary Dinner
Members and guests seated at the 40th Anniversary Dinner in the Silverbirch Hotel

Omagh Probus Club celebrated the 40th Anniversary of its founding with a gala dinner in the Silverbirch Hotel.   Attended by some 60 members and guests the evening started with a wine reception at 7.00 pm during which members and guests studied a gallery of past presidents and tried to identify present day members of the club from a dozen photos of “bonny babies”.  Following words of welcome by the Probus President, John McCandless,  Audrey Hodge, President of Ladies Probus, conveyed the greetings and best wishes of her members before saying Grace to start the meal .   A 40th Anniversary birthday cake was cut by President John assisted by his wife Carol and served with the tea and coffee.  A toast to the Club was proposed by Mr Alex Baird, Vice-Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, and replied to by Probus Past President, Kenneth Collins.  A poem, specially composed for the occasion by club secretary, Felim O’Neill, was read by Probian Desmond Smart, after which a number of members were invited to share their reminiscences of Omagh Probus Club. Principal among these was 99 year old Bob Lingwood whose pin sharp memory going back over many years funded a string of reminiscences which those who followed tried to match.  The evening was brought to a closed by well deserved vote of thanks to the organising committee and the staff of the Silverbirch Hotel for staging such an enjoyable event.

Business Meeting

Wednesday 11 October 2017: Business Meeting

Bob and John
Bob Lingwood taken by surprise when presented with a cake and flowers to mark his 99th birthday .

President, John McCandless opened the meeting by by extending a very warm welcome to Probian Bob Lingwood, on his return to the Club after hospitalisation and recuperation following a fall earlier in the year.   During his enforced absence Bob had celebrated his 99th birthday.   He was somewhat taken by surprise to be presented with a birthday cake and bouquet of flowers, but pleased nevertheless to be back among his many friends in Probus.   The main business of the meeting was to finalise arrangements for the 40th Anniversary Dinner on the 17th October, the Christmas Lunch on Wednesday 6th December and receive a closing report from the All-Ireland Rally steering committee.   During a gap in the showers those present assembled on the 1st tee for a group photo.

Mark Lusby: Old Derry

Wednesday, 4th October 2016:  Mr Mark Lusby: Old Derry

Mark Lusby
Probus President, John McCandless thanking Mark Lusby for his talk

Using old glass plate photographs Mark gave members an illustrated talk on the city in the years during and immediately after the Second World War.  He began by showing rare aerial photos of United States army and navy installations along the Foyle. The main camp for US Servicemen was located on land now occupied by Springtown Industrial estate.   The grounds of the Beech Hill House Hotel was the site of several Quonset [Nissan] Huts, barely visible from the air among the trees.  A large Communications Centre existed where Altnagelvin Hospital now stands and Du Pont occupies the site near Lisahally Docks where Atlantic Convey escort vessels were repaired and made ready for further patrols.   Throughout the war and in the years immediately following farming was the mainstay of the local economy.  There was a thriving market for local produce with considerable quantities being exported by ship and train.   Several old photos showed scenes of activity long since gone from the city, such as “The Beast Market” outside Butcher’s Gate.  Derry’s walls are the largest ancient monument in state care and the only city walls ever to have been fortified twice.  His old photographs recorded that during the troubles access to the walls was restricted by barbed wire entanglements and sand bagged observation posts. Recent photos show how things have moved on.



Introduction to aromatherapy for Probus Ladies

At the October meeting of Ladies’ Probus,  President Audrey Hodge informed members that an honorary member, Aimee Day, had died since the last meeting. Respects were paid to this formerly enthusiastic member.

The speaker was local aromatherapist, Fiona Curran who was a trained midwife before moving into aromatherapy full time. She informed members of the benefits of many different essential oils which members were able to sample. Fiona explained the difference in oils which may be unfamiliar to many amateurs and she explained how she would mix and then use the oils for various therapies. Many questions were answered and the thanks of the club were expressed by Val Burch.

Arrangements were confirmed for afternoon tea at the end of November, a date which marks the beginning of the twenty fifth year of Omagh & District Ladies’ Probus which was the first ladies’ club in Ireland. The next meeting on 2nd November will be the AGM and there will be a speaker from local Red Cross.