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Drumming Match

A Lambeg drum, commonly known as a lambeg, has a diameter of 90 cm, a depth of about 75 cm and a weight of over 2 kilograms. The frame is made of oak and it is covered in goatskin. Its precursor was the bass drum the frame of which originally, like the lambeg, was made of one piece of wood overlapped and rivetted. They are unique to Ireland and are associated with the Orange Order and the 12th of July.

They are also used, as here, in challenge matches which test both the skill and endurance of the drummer and the quality of the drum. Often rival drummers meet head to head with the dominant drummer making the weaker drummer unable to hear his drum and so lose his rhythm. As Fionnuala Scullion says in her article "History and Origins of the Lambeg Drum" (Ulster Folklife 27 1981) "the qualities of musicianship most admired in a drummer are said to be the ability to sustain an even rhythm, the balanced use of right and left hands and clever use of ornamentation". She adds "Ballymena drummers are said to be the best in the province". This photograph is taken on a side road just outside Ballymena.