Hounds of Ulster perform for MEPs in Strasbourg

Members of the Hounds of Ulster flute band pictured at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. INNT 27-812CON
Members of the Hounds of Ulster flute band pictured at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. INNT 27-812CON

A Whiteabbey-based flute band has performed for MEPs at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

The Hounds of Ulster flute band played in front of a large audience at the European Parliament in France on Tuesday (July 5) after being invited to perform at the venue by Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson.

Speaking to the Times, band founder Dee Crooks explained how the trip came about. He said: “We played at Titanic Belfast for the Ulster Farmers’ Union, who were hosting a conference for representatives of the North American and European agriculture sectors. Jim Nicholson MEP was in attendance and he asked us if we would like to go out to Strasbourg and play at the parliament to promote Northern Ireland.”

The group of band members and three dancers from the McCullough Curran School of Irish Dance put on an impressive display, securing another chance to perform in front of European delegates.

Dee, who plays the bass drum, said: “We have now been invited to go and play at the Reichstag in Berlin in front of members of the German government.”

This is the first time that the band has travelled outside of Ireland to perform.

Dee added: “We have performed in Co Clare in 2008 and 2009. We are also going back in August to play in Glor Theatre at the Ennis Fleadh.”

Dee, who formed the band in 2006, has big aspirations for the Hounds of Ulster. He said: “I want to see the group be able to go on to express our culture on an international stage and take our show to America.”

Dee has praised band member Grahame Harris, saying: “Grahame continually plays the pipes to a high standard. He always puts a lot of effort into the Hounds.”

The band meets every Sunday evening from 7pm to 9pm in the Whitehouse Working Men’s Club. New members who have a background in music are welcome. They are currently looking for a new guitar player and a fiddle player. If you are interested, drop in on a practice night or contact the Hounds Music Facebook page.