Nollaig Shona Duit. Happy Christmas Belfast.

20111220 Nollaig Shona Duit

Nollaig Shona Duit. Happy Christmas Belfast.

Sad to see the dismantled Christmas Market at Belfast City Hall. My eye caught the multilingual messages of season’s greetings. I appreciate that this story has been covered in the Belfast Telegraph and elsewhere, and the topic of the Irish Gaelic language here recently on Slugger. I just thought it was a worthwhile image to capture.

  • Mick Fealty

    It’s just crying out for an Ulster Scots sign beside it… At 3.5k a pop they’re not cheap..

  • John Ó Néill

    Mick, are you trolling your own website?

    For what it’s worth, I’ve heard this used blythe yule but am not 100% what it should say. The sign as Gaeilge was free, was it not?

  • Little James

    Isnt that the sign that used to hang on the Falls Road, just before Beechmount Ave? It must be because it isnt there anymore.

  • john

    Are you the new Moochin? Where has he gone? Sorry if these questions have already been asked.

  • @john: Moochin Photoman is the real deal; I’m an impostor 😉 — Moochin’s a good friend, and I look forward to seeing more of his photography here. I believe he’s got a new book out from his Haiti assignment.

  • andnowwhat

    It’s a nice photo.

    The signs are very warming. Maybe they should put them inside, in the chamber to be precise

  • michael-mcivor

    Both signs brigten Belfast city hall- Good signs for the
    future-

  • Manfarang

    Add two more signs in Chinese and Polish then it would be truly muticultural.

  • Little James

    Little James – “The sign was offered free to the council by west Belfast language centre An Culturlann“

    Yeah i had read that but that sign was on the go, open to correction, before An Culturlann was open.

  • Cynic2

    What about a compromise. The English version on the East side of the City Hall and the Irish on the West?

  • JR

    I have to say it’s great to see it.

  • Seimi

    ‘Yeah i had read that but that sign was on the go, open to correction, before An Culturlann was open.’

    An Cultúrlann has been open since 1991. The signs only went up for the first time a few years back (can’t remember what year, but definitely post-’91)

  • between the bridges

    @john i think the correct wording for the ‘other’ sign would be

    Biddin ye a blythe yuletide an a guid yeir, ye wee dafties.

  • between the bridges

    ps. in case anyone thinks i’m taking the pee..The season officially lasts from 25th December until 6 January and was often known in Scots as ‘The Daft Days’ because games and other celebrations were held. hope everyone enjoys their daft days…

  • antamadan

    The Scots seem to be going bilingual with signage i.e. English and Scots-gaelic. They don’t seem to use the Scots dialect/lang on official names of places etc.

    See ‘Fáilte go stáisún Dún Éidean’ i.e. Welcome to Edinburgh station
    http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Edinburgh_Station_Sign.jpg

  • Alan N/Ards

    People shouldn’y get too worked up about the sign. Let’s depolitize the language and accept it. Unionist’s need to generous when it comes to the language and by accepting it we will take the sting out off SF’s tail egarding it.

    I watched the programme about An Culturlann last week. I found it very enjoyable and I liked the way they had a mural of Broadway LoL on the hoarding around the new extension. A nice touch. I did, however, feel a bit disappointed that they had an irish tricolour hanging inside the building. On this island, flags can be very divisive (as we all know) and if genuine irish speakers want unionist’s to see the language as their own, it’s probably not a good idea to have flags hanging(of any sort). Apart from that small gripe my hat goes off to them and I wish them all the best with their new building. It’s good to see a defunct presbyterian church being put to a good use for a community. Does anyone know if they bought the building off the Prebyterian church or do they rent it?

  • Chris Donnelly

    feel a bit disappointed that they had an irish tricolour hanging inside the building.

    Alan
    Should the presence of flags always be an issue? For instance, inside churches?

    Surely tolerance necessitates you accepting that many people quite legitimately cherish the Irish language and the Irish Nation as symbolised by the National flag. That shouldn’t preclude you from forming whatever opinion you want of Irish as a language, but suggesting nationalists (on the Falls Road) should avoid any expressions of their national identity smacks of intolerance.

    I’m glad you noted the LOL mural on the building. That’s quite a statement of tolerance of which I can’t think of a parallel in any unionist area of the north.

  • Alias

    They should have another sign beside it saying “For the translation on the sign on the left, see above” so that the Shinners would be able to understand it.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Chris,

    “I can’t think of a parallel in any unionist area of the north”

    Well, ironically enough, there are LOLs that have gaelic on their banners. As do several British regiments. The Lord Mayor’s chain also has gaelic on it I believe. That should start you off on your thinking…

  • Rory Carr

    But what if innocent little unionist children are unwittingly exposed to sight of this Fenian Gaelic sign? How can they be protected?

    Should not the Department of Education allocate funding for the provision of blinkers to all state schools to be provided for little unionist children who might be thinking of venturing anywhere near the City Hall, especially after dark when the perniciousness of this message will be revved up to its most glaring and deadly effectiveness?

    Save Ulster From Sanity !

  • HeinzGuderian

    ………….is there a single sinner here who doesn’t comprehend the English version ?

  • Rory Carr

    Hardly, Heinz,but then even total illiterates recognise a sign for McDonalds or Marks and Spencer, so smart unionists like you will have no difficulty in recognising, understanding and appreciating the good will extended to you by the Irish speaking community of Belfast.

  • unicorn

    Chris Donnelly

    Surely tolerance necessitates you accepting that many people quite legitimately cherish the Irish language and the Irish Nation as symbolised by the National flag. That shouldn’t preclude you from forming whatever opinion you want of Irish as a language, but suggesting nationalists (on the Falls Road) should avoid any expressions of their national identity smacks of intolerance.

