Sunday, December 30, 2012

Three into two won't go


Above: an old embroidered place setting from my own collection, showing Ulster as a combination of Thistle, Rose and Shamrock. Probably circa 1930.

I still have trouble explaining - often to people who really should know better - that the political 'two tribes' Troubles industry is not the only way to view life and history of Ulster and Northern Ireland. Perhaps the Troubles industry is too lucrative, too much of an easy-sell, for those who have grown wealthy, famous or even lazy by perpetuating it. It fills airtime and column inches, it sells books and theatre tickets, keeps people in certain jobs, and consequently fills people's hearts and heads. Politics has its place, but it should not be everything.

I will continue to argue for the cultural three strands story. On Christmas Day I was loaned a book (now that's miserly, eh?!) entitled The Orange Order, written by a Tony Gray, published in London in 1972. I have not started to read it yet, but the short author's bio on the verso caught my eye. It gives some of Gray's background, mentioning that '... his mother comes from an Ulster family of Scots-Irish settlers called McKee, his father was Anglo-Norman in origin and Church of Ireland by persuasion; and he married an Irish Catholic. So, as he says, he has been exposed to three of the main strains in the Irish situation ...'.

Thistle, Rose & Shamrock. Scottish, English & Irish. Presbyterian, Anglican & Catholic. Three cultural sides to the story, not two.


Thanks to the many thousands of you who bother to visit and read here throughout the year. I plan to be offline for a few days, so enjoy your New Year / Hogmanay celebrations and I'll be back in early 2013 (dv) with the same themes and some new thoughts and discoveries along the way.