Sunday, June 06, 2021

Voddie Baucham

Friday, June 04, 2021

Irish Whiskey Review livestream


Had a lot of fun doing this livestream chat with Marty McAuley and Justin Macartney – and of course with Fionnán O'Connor last Saturday night, ahead of the BBC broadcast of Whiskey Talkin'. More on that to follow...

Thursday, June 03, 2021

Football's Coming Hame

Well done to the marketing people at Adidas for this stroke of Scottish genius, painted onto a wall in Glasgow ahead of the European Championships which begin next week. 

Football is not just a sport, it is a deep form of popular identity formation, both locally around towns and cities, and also for nations or countries.

I have travelled back and forth to England a lot from 1992 onwards. I distinctly remember summer 1996 – the summer of the Euro '96 tournament being hosted there, and of course the famous anthem Football's Coming Home – as the summer when Englishness and St George's Flags seemed to suddenly explode in popularity. Flags were flying in pubs and gardens and town centres to an extent I'd never seen before. And being from NI, I am fairly flag-conscious!

The wave of 'Cool Britannia' was a factor in Tony Blair's Labour Party coming into government less than a year later in May 1997 (remember Things Can Only Get Better?) – yet these things also enhanced the sense of individual nations within the UK. That autumn, in September 1997, the Scottish Devolution Referendum was held, and by summer 1999 Scotland had its own Parliament once again. And ever since, Scottishness has become more and more distinctive.

Englishness and Scottishness have revived and diverged over those past 25 years. Football might have kicked it all off in 1996. 

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Untidy desks and three perspectives on the "culture wars"


In this interview, Eric Kaufmann says that "if your desk is messy you're more likely to be liberal on immigration" (go to 28:40). So that's me defined – and might help explain why I see the Ulster/Scotland relationship as one of a continuum of two-way (im)migrations rather than one-way top-down power-led oppressor-imposed "colonialism".

I first came across Kaufmann around 2007 when he did an academic review of the then Institute of Ulster-Scots Studies at the University of Ulster. There's a lot that's interesting stuff in this interview with Thaddeus Russell around the whole "culture wars" and "wokeness" stuff that's so hot right now. Russell himself is an interesting figure, he says on his own website that "during my early childhood our house on Woolsey Street in Berkeley hosted Black Panthers, IRA guerrillas, and Marxist intellectuals from all over the world."

Another angle is by Mary Eberstadt of the Catholic Information Center in Washington DC who sees it all as a surrogate family, a social purpose for the family-less generation, as she explained in this recent Triggernometry interview –


Finally, this fascinating, detailed and lengthy article in Jewish periodical The Tablet by Michael Lind – The Revenge of the Yankees: How Social Gospel became Social Justice – looks back to 100 years ago in the USA when it was an American Northern Protestant 'Social Gospel' ideological élite who sought to set the nation's cultural agenda. He makes the connection between that movement and today's increasingly authoritarian secular 'wokeness' (which again seeks to set the cultural agenda) and proposes that it is in fact a direct descendant. Here's a killer quote –

"The increasingly powerful and intolerant woke national overclass justifies its cultural iconoclasm in the name of oppressed minorities. But this is just an excuse for a top-down program of cultural imperialism by mostly white, affluent, college-educated managers and professionals and rentiers. Woke attitudes are much less common among Black Americans and Hispanic Americans than among the white college-educated elite.

What we are witnessing is a power grab carried out chiefly by some white Americans against other white Americans. The goal of the new woke national establishment, the successor to the old Northeastern mainline Protestant establishment that was temporarily displaced by the neo-Jacksonian New Deal Democratic coalition, is to stigmatise, humiliate and disempower recalcitrant Southern, Catholic, and Jewish whites, along with members of ethnic and racial minorities who refuse to be assimilated into the new national orthodoxy disseminated from New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and the prestigious private universities of New England. Properly understood, the Great Awokening is the revenge of the Yankees." **

Kaufmann and Russell get onto similar ground as Lind, by asking if what's happening around these issues is neither racial, nor economic, but is in fact a class conflict (go to 24:00) –

"... could it still be about class? Class is defined both culturally and economically – you can have working class culture and be rich, and vice versa ... it's been largely a civil war between those who are 'of college' – who went to college and speak the language of humanities departments – and those who are not of that world and that culture. Higher education has defined the culture of the dominant liberal class..."

The world is changing. There is always lots to think about. The easy answers are usually wrong.

• Thaddeus Russell's website is here


** PS:  Where Lind goes wrong is that he slips into 'groupthink', and fails to explain that the group term 'Protestant' is not a singular entity, but a widely diverse categorisation. 'Protestant' – both in Ireland and in America – can often be an unhelpful term, just used as a lazy umbrella which in fact camouflages a multiplicity of differing ideas, denominations, communities, the powerful and the powerless, etc. It should be theological, but seldom is any more. The 'Protestant' concept in the context of Michael Lind's article is the very same WASP 'Protestant' concept that JD Vance, author of 2016's Hillbilly Elegy, dissected when he said this in his opening pages –

“I may be white, but I do not identify with the WASPs of the northeast ... Instead, I identify with the millions of working-class white Americans of Scots-Irish descent who have no college degree.” 

Monday, May 31, 2021

The Sermon on the Mount is "absurd", "stupid", "extreme", "unhuman"

This is a famous story told by Tim Keller, the renowned American Presbyterian minister and author, about Professor of English Virginia Stem Owens when she had tasked her students with reading and responding to Jesus' famous Sermon On The Mount. All of their assumptions and expectations were utterly shattered... it leaves no room for our modern moralistic notions of being "good living". The story starts here at 38:25. 

Friday, May 28, 2021

TV Rewind


On the cusp of a new television project I've been involved in being broadcast this weekend – Whiskey Talkin' (which, very appropriately, has been around 3 years from first discussions to completion) I've been reminiscing through my 'timeline' of television-related projects and programmes, and thought it might be useful to jot them down here, even for my own future reference.