    You’re constructing a straw man. Disappointment is not the same thing as intolerance. Nationalists should not avoid expressions of their national identity any more than members of the Ulster Independence Movement or advocates of a United States of Europe or advocates of the United Kingdom. We should tolerate all of these things. If a person feels that those things are their nation then they should have a right to express that opinion. That’s a matter of personal opinion and the right to personal expression. However the Irish language advocates have wishes for the language to go beyond the private and the personal and into the public realm, and that’s where the problem arises.

    The problem with any close association between the Irish language and Irish nationalism is that it presents the Irish language and Irish nationalism as a package deal. Unless that link is broken then Irish cannot be seen as politically neutral, and certainly moral rights are thereby conceded by those who promote it in that manner that means that it cannot be considered equivalent to Welsh or Scots Gaelic, and as not having a symbolic nature akin to painted kerbstones, particularly in a territorial context (e.g. street signs).

    If advocates of the Irish Gaelic tongue wish to have it viewed as is Welsh or Scots Gaelic with equivalent rights as exist in Scotland or Wales then at least some of the time, and preferably most of the time, they shouldn’t be holding it out in a context of Tricolours or green painted post boxes. If they don’t wish to have it be viewed like painted kerbstones then the last thing they should be doing is actually using it like painted kerbstones. That’s self defeating.

    If the Irish language community presents itself as a kind of linguistic rather than musical and parading mirror image of the Orange Order then they have no right to demand that Irish should be treated in Northern Ireland as Gaelic is in Scotland or Welsh in Wales. They are effectively confining the language to the private and political realm of individual choice rather than the public realm by doing so. They’re making it a political matter of legitimate controversy and that rightly creates moral consequences that differentiate it from Welsh or Scots Gaelic and give additional rights to unionists to exclude the language that Welsh unionists do not have even when and if they wanted to.

    Imagine, for example, that the Ulster Scots Agency building had a big Ulster Independence flag, and wouldn’t tolerate a Union Flag, Ulster Banner or Tricolour on it’s premises, on the orders of it’s leadership who all advocated an independent Ulster. Would that be a problem for the promotion of the Ulster Scots language? Of course it would. It would be making itself politically exclusivist and thereby a moral right to present that language as apolitical and merely cultural would be lost.

    The same would apply to a Welsh language or Scots Gaelic agency who exclusively flew Welsh independence or Scots independence flags in some parallel universe where flags specifically of Welsh or Scottish independence existed, as happens to be the case in Northern Ireland. It would be saying that this language is not for people who see themselves as being British, which such agencies would rightly not want to do, because that would be a personal, political and unrelated matter.

    I don’t think that you can simply mark this down as “intolerance” of something “other” or alien either. Nobody gives a stuff if a Chinese or Polish cultural centre flies a Chinese or Polish flag. The offence derives from the poltical philosophy which essentially says that the nationalists of Ireland 90 years ago had a right to self determination and unionists did not have such an equal right, and which then in it’s most extreme form killed thousands with the express aim of denying the exercise of that self determination, whether rightly or wrongly. Nothing similar exists in the context of China or Poland.

    For the Irish Gaelic language to be widely accepted it should not be associated with philosophies about which groups of homo sapiens should have self determination and which groups of homo sapiens should not. In that sense even though Sinn Fein have a perfect right to use the Irish language, whenever they do so above and beyond the levels of those they consider fellow members of their nation such as Fianna Fail they actually undermine it as a purely cultural apolitical artifact. They do PR damage to it that others would then need to repair.

    So disappointment at seeing the Irish language associated with the tricolour in the context of the location of Belfast is perfectly reasonable. Intolerance of it is not.

  • Red Lion

    Chris Donnelly,

    About the LOL mural on the Falls Road – could also be interpreted as ‘well the orange order/prods used to be here, but we sent them packing, we’re in the ascendancy now, youse were once here but youse aren’y anymore’

    Ever thought that a medium of communication, ie in this instance a mural, can send more than one message? Giving the impression of tolerance whilst at the same time sending a triumphant message at the same time.

  • Surely tolerance necessitates you accepting that many people quite legitimately cherish the Irish language and the Irish Nation as symbolised by the National flag.

    Completely and utterly misses the point.

    Either the Irish language is to be kept locked in the ethno-nat cage or an genuine attempt is to be made to promote its value to us all. For the latter to happen, then a neutral and welcoming environment for all needs to be created round its promotion.

    You can’t have it both ways.

  • JR

    oniell, care to show any evidence of the major Irish language organisations being anything but Neutral? I feel it is you that want is maintaining this language non nutrality.

  • oniell, care to show any evidence of the major Irish language organisations being anything but Neutral?

    JR, I should have maxde my point clearer.

    I was answering Slugger’s SF blogger’s accusation that it was “intolerant” for someone to be disappointed to see the flag of the Irish Republic inside the building in question. It was more a criticism of the kind of ethno-nat mindset which tries to imprision the Irish language within one of our separate sectarian cages.

    I feel it is you that want is maintaining this language non nutrality

    I haven’t got a clue what you’re getting at it here, want to elaborate?

  • Alan N/Ards

    Chris

    Would you like to see an irish language centre opened in the unionist part of West Belfast? I would say you would in favour of it. Would you be happy if they flew a union flag in the centre? I would say you would not.

