Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Eoin MacNeill - 'Memoir of a Revolutionary Scholar' (c. 1932)

I found this, by the renowned Eoin MacNeill (1867–1945; Wikipedia here), whilst looking for something else –

"I was born on May 15th, 1867, twenty years to a day after Daniel O’Connell’s death. My people in Glenarm all belonged to the same local stock. They belonged to families of hillside farmers...

Glenarm was on the border between the main region of County Antrim, largely settled with Presbyterians from Scotland, and the region of the Glens, stretching north as far as Ballycastle where there was an earlier Scottish settlement under the Mac Donnell’s who came in from Argyll and the Hebrides after the breakdown of the earldom of Ulster. These were mixed with the old Irish stock of the county and were nearly all catholics. In my memory there was no native of the parish of Glenarm, who spoke Irish, and I think the same was probably true of Glencly... 

Inland towards the mountains, especially in the Braid Valley, there was a mixture of these populations and many living in that direction spoke a pure Scottish dialect of English, as distinct as may be found in the poetry of Burns. In fact Burns was a favourite among them..."

This is from his Memoir of a Revolutionary Scholar, and has much more detail in between these extracts. It is interesting that, whilst the 'pure Scottish dialect' of the Braid Valley was of no direct interest to MacNeill, he neither scorned it, nor denied its existence or validity.