Anybody that knows me will be aware that it took years of persuading for me to eventually have a proper go in front of a camera. Presenting isn't something I ever imagined I'd do, or even set out to become – proper presenters are great at it and I'm nowhere near their league. But opportunities came along. Here are the diary landmarks –

• 2003 Twa Lads o Pairts 
The first ever TV programme I took part in was filmed in Summer 2003 and was broadcast on Burns Night 2004, a BBC documentary called Twa Lads o Pairts. It followed both me, and the renowned North Antrim community poet Charlie Gillen, in our own localities en route to eventually meeting up at the Ballycarry Broadisland Gathering which we both took part in that year.

So that was that. In December 2010 I was invited to take part in an industry panel discussion with Northern Ireland Screen, and following that in early 2011 I was invited to be part of their Ulster-Scots Broadcast Fund committee, which I did until summer 2012. Nine years that went very fast.

• Summer 2012
With the USBF role concluded, I had an email that very same summer from a seemingly nervous producer (I had no idea that I had such a fearsome reputation – I was very tired of so many tv company researchers cold-calling and cold-emailing just to, as they always said, "pick your brains" – so that fatigue seemed to be well-known). We got on very well and stayed in regular contact, sharing a lot of common interests.

Three years later, in 2015, a few individual tv appearances started to be suggested, which turned out to be both enjoyable and interesting to do. Eventually the concept for a brand new series was proposed, with me in a more prominent role. But as that producer knows, I wasn't easy to talk round...

• Autumn 2017
Two more years ticked on by, during which lots of discussions, thoughts and ideas circulated. Eventually, in late summer and early Autumn 2017, we shot a couple of wee test rehearsal things here around home, some scripted and some ad-libbed. Whoever needed to see those must have been happy enough because at the end of September 2017 it all began for real when we started filming that brand new series, in Raphoe in Donegal, for the first episode of six, entitled Hame. 

Hame was broadcast in January 2018. The community participants in each place were happy with how they'd been portrayed and that they'd been given space to speak for themselves. A wider audience was attracted, the contributors and content have always been very strong, and the team who make it all happen are great. We're currently planning series 4.

Overall, I've no idea how long this will continue for. Nothing is guaranteed, timing is everything, opportunities don't come along very often, and every now and again I think "that'll do me". I'll be 50 in January, everybody has a "sell by date", and you can footer your life away. Whenever it all comes to an end, it'll have been fun and I think worthwhile to have done.

............

In and around these have been brief appearances with Paul Rankin and Nick Nairn for their Big Food Trip (2013); with Tim McGarry for his Minding Your Language (2015); with William Crawley for Imagining Ulster (2015); on Phil Cunningham's Wayfaring Stranger (2017); with Gerry Kelly for Links to the Past: Pioneers of Ulster Golf (2019) and Ralph McLean and Ricky Warwick Rock N Roll Highway (also 2019). There micht hae been a wheen mair but A cannae mind.

............

I'm also thankful for the radio opportunities I've had, on A Kist o Wurds, Kintra, and other BBC Radio Ulster things such as the recent adaptation of Sons Of The Sod.

I'm not always very helpful, not always on good form, not always available, don't always have the answers or the archives – but I hope that whatever I have been able to help out with, behind the scenes for other companies and other programmes that I've not actually been on-screen for, has been useful to somebody in some way.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Sazerac Corporation, Glenmore Distilleries of Kentucky – and the Ulster dimension

In May 1956, 60 year old Colonel Frank Thompson (1895–1990) – veteran of two World Wars and the Chairman of the Glenmore Distilleries Kentucky whiskey empire that his Ulster-born father James, and uncle Frank, had founded in 1872 – sailed into Belfast Lough on his 90ft Danish-built motor yacht also called Glenmore.

Col Thompson was an accomplished sailor and he knew our coastline well as he'd sailed into Dublin, Belfast and Londonderry (to visit family at Longfield near Eglinton) in September 1953, not long after taking delivery of the vessel. He was also the heroic 'face' of the Distillery and its many brands, appearing in its advertising campaigns, suitably attired as a Kentucky gentleman.

As is normal for voyages of this scale, the yacht needed some scheduled maintenance, and also a replacement skipper. Frank was specifically hoping that an Islandmagee man would take the job – in the end he got one from Gilnahirk.

Born on 4 July 1895, Frank won the French Croix de Guerre medal for his Great War service. He died in February 1990, aged 84, his funeral service was held at Highland Presbyterian Church in Louisville.

Today, Glenmore Distilleries is the North America headquarters of the global Sazerac corporation, and is still located where the Thompsons founded it – in Owensboro, Kentucky, on the bank of the Ohio River.

Much, much more to follow...

Friday, April 16, 2021

Robert Wallace Murray – Belfast Tobacco Entrepreneur and Confederate Veteran – an 1890 autobiography


I posted here about Murray back in 2013 (post here), his father's grave in 2016 (post here) and in August 2020 some photos of a tin of his Scotch Plaid brand of tobacco (post here). I've recently found an autobiographical account of his life and Confederate war service, from a lecture he gave to the Belfast Natural History and Philosophical Society on 2 December 1890.

I hadn't known that he relocated from Virginia to Belfast between the ages of 19 and 24, before then going back to Virginia where he was caught up in the developing War, and joined the army aged 25. The account is online here, on Archive.org, but I'm posting the text below for convenience. 

........................

R. W. Murray, Esq., J. P., read a Paper on 
EIGHTEEN MONTHS IN THE CONFEDERATE ARMY. 

'The Southern States of America at the time of the Civil War, though determined to maintain slavery, were not fighting for it, as it had not been attacked, but for what they regarded as their rights under the Constitution.

I presume most of my audience are aware of the fact that I am a Virginian by birth. Circumstances occurred in 1855 which changed my residence from America to this country, and with the expectation of making it my permanent home I lived in Belfast until 1860.

Cogent reasons then existed for my return to the States, and, having decided on Norfolk, Virginia, as my future home, I returned to America in 1860, when not only the whole country was intensely excited by the Presidential campaign, then being hotly conducted, but anxiety was pictured in every face, as it was felt the only possible result was the election of Mr. Lincoln, the consequence of which was not difficult to foresee.