    I am not asking irish nationalists to stop being irish nationalists. They have the right to be whatever they want to be. Nowhere in my post did I comdemn An Cultarann for flying a tricolour. I applauded the work that they do in promoting irish. Would you prefer unionist’s to have a seperate irish language centre in West Belfast with their own symbols or do you believe that everyone should come together as one irish language community regardless of their allegiances. I know the one I would prefer.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Completely and utterly misses the point.

    Either the Irish language is to be kept locked in the ethno-nat cage or an genuine attempt is to be made to promote its value to us all. For the latter to happen, then a neutral and welcoming environment for all needs to be created round its promotion.

    ONeill
    Well this can become a fascinating discussion very quickly.

    Let’s take the scenario of commemorating Irishmen who died in the World Wars.

    What you’ve said- and the sum of the contributions of fellow unionists in response to my comment above- would necessitate unionism stripping any and all commemorations of those individuals who died in such wars of any vestiges of British identity (flags, military insignia, association with Loyal Orders etc) if you were genuinely seeking to have remembrance in this context be viewed as a shared, politically neutral endeavour.

    After all, can’t have it both ways……

  • Chris Donnelly

    Congal Clan
    I’m quite aware of the ironic situation regarding unionist attitudes to the Irish language- after all, one of the unionist councillors so appalled by an Irish language Christmas message at City Hall made a point of referring to the ‘Erin Go Bragh’ inscription on the mayoral chain of office when he stood before the several hundred boys in my school not so long ago……(talk about ‘when in Rome’ eh?)

    Still, I’d be grateful if you’d point me to the mural of either an AOH Band/ GAA club in a loyalist district as I’ve clearly missed one….

  • Donnolly,

    What you’ve said- and the sum of the contributions of fellow unionists in response to my comment above- would necessitate unionism stripping any and all commemorations of those individuals who died in such wars of any vestiges of British identity (flags, military insignia, association with Loyal Orders etc) if you were genuinely seeking to have remembrance in this context be viewed as a shared, politically neutral endeavour.

    You know what? I could live with it. And that’s the essential difference between me and you- I don’t see British/Irish identity as a zero-sum game.

  • Chris Donnelly

    And that’s the essential difference between me and you- I don’t see British/Irish identity as a zero-sum game.

    Onoill
    ‘The essential difference between me and you?’

    Oh dear, not another unionist contributor incapable of concealing his raw hate of ‘the other’ on Slugger….

    Still, you fail to explain how I see identity as zero sum and you don’t.

    Perhaps you’ll treat us to a piece on that very issue?

  • Chris Donnelly

    The irony of O’Neill’s assertion is, of course, that republicans have not allowed the manner in which many unionists seek to commemorate the deceased Irish combatants of the World Wars to deflect republicans from seeking to find a place for such a remembrance within the republican narrative.

    Yet how often do we hear unionists refer to some distant quote from one person regarding Irish speaking resembling a bullet being fired as an excuse to not respect the native language of this country, a language which gave name to most of the places in which we reside.

    This is quite the challenge for unionists, not least those genuinely interested in a vision of a Union with an appeal beyond the traditionally protestant base.

    Finding excuses for not creating space or respecting manifestations of ‘the Other’ is quite easy, but it won’t achieve much in the time ahead.

  • Red Lion

    Chris Donnelly ,

    I know the North and West of Belfast well, that mural of a 1960’s Orange lodge on the Falls which no longer exists, on a former Presbyterian chuirch on the Falls which used to serve a Falls Protestant community which no longer exists, is not an ‘act of tolerance’ which you or nationalism would like us believe.

    Again i reiterate it is a way of subliminally reminding everyone that ‘we, republicans, are chasing Prods or Orangemen out’. Sinn Fein are especially good at portraying themselves as liberals, as official ‘nice tolerant guys’ , while underhandedly pulling out all the stops on the dirty tricks.

    If the current Gaelic Centre was truly interested in toleration it might show a nice picture of Westrock Orangemen (still a West Belfast community) in the modern day, as equals. Might be a bit too ‘tolerant’ to do this

  • Chris Donnelly

    Again i reiterate it is a way of subliminally reminding everyone that ‘we, republicans, are chasing Prods or Orangemen out’. Sinn Fein are especially good at portraying themselves as liberals, as official ‘nice tolerant guys’ , while underhandedly pulling out all the stops on the dirty tricks.

    Red Lion
    Thanks for that- I needed a good laugh this morning!!!

  • Oh dear, not another unionist contributor incapable of concealing his raw hate of ‘the other’ on Slugger….

    I find your brand of communal and monocultural politics abhorent, I find your writing style and arguments on here simultaneously irrational and supercillious but to translate that to a hatred of you as an “other” displays the symptoms of a very acute persecution complex. I don’t like your blogging style or your politics, end of story.

    Still, you fail to explain how I see identity as zero sum and you don’t.”

    For you, there are two boxes into which all elements of our politics and culture may be put. As a perfect example, your outrage when it’s pointed out that the Irish language should not be shoved into the box marked Irish (or at least a monocultural brand of “Irish”) Catholic, nationalist and in this particular case, draped over with the flag of the Irish Republic.

    Perhaps you’ll treat us to a piece on that very issue?

    If you read my review of “Progressive Patriotism” by Billy Bragg you will see elements of what I’m getting at. Actually, do yourself a favour and read the book itself- progressive patriotism, the whole concept will most probably blow your mind.

    “Yet how often do we hear unionists refer to some distant quote from one person regarding Irish speaking resembling a bullet being fired as an excuse to not respect the native language of this country, a language which gave name to most of the places in which we reside.”

