Our Scots-Irish Presbyterian heritage celebrated…

IT’S been a good week for rednecks, even if some of us lost the plot. There was the premiere of the Dukes of Hazzard last night, peace in Lagan Valley with Alabama 3 last Friday and the spectacular finale to mark the end of Hunter S Thompson’s life – as his suicidal ashes were scattered over Aspen, Colorado by a fist sculpture/cannon paid for by Johnny Depp at the weekend. Will Bloggers inherit the Gonzo?

  • Glenoeman

    Absolutely fantastic. I tick all the right boxes according to wikipedia…brought up a Presbyterian, half way up a hill, never missed the Dukes of Hazard and AC/DC are my favourite band. I’m a Redneck, yeehar.

  • fair_deal

    How I yearn to leave these city slickers behind and return to my youthful stomping grounds of backwoods North Antrim/North Londonderry.

    I’ve got myself a pick-up truck now if the NIHRC would just be sensible and use the American constituion and Bill of rights as the model for us I’d even be able to get a gun rack. Anyone know how much a good bloodhound costs these days?

    Civilisation doesn’t end with pink buses, it begins.

  • an seabhac siulach

    Scots-Irish heritage? What’s that? Oh I see, that most valuable addition to US and world culture – southern white trash…
    S’pose it is an accurate reflection of the wealth of ‘culture’ practised by our very own rednecks up in Antrim and transported to the states.
    Northern white trash, anyone? All that is missing here are the trailerparks…

  • fair_deal

    an seabhac siulach

    ” wealth of ‘culture’ “

    The traditions of music most especially fiddling, song, rhyme and dance that they took with them. This further developed into unique forms in the Appalachians as well as making a contribution to Cajun and spawning modern musical developments like country as well as contributing to gospel. Traditions that were maintained despite the grinding poverty that many of them lived with. A community that did such down-market things as found newspapers, churches, industries, cities and univeristies.

    As well as a value system of honour, family and a good healthy dose of mistrust of central authority.

    Shall I now stereotype irish culture by making comments about the present day habits of some of the rougher estates in Dublin? No I won’t because I have learnt how to take pride it what is good about my origins and learn from what is bad without feelings of superiority towards others or to be so insecure that I have to sneer at others.

  • slug

    Fair Deal: your politeness contrasts with the previous poster’s tribal discourtesy.

  • spirit-level

    “Gonzo Journalism” as I understand it, is being part of the story yourself, preferrably high on a cocktail of mind-bending drugs. Seems to me there are more red-necks abusing each other in norn iron than USA today. Fancy having a riot over a footie match, roll on the Ashes. oh and Hunter was no red-neck, he despised morons!

  • an seabhac siulach


    So, to scrabble around and try to find some evidence of this ‘culture’, you mention Cajun (from French settlers) and Gospel (from African American slaves). I see. Is country music something to be celebrated, by the way? In any case, I would have thought, with its use of fiddle,banjo, etc., that this was more representative and a derivative of Irish music. Ditto tap dancing from Irish dancing, etc.
    What traditions of song,fiddling, rhyme and dance did these settlers take with them from Scotland/Ulster? There is certainly little evidence of any great competence in song, fiddling, rhyme or dance in evidence today as any
    orange order/apprentice boys march will show (if you are unlucky enough to have to witness one in all its dullness, that is).
    Are we to believe that there was a richness in these things, that has died off? Unlikely. Judging by the rest of you anglos (on the ‘mainland’) e.g., in Lowland Scotland/England from whence most of you came, there is little enough evidence of ANY musical tradition OR of dance, etc…
    No, wait, there is Morris dancing…

    No one asks you to stereotype Irish culture (that would appear to be some kneejerk reaction of your own to logical debate), but at least in that case there IS a culture, a language, music, etc., etc. to stereotype. Perhaps that kneejerk reaction is another aspect of your ‘culture’? Certainly modern history in N.Ireland would appear to confirm this.

    “As well as a value system of honour, family and a good healthy dose of mistrust of central authority.”
    So, which society or culture escaping to the US from an elitist europe in the 18th/19th centuries did not bring the exact same value systems? Not many I would say. Culture is supposed to be a distinctive thing? Are we saying now that poor people, speaking English (of a sort) and living in the Appalachians are a culture? Can playing the banjo and the spoons in rags be constituted a whole culture? Hardly.

  • susan

    As a protestant of Scots/Irish background I have always been a bit ashamed of the prejudice & ignorance of irish culture displayed by my co-religionists. I have always thought Irish culture reflected more ‘enlightened values’ judging by some of the comments I have seen on Slugger about settlers and the Scots/Irish it looks like I was wrong and prejudice and bigotry isn’t confined to protestants.

  • circles

    Can anybody help me out here?
    As I understood it, the west coast of scotland was settled by the Picts and other groups from Ireland (explaining scots gaelic – which isn’t a kick in the elbow from belfast gaelic) – and then they came back to ireland – so is it not an irish-scots-irish culture??

    Additionally I would say that Ulster culture was always unique on the island anyway (with the prime example being the Ulster Cycle with ulstermen taking on the rest of the island – mythology reflecting the perception of ulster within ireland) and is not necessarily a result of some glorious ulster scots mix – just simply the way ulster people are (whether you’re green or orange or papish or prod).

  • spirit-level

    c’mon susan everyone knows the extremist DUP prods are sad as hell; you never see them smile or laugh. they are an embarrasment to England and Ireland and a shame and a scourge on humanity.

    I live in the south of england and I can promise you that the British hate the Unionists more than the Irish do.Its not bigoted to point that out. Its plain fact.

  • spirit-level

    Further more if we could find a way of giving Ireland back to the Irish and humbly beg their forgiveness for all the past wrongs and injustices inflicted upon them whist we were galavanting around the globe conquering this and dominating that we would do it tomorrow. If you referended the Brits it would be 80% plus for a united ireland. So watch out its not just the irish that are fed up its all of us.

