Thursday, 22 March 2012

'The leaven of the Ulster-Scots'

Each year the Belfast Burns Association holds a Burns Night supper to mark the anniversary of the birth of the Scottish poet.  Some years ago local newspapers carried extensive reports of these annual suppers and they provide some interesting insights into what people thought about the Ulster-Scots.

On Monday 25 January 1960 the Belfast News-Letter reported on the supper, which had taken place on the previous Saturday (23 January) in the Grand Central Hotel.

The toast to 'The land we bide in' was proposed by Mr A Kirk, principal of Srtanmillis Training College, who said that the Scots were treated kindly in northern Ireland, where the people went to the trouble even to 'dig up' a grandmother or other relation of Scottish ancestry.

The response was made by Alderman Robin G C Kinahan, Lord Mayor of Belfast, who said that:
The Scots had helped to found the Ulster Province.  He had always looked upon the Ulster Scots as something of a leaven in Northern Ireland.
The use of the term Ulster-Scot back in 1960 is another example of the way in which it was part of the common vocabulary of the time.  It is not some recent invention as some cultural fascists periodically claim.

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