    “Native”?
    Some or many do use at as an excuse not to get involved. Some, for example the DUP councillor who has enrolled on the DCAL’s recent Irish language genuinely do want to not only respect the language but also learn it. Now… Alan’s earlier implied point was that for that to happen a more neutral space must be provided.
    Yet you describe that attitude as “intolerant”?!

    JR responded to my earlier comment by asking if I have “any evidence of the major Irish language organisations being anything but Neutral?” And the answer is “no” but he obviously sees the value of promoting the language within the neutral, “flagless” environment.
    Why do you have a problem with that outlook?

  • Chris Donnelly

    O’Neill
    We agree on a lot, most particularly with regard to opinions of each other.

    I find your opinions often poorly constructed and hastily presented- the product of one with a rather narrow outlook on life but suffering under the delusion that he is, in fact, rather tolerant and broad minded.

    Many of your more petulant comments seem to suggest that the skin would not need to be scratched too roughly to reveal a more embittered little person, which is why I think you’ve decided to conceal your identity behind a nom de plume on the site.

    Nowhere have I stated that the Irish language should be draped in a tricolour nor confined exclusively to those of an Irish nationalist outlook. Indeed I know that there are a significant number of people who would not consider themselves politically Irish nationalist in outlook who have been learning and enjoying the Irish language for many years.

    Your difficulty stems from a refusal to accept that there may be some people who are Irish nationalist who regard their love of Irish as a part of their cultural make-up, much in the same way as many unionists regard rememberance (see the Twelfth, Poppies, Armistice Day and Derry’s Walls) as an intrinsic part of their make up.

    If that’s too complicated for you, then revisit what I’ve said about how Irish nationalists and republicans have found a way to incorporate said examples of remembrance within their narrative as opposed to simply whining about the manner in which unionism has chosen to commemorate these historical events.

    Your failure to interpret my opinions accurately is not surprising as so doing would present you with the problem of squaring your simplistic outlook with the complicated realities of our society.

    btw I’m delighted to hear that you’ve read a book and I’m quite sure your review was stirring stuff.

  • RepublicanStones

    I find myself agreeing with oneil @ 12:26pm. Too often attempts to promote irish are cloaked in ‘our’ sides cultural agenda. I can well imagine that if language classes were to be held in a hall with the radiators bursting off the walls, it would still feel cold for many precisely because of the unnecessary kerb painting the language is subject to. ‘We’ don’t own it. Yes the fact that it has become synonymous with one section of our community is down to a colonial designation (and crude attempts to extinguish it). But by trying to perpetually keep it as such, which is what happens, means you actually end up agreeing with those idiots from centuries before.

  • Chris Donnelly

    RStones
    Often that is simply because the only political parties interested in promoting Irish are Irish nationalist in outlook.

    Those political parties shouldn’t be castigated because that is the case.

    Indeed, the newspapers today illustrate the extent of the rift within the Green Party in the Six Counties over this precise issue.

    There are many classes beign organised and run across the north which have been successful in attracting interest from non-catholics/ Irish nationalists.

    That’s a very positive development and I know no one who believes otherwise.

  • Scáth Shéamais

    Alan N/Ards: I did, however, feel a bit disappointed that they had an irish tricolour hanging inside the building.

    If I remember correctly the tricolour was part of an exhibition in the gallery. I don’t recall exactly when it appeared in the programme but I think that’s why it was there.

    Red Lion: About the LOL mural on the Falls Road – could also be interpreted as ‘well the orange order/prods used to be here, but we sent them packing, we’re in the ascendancy now, youse were once here but youse aren’y anymore’

    If you want to be paranoid about it. The banner was actually included in the Cultúrlann mural to mark all aspects of the building’s history. And below it on the mural was a field of poppies and lilies.

  • RepublicanStones

    Chris, Alan made the point about his annoyance at seeing that which others mentioned above – the cloaking of the language in the accouterments of division. It was more than valid. You then went off on one about his lack of toerance. And framed it thus…

    Surely tolerance necessitates you accepting that many people quite legitimately cherish the Irish language and the Irish Nation as symbolised by the National flag.

    The Irish language and the Irish Nation? You instantly linked one with the other

    You then went on to refer to ‘The National flag’ – again kerb painting the language. You may say twas not your intent, but thats the effect. Your use of language like ‘legitimately cherish’ presupposes two sides to the issue as well. It reinforces the ‘us’ and ‘them’. Thats fair enough when talking about flags and other such things, but doesn’t help when made with reference to that which shouldn’t be contentious.

  • Your difficulty stems from a refusal to accept that there may be some people who are Irish nationalist who regard their love of Irish as a part of their cultural make-up, much in the same way as many unionists regard rememberance (see the Twelfth, Poppies, Armistice Day and Derry’s Walls) as an intrinsic part of their make up.

    Think you’ve missed the point. Again.
    Irish, to have a chance of appealing beyond its traditional *market* needs to be promoted in a neutral environment. Now (and I really hope this does now sink in) whether the fellow learners (or even teachers) are ex-Blanketmen, marxists, fascists, members of the UVF, IRA, ETA is neither here nor there. It’s not the people who I’m requesting nicely to be neutral it’s the…environment. Got it now?

    btw I’m delighted to hear that you’ve read a book and I’m quite sure your review was stirring stuff

    Now that comment, I believe, reflects rather worse on you than, it does on me.

  • JR

    Oneill,

    I don’t get this non neutrality you are talking about. If you want to learn Irish in Newry for example you go to Southern Regional College and enroll in a Night class. The same as you would for French, Spanish etc. You will hear plenty about Grammer and irregular verbs but nothing about Irish Nationalism. You will see no Tricolors etc. Give me a concrete example of the non neutrality you are talking about.

