Grand Opera House to workshop “the Unionist story’…

Interesting call to action from the Grand Opera House:

The aim of the project is to engage with groups within Unionist communities across Belfast to develop a script for a new piece of theatre which will be performed in The Baby Grand at the Grand Opera House. The script narrative will be based on the outcome of workshop discussion around legends, anecdotes and history that is representative of the Unionist story.

The successful candidate will work closely with a number of groups across Belfast. Through the initial stages of the project the facilitator / writer will meet with participating groups to workshop ideas of interest and use this as the basis for the script development. Representatives from the groups will be involved as the script progresses through the storyboarding stage.

The deadline is tomorrow, so if you are interested you can pick up a pack directly from the GOH…

  • bohereen

    Is this a joke?
    Early April Fool’s?

  • granni trixie

    I think it is a brilliant idea – the creative process as well as the end product.

    Actually I think it would be even more of a challenge to engage in the same process with us Alliance-ites!

  • joeCanuck

    That’s a really innovative piece of thinking – a collaborative play. I hope it works well. It could lead to other stories. Presumably there are lots of books which have already explored the Unionist story.

  • Kevsterino

    I hope it goes well. Unionists have seldom been very good at conveying their story through such artsy fartsy means. Maybe they can pick up a tip or two from the fenians.

  • Drumlins Rock

    umm “…across Belfast” i’m starting to cring already!

  • joeCanuck

    Good point, DR. I didn’t pick up on that. There is a rich Unionist culture all across N.I. and to a lesser extent in the ROI too if they are going to include “legends.. and history”.

  • Drumlins Rock

    I have always said the Urban/Rural divide is the most universal and transcends race, religion, sex, age or poltics!
    And if anything is more pronounced in Unionism than in many other traditions.

  • Kevsterino

    Drumlins Rock,
    Regarding your post #7, does this divide somewhat explain why the rural Orange parades tend to be so much more peaceful, cheerful etc.?

    I know, I know, another ignorant yank question, but…

  • Rory Carr

    Tragedy or comedy? That is the question.

  • Mr E Mann

    >rural Orange parades tend to be so much
    >more peaceful, cheerful etc.?

    rural Orange parades = local Prods marching around their hometowns, where most local RCs are personally known to them, people they might see again tomorrow at the grocery store

    urban ones, when they enter RC neighborhoods = assault on hostile territory full of unknown enemies

  • Tochais Síoraí

    No doubt it will be known as The (Ulster) Scottish play.

  • Drumlins Rock

    nah Kev its a good question, which quite a few people in NI fail to get as well, I regularly parade in a 90% catholic town, both communities learned to respect each others over the years, and when wee frictions occur they are quietly dealt with. Maybe not everyone wants the parade, and not everyone parades with the right motive, but generally becuase we have to live together it works. Whilst in this case the village is 90% catholic the hinterland is probably majority protestant, and most the community facilties are within the village, if the parades were stopped then that community would get the impression they are not welcome anytime… you get my drift.

  • Kevsterino

    When you wrote “might see each other tomorrow” that cleared up a few things for me.

    The names of the bands, much like the names of several GAA facilities, might also clue people in regarding offending people’s sensibilities. eg “Sons of the Conquerors” etc.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Kev, I usually have found and band called “Pride Of *****” are often an embarassment, although cant see “Gillygooleys Rising Heros” causing much offence (ok made that one up)

  • DerTer

    It has often puzzled me why the English Anglican/Episcopalian stream in Ulster Protestant politics and culture has been so overwhelmed by the Scottish Presbyterian one, especially in recent years. I don’t know the actual figures, but it’s obvious that a substantial minority of incoming Planters, and their descendants, are/were Church of Ireland.

    I bow to no one in my admiration for and enjoyment of the (EU defined as “regional minority”) Scots language and traditions, in both its Lallans and Ullans forms – the Bard himself truly bowls me over, and the insult of ‘poorly spoken English’ offends me as much as it does any purist. Be that as it may, there does seem to be serious neglect of an English cultural input into the Ulster Protestant canon.

    Moreover, now I’m on cultural questions, dare I ask how the promoters of Ulster-Scots culture feel about the quite distinctive Gaelic (or ‘Gallic’) strain in Scottish culture which plainly owes more to the pan-celtic tradition.

    I watched the hour-and-a-half Scottish ‘Trads’ music awards programme on BBC Alba last night, which was presented in both Gaelic and English. My Irish is very limited, but I continually recognised words and expressions that were the same or very close to their Irish Gaelic equivalents. I’ve raved before here about what a fantastic channel Alba is. Can I repeat my recommendation, and suggest to those interested that they seek out this programme on BBC iPlayer?