  • DCB

    Spirit Level

    In London I would say its more apathy than actual hatred. Nobody could be bothered getting too worked up to hate either unionists or even, these days, republicans. Of course you have some left wing sects that still love the ra and hate prods and on the far right you have an equivalent love of loyalists. But in the general population you just have happy apathy.

    Even Ian Paisley is likely to be seen more as comical than hate figure.

  • Ulster_Dub

    I don’t get why some people of Nationalist orientated feel the need to slag of Ulster Scotch culture. Speaking as a Dub with Ulster roots of a green variety, I was delighted to discover in my 20s all the different strands of culture on the Island. This after been told for many year at school there was only one culture here. Utter nonsense

  • Democratic

    To Spirit-Level:
    This is my first post to a great site after spending a bit of time as an observer so I am sorry to make my introductions on such a note – however – I have no doubt that you fully believe in the very charming remarks contained within your last two posts – and they may well have some truth in them – however I dislike individuals talking about “we” and “us” in such emotive and controversial subject matters unless you are some kind of elected representative of the mainstream British public – I must also respectfully say that your comment to Susan had no relevance to her post in the slightest – I contend with her that an seabhac suilach’s comments are nothing short of sneering, generalistic disrespect and meant to offend – but then again why rise to the bait people – if there are those among us who would laugh and belittle the concept of Ulster-Scots history and culture – let them argue with their opposite numbers who have equal contempt for Irish gaelic culture and history and let everyone else see and enjoy the beauty inherent in both.

  • Level Headed

    C’mon SL everyone knows the extremist Sinn Fein IRA activists (I’ll refrain from the religious pigeon-holing fest) are sad as hell; you never see them smile or laugh, unless its down the barrel of a Barrett Light 50, they are an embarrasment to Northern Ireland, Ireland and Britain and a shame and a scourge on humanity.

    I have been back and forth between Northern Ireland and England, Scotland and Wales due to my job for the past 10 years. I have English relatives and LOTS of mainland British friends and collegues of varying ethnicity who at best dispise the notion of a forced united Ireland and at worst are ambivalent to the whole un-newsworthy mess, knowing full well that the majority of Northern Irish people are in full support of the beautiful 6 counties remaining a part of the UK, so SL time to put that little piece of republican propaganda to bed. Your facts are a little way out there.

    As a Unionist I for one WOULD love a mainland UK referendum on the border, coinciding with a border poll in Northern Ireland and one in the Republic of Ireland just to show the strength of support in NI for the border to remain, the at worst ambivalency in Britain and the “we dont want you” attitude in the ROI, then just maybe we can all move on and do REAL politics making Northern Ireland better for all instead of the petty political point scoring and nonsense of trying to undermine the confidence of the majority community, which incidentally does not work.

  • fair_deal

    an seabhac siulach

    I am wondering if there is much point to this considering the cultural myopia you seem intent on repeating and revelling in. Your attitude seems to be if it is beyond your ken then it does not or never has existed.

    However, I see in your second post you at least do not restirct your sneering just to the Ulster-Scots/Scotch-Irish but have a general swipe of Scotland and England too
    ” Lowland Scotland/England from whence most of you came, there is little enough evidence of ANY musical tradition OR of dance, etc…”

    “I would have thought, with its use of fiddle,banjo, etc., that this was more representative and a derivative of Irish music”

    1. Fiddling is not unique to Ireland and was once strong throughout the British isles. Fiddling was strong among the 17th and 18th scottish century migrants as it had replaced the bagpipe. Early Scottish fiddle tunes were all bagpipe tunes. On a number of occasions I have heard presentations of tunes as played in Scotland, Ulster and then American – the continuity and differences are interesing.
    2. For local evidence of the strength and popularity of the traditions of dance etc the Ordnance Survey Memoirs of County Antrim are an excellent source.
    3. The 1950’s and 1960’s saw very signifiacnt decline in the tradition of country fiddling but it continues in Antrim and Down. Ironically it was the growth in popularity in American country music and its Irish imitators that played a key role in their decline.
    4. One present day example is the excellent fiddler and musician George McAdam. He also plays flute in one of those dull bands you dislike too.

    “Ditto tap dancing from Irish dancing, etc.”

    1. The origins of tap were not solely Irish. there was a range of influences at work. The step dances and clog dances of the european communities that emigrated to america all made a contribution to that more modern form as well as the levee clog dance and juba dance form of afro-american slaves. Don’t believe everything you see in Riverdance.

    “in Lowland Scotland/England from whence most of you came, there is little enough evidence of ANY musical tradition OR of dance, etc…”

    1. Have you never heard the Lowland or Northumbrian pipes? The old folk songs of England? The once european country dancing tradition of which Scotland is now one of the few remaining bastions (and Northern Ireland the largest coutry dancing branch outside of Scotland is actually Belfast)
    2. The cultural wasteland of the Scottish lowlands did produce that insignificant literary figure Robert Burns. An high proportion of the songs he collected were from the lowlands of Scotland.
    3. Are you seriously trying to suggest that England and Lowland Scotland has no cultural life in the 17th and 18th centuries?

    “to scrabble around and try to find some evidence of this ‘culture’, you mention Cajun (from French settlers) and Gospel (from African American slaves)”

    1. The examples of Cajun and Gospel were to show how they had made a contribution to other cultural forms and thus a significance to more than themselves.
    2. Gospel music is not restricted to Afro-Americans.
    3. Convenanters banished to the colonies as punishment may have made a significant contribution to the gospel spirituals of the Afro-Americans.

    “There is certainly little evidence of any great competence in song, fiddling, rhyme or dance in evidence today as any
    orange order/apprentice boys march will show (if you are unlucky enough to have to witness one in all its dullness, that is).”

    1. It isn’t exactly easy to walk five miles and fiddle at the same time. Ornage Halls would have been the regular venues for many country fiddling nights and dances.
    2. A number of the pipe bands are present or past world champions. This tradition did produce James Galway.