  • JR,

    The example was the one given by Alan earlier. I expanded on that to say the importance of the neutral teaching environment and atmosphere.

  • JR

    I have never noticed a tricolor in the Culturlann I do know there is a Unionflag there in a Mural but you will have to go there yourself to find it. But even so you are lableing a whole language movment on one flag in one building.

    I challenge you to take a trip to the culturlann some lunch time. Buy some lunch, The Lassagne is nice, take a good look around and come back on here and tell us all what is so offensive there.

  • I’ve mucked up the links but I’m sure you’ll work it out.

  • JR

    God help us all! I checked out some websites for other languages and I am very disappointed. There is a frence flag on the French lessons website. A spanish flag on the Spanish lessons and a German flag on the website teaching the German language. This sort of hyper nationalism and politicising of these languages should not be tolerated in 2011

  • And the flag of the Irish Republic is held by all Irish people, (North-South of the border, Unionists and Nationalists) as their flag?

    There’s the problem with that comparison.

  • JR

    Well most people here understand that no Political point is being made when a Union Flag is pictured on an English language Site, I am sure Austrians understand when their language has a german flag beside it. Same with the Argintinians etc etc etc.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Oneill
    I think your intention to drag the thread down to the level of personal insults reflects poorly on you on this occasion as it does on the numerous occasions you have adopted that strategy previously on Slugger.

    Again, you appear incapable of understanding the point being made, which is that unionists can not hide behind the excuse of nationalists/ republicans embracing the language as part of their cultural outlook as a reason for not seeking to find a place for the Irish language within a unionist narrative- just as nationalists and republicans could not merely hide behind the manner in which unionists commemorated the past as a reason to avoid finding a place for remembrance related to the World Wars (and other conflicts) within a developing nationalist narrative.

    RStones
    The Irish language and the Irish Nation? You instantly linked one with the other

    You then went on to refer to ‘The National flag’ – again kerb painting the language.

    RStones
    You need to read what I’ve written again as you’ve made a quite fundamental mistake. I specifically stated that “many people” held an appreciation for the language alongside their national identity, something I think you’d be hard pressed to deny.

    That does not preclude the existence of people whose fondness for the language is utterly detached from their political or cultural outlook.

    Quite how a reference to the National flag in a sentence which also contained a mention to the Irish language was ‘kerb painting’ is a mystery…..

  • I think your intention to drag the thread down to the level of personal insults reflects poorly on you on this occasion as it does on the numerous occasions you have adopted that strategy previously on Slugger

    Point out one personal insult.

    Oh dear, not another unionist contributor incapable of concealing his raw hate of ‘the other’ on Slugger….

    btw I’m delighted to hear that you’ve read a book and I’m quite sure your review was stirring stuff

    So, I’ll finish my time on Slugger with one genuine personal insult for you:

    You are a narrow-minded and bigotted hypocrite.

  • Alan N/Ards

    Chris

    Where do you think someone like me fits into this debate about the irish language? I’m a unionist , albeit a non card carrying one, yet I want the irish language to thrive. I also happen to like irish music and enjoy a bit of craic at Patricks night events. I won’t pretend that I am fluent or indeed anywhere near fluent in the language, yet I want to feel that I can be part of the irish language movement. If An Cultarann is for nationalists only, then that is fair enough, but let’s be honest about it. As JR mentioned, there are classes that are held in neutral places where there are no flags of any description.

    Do you believe that unionist’s can be part of this culture and be respected for what they are? Can I be an irish speaker and give allegiance to to Queen Elizabeth and the Union flag? What is more inportant to you, the irish language community reaching out to unionist’s, or the irish flag being flown in nationalist areas?

    Regardless of your opinion, I hope to visit An cultarann in the near future as i’m not intolerant of the irish language.

  • Chris Donnelly

    So, I’ll finish my time on Slugger with one genuine personal insult for you:

    You are a narrow-minded and bigotted hypocrite.

    O’Neill
    True to form, to the very (or should that be ‘bitter’) end. And yet something tells me that the pull of Slugger will ensure we hear from you again in the not too distant future.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Alan
    I think you’re quite like many other unionists (and nationalists/ republicans) in having an open mind to many things.

    You see, I’m quite conscious of the fact that we’re all diverse human beings, capable of forming our own minds and shunning the stereotype laid out for us by those (like some on this very thread) who find it all too typical to typecast ‘the other’ according to their own prejudices.

    I know Rangers-supporting and cricket-mad republicans, as well as DUP voting protestants with an avid interest in Celtic history.

    I’m rather unique amongst Irish republicans I know in being a fervent fan of American sports, a keen lover of the English language and its roots and one who has actually only warmed to the Irish language in recent years (Mrs Thompson’s Irish classes from Form 1 through to Form 3 put me off it for two decades.)

    I think you should pursue whatever interests you want and should be free- and comfortable- in so doing.

    But I don’t believe you have the right to insist that others need to necessarily feel wrong about viewing the Irish language
    as an integral part of their cultural or political identity- that leads us down the road of the absurd proposal recently by one leading light in our society that the GAA needs to remove the Irish language if it wants to make the games attractive to non-catholics.

    Your view of An Culturlann as being opened to nationalists only is somewhat bizarre and misplaced. It has long been renowned as a place hosting gatherings for groups associated with a variety of nationalities and cultures. It also serves up some pretty good grub and has a shop where you can purchase beginner or more advanced level books on Irish, as well as Celtic artwork.

