Michael Conaghan, writing in the Belfast Telegraph (26 February) about the popularity of Country & Western music, asks, 'Why should a musical form so rooted in American rural values find a ready audience over here?' He responds to this question by saying, 'The qualities that define the average Country song is (sic) one that appeals mightily to our Celtic DNA.'
The roots of Country music lie in the traditional folk music of the Appalachians and that area was home to many Scotch-Irish settlers, whose fathers and forefathers had taken their music and song with them across the Atlantic. When Country music returned across the Atlantic it was therefore in some ways a musical homecoming.
But what on earth is Celtic DNA? Are the people of Northern Ireland somehow Celtic? I know what Celtic languages are but I find the concept of Celtic DNA rather bizarre. The fact is that most of us have very mixed ancestries - in my own case there is an Ulster-Scots ancestry but my maternal family were originally of Dutch origin and I am sure that somewhere in my ancestry there will be English and Irish and other strains. To describe the people of Northern Ireland as Celtic is therefore simply nonsense.