100th Anniversary of Willowfield Unionist Hall: Jason Burke

THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED ON   www.jasonrobertburke.blogspot.co.uk
Sir Reg Empey, Bobby Cosgrove, Michael Copeland MLA, and Jason Burke
Thursday 16 May 2013 marked 100 years to the day since the official opening of the Willowfield Unionist Hall by Sir Edward Carson in 1913.
The occassion was celebrated at an event staged in the Albertbridge Accordion Band Hall and hosted by Jason Burke and Bobby Cosgrove.  Among the invited guests were Sir Reg Empey (the last Unionist candidate to be selected from the Willowfield Hall) and East Belfast MLA Michael Copeland.
Bobby Cosgrove opened the evening and went on to lay out the context of the Willowfield area up to and including the Ulster Covenant in September 1912.  Jason Burke then provided a presentation of research which he has accumulated and outlined the events surrounding the opening ceremony itself, this included photographs of Edward Carson at the hall and also extracts from the speech he gave that evening.
A short interval was followed by an excellent musical performance from the UVF Regimental Band, East Belfast.  They spoiled the audience with some musical selections befitting the 1913 era including ‘Tipperary’ as well as the Colonel Bogey March.  The fact that the band were dressed in period costume including flat caps, puttes, and haversacks only added to this reminiscent spectacle.
Bobby Cosgrove shares some of his memories of Willowfield Unionist Hall
Bobby Cosgrove humorously brought the story up to present day by sharing the sporting successes of the associated football, bowls, and cricket clubs, before indulging in some of his own memories from in and around the hall. At the end of the evening there was an opportunity for members of the audience to share their own memories of the hall, one man in particular had retained the most vivid of memories as at one stage he lived in the hall!
Michael Copeland MLA then brought the evening to a close with a few concluding remarks.
Thanks to everyone who attended on the night, I hope I did justice to the occassion.
Lord Londonderry and Sir Edward Carson, both were present at the opening of the hall in 1913

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