Friday, January 03, 2020

Richard Hayward 'Border Foray' – green, blue and tartan

The famous cover of this 1957 book by Ulster author and broadcaster Richard Hayward is packed with details and stories. The book itself is a single narrative, not broken down into chapters. The front endpaper says that 'this book is written from the human, historical and topographical viewpoint rather than from the political angle, and for the most part it sheds a friendly and liberal-minded light on a highly controversial problem'. As Brexit looms, the border is more of an issue than ever, and it even has its own Twitter account with over 100,000 followers (click here). 

Hayward observed our three-stranded linguistic heritage, which he describes on page 97 as '... a piece of Irish tweed, woven of three predominant coloured strands – green, blue and tartan... green for Irish, blue for English and tartan for Scottish...'. He goes on to then describe how various regions within Ulster have differing proportions of these three, for example 'the southern Ulster dialect has more of the green and the blue than the tartan,', and so on. He understands our inherent complexity and variety.

A friend often comments to me about our tragic lack of a Seamus Heaney figure, someone who can see and articulate beyond the stereotypes, a vision that we badly need today. We also lack a Sam Hanna Bell, and we also lack a Richard Hayward.