Donkey 262 and Big Jimmy feature in BBC NI film exploring Ulster-Scots

A father and son farming duo who found fame on TikTok made their small screen debut on BBC Two Northern Ireland last night.

By Joanne Knox
Monday, 23rd May 2022, 12:45 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd May 2022, 12:52 pm

Robert Heaney, better known as Donkey 262 on TikTok, and his dad ‘Big Jimmy’ were invited to take part in ‘The Toon – Back to Ballymoney’.

Read: Donkey 262: Watch this special message for Farming Life readersThe short film, which aired at 10.30pm last night, follows writer Ewen Glass as he returns from England to his hometown of Ballymoney.

Ewen left the town when he was 18 years old to study at university in Scotland, but his Ulster-Scots roots remain extremely important to him.

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Image: BBC Two Northern Ireland/BBC iPlayer

Now living in Lincoln, Ewen strives to preserve his language and Ulster-Scots cultural identity, and feels passionate about passing on this appreciation and understanding to his young son Nathaniel.

During his visit to ‘the toon’ Ewen takes a trip to the Heaney’s farm near Bushmills, where he meets with Robert and his dad Jimmy.

Ewen may be wearing socks, but his choice of white trainers for a visit to the farm certainly amuses Jimmy!

Videos from Donkey 262 have received over two billion views on the social media app, TikTok.

Image: BBC Two Northern Ireland/BBC iPlayer

When quizzed by Ewen about the popularity of his content, Robert says “it just took off” and that he believes it is ‘the way he says things’ that has kept viewers entertained.

Speaking after meeting with the pair, Ewen says: “Them boys live it and breathe it and talk it, and they’re getting their videos and that humour - their Ulster-Scots perspective and humour - they’re getting it out to hundreds of thousands of people.

“One thing’s for sure, I won’t be wearing these white gutties to a farm any time soon,” he jokes.

‘Hame’ isn’t a nostalgic tug at the heartstrings for Ewen, it’s something richer and deeper, and always there. A sense of belonging.

Image: BBC Two Northern Ireland/BBC iPlayer

His hometown of Ballymoney was always known as ‘coo’ town and Ewen visits an impressive mural of a cow painted on a wall in Seymour Street.

He is joined by award-winning Ulster-Scots poet and editor of the local newspaper, Alan Millar.

Under the watchful eye of the cow, Alan recites some of his work.

Also during the film, Ewen pays a visit to his mum who now lives in Carrickfergus.

He then meets Bonny Cooper who is originally from China.

They discuss how important it is to Bonny that her son, Adam, learns about his Chinese roots.

Bonny finds cooking traditional meals helpful and, in turn, her son is passing this knowledge on to others through his YouTube channel ‘Addy Cooks’.

Ewen meets with Rian O Diomasaigh who uses Twitter to educate and share his Ulster-Scots word of the day.

He then stops off at his old primary school where Ulster-Scots author, Angeline King, is reading some of her stories to the children.

Finally, Ewen is joined by his wife Anna and their son Nathaniel for a visit to Reivers House in Kilkeel, where they chat to Roberta Heaney about the Ulster-Scots activities being offered to young people in the town.

The film is a Triplevision Production for BBC Northern Ireland, with assistance from the Northern Ireland Screen Ulster-Scots Broadcast Fund.

If you missed the film last night, you can still watch it on the BBC iPlayer, just search for ‘The Toon – Back to Ballymoney’.