Museum ‘striking a beat’ with Lambeg workshop

The iconic Lambeg drum is the feature of a series of workshops and open days this month at the Museum of Orange Heritage, Belfast.

Commencing on Saturday, drumming enthusiasts and members of the public are invited to come along to explore the traditions surrounding Ulster’s loudest musical instrument.

Over the course of three weekends, visitors to the Cregagh Road museum can learn more about the history and heritage of the Lambeg drum, and in particular its long held association with the Orange tradition.

At the workshops, members of the public will hear how the traditional instrument is both made and played.

A variety of Lambegs will be on display, including an impressive tribute drum to the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Some archive film footage will also be available.

Museum curator, Dr Jonathan Mattison, said: “The Lambeg drum is one of the most recognisable musical instruments associated with Ulster and Orangeism.

“The rhythms and times beaten out on the Lambeg form part of the heartbeat of the Orange tradition, and form an integral part of the colour and infectious musicality of Ulster’s cultural heritage.

“It is therefore only appropriate we showcase the sight and unmistakable sound of the Lambeg drum to a wider audience.”

While it is difficult to place an exact year on the origin of the Lambeg, Orange tradition has it they were based on the large drums brought to Ireland by King William III’s army during the Glorious Revolution.

Indeed, folklore points to the involvement of a wren and a robin as part of the creation of an Orange drumming tradition. It is said that on the morning of 1 July 1690 these two birds alighted on a drum while the Williamite army were still sleeping. The noise they made on the drum woke a young drummer boy who in turn raised the alarm that the Jacobites were planning to attack.

As Orange tradition has it, the thunder of drums was such that it ‘drove a king out of three kingdoms’.

‘Rhythm & Time – the history and heritage of the Lambeg drum’ will take place at the Museum of Orange Heritage on 14, 21, and 28 January 2017 between 11am and 2pm.

Pre-booking is required, please ring 028 9070 1122 for more information.