    “Are we saying now that poor people, speaking English (of a sort) and living in the Appalachians are a culture?”

    1. They are a community with their distinct origins, own traditions and practices that seems to the defintion of a culture to me.
    2. Also considering the considerable work by various museums e.g the Smithsonian and universities in America they deem it worthy enough to collect, collate and study. Would major cultural bodies waste their time on non-culture?

    “which society or culture escaping to the US from an elitist europe in the 18th/19th centuries did not bring the exact same value systems”

    1. Germans are very keen on order and authority and they constituted a very high proportion of the early American population – german after all almost became the official language.
    2. The great post-revolutionary political debate was between centralisation and devolution of political powers so a distrust of central power was not universal in America. (There is an excellent book called the federalist papers on this matter).
    3. Your point is more valid of the 18th century than 19th century were economic drivers were of greater significance than previously.
    4. Southern values are generally accepted to be a fusing of Scotch Irish and English values. The individualism and honour from the Scotch-Irish fused with the English emphasis on manners. (Our individualism often led to a bluntness).
    5. Regrettable as the Scotch-Irish took honour to its extreme ie the tradition of feuding I think it is safe to say they held it somewhat stronger than other communities.

    “Can playing the banjo and the spoons in rags be constituted a whole culture? Hardly”

    Not content at sneering at their cultural life you seem now to want to sneer at the economic circumstance.

  • DCB

    Level headed

    Yes would be funny – could very easily turn out that neither side wants little old us – can’t think why 🙂

  • circles

    Nice post fair_deal – even if it did contain more than a few Finbar Saunders moments – a worthy reply to an seabhac siulach.

    (“Orange Halls would have been the regular venues for many country fiddling nights” – “Fiddling is not unique to Ireland and was once strong throughout the British isles.” – I was just waiting for the famous country priest renowned for fiddling with his altar boy choir).

  • Glensman


    I’m open to correction here but as far as i know the picts, called so by the Romans from ‘picti’ meaning ‘painted ones’, inhabited Scotland around the time that the Scots, who came from Ireland, set up the Kingdom of Dalriada, which consisted of parts of North Antrim and Argyll.

    “Civilisation doesn’t end with pink buses, it begins”
    Couldn’t agree more. Always made me laugh to hear rural areas of NI referred to as “the sticks” by ‘City’ slickers from Belfast.


  • circles

    Anybody up for the Dalriada Redneck Independence Party (DRIP)?

  • fair_deal

    oh ‘er missus

  • Harry Flashman

    I love it seabhac, keep it up tell us all how your culture is superior to other cultures, sure doesn’t the world know how Ireland was the land of saints and scholars, where comely maidens and athletic youths danced at the crossroads before it was raped and ravished by the godless saxon brutes with their dour puritan joylessness utterly devoid of culture…yadayadaya, we heard it all before from the Christian Brothers mate, it’s played out, change the record.

    I well remember the teacher at my school urging us all to learn Irish as it was a ‘pure’ language, English was nothing more than a ‘bastard’ language. The language which has without argument produced the finest literature in the history of the planet, much of it produced by Irishmen (admittedly protestants) was to be derided by us. This was only twenty years ago by the way, these attitudes of cultural purity were the bedrock of the European uber-nationalists of the nineteenth century leading inexorably to kulturkampf and the Nazis. It is alive and well in the attitudes of the Islamists today. I further remember a Scottish friend extolling the various virtues of the Celtic cultures as opposed to the culturelessness of the English who had no traditional music, dress etc, he was doing well until he expostulated; “Sure unlike us they don’t even have their own language!” it was a good minute or so before he realised the absurdity of his comment.

    So here’s my suggestion seabhac, enjoy the richness of your own culture, revel in it, pass it on to your children, but don’t treat it like a football team where it has to be better than the other fella’s.

    As a simple matter of fact a huge amount of what makes up the history and culture of the modern United States derives directly from the Ulster prod tradition; staunch individualism and self reliance, a visceral distrust of English aristocratic governance, frontier spirit, plain speaking, simple local level democracy, antipathy to central control etc. Now you might not approve of these traits and might comment that modern Ulstermen have hardly maintained them but to deny that they did not originate in the fields and hamlets of Ulster is fallacious.

    Read James Webb’s “Born Fighting”, it shows clearly how so much of what it means to be an American is directly descended from the Scots Irish. These Hill Billys (note they weren’t Hill Tristrams or Hill Gunthers or Hill Giovannis) did produce the modern blue grass country music which undoubtedly underpins modern rock and roll. They made up the core of the US Army and of US political parties and thinkers and general scoundrels. Examine the names Samuel Adams, Davy Crockett, Billy the Kid, Ulysses Simpson Grant, Kitt Carson, Woodrow Wilson, General George Patton, heck even Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon. The US constitution wasn’t just printed by a wee man from Strabane it was written and brought to life by them.I never even thought about Hunter S Thompson, when you think about it he sounds like a Limavady grocer!

    Listen seabhac, you have to get over this narrow, parochial vision of culture as being a particular type of dancing or fiddle playing, culture means alot more than that and the Ulster prods have a fair bit to be proud of their contribution.

  • circles

    Why just Ulster prods Harry? I can identify with a lot of those characteristics. There is surely an argument for clearly stating that these are simply part of the Ulster culture (irrespective of religion).

    However whilst people who proclaim the superiority of one culture over another do need their heads examined, I wouldn’t move so quickly as to put them in the corner with all those other bad guys despised by the “freedom loving” Western world – the Nazis and the Islamists. A lot of other forces were at work there, and the argument can easily be turned on its head by pointing the finger at the “crusaders” in the middle east (no football jokes please).

