Willie Drennan beating in the New Year at the world famous St Georges Market, Belfast. Willie’s chosen instrument here is the ‘Lambeg’ drum. An enormous drum, beaten with curved malacca canes. A descendant of ancient wardrums and said to have been introduced into Ulster by Scots and English settlers and men of the William of Orange armys in the Williamite wars. It has a long association with Ulster Scots (Scotch Irish) traditions in the North of Ireland. Willie Drennan is a traditional musician, storyteller, poet and writer, who draws much of his material from the Ulster Scots cultural traditions of his native County Antrim.
The Lambeg drum’s shell is generally made of oak. Lambeg drum heads are goat skins, and are different from other large drums in the quality of their tone. The thin heads are pulled tighter and tighter until the tone is bright and hard. There are no mechanical screws on the drums. The heads are held on with a wooden rim and, traditionally, linen ropes.
The name comes from the village of Lambeg, County Antrim, which is situated ten miles southwest of Belfast and two miles from Lisburn. Tradition has it, that it was in the Lambeg area that the instrument was first played with canes. My own grandfather was a Lambeg drummer in the 1920’s and ’30’s.The drum is sometimes also called “tibbies”, “slashers”, or “killymans”. This one Willie is playing was made by Loudens of Ballymoney… i’ts a louden alright!