I remained quietly in Norfolk, a loyal citizen of the United States, until the battle of Fort Sumpter, which followed the secession of the seven cotton States from the Union, when Mr. Lincoln issued his famous proclamation calling upon Virginia and all other States in the Union to furnish their contingent of men to subdue the rebellion. Neutrality then became a crime, and Virginia had to decide whether to take her place by the side of her natural allies and fight for or against the rights, a principle she had successfully contended for on the first formation of the Union, and which had ever since continued the creed of the dominant political party. Her action was not doubtful, and, foreseeing that all intercourse with the outer world must soon close, I hurried North in April, 1861, with the object of arranging some private business before all communication was suspended. I was, however, only permitted to proceed to Baltimore. On the night of April 20th the great arsenal of Norfolk was evacuated, when nine ships of war were destroyed to prevent them falling into Confederate hands. This great Confederate success was achieved by the strategy of a Virginian citizen soldier and the bravery of three companies of Virginian volunteers. Troops from the South soon afterwards came in force, and a few days placed Norfolk in such a state of defence that the fears of the most timid were set at rest.

The action of the Federal Government had now only effectually crushed out the last lingering attachment of Virginia to the Union, and, having decided to join the Confederate Army, I spent a few months at the University, Virginia, where a school for drill had been established, and a course of lectures on the science of war was delivered by a French ex-officer.

A few months after the battle of Bull Run I entered the Confederate service as a private in a Norfolk company which had existed long before the war, and had formed one of three companies that had relieved the Federal Government of the Norfolk arsenal. It offered also this inducement, that it was composed almost exclusively of gentlemen. For some months we were encamped in the neighbourhood of Norfolk, Virginia. By far the most interesting event of my garrison life was the witnessing of the greatest naval engagement of the war between the Confederate ram "Merrimack" and the first Federal "Monitor." 

Shortly after this the term of enlistment of most of the Confederate army expired, and it had of necessity to be reorganised. I had been then offered a captaincy of a company, but, shrinking from the responsibility, I declined it for a first lieutenancy. I found subsequently, however, that I enjoyed all the responsibility of captain, but with only the rank and pay of first Lieutenant, my captain being only present in our first engagement...'

Mr. Murray then described the first battle in which he took part, an engagement before Richmond between the Federal General MacLellan and General Lee, who commanded the Confederate forces ; — and continued : 

'If I must honestly confess my own feelings, I had never any desire for a first engagement. The more I heard of the whistling of the bullets the more I became convinced that Charles XII was a madman. The Confederate soldiers were miserably armed at the time, particularly those regiments that had manned the heavy batteries around Norfolk, conspicuously among which was my own company. On inspection it was found that they were so miserably equipped that the option was given of remaining in camp. We had certainly never contemplated meeting an enemy with such weapons, but while I suspected that many shared my own feelings, I was sure that not one of us would have lagged behind, even though we had been asked without arms to act as a target for the enemy's shot. We, however, were placed in the rear as a reserve, and during the whole of the day the battle of Fair Oaks or Seven Pines raged in our front. About sunset our regiment was ordered forward, and we for the first time came under fire when it was too late to continue the contest. We bivouacked on the field, but all night long our rest was broken by the shrieks of the wounded and the twinkling lights of the ambulance corps. So sudden had the call been made upon us, that we had neither haversacks nor provisions, and we had to satisfy the cravings of nature by collecting biscuits from the haversacks of the dead which lay thickly scattered about us.' 

Mr. Murray, proceeding, gave an account of the other battles and engagements in which he took part or was a witness of. His description of the privations which he and the soldiers under his command, and the army to which he was attached, demonstrated, if the fact needed such, that a soldier's life in the time of war is anything but a desirable one.

He had numerous hairbreadth escapes, on one occasion, while carrying despatches to the colonel of his regiment, being the target for a considerable time of a number of Federal marksmen. In the course of his lecture he paid a tribute to the generalship of " Stonewall" Jackson and Lee. When he left the army the war had almost come to an end.

He closed with the hope that none of his audience might ever pass through a similar experience, and the prayer that "the weapons of our warfare may be spiritual, and not carnal." 

........................

PS: This talk was presumably drawn from the content of a booklet of the same title that Murray had published at Warrington in England in 1877 (see entry here on WorldCat). His first wife, Marion, was from Warrington, the daughter of Robert Workman of Belfast. The Murrays moved to Belfast in 1880; she died in 1882 at their home, named Arlington, on Windsor Avenue, Belfast.





Wednesday, April 14, 2021

William Christopher (W.C.) Handy 'The Father of the Blues' – An Emancipation, Education and Musical Journey, from Anahilt to Alabama



It's a long way from Anahilt in County Down to Alabama, but it can be done – especially if you go via Nashville, Tennessee – where the new National Museum of African American Music opened back at the end of January (website here).

I've posted here before about Presbyterian Rev Joseph Gillespie McKee from Anahilt (1832–1868; see previous post here), and his educational work amongst 'freedmen' slaves in the city of Nashville, the effects of which would cost him his health and eventually his life.

His work was the foundation of what became Fisk University in 1866. Joseph McKee died two years later in 1868. The renowned Fisk Jubilee Singers emerged as a touring acapella ensemble in 1871, through the vision of George Leonard White, ostensibly to raise funds for the University. One of the first Singers was Maggie Wilson, later Porter (1853–1942), who was a former pupil of McKee's (source here). The Fisk Jubilee Singers visited the north of Ireland in 1873, singing to enthralled audiences in Belfast (at the Ulster Hall) and Londonderry (at First Derry Presbyterian Church on the famous city walls).



• The Handy family of northern Alabama
That same year, in rural north Alabama, a boy called William Christopher Handy was born, on 16 November 1873. Blues musicians like Robert Johnson (1911–38) have a high profile still today, but from the previous generation, W. C. Handy is the true 'Father of the Blues'. His grandparents had been slaves, and his father, Charles B Handy, was the minister of a small African Methodist Episcopal church in Guntersville in northern Alabama, on the banks of the Tennessee River, 150 miles south of Nashville. In his 1938 Collection of Negro Spirituals Handy reminisced that the church was 'the first to be built by my grandfather and from whose pulpit my father preached many a sermon'.