  • spirit-level

    Yes it is more apathy than hatred, but lets not forget: We’re not the ones that have to live there.
    Democratic: sorry but it is a “them and us” situation. You are either for a united ireland or against it. No fence-sitting.Its been bitterly fought over for centuries. Thankfully the IRA have abandoned the armed struggle. Now we need to see movement from the Unionists.
    Roll on these referendas, I think your analysis is wrong. But I agree with you when you say “then just maybe we can all move on and do REAL politics making Northern Ireland better for all”

  • Harry Flashman

    Yes, you’ve a fair point Circles, the characteristics of Ulster prods aren’t that much different from those of Ulster micks.

    I remember being at university in Dublin and the northern prods and taigs very quickly gravitated towards each other and sought each other out, being totally bewildered by Free Staters (most of us hadn’t got RTE by that stage so they were an alien breed to us all).

    However in the context of the United States it has to be said it was the prods who were doing the nation building, the fenians were still back at home glad to see the back of them!

  • circles

    ….and waiting for the spuds to fail before they could go and do their bit.

  • spirit-level

    Harry “much of it produced by Irishmen (admittedly protestants)”. That’s crap. The great Irish writers Beckett, Joyce, Yeats, etc weren’t Prods.
    S’funny to hear you list : ” staunch individualism and self reliance, a visceral distrust of English aristocratic governance, frontier spirit, plain speaking, simple local level democracy, antipathy to central control etc.” That’s exactly how I see the Protestant side of my family. It’s admirable even commendable, but I’ll tell you what they are boring as hell at parties. ( stuck up their own arses )I much prefer the Catholic side of my family for entertainment value. Get the Van Morrison out, the joints, the drink.. it’s a great craic.
    There’s the difference in a nutshell 🙂

  • circles

    Van Morrsion is a protestant spirit-level – sorry to burst a bubble

  • spirit-level

    ok then Christy Moore .. thanks for letting me know circles.. ( bright red face )

  • spirit-level

    don’t tell me he’s a prod too 🙂

  • circles

    is he not an atheist?

    only sleggin’ – I get yer drift though. Although the hardest partier I ever knew was a good staunch protestant fella from Carrickfergus. A right rocket he was – got us thrown into a cell in London one night by giving the coppers a wild bit of banter, bloottered out of his head. Of course all the cops could go on about was the state of the irish lads….

  • Harry Flashman

    Heaven help us Spirit Level! You enter a discussion on protestant culture and you don’t even know that George Ivan Morrison from the Beersbridge Road and former pupil of Orangefield School was a hun.

    Worse yet you don’t realise that Yeats and Beckett were prods too! And before you come back Swift and Wilde were also of the non papist variety.

    Do you want to get out a few library books before you continue.

    George Best and Alex Higgins boooooriiinnnggg, jeez where’s Cahal Daly when you need a good party?

  • Gerry O’Sullivan

    The great Irish writers Beckett, Joyce, Yeats, etc weren’t Prods.

    I’m pretty sure Beckett was a Protestant. Yeats definitely was, and is buried in the graveyard of the Church of Ireland at Drumcliffe, Co Sligo.

  • fair_deal


    I am afraid you are incorrect on two of the three writers you list.


    “Samuel Beckett was born in Dublin into a prosperous Protestant family”
    Source http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/beckett.htm


    He was from a protestant background too. Although he was deeply into eastern mysticism for much of his life.

    “William Butler Yeats was born in Dublin into an Irish Protestant family. His father, John Butler Yeats, a clergyman’s son, was a lawyer turned to an Irish Pre-Raphaelite painter”
    Source http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/wbyeats.htm

  • Harry Flashman

    Oh I forgot George Bernard Shaw…guess what? Yup an orangey too. Who’d a thunkit?

  • Ukko

    “However in the context of the United States it has to be said it was the prods who were doing the nation building, the fenians were still back at home glad to see the back of them!”

    Almost everything you ever hear about the Scots-Irish is in the context of the United States. Seriously, why is that?

    I don’t think the early history of the US was a happy one for the unfortunate natives. Not much to boast about if you ask me.

  • spirit-level

    hey I like that circles, as it happens i know some great prods down here in Brighton. Party animals. But on the question of Ireland they are all united in saying it should be re-unified. Therefore it seems to me that prods who have travelled abroad, or live abroad soften their stance on this whole Ulster business. Its the diehards that need de-programming.

  • circles

    –he’s out doing a bit of fiddlin’ (only of the traditional variety of course).

    But what about Shane MacGowan – he’d out-party Besty and Alex put together.

    Correct me if I’m wrong here though – but were we not talking about an ulster culture? How have we managed to reduce it once again to prods / taigs – prods write better than catholics, catholics drink more than prods etc. etc.
    I’m a catholic, from ulster (the 9 county variety), would see myself as being irish and am fully aware of being an ulsterman (with all the positives and negatives that entails). I’ve more in common with another ulsterman than I do with a leinster fella etc.
    But getting back to the theme – I aint no red-neck!!!

  • bertie

    I’m nearly sure Beckett was a prod as well. He went to Portora in Enniskillen.

    It is possible to be ” staunch individualism and self reliance, a visceral distrust of English aristocratic governance, frontier spirit, plain speaking, simple local level democracy, antipathy to central control etc.” AND fun at parties. For us anglicans its virtually compulsory!

  • spirit-level

    oh dear time to get me coat…
    I’ve actually been to Yeat’s grave, as that’s where me folks are from. Sure he was a fenian.
    Oh dear … off to the library. Ouch!

  • fair_deal

    Spirit level

    By the way there is plenty of humour in the work of country rhymers – a strong tradition among us boring dour Ulster Prods.

  • bertie

    It took me so long to type my post that the point about Beckett was old news – story of my life

    Is there a quiz/test to determine of you are a redneck? I never got into the Dukes of Hazard but I loved the Beverly Hill Billies and laughed with them never at them – does this count?

  • Harry Flashman

    No, not too much to boast about, you’re right they only set up the country which today is the most prosperous, the most free, the most democratic, the most powerful, the most inventive, the most open…ah hell, do I really need to continue?

