Much of the discussion about the two communities in Northern Ireland refers to the different linguistic backgrounds of Irish (Gaelic) and Ulster-Scots. But there is little to be found about a third category that dates back to the time of the Plantation in 1607, Ulster-English. This is the subject of tonight’s talk (7:30pm) hosted on St George’s Day at St Macartan’s Cathedral in Clogher, County Tyrone and organised by the William Carleton Society.
The speaker is Dr Paddy Fitzgerald of the Centre for Migration Studies at the Ulster-American folk park in Omagh, a member of the Executive Committee of the Society. Earlier this year he gave an interesting talk about Archbishop John Hughes who came from the Augher area. The British Museum guide on accents and dialects of Northern Ireland says:-
“The Plantation of Ulster…was a planned process of settlement aimed at preventing further rebellion among the population in the north of Ireland. This part of the island was at that time virtually exclusively Gaelic-speaking and had shown the greatest resistance to English colonisation. From the early seventeenth century onwards, Irish lands were confiscated and given to British settlers — or ‘planters’ — who arrived in increasing numbers, bringing the English Language with them. Large numbers of settlers came from southwest Scotland and thus spoke a Scots dialect, while the remaining settlers came predominantly from the north and Midlands of England….
For some considerable time the colonists remained surrounded by Gaelic-speaking communities in County Donegal to the west and the counties of Louth, Monaghan and Cavan to the south. Thus English in the northeast of the island developed in relative isolation from other English-speaking areas such as Dublin, while the political situation over the course of the twentieth century has meant that Northern Ireland has continued to develop a linguistic tradition that is distinct from the rest of Ireland. Scots, Irish Gaelic, seventeenth century English and Hiberno-English (the English spoken in the Republic of Ireland) have all influenced the development of (Ulster) Northern Irish English, and this mixture explains the very distinctive hybrid that has emerged.”