Dromore pupil keeps ancient art alive

J Houston, G Patterson, D Jameson, A Walker, S Walker, B Lockett, C Beattie, S Scott
J Houston, G Patterson, D Jameson, A Walker, S Walker, B Lockett, C Beattie, S Scott

Dromore High School pupil Andrew Walker is helping to keep the ancient art of bell ringing alive.

Andrew (14) from Culcavy, along with his father Stephen both fell in love with the fascinating activity back in 2013.

‘Once you start bell ringing you get really hooked’

They are part of a team of bell ringers based at St Malachy’s Church Hillsborough, headed by Tower Captain Simon Walker, a Dromore High School teacher. They practise each Wednesday evening and before church service on a Sunday at 11am and 6pm.

Andrew, is the fifth generation of bell ringers in his family. Stephen had been a bell ringer for five years but gave it up in his late teens. When Andrew took an interest in bell ringing, Stephen soon fell in love with the art once again.

Andrew who will compete in the Murphy Cup in Dublin soon, has an important role with the team of bell ringers. He rings bell one which helps control the speed while Stephen rings number eight.

“Bell ringing is a great family tradition on both sides of Andrew’s family,” said Stephen. “For me it was like riding a bike. It is something that you don’t forget and once you start bell ringing you get really hooked. I was bell ringing when I was young but once I got my driving licence, I gave it up.

“Some people think you can just start ringing but that is not the case. It is a skill that can take a while to master. Bell ringing gives you a real work out. Some people can pick it up quicker than others.

“A good Tower Captain is essential and Simon is great. The craic is really good with the other bell ringers. ”

St Malachy’s won the Cunningham Cup for good striking in the annual church bell ringing contest for the Northern District of the Irish Association of Change Ringers held at Holywood Parish recently. The team was comprised of 8 ringers, aged from 13 to 50+.