From W.C.'s 1941 autobiography it's clear that the area was socially divided, but mostly along class lines, which he labels as 'cultured' (ie well off and educated) and 'uncultured' (ie poor and uneducated) – with white people and black people mixing to some extent within these two categories. Here is Handy's home cabin.



• Guitar, Whistling and Fiddling for Dances
Religiously his family was very conservative. His mother 'admitted a fondness for the guitar, but she could not play it because the church put a taboo on such instruments'. An uncle banned his children even from whistling. Before his maternal grandfather Christopher Brewer 'got religion, he used to play the fiddle for dances'. Knitting needles were used as drumsticks.

• Early Influences and 'The Devil's Playthings'.
A trumpet player called Claude Seals was the first musician that 'fired my imagination' – he had come to town to play with the local Baptist choir. But Handy really wanted a guitar, and saved what little money he could until he could afford to buy one at the local department store. When he presented it at home for the first time, both of his parents were furious – 'my father was outraged. "One of the Devil's playthings!... whatever possessed you to bring a sinful thing like that into our Christian home!" W. C. took it back to the store and exchanged it for a Webster's Dictionary. 




• Professor Young A. Wallace, the first graduate from Fisk University
With discouragement at home, school was to be where Handy's musical training first came. His teacher at Florence District School for Negroes was a local man, Professor Young A. Wallace, or 'Y. A. Wallace'. Wallace had been among the very first class to graduate from Fisk University in Nashville in 1877. 

In The Heritage of Lauderdale County, Alabama Young A. Wallace is mentioned in an article about the St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the oldest churches in north west Alabama. The congregation was founded in 1840.

"About the year 1860 one tall man of mixed blood, Robin Lightfoot, a slave-preacher who could read a little together with the following named men: LaFayette Simpson, Sr., Edward Poole, Sr., Charles Grey, Jerry Simpson, John Rapier, Cain Leach, Harvey Weakley, Sr., Anthony Simpson, Charles Handy, Harrison Woods secured a lot which is now intersected by the highway leading to O'Neal Bridge. On this lot was a brick cowhouse which the men converted into a church. Then, with Lightfoot as their leader organized the first known Negro church south of the Mason Dixon line. The slave owners did not interfere with the assembly of slaves in this church nor did they permit patrolers to intimidate them.

During the year 1862, Robin Lightfoot held revival in this church and Y. A. Wallace and his brother Beverly Wallace were mourners (definition here). Y. A. Wallace left Florence with a general in the Union Army which passed through the town. He went seeking an education and after completing his course at Fisk University, returned to Florence and taught school for many years. Mr. Wallace was given credit by William Handy for starting the first chorus in Negro churches in Florence. St. Paul was one of these churches. Lightfoot preached continually to his congregation that freedom would come for the Negro slaves."

 



Rev Robin Lightfoot, aged 73, was murdered by lynching/hanging by Confederate soldiers in 1862.

Some histories of the area link his murder to the wartime arrest and imprisonment, on 8 August 1862, of Rev William Henry Mitchell, the Monaghan-born and Belfast-educated and Princeton-qualified minister of Florence's First Presbyterian Church from 1851–71, who was also President of Florence Synodical Female College. Mitchell had pro-Confederate sympathies and was often outspoken in the pulpit, even when Union soldiers were present.



W. C. was under Y. A. Wallace's tutelage for 11 years. A search on Newspapers.com show that Y. A. was also politically very active in the community, leading the local Republican Party branch on a range of issues.

• "My Introduction to the Rudiments of Music"
Evidently Wallace was a main of personal faith, however Handy wrote that 'Professor Wallace had no interest in the spirituals. Though the famous Fisk Jubilee Singers toured the world in his day and created a lasting esteem for these songs, he made no attempt to instruct us in this remarkable folk music' – he also credits Wallace with being his first great musical mentor – 'my introduction to the rudiments of music was largely gained during the 11 years I spent under this quaint instructor in the Florence District School for Negroes'.

Handy wrote that under Wallace 'we learned to sing in all keys, measures and movements. We learned all the songs in "Gospel Hymns, one to six" [an Ira D Sankey collection]. Each year we bought new instruction books and advanced to a point where we could sing excerpts from the works of Wagner, Bizet, Verdi and other masters – all without instrumental accompaniment'. He goes on to explain in some detail the musical theory and singing skills that Wallace taught him. Yet, Wallace could see no future in music as a career – 'what can music do but bring you to the gutter?'.

Y. A. Wallace died in June 1937. Here is his obituary from The Florence Herald of 25 June 1937:



'What can music do but bring you to the gutter?'. How wrong Wallace was. Not only is W. C. Handy credited with being the 'Father of the Blues', he learned the music business fast; he had sold the rights to his composition The Memphis Blues for just $100 – but he soon set up a publishing company to secure copyrights to all further compositions, including his St Louis Blues

 



.......................

• PS: On my previous post about Joseph McKee, back in 2015, author Andrew Ward was kind enough to place this informative comment – "Thank you for your article on Joseph McKee, who features in the early chapters of my book, Dark Midnight When I Rise: The Story of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. He was a truly heroic figure, and though his establishment competed, and, in the end, lost its preeminence to the Fisk enterprise and its sponsor, the American Missionary Association, he was a remarkably tenacious toiler among the Contrabands of Nashville, and deserves a memorial plaque. "Tell me not of Burmah's heathen," he versified to his brother in India, "Far away o'er oceans' foam. / Teach them, teach them who can reach them / We have heathen nearer home."

• A C-SPAN video of Andrew Ward giving a talk on the subject, including Joseph Gillespie McKee, in June 2000 can be viewed here.

 





Friday, April 09, 2021

Another "man o' independent mind" - William Walker (1871-1918)


William Walker's name has popped up from time to time in various bits of reading I've been doing. The two books above – The Belfast Labour Unionist Centenary Essays (Umiskin Press, 2018, online here) and Dr Mike Mecham's biography of Walker Social Activist and Belfast Labourist (Umiskin Press, 2019, online here) will tell Walker's story better than I will, so I'll not mangle it here, but will outline a few highlights.

