Sunday, 13 November 2011

Hame Again - Oor ain apples

Several weeks ago I was fortunate to be part of the Loughries Ulster Scots Trip or 'A Forenoon Doon the Upper Ards', (clydesburn.blogspot.) hosted by the Twa Marks. Although, because of the persistent rain that day, Mark Thompson (our guide) later dubbed it "A Forenoon gettin droont in the Upper Ards". 
Ecklinville Apple Tree back in Ulster 

One of the more obscure pieces of information we received that day was the story of the Ecklinville or (as Mark called it the) Ulster-Scots Apple.
The following extract is from the 'Bloggin fae the Burn' article entitled Scottish Bishops and Ulster-Scots apples

On 4 March 1613 Robert Echlin from Pittadro in Fife was appointed by King James I as the new Bishop of Down and Connor. Echlin (initially at least) tolerated the arrival of the Presbyterians and compromised with them in order to ordain them into service in Ulster. Echlin set up home at Ardquin (between Portaferry and Kircubbin - it is said he chose the location because it reminded him of the landscape of Fife) and built an Abbacy there beside the old church.
It is in this location that some of Echlin's descendants who remained on the Ards Peninsula invented the Echlinville / Ecklinville cooking apple. The description of the variety is:

"...the tree is vigorous and has decorative blossom. It is a cooker or sauce apple. It was popular with the Victorians and widely grown in gardens also recommended for an 'artistic' orchard...."

Daniel's Ulster-Scots Apple Tree
The Ecklinville cooking apple, once popular around County Down, all but disappeared by the 1930s. as it had become unfashionable when new varieties, that didn't bruise so easily, were introduced into the province. 
This research got me thinking about this small but unique part of our heritage. Determined to bring it hame I searched the Internet and eventually found Ecklinville seedlings at a fruit tree nursery on the Isle of White (Deacon's Nursery). The owner was extremely helpful and dispatched five 1st year seedlings which I distributed to a handful of Ulster-Scots patriots in Down and Londonderry (The Twa Marks included). So yince mere wae hae Ulster-Scots apples in oor hames'. (well not quite yet)

1 comment:

  1. Good work Darren. When they bear fruit I'll bake us a traditional Ulster-Scots spiced apple oaty crumble. And we'll maybe share it with the twa Marks....