    At this point I have to go to bed, it’s very late where I am now. I have no doubt when I come back the moonbats will have got into high gear telling us how the United States is the apotheosis of evil, that George Bush (or Chimpy MacHitlerburton as he should be known by Eamon McCann fans) is the son of Satan and that it deserves a special ring in Hell all for itself.

    I meanwhile will continue to enjoy the freedom which half a century of US taxpayers and soldiers have afforded me to read the free expression of divergent viewpoints on this marvel created by the evil US military/business cabal otherwise known as the internet and quietly praise the wisdom of the founding fathers.

  • Ricardo

    spirit level

    ‘Its the diehards that need de-programming.’

    Perhaps it’s you who needs de-programming.

  • ricardo



    You’ll have to cut and paste it, sorry, I don’t know how to activate it

  • circles

    Harry the states may not be the apothesis of evil, but its also not the most free, the most democratic, the most powerful, the most inventive, the most open etc. etc nation on earth.
    Its a prudish nation whose love for free speech is (for the moment at least) dependent on what you have to say (just ask the Rolling Stones), where money buys elections and voters are robbed of their votes. A nation that can make people disappear from any corner of the world and whisk them off for questioning in a torture friendly zone. Where young people entertainment is based on soft porn music videos, but nudity is seen as a sin. That is so progressive that the president doubts evolution.
    Its not the greatest country in the world – but its not worse than many others. The main reaosn why everybody looks up to the states is because if you don’t they’ll break your country and its economy.

  • bertie

    Cheers Ricardo

    It doesn’t seem quite as appealing now!

  • Ukko

    Harry Flashman,

    Sorry to disappoint you mate, I go to the US every year for my holidays so i hardly hate the place. Pease keep your assumptions to yourself.

    Just feel a bit sorry for the poor old natives the frontiersmen met. Frontier? I think there were people living there long before the white men showed up.

    Read “Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee” by Dee Brown to get an idea of what i’m talking about.

    I agree with you about Americas achievements. But why does any criticism of the place produce an angry, presumptuous reaction such as yours?

  • Democratic

    To Spirit-Level:
    Thanks for your reply and on the issue of a United Ireland perhaps it is only an “US” and “THEM” situation – however this was not what my post was getting at – the moral wrongs of disrespecting and sneering at the “other side’s” culture and history was at the core of my post.
    I felt that your posts were off on a tangent and very scathing of the “DUP sorts” – (I would leave them to defend themselves) – The point I made was that your views on these matters represent just that – they are personal – I just find it a little irksome when people talk in “we” and “us” as if they are spokemen for a larger organisation or community – unless of course they are elected politicians (I know that you are not the only guilty party, nor am I saying that your views are not necessarily popular either) As for your boring Protestant relatives – fair enough – I know a quite a few myself – just as I know some very tedious Catholics – however there are no generalisations that could be reasonably made on such an issue and as a “Prod” myself I would be quite willing to offer up my pinting and partying capacities if it would change your opinion in any way – bring on the smokes my friend.

  • circles

    Fundamentalism Ukko – questions only undermine fanatcism I think

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Harry F – the bedrock of American society is indeed largely based on Ulster Scots roots but all the qualities that you mention have their downsides too e.g the individualism (poor public healthcare), self -reliance (the NRA), frontier spirit, that’s a biggie(the dispossession and genocide of the natives and the destruction of their culture) antipathy to central control (US civil war), simple local level democracy (elections of sheriffs!!, not to mention the fundamentalist version of Christianity which they brought as well.

    On a general level, I do detect that the culture which the Scots-Irish brought with them to America is dying out amongst Ulster Protestants in modern times (possibly for being too Irish sounding?).

    And on another point (this is a wide ranging thread!), having happily lived in England for years there is no other description for their feelings on NI than complete apathy. In the unlikely event of it happening, I doubt if a stand alone referendum on the constitutional future of NI would get a 25% turnout.
    But, Level Headed, there’d be a definite majority among that 25% or less in favour of Irish unity. Two reasons essentially, there is no emotional attachment among the general British public to NI whatsoever and there is a recognisable, distinct Irish community who would vote pretty much en bloc with nationalist Ireland if asked to do so and in a low turn out they would be the difference.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Spirit Level

    Sorry mate, you’re not having a good day. Beckett and Yeats were both Protestants. (Though both strong nationalists, which may be where the confusion lies.) But Joyce, O’Casey, Synge, Heaney, Friel, Muldoon, Keane, Montague. O Conaire and many others weren’t. Then again, Wilde, Shaw, Edgeworth, Hewitt, Swift, MacNeice, Stoker and others were. They’re all great Irish writers of whom the whole nation should be – and is – rightly proud. Their religion is irrelevant.

    (Between Catholics and Protestants we have put together a national literary canon that I would contend is unmatched by any other country in the Indo-European-speaking world – more important even than that of countries ten times or fifty times our size. If, between us, we can produce such a world-beating literary canon, what might we achieve in other spheres if we made common cause?)

    Now, I never saw that much difference in values or temperament between Catholics and Protestants in Ulster. Never thought farmers in Ballymena to be substantially different in their worldview from farmers in Ballyjamesduff. Even people from the more fundamentalist wing of evangelical Protestantism – whose religious views I’ve always thought of as kinda scary – I’ve always found to be nice people, as long as you avoid talking about religion or politics. But then religion and politics tend to bring out the worst in everyone, don’t they?