    Respect is a two-way street, and learning that is the key to inching forward to a more mature and stable society in this part of Ireland/ the United Kingdom (take your pick on the latter one ;> .)

  • Alan N/Ards

    Chris

    I don’t believe that anyone should feel wrong about feeling that the irish language is part of their cultural identity. I do believe though that a pesons political identity has got nothing to do with what language he/she might speak. Do you not think it would be great if unionist and republican politicians at Stormont could argue/debate in irish on a regular basis? Unionist’s claiming the language as their own is surely what genuine irish speakers want.

    I have never been in An Culturann but I hope to visit it some time soon. I sure when I visit I will be welcomed. I will have no problem telling people my background. I have no doubt that the people involved with it, would be very respectful to me as a person, regardless of my beliefs. They seem like decent people.

    I happen to be a ireland rugby fan and when attending games in Dublin I stand for the SS. I would prefer not to have to stand for it but I do because I’m an irish rugby fan. I don’t sing the words because it’s not my anthem. It’s the same with the tricolour. It is not my flag and I do not give my allegiance to it. I actually find it hard when the anthem is being played but it is something I have to accept or stay at home. Thankfully I can learn the irish languge in a neutral free space like online or at number of Techs.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Chris,

    “Still, I’d be grateful if you’d point me to the mural of either an AOH Band/ GAA club in a loyalist district as I’ve clearly missed one….”

    Not a mural but, Ashfield Boys School in loyalist East Belfast play GAA. Any loyalist flute bands in Catholic schools?

  • Chris Donnelly

    Congael
    Not a mural but, Ashfield Boys School in loyalist East Belfast play GAA. Any loyalist flute bands in Catholic schools?

    Given that loyalist flute bands are inextricably linked with a protestant/ unionist identity which is defined by its anti-catholic and Irish attitudes, that would be rather absurd, don’t ya think?

    However, it would be a measure of the openness to the ‘other’ if the communities hosting such bands were to openly display a mural of the GAA in their own areas, would it not?

    Please let me know if I’ve overlooked the existence of such a mural in any loyalist area…..

  • dwatch

    “Given that loyalist flute bands are inextricably linked with a protestant/ unionist identity”

    Chris,
    I think there are still a number of AOH flute & other bands around today, which are linked to a catholic/republican identity. Although not as many as there used to be when the AOH membership was much higher back in the 19th century and early part of the 20th century. See here:

    http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=AOH+flute+band&hl=en&source=hp&oq=AOH+flute+band&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&gs_sm=s&gs_upl=38252l43515l0l45245l7l7l0l0l0l0l217l876l2.4.1l7l0

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Chris,

    “Given that loyalist flute bands are inextricably linked with a protestant/ unionist identity which is defined by its anti-catholic and Irish attitudes, that would be rather absurd, don’t ya think?”

    Which is exactly the same as the GAA except anti Prod/British. So, therefore does it not show prod/British “openess” to the other side? Or perhaps your definition of openess has to have a mural in it for some strange mural fetish reasons?

  • Chris Donnelly

    Which is exactly the same as the GAA except anti Prod/British. So, therefore does it not show prod/British “openess” to the other side? Or perhaps your definition of openess has to have a mural in it for some strange mural fetish reasons?

    Congal
    It would be very hard to sustain an argument that the GAA was or is an anti-protestant organisation- indeed, protestants have held senior positions within the organisation.

    Again, the reason your suggestion about a loyalist flute band being established in catholic schools is so absurd is precisely because such organisations are defined by their non-catholic status, something which does not apply to how the GAA sees itself, hence the ability and willingness of educationalists and pupils in Ashfield to sign up to a joint team with the now-retired PJ O’Grady’s St. Patrick’s (which I believe is what you were referring to.)

    The symbolic nature of the Loyal Orders mural on the Falls Road is that it indicates a willingness to provide some space and legitimacy to the ‘other,’ even in what is the most republican of heartlands.

    I would be keen on finding similar examples within loyalist districts if you are aware of any?

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Chris,

    “It would be very hard to sustain an argument that the GAA was or is an anti-protestant organisation- indeed, protestants have held senior positions within the organisation.”

    Actually, it would be quite easy. However, I don’t think the GAA is anti Prod. I’ve never heard any GAA views on transubstantiation, etc. Religion doesn’t come into it. Equally, I’ve never heard any loyalist band view on such religious matters. To be in the GAA means you’re nationalist, according to the GAA rules. To be in a loyalist band means you’re loyalist. Loyalist bands aren’t, despite what you think, defined by being anti Catholic. Catholics can join. In the same way Prods can join the GAA.

    So, it could be taken that your view that it would be “absurd” for a loyalist band to exist in a catholic school…

    “indicates an UNwillingness to provide some space and legitimacy to the ‘other,’ even in what is the most republican of heartlands.”

    In Tullycarnet there is a mural to James (Mick) Magennis VC.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Loyalist bands aren’t, despite what you think, defined by being anti Catholic. Catholics can join. In the same way Prods can join the GAA.

    Congal
    Utter tripe, I’m afraid. The highest office holder post in the GAA has been held by at least one protestant (Jack Boothman in recent years) and, indeed, the GAA makes no comment on religion.

    Contrastingly, loyal orders are explicitly protestant in character and, erm, well known for their opinions of catholics.

    I’m glad you reference the Magennis mural but, again, you seem confused as to the distinction between religion and politic in our divided society.

    Magennis may have been a Belfast catholic, but his record whilst a member of the British Army during Wolrd War II earned him the VC.

    But his own politics were not known so it’s quite the stretch to suggest that a mural to him is providing recognition of the ‘other’ which in our society is clearly a unionist: nationalist distinction.