He was born 150 years ago in 1871. His father was a shipyard worker, and Walker was an apprentice joiner and member of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners, a Scottish trade union. A Rechabite and teetotaller, he described his religion as "Agno-Theist" on a census form but his wife and children are listed as Presbyterians.

He has been presented by some as a kind of Unionist version of James Connolly, with whom he debated in print, convinced that the 'Four Nations' together would most effectively protect workers' rights. The Larne Times said that Walker 'held advanced views on social questions, and championed the Socialist cause in the city at the Custom House steps and elsewhere in its early days of propaganda in the city'.

Scotsman Keir Hardie, the Labour party founder and leader, came to Belfast to campaign for Walker. (I have visited Hardie's monument, outside Cumnock Town Hall, a few times). In December 1902 Walker was selected as a candidate for the Duncairn Ward in North Belfast; in January 1904 Walker addressed an audience of trade unionists in the Ulster Hall.

Walker had stood for election twice, in September 1905 (against the Lord Mayor, Sir Daniel Dixon). Andrew Boyd's book The Rise of the Irish Trade Unions (1972) outlines that Walker 'ruined a good campaign by succumbing to the pressure of the Belfast Protestant Association' by providing answers to a host of loaded questions, 'answers which he gave were very offensive to Catholics'. It was a record poll for the constituency but Walker lost by a margin of 474 votes. In 1906 Walker again lost to Dixon but by fewer votes than before.

Dixon died in March 1907, and so a by-election was held in April, with Walker standing against shipyard magnate Sir George Clark.  Walker decided to 'out-Unionist' Clark, who seems to have been using the Royal Standard or Crown on his election materials. Walker wrote to the King's Private Secretary, Francis Knollys, to complain about this – and then turned Knollys' reply into the basis of this campaign poster. He lost again, this time by nearly 2000 votes. 


'One Parliament for All Europe'
In November 1909 Hardie was back in Belfast and at a meeting in Belfast Engineers Hall he and Walker selected Robert Gageby as their next candidate for Belfast North.

In 1910 Walker, described as 'Ireland's best-known trade unionist', stood once again for election, but this time in Leith Burghs in Scotland, but again unsuccessfully. During the campaign he was reported as saying 'he was not a believer in having a Parliament in Dublin and another in England. There were too many Parliaments already. If there was only one Parliament for all Europe there would be no wars.' He went on to say that 'he did not want, as an Irishman, to be divorced from his fellow democrats in Scotland'.

Walker died in the Royal Victoria Hospital on 23 November 1918. The Northern Whig reported that he was buried from 'his late residence, Rathcoole, Park Avenue, Strandtown, for interment in Newtownbreda burying ground ... a very large number of friends attended to pay their last tribute of respect to his memory. Rev D.D. Boyle (M'Quiston Memorial Presbyterian Church) officiated'.




The Independent Labour Hall on York Street was where the above photograph was taken in 1935. One of those present, Harry Midgley, is perhaps best known today as the man whom Midgely Park is named after – the training and reserve pitch beside Linfield's Windsor Park.

(Another similar hall, North Belfast Independent Labour Hall, on Langley Street off the Crumlin Road, was subjected to three arson attempts in August 1920, the third causing extensive damage; a William McCausland was charged).

As with all people, who knows what Walker's motivations were? Perhaps he was another one of those oddball or maverick individuals that Ulster's unionist history seems to be littered with – convinced of his own ideas, but unable to bring enough people along with him to make much of an impact. As has so often been the case here, the wider constitutional issue of his time submerged all else. But as a non-establishment voice, coming from within the Unionist community at a key moment in our history, he deserves some attention.  

• Paper on Walker by Emmet O'Connor is online here
• Article by Dr Mecham here on The Failure of a Four Nations Labour Movement
• 2016 article by Brian John Spencer on Slugger O'Toole here
• Wikipedia entry online here






Wednesday, April 07, 2021

BBC4 'Folk America' (2009)

 

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.  




Saturday, April 03, 2021

For Easter – Steph Macleod from Edinburgh






Thursday, April 01, 2021

Steve Dornan's new poetry collection – 'Tha Jaa Banes'


I've been saving this one up for a while, given that tomorrow is Good Friday...

Steve and I have met, I think, twice (once in Belfast, once in Donaghadee) – he's an Ards man who relocated many years ago to Scotland, close to Aberdeen. So he grew up here in an era and community when Ulster-Scots speech was still very much part of daily life – within our ears from older folk if not always on our lips. But that's how it starts. You need to hear the sounds before you can make the sounds. He moved to a real heartland of Scots (the local dialect of Scots is often called 'Doric' up there in the north east) which has a richness all of its own. We banter on Twitter a fair bit. And he has no idea I am writing this post. 

The Ulster-Scots Academy Press, the publishers of this title, have flourished in our lockdown year, with a raft of important publications. Tha Jaa Banes was published back in December and it meets a long need, as a contemporary collection from a new young writer. It is very skilfully handled, and in so many places deeply thought provoking. Here are a few thoughts it inspired:

1. Creative contemporary Ulster-Scots writing is possible, it's not just for nostalgia or occasional comedic interjections.

2. It can be rooted in, and duly honour, community tradition (both linguistic and cultural) and yet also provide space for personal reflection and re-consideration of those traditions.

3. It can offer incisive and insightful comment, with a compactness and brusqueness not always possible with English

4. It can re-energise words from our written and spoken past and re-introduce them into the present. I had to look up a brave wheen of the words in each poem from the online Dictionary of the Scots Language, Chambers Concise Scots Dictionary and of course The Hamely Tongue. I am impressed that Steve did not include a glossary. The onus is placed on the genuinely seeking readers to 'do the work'; it invites us to apply ourselves and join with him in the uncovering.

5. Individual words are interesting, but they need to be woven together to be truly contextualised and appreciated. The "word of the day" thing has been around for many years now, from various quarters, because that's still a necessary point of entry for some (but seriously, how many times can 'oxters' be rolled out?). Some of the newer Twitter-based ones are younger, fresh and full of vitality. But words need a habitat, an idea to express, a story to tell. A sentence tae haud.