    There isn’t any doubt that people from Ulster have made tremendous contributions to world culture. I was getting all misty eyed earlier on Fair Deal, as I read your excellent, if a little rose-tinted, tourist brochure post. In fact, your post provided evidence, if any were needed, that north Antrim Protestants have as much Irish blarney in them as anyone in Dingle or Westport or Shkibereen. It’s true, bluegrass is one of the great American musical forms and it’s very much en vogue right now. Ryan Adams is one of the greatest songwriters around at the moment and “alt-country” is where the best music is happening. (IMHO)

    I would consider bluegrass to be one of Ireland’s great musical contributions. The line from Scotland through the north of Ireland and on to the Appalachians is a clear one. (Though I would suggest, Fair Deal, that in suggesting that Gospel and Cajun are Scots Irish forms, you’re veering very close to bullshitting – which as we all know, is a Munster trait, not an Ulster one. It’s probably counter-productive to exaggerate a very minor contribution. It’s a bit like the efforts they’ve made in Banbridge to re-brand it as “Bronte Country”, just because Paddy Prunty was born there, upped sticks as soon as he was old enough despite comfortable economic circumstances, changed his name and never came back. When you clutch at the more tenuous straws, you run the risk of making yourself look a bit silly and undermine your own claims to major significance. Again, we Irish have a habit of claiming things, even if the link is tenuous, don’t we?)

    But I suppose the difficulty with the whole Scots-Irish thing (or should I say Ulster Scots?) is that it has it looks very like a political strategy coined retrospectively to help deal with events in the Ireland those people had long left behind. Since partition, for political reasons many of Ulster’s Protestants have attempted to disassociate themselves with the Irish culture to which they have contributed so much. (Which seems to me to have had a devastatingly negative psychological impact, whatever about politics).

    “Scots Irish” looks like a strategy for a people who have found themselves alienated from the historic contribution of their forbears. It looks as though, by instead pointing to a centuries’ old contribution to a culture 3000 miles away, you’re trying to obscure the fact that it’s in Irish culture, right here in Ireland, where Ulster’s contribution is by far the most obvious.

    Many unionists don’t like this talk of “Irish culture”. That’s unfortunate, as their forefathers played an integral role in creating that phenomenon. Today many of Ireland finest writers, musicians and artists are Ulster Protestants. That will continue to be the case, and regardless of politics their contribution will still be seen in an Irish context. More and more Ulster Protestants are coming around to embracing that reality.

    The Appalachians provide an interesting subplot but that ain’t where the cultural life of Ulster is being played out. That’s happening here, in Ireland, same as always.

  • fair_deal


    One minor quibble and one question for you

    The quibble

    “Though I would suggest, Fair Deal, that in suggesting that Gospel and Cajun are Scots Irish forms, you’re veering very close to bullshitting”

    I did not claim they were Ulster-Scots forms. I said that Appalachian/Scotch Irish music had contributed to both.

    ” making a contribution to Cajun “
    “as well as contributing to gospel”
    ” The examples of Cajun and Gospel were to show how they had made a contribution to other cultural forms “

    The question

    “More and more Ulster Protestants are coming around to embracing that reality.”

    Have you any evidence for this?

  • peteb


    You may want to alter your placing of John Millington Synge in those lists.

  • Macker

    Ditto Sean O`Casey

  • Angel

    Hello all you happy people. I’m new to post and just couldn’t help myself. fair_deal- A good Bloodhound will run ya about $500-$1200, depending on the seller. Best to go with a red-tick or blue-tick coonhound for starters. Oh, and y’all, you don’t have to put a gun in yer gun rack. Just hang a coon’s tail from yer antenae and put a number 3 in yer back window on the right and an 8 on yer left. Don’t forget to learn a few Nascar names to throw around like, Dale, Junior,or Rusty and be sure to pull the sleeves off of yer shirts. Remember a good redneck always lets the dog ride in the front. Now here’s were we get into the terminology . A redneck is just a good ‘ol Southern boy farm bred and raised, a hillbilly is from the hills an hollers and trailer trash…. well, unfortunately trailer trash isn’t just from the trailer park anymore, that disease has spread to the suburbs and inner cities. As for fashion like I said just rip the sleeves off yer shirts(guys) cut the bottom off (gals) and let yer ass crack shine and y’all fit right in.

  • pacart

    Billy Pilgrim is spot on about Northern prods feeling alienated from a culture to which they have made a huge historical contribution. Unfortunately, when you strip away all all the great stuff, you are left with all the crap stuff – Orangeism and nasty tribalism and bigotry. How can Northern Prods reclaim their “other” traditions, their culture – represented by the great writers and musicians and the like already mentioned? Such a cultural reawakening could play a major part in forging a future. I’m not an historian, when did “being Irish” start meaning “being an Irish catholic” and when did that start meaning “being an Irish speaking Chucky”? When was pluralism squeezed out?

  • fair_deal


    Thanks for the info on the bloodhound. I’m looking at buying a house with a decent yard so I can have a bloodhound. (Girlfriend doesn’t know that yet but she has been reasonably tolerant of my interests and foibles.)

    I can buy into almost all of it but not NASCAR. I was raised on good old fashioned Motorbike Road Racing and had the privilege of seeing the Armoy Armada race. NASCAR is for wimps.

  • fair_deal


    “when did “being Irish” start meaning “being an Irish catholic”

    You could argue it kicked off with Daniel O’Connell but it was really the late 1800’s were the Gaelic revival redefined Irish not as a geographical identity but as a cultural and religious one. The Catholic Archbishop of that time played a key role ensuring Catholic was a part of the redefinition (sorry can’t remember his name) ie Galeic was its ancient language and Catholicism its ancient religion was the narrative. (This trend was common throughout Europe at the time.)

    The early twentieth century essentially reinforced what began this including such things as the sectarian underbelly of the broader Irish Civil War and the behaviour of the Irish State in its opening decades. It’s a long while since I read it but Denis Kennedy’s book “The Widening Gulf” is good on the post partition period.

    “when did that start meaning “being an Irish speaking Chucky”?

    This I think is much more a development of the last thirty years and my impression is it is much more an northern trait than southern one. The republican movement saw culture as part of the struggle “Every word of irish learned is another bullet in the struggle” and all that bollix.

