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Video: ‘The Weaver Poet: Thomas Beggs, The Woven Word’

Weaver Poet - photo

Last year, we were delighted to host a 360° video inside our weaving workshop about Thomas Beggs, an Ulster-Scots weaver poet. The episode was presented by Lolly Spence, local historian and tour guide, and was part of a series called ‘The Woven Word’ on Ulster’s rhyming weaver poets.

Thomas Beggs was born in 1789, and for much of his life he alternated between employment and periods devoted to writing. He published his first book aged 30 – ‘Miscellaneous Pieces in Verse’. Other poems and prose-pieces followed, most of which proved popular. Beggs was inspired by nature and by the landscape of County Antrim in particular, and his poetry is personal, thoughtful and often spiritual. He has been described as ‘one of Ulster’s most romantic literary figures’.

Enjoy a reading of ‘The Auld Wife’s Address To Her Spinning Wheel’. Mechanisation was changing the face of linen production, shifting it from village-based cottage industries to large-scale factories and mills. The impact on Ulster’s rural way of life was seismic and in this poem, Thomas Beggs laments the change for which he blames the greedy and unscrupulous mill owners. The old woman is reflecting on her youth when she got her spinning wheel second-hand, and she remembers how times were good back then and paints a delightful, homely scene. Now, heartless mill owners have made her wheel redundant and she deplores the invention of machinery which makes masters wealthy but worsens conditions for the poor.

The video was produced by Virtual Visit in partnership with Hidden Ulster Tours and with funding from Northern Ireland Screen’s Ulster-Scots Broadcast Fund. It is taken from inside our weaving workshop, and later you get a virtual tour of other parts of the building. You can see all around by using the 360° feature.

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