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Open Country
Sat  6.10 - 6.35am
Thurs 1.30 - 2.00pm (rpt)
Local people making their corner of rural Britain unique
This week
Saturday 13 October 
Listen to this programme in full
Cushendall Glens of Antrim
In the second of two programmes Helen Mark visits the picturesque village of Cushendall known as the capital and 
the Heart of the Glens of Antrim.
Cushendall (pronounced Cushendoll) nestles at the foot of Glenballyeamon, one of the central Glens of Antrim. Its 18th century Mill Street is considered to be the best preserved in Northern Ireland and many businesses have been in the same families for well over a century. This is a tight knit community yet being a coastal village – Scotland is just 16 miles across the water- it’s always offered a warm welcome to visitors.

Helen drops in on a session at  McCollams bar (known locally as Johnny Joe’s) where she meets up with musicians Kieran Dempsey, his son Rory Dempsey and Helen O’Kane who describe how traditional Irish music, singing and dancing still remain the heartbeat of the Glens. Another musician, Feargal Lynn demonstrates the playing of the Irish drum the bodhran.

Storytelling is vital to the culture of the Glens. Liz Weir an international storyteller works with all age groups promoting the art for which the Irish are world famous. And of course there is only one sport! That’s hurling.Veteran of the Ulster and All-Ireland Championship, Terence McNaughton explains how important this is to the social fabric of glen communities.

Each of the nine glens has its own families, many of whom have been there for centuries. In Glenballyeamon, the McAllisters are one such family. Danny McAllister is the local livestock auctioneer and part time farmer who tells what it’s like to earn a living on one of the many ‘ladder’ farms in the area. Andrew McAllister (he has 36 cousins living within a 5 mile radius, Danny is one of them!) takes Helen to the deserted ‘clachan’ of Knockban in Glenaan. A clachan is a small village with no shop or church, though this one unusually had a school, a type of settlement common in past centuries, and it’s hoped that these may hold the key to providing affordable homes for local people in the 21st century.
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