The Flanighans of Amble

by Phil Heaton


This is the picture sent to me by Mel Flanighan (note the spelling - the original researchers, Joss Mellor, etc, spelled it Flanagan). I met him in a netty in a barn in Castle Donnington, Derbyshire, where I was calling at a wedding ceilidh, and we shared the same urinal.

“Now yung'un hows it gaan?”

“Champion man. Good wedding. You're a lang way from yaem?”

“Oh, aa'm part of the famly, man. That's me missus yev been chatten to.”

“Aye? Where ye from then?”

“Why, aa'm frae Amble. Dos't tha kna it?”

“Why aye, aa'm from Seaham Harbour ye kna... in Durham but aa've danced round the pubs in Amble, wi the sword dance”

“How man aa'm a Flanighan. We'v got the old sword dance in worn famly! In fact, aa'v just getten a picture of the old team and we'r just havin it copied.”

Mel went on to tell me that a local historian had collected thousands of photographs recently and had turned one up - only one so far - of the sword dance team.

The team were basically the Flanighans, famed in Amble for their out of work activities... of which the sword dance was one.

Frank Flanighan is the only one of the dancers still going but he has recently recovered from a broken leg and an eye operation so that he has not been able to identify the rest of the team or to add any more information.

The photograph is thought to be from the late twenties, and some of the older Flanighans are the two characters sitting. On the left is Fiddler Jones and next to him is is probably John Flanighan. It is expected that further information will come out of Amble. Nice if there could be another sword team...

Many thanks to Mel Flanighan for the photo and the information so far.