So, why post this today of all days? The standout poem for me is 'Belfast, Efter Good Friday'. I measure its power in its having welded itself into my mind ever since I first read it. The intelligence and multi-layered meanings within 'Belfast, Efter Good Friday' make it a poem I have returned to many times. 

Here in Northern Ireland we had a generation of Troubles/Conflict. Theoretically that ended with the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement of 1998 – but in actuality it just moved to a new arena and different methods, to a low-level relentless wearying attrition. Since the 'GFA' we have had a further generation, which, for a time at least, enjoyed a 'peace dividend' of material prosperity. And yet so much remains unresolved, bleeding raw, unhealed, bealing, stoons.

Just last week it was disclosed that a government-commissioned report into just one aspect of that past will never be made public (newspaper report here). We've been offered conveniently-packaged official narratives, which come wrapped in our preferred colour schemes. But the actual truth seems to be too dark to tell. The empty chairs, the photographs on walls and mantelpieces, the silent birthdays, the missing Christmas cards, the tending of graves, the looming annual anniversaries. The cost of the desire to 'move on' has been a kind of 'institutionalised forgetting'.

"Progressive weans, on siller reared,
Can ocht forget"

Each line in 'Belfast, Efter Good Friday' demands attention, offering perspectives on the commercialisation and gentrification of the city, language decline but also thran persistence, a place with 'nae heart' (I have heard similar remarks from many people about the 'new' Windsor Park). When at Belfast Art College from 1990–94 I walked nearly every day from Oxford Street Ulsterbus Station, down through the lonely near-dereliction of what would later become redeveloped and rebranded as 'Victoria Square' and 'Cathedral Quarter', making my way to York Street and the old college building; the campus included the former 1930s Orpheus Ballroom, which was next door to the vast abandoned shell of the famous and once-bustling Co-Op with it's 1960s sci-fi movie set external cladding. These are all shiny glass boxes now. Much has changed. 

Tha Jaa Banes has been deservedly, positively, reviewed by people who understand literary form far better than I ever will. Seek those reviews out.

Steve, from within the community, has produced a collection that does justice to the depth and subtlety that exists within the values, thoughts and experiences of the community. He is not some detached monacled examiner surmising over a new curio or specimen. He has not adopted an alien idiom, he has not harvested mere 'content'. He has dug up oor banes. As the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel famously asked, "Can these bones live?".  Well, these Jaa Banes aren't just living – they hae a 'Leevin Tongue' forbye. An mair nor that, the jaas hae something tae say...

Tha Jaa Banes is a 60 page collection and is published by The Ulster-Scots Academy Press. You can buy it online here, for just £6.00.

PS: And here is Steve hissel in his ain words –

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

CS Lewis, Ulster-Scots and "social justice"


CS Lewis used the term Ulster-Scots in his writing, was fully aware of men on the Belfast steamers speaking "low Scotch", and peppered many of his books with meaningful cultural references to the Scottish dimension within Ulster life. This is no surprise given his maternal Hamilton roots (he adopted the name Clive Hamilton for some of the books he authored) his great mentor William Thompson Kirkpatrick (who Lewis described as an Ulster Scot) and his love of the work of George MacDonald. Weaving together all of Lewis' Ulster-Scots threads is another big project that nobody has done yet.

The Screwtape Letters (1942) is one of Lewis' most famous books, a series of hypothetical conversations between a junior demon 'Wormwood' and a more senior experienced demon 'Screwtape', who is passing down to his protege advice on how to undermine the faith of a new Christian that he has been assigned to, known as 'The Patient'. 

So much of it is brilliant. Here is an extract from Letter 23 (bolds are mine) –

“We do want, and want very much, to make men treat Christianity as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything––even to social justice. The thing to do is to get a man at first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy [God] demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice. 

For the Enemy will not be used as a convenience. Men or nations who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of Heaven as a short cut to the nearest chemist’s shop. Fortunately it is quite easy to coax humans round this little corner. 
Only today I have found a passage in a Christian writer where he recommends his own version of Christianity on the ground that ‘only such a faith can outlast the death of old cultures and the birth of new civilisations.’ You see the little rift? ‘Believe this, not because it is true, but for some other reason.’ That’s the game.”   

There is a lot wrong with the world we live in. That's the core of Christianity. Much of it can, and should be, fixed. But the ultimate source of all of these problems isn't the system, but what we call 'the human condition', or, in old money, what the Bible calls 'sin'.

Therefore the ultimate answer is not another activist campaign or programme. 'Social Justice' is only a limited outworking of the far bigger universal eternal cosmic message that Christians simultaneously fully rest upon, and are also tasked with sharing – Divine Mercy – provided solely and sufficiently through Jesus Christ.




Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Irish Whiskey royal grant of 1616 - a close rival to the Bushmills 1608 claim


I came across the above reference in the extensive footnote by Rev George Hill in his edition of The Montgomery Manuscripts, that renowned resource about life in Ulster in the 1600s, referring to the Presbyterian-inclined English brothers James and John Clotworthy who lived in Antrim town. It appears that they were granted a licence by King James I on 5 July 1616 to sell ‘wine and spirituous liquors’ – in Newry and all places throughout the county of Down' and also throughout most of Co Antrim and in Ardee in Co Louth. Here is a portrait of John Clotworthy, from the National Portrait Gallery




It is interesting that the Clotworthys were excluded from Dunluce, which is close to the world-famous Bushmills. Some time in the 20th Century the marketing people at the Old Bushmills Distillery decided to claim the year 1608 as their origin (thereby laying claim to the regional Sir Thomas Phillips royal grant of that year, a close forerunner of the Clotworthy's) – whereas up until then they'd used 1784, which was the authentic year the distillery complex was built. The photo below is a beautiful mirror in the visitor centre there.

The big difference is that Phillips' licence was to distil (the text says "to make, drawe, and distill such as soe great quantities of aquavite, usquabagh and aqua composita, as he or his assignes shall thinke fitt") whereas the Clotworthys' appears to have been only to sell. Further research needed.



Saturday, March 20, 2021

St Patrick – "A Heart for a Nation" – a film by Matthew Irvine

A friend sent me this, he knows some of the people involved, it's a very fine production.

