Friday, 18 December 2015
Belfast's 'barbarous Scotch'
In the little book Scotch Town, I traced the history of Ulster-Scots language and literature in Belfast. However since then I have come across a number of other references and examples which I would have included if I had found them sooner.
One of them is from a book entitled Ireland Exhibited to England, which was published in 1823 and written by A Atkinson Esq., 'late of Dublin'. This possibly Anthony Atkinson.
He was also the author of The Irish Tourist, which appeared in 1815, Ireland in the Nineteenth Century, published in 1833, and A Course of Essays on Christian Doctrine and Philosophy.
Ireland Exhibited to England consisted of two volumes and on page 42 of the second volume he noted that many of the Presbyterians in Belfast praised God in 'the most barbarous broad Scotch slang that ever disgraced a conventicle in the mountains'.
Such prejudice against Scots was not uncommon and we find it in many references to the speech of the Ulster-Scots. It is certainly to be found in some of the Ordnance Survey Memoirs of the 1830s but unfortunately these did not cover Belfast.
We do know that in the 1790s the ordinary people of Belfast spoke 'broad Scotch' or 'braid Scotch' and this writer,, albeit an unsympathetic one, confirms that it was still the language of the Ulster-Scots in Belfast in the 1820s.