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  • ursulaburns2

Harping O'Neills and all things medieval

Updated: Dec 10, 2023

In the 80s, I used to play all the medieval banquets with my mum, Marie O'Neill.

Together we would sing in harmony.........



While Medieval pagans would drink mead from goblets at the lavish Banquets in the Castle. They would consume roasted chicken with their bare hands laughing heartily. Then eat the bread plates.



Then we would join the band for walkabout.


I loved the banquets in Carrickfergus Castle. The audience really went for it. They would meet the lord in the PUB and he would process them over to the banqueting hall in the Castle. Because they dressed up they really got into character.




Mum was influenced by this style of music

My mum is a harpist from the O'Neill family in Tyrone. Music runs in the family. We would tour the land playing for medieval festivals and folk clubs.




We wore matching costumes.

This was amoung the first circus/performance walkabout in Northern Ireland and the birth of Belfast Circus School, founded by Mike Maloney. We Often met up with the circus on our travels.....



I would combine circus and music.- playing the bowed phalstry on Stilts!





On my break, I used to sit on the cannon at carrickfergus castle and look out to sea

dreaming that I really was a queen in the castle.

Then, break time was over and it was back to the barbarians of drunken punters pretending to be medieval with food fights of roasted chickens.




One day Gerry (the fire juggler) accidently set himself on fire!

John de courcey yelled, "Great balls of fire".

Everyone laughted as he hopped around the banquet hall, fluffing and puffing to put out the flames. It was so funny! No one died. Guess the medieval gang was pre health and safety reports.


By the time the 90s rolled around the banquets were no more.......




Last night I was invited to play at a medieval murder mystery at The Hill of O'Neill.

I was imagining the harpers playing at the banquets and wondering about Aurther O'Neill. He died in Maydown and is burried in Eglish

My aunt lives there and was tracing back the generations, but we dont know if there is a connection in the family line.......



They left a dager on my chair

That was a very dangerous thing to do ..........

Queen of Swords is in de house!


Anyway, it Felt good to play on that hill

and connect back in with that ancient and medieval music!

My favourite song we used to sing was one of my mum's.......

here it is........






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