    It is why I would argue that the peace process has been somewhat unhealthy for southern nationalism. The period of the eighties and nineties saw a re-examination of Irishness and a more open approach to irish history. However, the peace process and its embracing of northern nationalism involved it embracing many with deeply conservative views on irishness and its history. With the debate and historical revisionism largely stalled. (I am not saying there haven’t been positives in the process just that this is one of the flaws in it)

    “When was pluralism squeezed out?”

    Compulsion around the irish language and the irish consitution did a pretty good job at squeezing out pluralism.

  • spirit-level

    you may have saved me when you write :
    “Unfortunately, when you strip away all all the great stuff, you are left with all the crap stuff – Orangeism and nasty tribalism and bigotry.” This is all we get and see on the BBC.

    I do admit to being tangental, its a fault. WE are all in this together, and that is a greater WE, than the small minded “them and us”. Look forward to sharing the peace pipe with you.

    Thanks for clearing that up Billy Pilgrim. Haven’t much time for religion, except Zen.
    I think I did mean to speak of nationalism.

    Fair-deal can we see more of that humour pls, whatabout a norn iron version of “Have I got news for you”

    Finally Ricardo
    I have a very good de-programmer, but thank you for your well wishes.

  • Angel

    I prefer Motorcross myself. My boy has a Yamaha 50 he zipps around the back feild on. Hopefully the phrase “get ‘er done” doesnt fly across the pond to y’all. I wish it had stayed in the South. Well y’all have a good’n.

  • bertie

    I still feel the strongest afinity with Ged Clampett, he even looked very like my Dad.

  • lib2016

    Maybe they’re symptoms but I blame the Telly and rock and roll for a lot of it. They hit from the mid-50’s on, which is entirely by coincidence when I became old enough to notice these things.

    By the early 60’s provincialism was a very dirty word and Home Counties was in. The folkclubs managed to save Irish traditional music from the ceili bands but somehow they were a very Catholic thing while the hip Protestants followed Morrison along Highway 66.

    From the early 70’s to cross the divide became a political statement.

  • looking in

    I have to say, only speaking as a Scot, with parents, one from lowland Ayrshire and and the other from the hebrides whose line we can trace back into 1600’s, who now lives over here, for a good few years, that the nonsense written and spoken about Ulster Scots etc fair makes me want to PUKE!

    As promoted here and now in NI it is a culturally bankrupt mish-mash of things we like and things we think are acceptable to our COMMUNITY and not things that are difficult or challenging, far less totally lost, on the large proportion of bigots and ignorant fools who take up the cause as a means to crusade to counter-act the other sides (ab)use/promotion etc of Irish

    To claim that the Ulster-Scots or whatever way round you want them, were a unique infleunce is silly – they were hugely lowland Scots who came to this wee part of the larger island as transatory economic migrants – to say that in one or two gererations they assimilated and created a whole new cultural identity which they transported with them is a very grand claim indeed. But you ought to compare that with the influence of those who went directly without having set foot here. This is very hard to deconvolve try not to blow the trumpet too much.

    So as far as a Scot with lowland and highland hisory & cultural reference points and understanding is concerned you can take all the toss that is written above a bin it. Nobody outside this little wee community cares excepting the poors souls in the USA who are without imagination or wit to really understand their origins.

    and don’t start me on Laird Laird…… ;-{

  • Mario el Argentino

    fair deal-

    them. This further developed into unique forms in the Appalachians as well as making a contribution to Cajun.

    I dont think so buddy, the musical traditions of Louisiana are strictly French/Spanish/African and Seminole. Zydeco is Cajun not Scots Irish. O

  • Biffo

    Billy Pilgrim

    Excellent assessment fair_deals tartan tinted “blarney”.

    But Bluegrass music – it’s origins and history are well documented. The Bluegrass sound was invented in 1939 by Bill Monroe (do a search, there’s loads of info). It’s got nothing to do with the Scotch-Irish in particular.

    Have a look at:


  • fair_deal

    Mario el Argentino

    “the musical traditions of Louisiana are strictly French/Spanish/African and Seminole”

    Others seem to disagree with your limited view of what contributed to Cajun

    “Once they were settled in Louisiana, the Acadians also created music, much of it showing the influence of their new neighbors Spaniards, black people from Africa and from Haiti, Anglos coming across the Mississippi River from the hills of Kentucky and Tennessee, Germans who settled along la Côte des Allemands, and, to a lesser degree, Native Americans (who were by then either disappearing from the Louisiana culture, or were assimilated). The Acadians learned jigs and hoedowns and reels from their American neighbors.”

    “In his essay, “Acculturation in Cajun Folk Music,” LSU folklorist Harry Oster also notes the American influence. “When settlers from the southern mountains, inheritors of the tradition of the British Isles, made their way into the Cajun country, they often brought with them Anglo-Saxon and southern mountain songs. Some of these found so much favor with the Cajuns they translated them into the French idiom. Some followed the original texts quite closely with little or no modification to make the French words rhyme. For example, ‘A Paper of Pins’ became ‘Un Paquet d’Epingles’ and ‘Billy Boy,’ ‘Billy Garçon.'”


    “Dictionaries generally define Cajun as “a Louisianian who descends from French-speaking Acadians.” However, many common Cajun surnames — for instance, Soileau, Romero, Huval, Fontenot — are not Acadian in origin, but rather are Spanish, German or French Creole. Some are even of Anglo or Scotch-Irish origin, as in the case of famed Cajun musicians Lawrence Walker and Dennis McGee.”


    From a brief history of cajun et al

    “the Acadians who came to Louisiana beginning in 1764 after their expulsion from Acadie (Nova Scotia ) in 1755 brought with them music that had its origins in France but that had already been changed by experiences in the New World through encounters with British settlers and Native Americans”

    “Some fiddle tunes and a few ballads came from Anglo-American sources.”


    From the Cajun people

    The culture gradually absorbed influences from indigenous peoples of the area, from French and Spanish settlers who were already here, from Africans who began to arrive in greater numbers, from English, Irish and Scottish settlers who made their way in from the surrounding areas, from Germans immigrants, etc., etc.


