Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"The Secret History - Our Own"

As you know I've recently been drawing attention to the complete absence of any meaningful Ulster-Scots cultural history in Northern Ireland's institutions, whether in museums, education or the general media. Everything here is viewed through political glasses, and as a result cultural identity or history that doesn't neatly fit into the pre-determined political "two tribes" stereotypes gets suppressed, or scorned. (would it be too cynical of me to suggest that a lot of people have made careers and hefty incomes out of perpetuating "two tribes"? Flying round the world giving lectures on "conflict resolution" and "peace and reconciliation" must have its benefits...) So when I saw this large quote in an article in the Sunday Herald when I was in Dumfries, it caught my eye. Looks like the folk in Scotland are caught in a similar experience as we are ourselves. The article was entitled "The Secret History - Our Own", by Ian Bell. Try to find it online, it makes interesting reading.

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Two great letters are available on The Scotsman website:
"...People are more interested in entertainment than sacrifice. Jacobites have good pub songs. Covenanters have hymns..."

FOOTNOTE: Back in 2006, when I was working on the Hamilton & Montgomery Settlement project, I had two sharp comments aimed at me. One was "you're just doing this to trump the Flight of the Earls in 2007", and another was "'Ayrshire to Ulster' doesn't have the same romantic appeal as 'Rathmullan to Rome'". My response to the first one was to laugh. My response to the second was "it really depends on your theological and cultural reference point".

2 comments:

RG said...

the complete absence of any meaningful Ulster-Scots cultural history in Northern Ireland's institutions

Noticed you especially mention the new Ulster Museum, I was shocked at the lack of Irish Gaelic references too. (Maybe shocked is the wrong word in this Anglo-centric state.)

Mark Thompson said...

RG - thanks for your comment. NI really does need to try at every level to get past the dominance of political narratives, and to present culture and heritage as a far more holistic thing