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16 October 2014
Ulster Scots Voices

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- Mark Thompson
- Sally Young
- Charlie Gillen
- Iain McAfee
- Kenny Blair
- Margaret Taylor

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Kenny Blair - transcript of interview

Ulster Sails - Mural

The Ulster-Scots mural was actually the idea of the North Antrim Cultural and Musical Society, whereby they had a dinner and produced a booklet to commemorate W.F. Marshall, the Ulster-Scots poet. And they selected for the theme, the title of his book of poets, 'Ulster Sails West.'

So, we basically took that theme and we just made it up as we went along, where you had the sailing ship signifying the emigration of the Ulster-Scots from Ulster's shores to the East Coast of America, which is incorporated in the mural.

And then you have the picture of an early trapper and his dogs, who probably, a generation before that would have been from these shores in a farming capacity. But they went there and settled along the East Coast and helped mould, I suppose, the whole American continent. And then again, we have the emblem of the Ulster-Scots, which is the Red Hand and the thistles.

I didn’t really have any plan when I started it so I just made it up as I went along and thought, well, we'll stick this in and see what it looks like!

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Well I would usually sketch it, say, onto a piece of tracing paper or something first and then, what you call, squaring up - divide that into, you know, measure the wall, if the wall... let's see. I think that wall's 16ft by 20ft, so just do a grid over your painting or over your original sketch that size, and then transfer that grid onto the wall, which means you can scale it up without making any vast mistakes, anyway.

But it is difficult because you're up on the scaffolding, and you're standing close where you think something looks OK, but then when you climb down and stand 20 ft away from it, maybe you're away off the mark and you have to just go up and start over again.

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Now listen to Margaret Taylor's story >>

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