    That’d be a bit like me claiming that because many republican murals, offices and cumainn are named for protestant Irish republicans that this somehow was showing respect for our unionist neighbours and their traditions.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Chris,

    “Utter tripe, I’m afraid. The highest office holder post in the GAA has been held by at least one protestant (Jack Boothman in recent years) and, indeed, the GAA makes no comment on religion.”

    I think you’ll find I mentioned that the GAA makes no comment on religion. Jack Boothman was a Prod. And?

    “Contrastingly, loyal orders are explicitly protestant in character and, erm, well known for their opinions of catholics.”

    I never mentioned the loyal orders. Loyalist bands aren’t a loyal order. Yet I’m the “tripe” speaker and “confused”…

    Maybe you need to do a bit more thinking about “the distinction between religion and politic in our divided society”. I’m touched by your concern but fairly clear on it myself…

  • Alan N/Ards

    Chris

    How many unionist’s have held high office or indeed any office in the GAA? I would say that the protestant’s who have held office in the GAA where nationalist’s.

    You cannot deny that the GAA has a strong connection with the RC church or indeed nationalism. It is more than a sporting orginisation. It is not really the same as other all ireland sporting orginisations like rugby, hockey, boxing and bowls. Mickey Harte in his auto biography Presense Is The Only Thing writes that the Tyrone team (to a man) and officials attended a mass before heading for Dublin for the final. They also learned the irish national anthem so they could sing it at the final. Where would a protestant fit in as regarding the mass? Where does a unionist fit in regarding the irish athem? I now it’s not a crime to attend a mass or sing the anthem of your choice but I just can’t see why they are needed in an amatuer sport when it means a section of the population feel that they are excluded from playing or supporting their local team. I look forward to the day when irish unionist’s can feel they can give support to their local GAA team.

    I listened to Barry McGuigan on The Nolan show the other day. he spoke of how he brought every one on board by not wearing certain colours and flying a neutral flag. His choice of “anthem” also excluded no one. He said that he knew who he was and where he came from so he didn’t need to wear colours and fly a flag that made people feel excluded. Here is a man who speaketh sense. The support he had from the whole island of Ireland bore witness to his desire to include everyone. Barry for president!

  • JR

    For anyone interested I can point them in the direction of a protestant run Irish class with a predominaltly protestant attendance.

    From a personal point of view, I would translate GSTQ, the sash and the billy boys into Irish if it made Unionists more comfortable learning it.

  • Chris Donnelly

    How many unionist’s have held high office or indeed any office in the GAA? I would say that the protestant’s who have held office in the GAA where nationalist’s.

    You cannot deny that the GAA has a strong connection with the RC church or indeed nationalism.

    Alan
    You need to read what I’ve written carefully. The GAA does have an historical association with Irish nationalism, and never did I deny that. But the charge I rejected related to the anti-protestant accusation.

    If you wanted to follow Barry McGuigan’s argument to its logical conclusion, then you’d be calling for the removal of flags from any premises- public or private- if the desire was one of not seeking to cause offence. Or indeed monuments or other symbols associated with one community or the other. I would suggest that there are many in Newtownards who’d have a problem with that!

    That’s be the argument of seeking ‘neutrality.’

    Personally, I prefer the arguments in favour of seeking ‘equality’ as they demand an acceptance of the legitimacy of the ‘other’ as opposed to seeking to stifle such expressions.

    And, from that discussion, will naturally flow one challenging us all to embrace/ tolerate expressions of the ‘other’ within shared space and indeed areas which would be associated predominantly with our own community- hence the symbolic importance of the incorporation of said LOL mural outside the Culturlann.

    Seeking to be offended by the presence of an Irish tricolour in a premises on the Falls Road in Belfast is not, to my mind, a particularly sensible course of action. And using that as an excuse not to logically accept the need for unionism to find a place for the Irish language in its political narrative is simply foolhardy, given that unionists will ultimately need to accept that most of the places they call home owe their names to the Irish language!

  • Alan N/Ards

    Chris
    I was using Barry McGuigan as an example of the kind of unity that can be obchieved on the island of ireland by making nobody feel excluded. I would have thought peiple like yourself would have realised the benefits of making no one feel excluded. Are nationalist’s so insecure of their irishness that they need to display their emblems at every given oppurtunity. The same can be said of unionist’s who have to display the emblems from our side at every given oppurtunity. I just don’t get it. What is more important to a united irelander like yourself, the unity of the people or the flying of a flag (tricolour) that will make people feel excluded. Do you really believe that the island of ireland can be united under this flag?

    I am happy for nationalist’s to fly whatever emblems they want in their own areas but I really struggle with sporting ocassions being used as a nationalistic event. Unionist rugby fans and players have to endure this at international games in Dublin when there is really no need.

    I agree with you about the GAA not being anti prod. I know that there are individual supporters who are but the orginisation is not. Saying that, it is not a unionist friendly enviroment as it is intertwined with irish nationalism. The naming of grounds and clubs after members of republican gangs is an example of why unionists do not regard the sport as their own. I used to work with a Co. Down supporter who travelled to every away game. He couldn’t get enough of the game and he would try and get me to go with. Unfortunately I declined every time he asked me. He had a conversation with an opposing fan in the republic after one game. He told this guy that teams in the south were lucky as they could pick from the whole county, whereas teams in the north could only pick from half a county. Do you get what he was getting at? Barry McGuiagan got it right. The unity of his fans was more important than the flying of a flag that would exclude one side.

