Saturday, 26 December 2009

Atlantic Gateway

Atlantic Gateway: The port and city of Londonderry since 1700 is the tenth in a series of books entitled ‘Ulster and Scotland’, which was published by Four Courts Press in association with the Institute of Ulster Scots Studies in the University of Ulster. The authors are Robert Gavin, William P Kelly and Dolores O’Reilly and Professor O’Reilly kindly sent me a copy after I met her during a visit to Culturlann Ui Chanain in Londonderry. 

The volume contains much valuable information but I was very disappointed that it did not include more information on the Scottish influence in Londonderry and the fact that it was at one time a very Ulster-Scots city. After all the project was taken forward by the Institute of Ulster-Scots Studies, it was part of a series on ‘Ulster and Scotland’ and the general editors were Dr John Wilson and Dr William P Kelly of the Institute of Ulster Scots Studies. 

However there is little information about the Scottish influence in Londonderry and the fact that many of the businessmen and entrepreneurs were Scots or Ulster-Scots. At the start of the 20th century Londonderry was still a very Scottish city and this was noted in a guide to Londonderry and the Donegal Highlands, published in 1925: Derry, it will be noted, is extraordinarily rich in churches of all kinds, Presbyterian ones predominating, as might be expected in a city more than half Scotch. Most of the people talk with a Scotch accent and use many Scotch words and idioms

There is, I would suggest, need for another book that really explores the Scottish influence in a city that was so important as a port from which many Ulster-Scots emigrated in search of a new life in a new world. Perhaps, as we approach the 400th anniversary of the 1613 charter of Londonderry, others will step up to the mark and take forward such a project.

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