Thursday, January 08, 2015

So just how popular was Scots language literature in 1800s Ulster?

... popular enough for volumes like this to exist - 200 page pocket edition of three famous Scots language poets, with vocabulary flowing with Scots joy. There were other similar volumes published by John Henderson, such as a double volume of Ramsay and Ferguson. This volume was published in the same year as Moneyrea's Robert Huddleston. It increasingly seems that Ulster was positively awash with Scots and Ulster-Scots literature for centuries, up until the 'progress' of the late 20th century and the horrors of the Troubles. 

Tannahill was a weaver, born to Ayrshire parents, but committed suicide in 1810. His work was first published in 1807. M'Neill was roughly contemporary with Burns, first published in 1789, just before he went to Jamaica for a while. Ramsay was earlier and had already been published in Belfast many times before. Just like today, printers don't print books unless there is a ready market for them.

Centuries before smartphones and iPods, these poets and publications were the pocket-sized entertainment for the masses. 200 pages of poems and songs! Our ancestors were far more literate than we give them credit for.

Tannahill MacNeill Ramsay Belfast 1844 LR