A widowed mother of six from Co Armagh has been threatened with a £5,000 fine if her sons breach a council order restricting the playing of Lambeg drums.
The Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s list of restrictions was hand delivered to the Markethill home of Kelley Sterritt last week.
The Sterritt family has a long tradition of playing Lambeg drums at the property close to Gosford Forest Park, but a recent “noise nuisance” complaint has resulted in an order that limits drum practice to a total of one hour per week.
Depending on the day of the week, drumming is restricted to between 10am and 2pm, and between 4pm and 7pm, but only on two chosen days and for no more than 30 minutes in total on each of those two days.
Mrs Sterritt, whose husband Richard died in 2016, has notified the council that her family will not abide by the restrictions as her sons need to practise and tune the instruments immediately before each competition or event.
“On any particular night the last drum would have been hit about eight o’clock when they were going to a competition, and they are all at school or college so it’s not as if they are playing at the crack of dawn or anything,” she told the News Letter.
“A Lambeg drum is not like a tin whistle that you just take out of a case and it’s ready to go. And this has been going on at this address for over 60 years. It’s the boys at the minute but previous to that it was their daddy and before that their grandfather Ernie. We were the first house on the road and then a lot of other houses came up around us.”
Mrs Sterritt added: “I feel it would be impossible to work around those timings.”
One neighbour who spoke to the Ulster Gazette was quoted in the local paper as saying the boys’ drums are “never played for a duration or at a time which could be considered anti-social”.
The council letter warns of a fine of up to £5,000 if the order is breached.
A spokesperson for the council said: “The council can confirm an Abatement Notice in respect of a Statutory Noise Nuisance has been served and is part of an ongoing investigation.
“Councils have a statutory duty to investigate noise complaints and if a nuisance is established the council is obliged to serve an abatement notice. Anyone served with an abatement notice by council has the right to appeal to the magistrates court.”