Archive for July, 2010

Ulster-Scots: Culture v Race

Had an email response the other day to my post below entitled Congratulations Londonderry in which I referred to the early Lowland Scots settlers of North Down and the Ards the Hamilton and Montgomery settlement from May 1606 onwards, their equivalents in Derry, Donegal and Killybegs who came as tenants of Bishop George Montgomery from Spring 1607 onwards. On that particular post I left out the third wave of Lowlander settlement in Ulster which was encouraged by the Earl of Antrim, Randall MacDonnell in June 1607 see previous blog post about this important story here.

The email was along the lines of but there were Scots settling in Ulster long before 1606/1607, so how come you dont include them as Ulster Scots.

Personally, its because Ulster-Scots is not a geographical or racial term – its cultural. The answer begins in Scotland. Around 1380, two Scotlands emerged, one Highland and one Lowland, with identifiable cultural and linguistic differences, one Highland and one Lowland. That year John of Fordun wrote in Chronicles of the Scottish Nation that the manners and customs of the Scots vary with the diversity of their speech. For two languages are spoken among them. The Introduction of the Chambers Concise Scots Dictionary says that by the fourteenth century this language had become the dominant spoken tongue of all ranks of Scots east and south of the Highland Line… see map below. Fordun also described a range of cultural differences, outlining a Highland / Lowland cultural divide.

AB82726A-5DDF-4D24-986F-85B403C299CE.jpg By the time the Reformation arrived in Scotland, in the early 1500s through figures like the Lollards and Murdoch Nisbet of Ayrshire, the Wedderburn brothers of Dundee, Patrick Hamilton of St Andrews, and John Knox a whole new dimension of cultural difference was introduced – so much so that by the early 1600s, Gaelic/Gallic writers were using specific terms for the Lowland Scots to distinguish them from Gaelic Highland Scots this book cites the term fir Alban as one of them. It was these specific people who began to arrive in Ulster as settled communities in 1606/1607.

Throughout written history the term Ulster-Scots has overwhelmingly referred to the Ulster outworkings of these Lowland Scots – to their culture. If Ulster-Scots is to be stretched to become a racial or geographical term, then perhaps the 1200s-1400s Gaelic Gallowglasses/Gall�glaigh and 1400s-1500s Gaelic Redshanks from Argyll which Barry McCain has explored well should be included. However if it is to remain as a cultural term, then they should not.

1606/1607 was when Lowland Scottish culture arrived in Ulster. There was no meaningful Lowland Scots communal or cultural arrival in Ulster before this. Thats why 1606/1607 is The Dawn of the Ulster-Scots.

Food for thought. Your feedback would be appreciated.

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GospelFest, Donacloney, 20-22 August

We have the privilege of playing at this years GospelFest event. It is spread over three consecutive evenings, and were taking part on the Saturday evening with Live Issue and Iris Evans. We met Colin Elliott of Live Issue a few months ago at an evening in Mountnorris and got on like a house on fire, which led to us being invited to GospelFest. Live Issue have the unique honour of being the only group from Ireland to ever perform at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee The Friday evening is Band Night with Heatherbrook Silver Band and Bailies Mills Accordion Band. On the Sunday night are Band of Brothers. It promises to be a great weekend, and as far as we know is free, first come first served The GospelFest site is at 28 Old Bann Road, Donacloney, about half way between Banbridge and Waringstown.

Meanwhile were going to be up at the Cairncastle Ulster-Scots Festival this Saturday evening, which is always a great event. We also had a very flattering invitation to go to the USA later this year, but we feel that we should focus our limited efforts here at home for the foreseeable future. Ye cannae get dacent soda farls onywhaur else

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Any room for some jellied eels?

This handpainted sign in Paignton, Devon raised a smile last week…

Jellied

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Twelfth should be Irish holiday

Twelfth should be Irish holiday http://ping.fm/Hp3JZ July 12 is already a public holiday in Northern Ireland when thousands of Orangemen.. 482 words


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Loughries Ulster-Scots Summer Scheme

Sixty children are attending the Loughries Historical Society Summer Scheme which runs throughout this week in Castle Gardens Primary School in Newtownards.� They are full to capacity and the demand was greater than the number of places.� This is one of about 30 summer scheme supported by the Ulster-Scots Agency, with most of them in Northern Ireland and a few across the border in Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal.

There is good�co-operation between the society and the school and indeed the school is to the fore in bringing Ulster-Scots culture into the classroom.� There are some people who say there is no demand for Ulster-Scots in schools but summer schemes such as this show that there is a genuine demand.

I was impressed by the tuition in music and dance and it was good to see the boys participating in the country dances.� The children learning the fiddle did a good job on the old tune The Star of the County Down and certainly had our feet tapping.

It was encouraging to hear that the summer scheme has received some support from Ards Borough Council as well as the funding from the Agency but of course nothign could happen without the team of dedicated volunteers.
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Cultural diversity

Yesterday I visited the McCracken International Summer School in North Belfast, which is now in its 11th year.� It is based at the 174 Trust and also at St Patrick's School further up the Antrim Road.� The summer school is part of the annual programme of the McCracken cultural society which promotes the Irish language in the north of the city and it was extremely well attended.� While I was there there were performances in Irish and Scottish Gaelic and there was an international and multicultural lunch.� I am very conservative in my tastes but the Colombian fruit salad was delicious�

In the evening I also visited the Cairncastle Ulster-Scots Festival, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary and growing year by year.� The quality of the performers was very high and the evening was enjoyed by a very large audience.� The festival runs through each day until Saturday, with the main cocnert each night in the the marquee, and then there is a Praise Service at 2.30 pm on Sunday.� The growth in the festival is due to the hard work of the Cairncastle Ulster-Scots Society and reflects the growth in Ulster-Scots activity across the Province.
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