Last night I spoke at the launch of A Man Flourishing, an exhibition in the Linenhall Library to celebrate the life and work of Sam Hanna Bell. It was a most enjoyable occasion with contributions from the poets Paul Muldoon and Michael Longley. Paul, who had worked alongside Sam in the BBC, also launched a new book entitled A Salute from the Banderol - The Selected Writings of Sam Hanna Bell, which was edited by Fergus Hanna Bell.
The programme included a short clip from one of Sam's television programmes, From the Source to the Sea, which traced the route of the Lagan all the way to Belfast Lough and there was a nice family dimension to the evening with one of Sam's grandsons reading a poem by Paul Muldoon and the other reading a poem by Michael Longley. The programme ended with a beautiful rendition of some of the songs of Robert Burns.
Sam Hanna Bell had a deep affection for Ulster and his book Erin's Loyal Lily included descriptions of activities as diverse as lambeg drumming, dancing at the feis, making poitin and working in the shipyard!
The Linen Hall Library and the committee who organised the Sam Hanna Bell Colloquium deserve our thanks for their efforts. Too many important figures in Ulster's cultural heritage have not received the attention they deserve. Earlier this year, on Burns night, the 50th anniversary of the death of W F Marshall passed almost unnoticed and yet he contributed so much to Ulster culture. As far as I can recall almost the only mention was an article in the Irish Times.