    Origins of Zydeco and Cajun Music

    Isolation, close family ties, and strong Catholic faith knit the Acadians into a tight cultural group whose style mixed with their close neighbors: Native Americans, Afro-Caribbean refugees from the West Indies, non-enslaved blacks, and various European immigrant groups


  • james orr

    In one sense you’re right. Bluegrass is a combination of musical styles – old-time Scotch Irish fiddle music and vocal style, English Ballads, some early jazz improvisation styles and African-American banjo style.

    But by far the strongest element is the Scotch-Irish, and to say “its got nothing to do with the Scotch Irish in particular” is not correct. The overwhelming majority of the early old-time performers were of Scotch-Irish descent.

    The historical Ulster-Scots story is a recurring feature in Appalachian museums, yet is virtually non-existent in museums over here. And you should go to a few of the major outdoor festivals in Appalachia – Scotch-Irish awareness is everywhere.

  • Betty Boo

    I know I through this one in a wee bit late and I’m kind of sleepwalking, so my apologies but here it goes anyway.
    The kingdom of Dalriada, today’s Scotland was founded by Fergus Mor and his two brothers, who are descendents of the race of Niall of the Nine Hostages. He himself came up north and took over the exciting kingdom and became later the first high king the ard ri of all Ireland with its seat of power at Grianan Aileach. His four sons took over different parts of this land, hence Tir Connell, which was taken by Conal Culban and Tir Eoghain and Inis Eoghain went to Eoghain (Sorry but I can remember the other two right now). Conal died and Eoghain became high king. He was baptised by St. Patrick. I think it was him who married a woman from today’s Scotland and as far as I recall the exact same spot his grandsons later went to occupy.
    At this time the Celtic tribe of the Picts lived on this land and the descendants of the O’Neill’s were from the Celtic tribe of the Scotii. As Fergus Mor made himself king of Dalriada the land later changed its name to Scotland, the land of the Scoti.
    The two brothers of Fergus Mor died before him and as he became sick he made a journey back to his homeland to cure his illness with the water of a holy well. The boat he travelled in hit a rock just before the Antrim coast and he drowned. It is called Carrick Fergus now – Fergus ‘Rock.

  • darthrumsfeld

    “Beckett, Joyce, Yeats, etc weren’t Prods”

    -oops spirit level-Yeats was famously a Protestant,as was that former Orangeman Sean O’Casey.

    And as for culture, the entire American revolutionary political tradition can look to the Presbyterian Covenanters of Scotland -and Ireland for the basis of their entire system of democracy, as indeed can the tradition of parliamentary democracy established by the Whigs in England and Scotland in 1690. So much more impressive than the cobbling together of three dialects into a common form of Gaelic 150 odd years ago by romanticised Walter Scott copycats ( mostly Prods) , dontcha think seabhac?

  • Biffo


    What an idiotic comparison! Well done!

  • Jim

    So we have established that there are great writers/artists etc that are of Prod and Catholic origin and some of those were Nationalist. Are there any famous Irish Unionist/pro-Union writers and scholars and artists?

  • darthrumsfeld

    Thanks Biffo- No man can compete with me when it comes to dissing an entire culture, though seabhac certainly was a challenge

    BTW is seabhac a relation of well-known London socialite (and brother in law of Tara Palmer Titbrain) Simon Seabhac Montefiore :0)

    Sir Samuel Ferguson- one of the aforementioned pseudo Scotts, who translated the Tain

    Pro-Union writers included Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Rudyard Kipling. Heinz, of the 57 varieties, a culinary artist if ever there was one was a great admirer of the Ulster Scot

  • Alan


    Who cares? Words are words and they don’t belong to you or me.

    The only thing this political discussion of culture throws up is that you can’t build a nation on a culture, because culture is a sponge – thank goodness! So you can keep your nationalistic bouncy castles as far as I’m concerned.

    One thing though, I will admit to a guilty secret. I love bluegrass music, the drive and the musicianship. There. It’s out. And I feel a lot better for saying it.

  • Jim

    Thank you for taking the time to answer my question darthrumsfeld. I wouldnt mind finding out about these guys and others like him, as I feel such information has been surpressed and ridiculed for one agenda or another over our recent history.

    Alan I actually care, I hope thats ok with you? I am used to some people in some quarters telling me that I have no culture and what I pass off as legitimate culture is in fact a lie, a fantasy or a counter to those that demand “their” culture be encouraged and made to shine above those of everyone else. I am keen to learn more of what darthrumsfeld has pointed out and would like to know if anymore pro-union writers/scholars and artists/musicians that may exist since we ALL know about the nationalist ones, so sorry for upsetting you mate.

    BTW Bluegrass is ok so your not on yer own in liking it 😉

  • pacart

    Fair Deal – Thank you for your considered and enlightening reply, I’ll certainly follow up your leads. It must be noted, the tone of many of the posts on this thread reveal the naked sectarianism behind the usual creeping jesus moralising of the RM. What happened to “parity of esteem”? I take it’s just another load of tosh for the “useful idiots” who still actually believe the RM are human rights activists of some sort.

  • Colonel_Grim

    Betty Boo,

    You will find that the Scoti were a pre-celtic culture existing mostly on the Northern Portion of the Island. You will find that Dal riada was founded before Fergus mor who was no more of a celt that Sitting Bull. If you read the Irish annals (a very sceptical primary source as the majority of historians agree) you will even find the Scoti being described as a seperate race from the celts who were invading and conqouring Ireland and Ulster, Satanta; or Cu hullan as he was later known as, is noted to have been from this race. At that point Ireland was called Scotia by the Romans, named as to the majority of the then native populace.

    The power base of the Scoti was shifted to the Scottish portion, then named Alba, as a direct result of the celtic invasions. It was then Fergus’ grandson Kennith Mac Alpin who ultimatly united pict and scot into the unified kingdom of the Scots renamed after their homeland Scotia or Scotland.