The Romans in Scotland and the Antonine Wall

Everybody's heard of Hadrian's Wall, built by the Romans, and which more or less marks the border between England and Scotland. But very few know of the Antonine Wall which was built around the same time, and crosses the Central Belt from the Firth of Clyde to the Firth of Forth. This was the world that St Patrick was born into, at Old Kilpatrick, which was the westernmost fort of the Antonine Wall.  

Saturday, March 13, 2021

"Red Hand for Quality" - Irish Bonding Co (Bottlers) Ltd

I recently missed out on this wooden crate, from Irish Bonding Co (Bottlers) Ltd, which would have been perfect for my three Red Hand Guinness bottles. The company became part of global giant Diageo when it was formed in 1997.

 



Monday, March 08, 2021

Henry Rollins on individual responsibility

 

Brendan Behan's visit to the Boyne Tavern in Belfast, late 1940s

 


Thursday, March 04, 2021

2000 years of soft borders: The History of the British Isles: Every Year

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Colonialism, Capitalism and Calvinism

These are three very frequent culprits in online discussions. There used to be a thing called 'Godwin's Law' which observed that eventually every argument reaches a point about Hitler and Nazis. Find the system you dislike most and blame it for all the problems in the world.

I have a few copies of an ancient book which begins with a famous story of responsibility-dodging and buck-passing. A man and a woman make disastrous choices.

The man said he really had no choice in the matter at all and blames the woman, and for good measure also the Creator for making her in the first place. The woman then said that her choice was suspended by the skilful persuasion of the local resident snake, and so therefore it's not her fault as the snake is responsible.

During lockdown I saw an interview with the American comedian Dave Chappelle in which he observed that everyone was stuck at home surrounded by their choices. We all live with our own choices...

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Census 2021

We got a letter today about the new Census for Northern Ireland. Tonight I came across a folder of research I did a while ago, with the two images I've posted below from the 1911 Census. These are yet another example of people – Portavogie Presbyterians related to my grandmother who was a Coffey – incorrectly marking themselves as 'Irish' speakers because they knew full well they didn't speak the only other option the form named – 'English'.  All of those entries were later scored out, probably by the person who came round to collect and check the forms. I've posted here a few times about this widespread phenomenon; I am glad that the new Census has an Ulster-Scots dimension to it, and I hope that people filling it in have enough understanding to complete it correctly.




Sunday, February 28, 2021

Make Ireland Scotland Again - 'Scotia' circa AD600

 





Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Anthony Bourdain in Appalachia

Back in June 2020 I 'discovered' the late Anthony Bourdain's series Parts Unknown on Netflix (online here). The episode about West Virginia is among the best television I have ever seen. Yes there is food, but his empathy with 'ordinary' people is exemplary. Meredith McCarrol@Meredith_McC is 100% right in this article for CNN. 

1921: Northern Ireland's two Women MPs.

Found this old press photo recently, it's not in great nick but it's the best I've ever seen of these two historic, groundbreaking, yet too often overlooked women – for South Belfast Julie Gray McMordie (1860–1942; Wikipedia here) and  for Londonderry, Dehra Chichester (1882–1963; Wikipedia here). They were both elected on 24 May 1921, almost a century ago. 




Below is the famous 1921 photograph of the first parliament, which met on 21 June 1921 at Belfast City Hall, showing many women – presumably the wives of the male MPs. 





Sunday, February 21, 2021

Cancel everybody


'Cancel culture' is everywhere. The "holier-than-thou" types that I grew up knowing about, and who had a certain amount of social clout back then and in previous generations, have been displaced by a new generation of "woker-than-thou" types who are super-connected institutionally and technologically, and whose standards appear to change weekly.

Both of them are moralism on steroids. Both the old version and this new 2.0 edition demonstrate and enhance the social power of the devoted crusader, each 'victory' is simultaneously a 'show of strength' that provides validation for the true believer.  The superiority complex of each is almost identical. The new 'woke' version is secular, but it's just as zealous and self-righteous as the religious version ever was, yet with none of the grace that the religious version forgot that it was meant to proclaim. All "law" no "gospel". All "behave" and precious little "believe". 

So where will 'cancel culture' end? Who's going to do the judging? Maybe those who can assemble the loudest online mob? And to what standard will they operate? And what makes them uniquely qualified for that role? And how do we know that they will wield their power fairly? What will the sentences be? Should anyone even have such power? 

Orthodox Christianity expects people to be flawed – in word, in thought, in deed, in motivation, in inclination. In the New Testament, Romans 3v23 says "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God". Fallen very far short of the standard required. We all fall short, yet we appear to spend our time comparing distances. Pointing the finger elsewhere instead of looking in the mirror. Pulling down 'the system' rather than radically and honestly examining 'the self'.

Everybody has a very dark side. Everybody is Jekyll and Hyde (Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson wrote the story as a theological allegory for how he had come to understand his 'self' – but it looks like in San Francisco he has been cancelled too). So everybody should be cancelled.

But, if you keep on reading Romans 3, it continues with hope beyond hope –

"and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."

You can't 'fix' yourself. We are all born this way. In fact, Psalm 51v5 goes further and says that we are conceived this way. No religious ceremony will paper over the cracks, no public apology will ever be enough. But maybe someone else has the CV that we so desperately need, and is willing to swap his with ours.

Forgiveness is the only adequate currency.

If only there was a transcendent, universal, belief which had forgiveness as its central attribute...

Friday, February 19, 2021

Donaldson & Collins "Red Hand" Ginger Ale, Perth, Australia


I have seen some bottles like this around Belfast now and again, for obvious reasons. Donaldson & Collins were based in Perth in Western Australia and presumably had some kind of an Ulster connection. The company was set up in 1880, and their 'Red Hand' brand was introduced in 1914. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

"The Least Of These" – churches and poverty in Tennessee

Some years ago I met Dr Anthony Bradley on one of his visits to Northern Ireland, a mutual friend introduced me to him at the 'Keswick At Portstewart' summer convention. He is a Presbyterian, an academic, and an African-American. I follow him on Twitter, where he has really powerful things to say and share around issues of theology, denominations, class, politics, the importance of fathers, and race. Voices like his provide some clarity within all of the noise we are bombarded with from America all the time. This tweet from him really struck me today.


