New chairman for Tha Boord o Ulstèr-Scotch

The BBC are reporting that the government have decided to appoint Mark Thompson as the new Chairman of the Ulster-Scots Agency – the role has been vacant for 18 months since Laird Lord Laird resigned. Thompson, conveniently, is already a member of the board, and “has been actively involved with grassroots Ulster-Scots groups for over 10 years and is a member of the ‘Low Country Boyus’, an old-time hillbilly/Ulster-Scots gospel group.” *ahem* Update And it’s been confirmed by Peter Hain.

  • slug

    Very young.

  • Eric the blue

    Can he speak it?

  • looking in

    I’ll reserve judgement until he acts to stop the faux scot-kitch that Laird enveloped the movement in. Total twaddle!

  • Alan2

    I think he can. He is a member of the Low Country Boys the Ulster-Scots, hilly billy, bluegrass gospel folk group (phew), who are actually very good, singing some of their songs in Ulster-Scots (some samples on their website in the link above). Good to see some young blood. I know some do not like the “politicisation” of Ulster-Scots to be synonomous with Unionist or Protestant, and I agree we need to be careful here not to sectarianise the movement but IT DOES provide a positive, construct Scottish influence, particularly among the Presbyterian community, which also embraces the ENTIRE history includung the United Irishmen etc so folks please consider carefully before you ridicule what can be a positive initiative to move the peace process forward AND build some Unionist confidence in that process and in themselves and their identity.

  • Blue girl

    Maybe someone can explain to me why its called Irish scots in the USA and Ulster scots here?

    Even so where are the legions who speak this dialect, Iv`e never met one!

  • fair_deal

    Blue girl

    “why its called Irish scots in the USA”

    It isn’t. It is Scotch-Irish with some shift to the phrase Scots-Irish. This was also not the name this community chose it was the name that was applied to them by others in colonial
    america. During the Scotch Irish revival in the late 1800’s their ancestors accepted the term.

    When key new bodies were founded in the 1990’s to encourage the revival in all things Ulster-Scots, the groups were asked which title they wanted to use Ulster-Scots or Scotch Irish they chose Ulster-Scots as they found it more accurate and that the term Scotch-irish had become synonmous with those in America.

    The first documented use of the term Ulster-Scots is in the early 1800’s although a few quotes come pretty close to that phraseology in the late 1700’s.

    Ulster-Scots is the terminology used in the Scottish National Dictionary produced in the 1930’s.

  • james orr

    The first usage of the term Ulster-Scots was in 1640; the first usage of the term Scotch Irish was in 1689.

    Speakers won’t use it in the company of non-speakers. Centuries of humiliation has made the use of Ulster-Scots language a private affair which is only recently started to emerge from the shadows

  • fair_deal

    “Very young”

    Good, you don’t encourage fresh involvement with old men being the public face.

    “Can he speak it?”

    Yes. He was raised in a rural ulster-scots speaking family and unlike too many he hasn’t ran away from this inheritance.

  • circles

    Any chance of someone posting in ulster-scots? Living in Germany I’m rarely exposed to it.

  • fair_deal


    Try here

  • circles

    Thanks F_D

  • peteb


    The Ulster-Scots Agency website has some of its content in Ulster-Scots.. as you’d expect…

  • circles

    Reading your link F_D I realised I can speak it too!! So does that mean I can put that on my CV now or what?
    I really don’t know – I confess to have huge difficulties accepting this as a language in its own right. For example, in Germany within each state the accents vary – and someone from the north would openly admit to not understanding someone from the south, but they would never claim in all seriousness to be speaking a different language (even if the grammar and vocabulary vary – perhaps even moreso than between english and ulster-scots).
    I’m not into doing this language down at all – I mean I would even have signed a petition for Stanley Unwin back in the day – but are we not going a wee bit too far? Why can we not just say that iots a dialect, but a very peculiar one that deserves attention?

  • fair_deal

    James Orr

    Hadn’t heard of the 1640 one., who used it?


    some more for you

    Or if you want to buy some stuff try

  • circles

    Thanx fair_deal. I do find it interesting but I have to get my head round it first.
    I know people seriously sleg ulster-scots, and I don’t want to be at that – but tell me – is there a difference in ulster-scots in the north (ballymena, belfast etc.) and over what area is it spoken?

  • fair_deal


    “Why can we not just say that iots a dialect, but a very peculiar one that deserves attention?”

    I dont know if I like the term peculiar but I don’t think you meant it in a nasty sense

    1. From experience it has been considered a dialect for a few centuries and any attention it has received has broadly been negative.
    2. Recognised Minority languages have protection mechanisms dialects don’t.

  • circles

    OK – starting to understand. (I meant peculiar of course in the sense of unique, not in the sense of funny).
    So is the logic behind having it declared a language motivated more by the desire to have these protection mechanisms?
    If thats the case would it not make more sense to lobby for the protection of dialects? – I know that it would be possible to build a strong europe wide network of civil society groups for this, enabling alliances between groups of swabians, bavarians, cockneys, parisians and god knows who else. Would this not be more interesting on the long term?

  • fair_deal


    “is there a difference in ulster-scots in the north (ballymena, belfast etc.) and over what area is it spoken?”

    The last authoritative reserach into the geogrpahical distribution of Ulster-Scots (in the 1960s) charts it in the Ards peninsula/East Down, County Antrim and East Londonderry, and East Donegal. These were defined as US areas because of the predominance of what are called the Scots markers ie scots nagative nae, the cht not ght etc

    The other areas of Ulster speak Ulster dialect whose vocabulary and structure shows three influences elizabethan english (particulalry in tyrone), gaelic and scots. Hence Ulster dialect speakers can recognise some of US vocab.

  • fair_deal

    So is the logic behind having it declared a language motivated more by the desire to have these protection mechanisms?

    No that would not be so. US activists believe its history literary heritage etc made it entitled to the language recognition it received. My comment was to demonstrate why going as a dialect won’t work and has practical disadvantages.

    There is already a European network of regional and minority languages which US groups are involved with.

  • James Orr

    FD – the 1640 reference is on that Low Country Boys web site:

    Pretty obscure but interesting,


  • private fraser

    What is the Ulster Scots for “waste of tax payers money”? Answer on one of Lord Laird of Artigarvan’s fluorescent pink ties please.

  • Alan2

    Circles – Ulster-Scots is a dialect of the Scots langauge, the language of Rabbie Burns. Some Ulster-Scots could more correctly be called Ulster-English with a few Scots words in there but the Scots language has so many words not present in English that is it more than a regional dialiect or local colloquialisms although it has almost died out in the very “braid” forms.

    is a very good resource

  • IJP


    Actually, there is a very serious campaign to have northern rural ‘dialects’ of German declared a separate language (see for details). The case is very similar to Scots, which Alan2 has correctly identified as the language we are talking about here (i.e. of which Ulster Scots is part).

    Good luck to Mr Thompson. One just hopes he doesn’t head down the ‘ethnicist’ line – an Ulster Scots based on inclusion, enlightenment and industrial/scientific heritage could be a force for the good, but as an ‘ethnic’ answer to ‘Irish (Gaelic)’ it is rightly doomed to fail.

  • circles

    IJP – the difference though with the northern rural dialects is that they actually are a different language (if you’re talking about ost-fresisch). Other dialects like schwäbisch or bayerisch are more like Ulster-Scots in that you don’t have to learn them to undestand them, but some words and grammar can throw you right off.