Wednesday, June 17, 2020

A Narrow Sea: The Irish-Scottish Connection by Dr Jonathan Bardon

Dr Jonathan Bardon died just recently. I never had the pleasure of meeting him in person, but we had many mutual friends.

I once found myself unwittingly lined up against him over this old blog post from November 2009. Within about 24 hours of posting it I had a call from Radio Ulster to ask me to talk about it. I had completed my four year role as Chair of the Ulster-Scots Agency in June of that year and I felt liberated to do pretty much whatever I wanted to. So I agreed, and was interviewed in the passenger seat of the interviewer's car in a dark and rain-swept Newtownards early one November morning. The interviewer was fine, a few times he got me a bit riled up, he recorded some remarks, and that was that.

What (if I recall correctly) I didn't know when I agreed to the interview was that Dr Bardon was also going to be interviewed, and the two would then be intercut. It transpired that he had overseen the alterations to the interpretation of the Ulster Tartan Dungiven Costume that I was complaining about. When I listened to the edited version that was broadcast on Good Morning Ulster he came over like the erudite gentleman that he always was. I however sounded a wee bit mad, with my shriller moments used and my more measured moments not. It was an early lesson in my interactions with the Northern Ireland media. Be cautious when the tape is rolling.

About a year ago William Crawley did a superb one-hour special interview with Dr Bardon on his life and times, which was a wonderful listen and I hope it is made available again on iPlayer.

• The image shown here is the cover of the 2018 book version of his excellent 120 Radio Ulster episodes (which I think began around 2015) about our multi-faceted relationship with Scotland.