Tuesday, July 2, 2013

When is a tongue not a tongue?

While it's always sad when a language passes, and every effort should be made to preserve our linguistic diversity, sometimes it may right to view the apparent 'birth' of a new tongue with some suspicion. I say 'birth' as I, and most folk it seems, had never heard of Ulster-Scots or 'Ullans' until recent years.

There are some who feel that it is the latest figment of the Ulster Unionist imagination. After all, the 'Ulster Scots' in the north of Ireland were very happy being Irish when Queen Victoria visited in the 19th Century. Indeed, the good Protestants hung banners that read 'Céad Míle Fáilte'.

Certainly, I'd always understood that many of the Protestant 'settlers' to Ireland came from parts of Scotland - such as Galloway - that were Scottish (Gàidhlig) speaking at the time. Protestant church services in Irish continued on the east coast of Ulster until the 1920s. Further:

With their Scottish Gaelic links, the Ulster Presbyterians were in a position to evangelise
the Irish from an early date. Scottish Gaelic-speaking ministers arrived to minister to
communities of Presbyterians who spoke the language; for example, two came to
minister to the Gaelic communities on Inishowen in the seventeenth century. Others came as army chaplains in the 1640s. Some Presbyterian ministers found Ireland more
attractive that remote parts of Scotland, and some ministers who fell out of favour in
Scotland made their way to Ireland. Gaelic-speaking Scottish ministers also came to
Ireland as they were suspected of being Jacobites in Scotland.
A History of Protestant Irish Speakers

Wiki also give us this:
There are at least two Orange Lodges in Northern Ireland which represent the heritage and religious ethos of Saint Patrick. The best known is the Cross of Saint Patrick LOL (Loyal Orange lodge) 688,[69] instituted in 1968 for the purpose of (re)claiming Saint Patrick. The lodge has had several well known members, including Rev Robert Bradford MP who was the lodge chaplain who himself was killed by the Provisional IRA, the late Ernest Baird. Today Nelson McCausland MLA and Gordon Lucy, Director of the Ulster Society are the more prominent members within the lodge membership. In the 1970s there was also a Belfast lodge called Oidhreacht Éireann (Ireland's Heritage) LOL 1303, which argued that the Irish language and Gaelic culture were not the exclusive property of Catholics or republicans.[70]
Personally, I can remember songs from both 'sides' at football matches in 1980s Scotland and ugly as they were, English was the medium.

And so, we have this from An Sionnach Fionn:
The Ulster-Scots Agency or Boord o Ulstèr-Scotch was set up as part of the negotiations surrounding the Irish Peace Process of the late 1990s. Its purpose was to assuage the “ethno-nationalist” demands of the most militantly separatist political leaders of the British Unionist minority in the north-east of Ireland by giving them an official body to promote the dialect of English known as Irish-Scots which they claimed as their own. Representing a hybrid mix of Scots-English, Hiberno-English and Anglicised Irish this regional patois was supposedly spoken by several thousand people at the time of the Belfast Agreement of 1998 (though in fact when the EU sent an investigative team of academics to chart the language they were unable to find a single native speaker). The Agency’s purpose was to serve, protect and promote the language with joint funding from the nation-states of Ireland and Britain.
It could've been worse I guess. The Anglo-Saxon tongue could've adopted 'Irish' as a name and then identity crisis really would have ensued.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Apparently (acording to Brian Wilson in WHFP this week - a dodgy source, I know, but we'll give him the benefit of the doubt!) Rev Ian Paisley was not only in favour of the Colm Cille initiative, and confirmed that the Irish language was not restricted to one religion. The bigots who equate Irish with Catholicism should learn a bit of history!