This is the web page he links to. I have encountered this in our own NI context. Churches whose members are well-off, and which therefore have spare funds for external 'missional' work, often choose missions which appeal to their aesthetic preferences, and those preferences often reflect their lifestyles and interests.

Dr Bradley's point here is that the words of Jesus Christ from Matthew 25v40, where Christ aligns himself with those at the very 'guttermost' of the social ladder – people he calls "the least of these" – don't necessarily compare well with Christians who are prone to look the other way and do trendier things instead.

Dr Bradley is a really interesting voice, across multiple subjects – if you are on Twitter you can follow him here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

"the issue is how I interpret"


The Just Thinking Podcast is hosted by Darrell Harrison and Virgil Walker. Check it out here. The pic below shows them with Voddie Baucham, a church pastor who has visited Northern Ireland many times, and who is sadly in poor health just now. As you can see these men are black, but the Reformed biblical and gospel that they champion transcends the ethnic differences that our age obsesses over. "For God so loved the World..."



Thursday, February 11, 2021

The Ulster Overcoat, Centennial Exhibition Philadelphia, 1876

In looking for other things recently, I came across this low-resolution image, of the famous John G. McGee & Co.'s world famous Ulster Overcoat. Hopefully one day I'll find a full resolution version, or an actual original. A number of Ulster businesses exhibited in Philadelphia that year, a sign of how visionary our predecessors were.




Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Jonathan Pie - "Woke Utopia"

Forgive the language in places, but he makes some absolutely critical points here on freedom of thought, expression and association –

Monday, February 08, 2021

Hiber-nation in 1996? Embrace the varieties.



This article caught my eye a while ago, when it was published over the Christmas and New Year period, and it came back to mind today. What is remarkable about it is not what the Presbyterian representatives Rev Dr Harry Allen and Rev Sam Hutchinson said back in November 1996, but rather that those from the Northern Ireland Office were so taken aback by it. The civil servants who run Northern Ireland are supposed to be masters of nuance and ambiguities, but in this article - at a key moment in history - they show just how little they understood when they said "On identity, the views expressed tended towards the surreal". Maybe the NIO had been asleep at the wheel - certainly they had no grasp of cultural complexity and diversity. Hiber-nating in fact.

'Irish' meant in its broadest geographical context just means 'from Ireland'. But there is also a narrower cultural/linguistic context which can mean a very specific set of cultural expressions and aspirations. For example, when someone says that Ulster society is a combination of Irish, English and Scottish influences, we know that 'Irish' in that context is much more specific than merely geography. And even these can 'radiate' in degrees of specificity, and overlap with one another. As with any discussion, it is essential to define your terms.

To lift some quotes from the News Letter article, is no surprise to me whatsoever (or to anyone half-informed) that Presbyterians might describe themselves as 'Ulster-Scots', and that their 'Northern flock', living within the United Kingdom, would be 'first and foremost British', or perhaps have a sense of identity that was 'Britishness tinged by a bit of Irishness'.

Shockingly still, this was the era when the Cultural Traditions Group delivered some very fine work under the auspices of The Institute of Irish Studies at Queen's University in its Varities series. The Varieties of Scottishness conference had been held in March 1996 just a few months prior to the NIO/PCI meeting. The Group had delivered Varieties of Irishness in 1989, Varieties of Britishness in 1990, and All Europeans Now in 1991. The papers from these, and the Group's other conferences, were published; these can still be bought online via Abebooks.com and other second hand sources. 

1996 was also the year of Seamus Heaney's superb Burns's Art Speech (see previous post here) in which he articulates and understands so beautifully our historic and intertwined triple-blend.

Yet it was 1997 during the negotiations which led to the Belfast Agreement when the notion of Ulster-Scots was put to the UK's most senior civil servants and politicians, that one of them said in his memoirs it "left us in hysterics". One might have expected Mr Powell to understand better than most, given than he has an MA in American History from the University of Pennsylvania and wrote this 1979 paper about 'Presbyterian Loyalists' in Philadelphia, published in the Journal of Presbyterian History.

It is hard to know how this place will succeed when the policy makers have been, and maybe still are, so blissfully uninformed. Pretty much every other 'western' country rightly celebrates its inherent cultural diversity.

Variety is both fascinating and true. It seems that grasping this has been, and perhaps remains, a vast challenge for blockish officialdom here - or, exposes the lack of understanding among those whom the officials depend upon for 'advice'.




Friday, February 05, 2021

1985 - "Ulster's Not For Sale"... but the original Great Seal of Northern Ireland was!



On 23 July 1985, at 10.30am, the very first Great Seal for Northern Ireland, from December 1924, was due to be auctioned at Christie's in London as one item in their Ancient, English and Foreign Coins sale, and it appeared in colour on the front cover of the catalogue.

The Christie's catalogue of the sale doesn't name the previous owner, but its lengthy historical description is entitled 'The Property of a Nobleman'. The description points out that it included 'a wreath of shamrocks, roses and thistles' and that it was 13.8cm in diameter and weighed 197ozs. The expected value was £4000 – £5000.

According to reports on the British Newspaper Archive, at the very last moment it was withdrawn from the auction and sold privately. The irony is that, that same year, 'Ulster's Not For Sale' was a familiar slogan around the time of the announcement of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, as per the picture below. However the Great Seal was indeed for sale.


The Great Seal for Northern Ireland had been designed by Neville Wilkinson, struck by the Royal Mint (who also produced one for the Government of the Irish Free State). Later newspaper accounts say that the obverse of the Great Seal was designed by George Kruger Gray and engraved by Cecil Thomas.

The Great Seal was revised a few times over the decades. The next edition was in July 1938, and in doing so the formal procedure of "the defacing of the old" was undertaken. In November 1938 impressions of the original and the new Great Seal were among items donated to the collection of Belfast Museum and Art Gallery. In 1953 it was again revised to depict the new Queen Elizabeth II, and the Northern Whig even printed a photograph on 6 November showing both parts of the new Great Seal beside "the special hammer used to deface the old Seal". 



Perhaps someone out there knows where the Great Seals are kept today.