  • joeCanuck

    seek out this programme on BBC iPlayer

    DerTer, sore point to those of outside the Islands who used to get all these programmes on-line and now can’t.

  • CatinHat


    “It has often puzzled me why the English Anglican/Episcopalian stream in Ulster Protestant politics and culture has been so overwhelmed by the Scottish Presbyterian one, especially in recent years. I don’t know the actual figures, but it’s obvious that a substantial minority of incoming Planters, and their descendants, are/were Church of Ireland.”


    Your distinction is probably largely a purely formal one.

    The bulk of the planters were Borderers

    To those people “Scottish” and “English” were political designations, not cultural ones. Right from the start, pre-plantation, a Scottish Borderer would not have considered an English Borderer from the other side to be some kind of alien or “foreigner”. Post plantation I see even less reason for them to think so. A Hebridean or Devonian might have been exotic to a Scottish Borderer more so than an English Borderer, who could well have even been their cousin or other relative.

    The Presbyterian / Anglican divide is, and probably even then was, a very flimsy divide in terms of preventing intermarriage.

    The idea that English Planters and Scottish Planters, in toto, had two distinct cultures was probably never even true in the first place. Sure not all planters were Borderers, but cultural difference among planters probably never had that much to do with whether their ancestors were technically from a piece of land called England or a piece of land called Scotland.

  • That was interesting, CatinHat. Thanks.

  • Davros

    West Brit Side Story?

  • Drumlins Rock

    Catin, it is a bit more complicated, in many ways the English/Scottish divide still exists, with the English influence being strongest in north Armagh and parts of down, its even visible in the architecture, but it does not always correspond to denominations, ie. Fermanagh protestants are overwhelmingly Anglicans of Scots descent, there has to be a story there. My guess is the average NI protestant is at least 50% of Scots ancestry, 25% English, and the rest Irish, Welsh, French, dutch etc. in my own case the family names back 4 generations are all Scots appart from one Heugenot family.

  • DerTer

    Catinhat & Drumlin’s Rock
    Thank you both. Delay in response due to me having other things to do than sit in front of this machine! The info about the Reivers was particularly interesting, and I have followed some of the very informative links from that. What becomes clear is that the great majority of the settlers/planters were Scots – Presbyterians in particular, although there were Scottish Episcopalians among them. I was also surprised to find – though on reflection I ought not to have been – that so many highlanders (who must have been Gaelic-speaking, and perhaps some of them Catholic) had been emigrating to north-east Ulster from long before the Plantation. Indeed the traffic was not just one way.

    However, although the Church of Ireland was tithe-supported, it must have had enough of its own adherents to fill churches. For example it was partly because the lovely wee Anglican parish church of St Augustine on Derry’s Walls (the Walls of course built after the church was) was overflowing that the initiative was taken to erect the new St Columb’s Cathedral (also before the Walls were begun) little more than a hundred metres away. And of course the early Presbyterian church that was eventually replaced by the present First Derry was not in fact completed until after the Walls were up – in ’16 and 90 famous’ would you believe.

    But some puzzles remain. Firstly, you say, Catinhat, that “The Presbyterian/Anglican divide is, and probably even then was, a very flimsy divide in terms of preventing intermarriage.” That’s plainly true now, and has obviously been so for some time. (It’s also true, of course, that until the Ne Temere decree there was significant Catholic/Protestant intermarriage as well.) But until the early 19th century the Presbyterian/Anglican divide must surely have been socially strongly marked by the legal disadvantages which Presbyterians suffered together with Catholics – and indeed with all dissenters from the Established Church, including, as I now know, those from Cumberland and Northumberland. Also surely a mark of difference was that the first great wave of emigration from Ireland to North America was by Presbyterians frustrated by their second-class citizenship.
    Secondly, you are obviously correct to say that whatever cultural differences there may have been to begin with were quickly subsumed into a new and shared culture, especially as regards speech patterns – my late father-in-law, a Tyrone Catholic, was a mine of what we would now call Ulster-Scots usage. What I still don’t quite understand, however, is why all the emphasis is on the Scottish tradition – unless it is because it is so much more flamboyant!

    I’m sorry you have been deprived; but so too have I. Despite RTÉ’s declared intention to permit Northern Ireland internet users access to the RTÉ Player, because I have a UK IP address I cannot get near it. Representations containing accusations of partitionism have been to no avail. However, one small window will soon open of which you too will be able to avail. From 1 April I think it is, Irish language station TG4 will permit international access to its view-later thing; I know it’s not BBC Alba, but there are lots of goodies available, especially musical.