    As regarding An Cultarlann I was not offended by the flag just disappointed that what I thought was a language centre thought it appropiate to fly it. I have a number of friends who teach english (in a voluntary capacity) to eastern europeans in the Ards area. The orginisation they volunteer with, do not fly the Cross of St. George at these classes. It is purely an english class. I should have realised that as the GAA is more than a sporting orginisation, An Culturlann is more than an irish language centre.

  • JR

    Hi Alan,
    I agree with alot of what you are saying. I agree that the culturlann in Belfast is a community centre for the Irish language community in the area. Sould there be are union flag somewhere within a building for the bee keeping community of East antrim it would be the same. That said I still have never seen this tricolor in many visits to the Culturlann.

    I do also agree with your point on flags. It is important never to confuse the symbol itself with what it symbolises.

  • Alan N/Ards

    JR

    I have no idea if the flag flies on a regular basis but I been speaking to friend who believes that there was a cultural evening being held. Even if there was a cultural evening, I’m still not quite sure why irish language speakers would want to tie the language to this flag. The language predates this flag by goodness knows how many thousands of years. Irish language speakers should be reaching out to irish unionists to try and encourage them that they can embrace the language. Tieing the language in our divided island to one flag does not help the cause of genuine speakers. There are people who think that because there is orange on the flag, unionists should be able to embrace it. Anyone with a brain cell knows that there is as much chance of that happening as there is of nationalists accepting the union flag as their own. I look forward to the day when unionists and nationalists are able to debate in irish at Stormont.

  • Eddie (Eamonn) Mac Bhloscaidh

    I have spent a lot of time the the Cultúrlann and have never ever seen any flag or poilitical symbol.

    Frankly, I find it hard to believe that there was a flag there.

    “genuine speakers”

    I have to say that I have absolutely no idea what distingushes a ‘genuine’ Irish speaker from a non-genuine one.

    I presume it is an attempt to distingush hobby speakers from venacular speakers but perhaps not.

  • JR

    Alan,

    I woulld like to reiterate my earlier point that I don’t know of any Irish organisation who ties the language to the flag.

    We Irish speakers are well aware that the language containing tens of thousands of Words, phrases, sayings, Knowlege etc is incomparable to a three coloured sheet.

    I am very heartened by the positive attitude towards the language shown by a section of the Unionist community

  • Alan N/Ards

    Eddie /Jr

    I believe that the event where flags were hanging on the wall was a dinner in aid of Basque political prisoners. The Irish flag and Basque flag were hanging together on the wall at this event earlier on in the year. Maybe the hall was rented out for the evening. I don’t know.

    What I was referring to regarding genuine Irish speakers was politicians who get up and say a few words in irish for the sake of saying those few words, I remember Briege Rodgers( a fluent speaker) getting cheesed off when a shinner did it in a debate at Stormont. She replied in Irish only to be met with a blank look. I know a few words of Irish. I also know a few words of spanish and French and have made a fool of myself trying to converse in these languages on holiday.

    Look I genuinely hope that the politics can be taken out off the language. The language itself is for everybody, and I wish the unionist and nationalist politicians who enjoy winding each other up regarding the language would wise up. I believe that the Labour party in scotland have a leader who is a fluent scots gaelic speaker. The SNP can no longer claim to be the sole champions of the language. I look forward to the day when the unionist parties can be brave enough to do the same here with the irish language.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Alan
    Perhaps you didn’t fully appreciate the point I was making above, so I’ll repeat it in sum.

    There are two essential ways of overcoming the ‘exclusion’ experience: either seek to make an environment ‘neutral’ (the McGuigan example fits here) or seek to make it ‘equal’ (ie embracing the symbols of both communities.)

    Both are a step ahead for our society in many ways, but as I stated above, it is more of a challenge to aim for a society tolerant and embracing of expressions of both communities as that implies the emergence of a pluralist culture.

    Besides, it is simply unrealistic to expect to stifle any and all expressions of national sentiment through flags/ symbols as would be the logical outcome of seeking to implement the McGuigan example throughout our society.

    Your highlighting of the traditional unionist grievance with regard to the naming of GAA clubs for Irish republicans is a perfect case in point.

    Look around you, Alan, and you’ll find that everything from towns, bridges, offices, parks, roads, hospitals, universities and much more are named for individuals identified with the unionist tradition. Even the street in which the Belfast HQ of Sinn Fein can be found was named for a battle involving British forces in the Crimea!

    It is a power thing, to seek to legitimise one’s cultural and political beliefs by bestowing such honours. That route was open to unionism historically through the State and its institutions; for the (officially) powerless nationalists, they followed suit where they held sway, in private institutions like the GAA.

    Again, one can use such things as excuses to confirm age-old animosities to expressions of the ‘other.’

    But, as I stated with regard to Irish nationalism’s moves to find a place for Unionist remembrance within the nationalist narrative, it is an infinitely preferrable course of action for unionists to seek to accommodate both the native language of Ireland and the largest sporting institutions within their political vision.

  • Alan N/Ards

    Chris

    I have no problem understanding what you are saying. In fact I would say that I agree with most of what you are saying. I know that it would be impossible to neutralise NI or indeed the whole island of Ireland at this present time. The flag and anthem issue is something that will continually plague this land in a sporting sense until we as a people try to agree on something acceptable to everyone.

    As I said before I look forward to the day when irish unionist’s feel comfortable enough to embrace the gaa as their own. Would you have a problem with the gaa reaching out to unionist’s by including symbols that unionist’s hold dear. I also look forward to the day when unionist’s become fluent irish speakers. In the words of Martin Luther King….I have a dream.