When will unionists stop misusing the terms ‘Ulster’ and ‘Province’?

The centenary celebrations for the Ulster Covenant will be remembered for a needless sectarian row picked by loyalists in north Belfast which dragged on for months due to political unionism’s unwillingness to confront the belligerent antics of the supremacists who continue to hold sway within the Loyal Orders, loyalist paramilitarism and the ranks of the unionist political parties- and special mention must be made of DUP Minister Nelson McCausland, who has excelled at making a mockery of any notion some might have had that the DUP had any interest at all of reaching outside of its base community.

The theme continued with the decision by the DUP in Lisburn to initiate moves to give the Orange Order the freedom of that city and has now nicely dovetailed into a hard line Covenant speech by Peter Robinson demanding nationalists refer to the north as Northern Ireland.

The latter point has one for long that has irked many unionists, and I must say I’m delighted that Peter Robinson has raised it at this time as it provides a welcome opportunity to hold up a mirror for many of those who share his perspective.

In his speech last night, Robinson suggested that “it was an act of denial and disrespect to assiduously avoid using the proper title” of Northern Ireland by nationalists.

Now, Peter is well aware of the contentious nature of political vocabulary in this part of the world, and the nod to official titles is one easily made by a unionist leader whose political stance has benefitted from the ‘legitimacy’ Britain’s military dominance could confer on all things British in Ireland.

But in the new age of political consensus and evolving demographic parity, taking a hard line stance on this issue, as opposed to acknowledging and seeking to legitimise the diverse political terms employed by unionists and nationalists (as Martin McGuinness did at the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis) smacks of unionism once again failing to recognise the need for an alternative strategy for consolidating their political and constitutional position.

Raising this issue now presents nationalists with a wonderful opportunity to point to the hypocrisy of unionists claiming grievance at the term ‘6 Counties’ or ‘The North’ when unionists have for generations ‘disrespected and assiduously avoided using the proper title’ when erroneously referring to Northern Ireland as ‘Ulster’ or ‘The Province.’

Will Peter and Mike  initiate moves to ensure that their parties either contest elections in Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan or cease from referring to Ulster in an inappropriate and disrespectful manner from henceforward?

  • Lionel Hutz

    The persistent use of the word ‘Ulster’ is frustrating but any reference to Ulster is an implicit nod to Northern Ireland place in Ireland.

    I don’t mind the use of the word province. I’d much prefer that than Country

  • DC

    supremacists is a bit of a loaded a term, don’t you think it is more to do with protestant exceptionalism i.e being unique and different, than supremacism and feeling superior?

    Although sectarianism and discrimination are at times the outworking of exceptionalism when it all goes wrong i guess in the same way that incompetence can produce the same outcomes as corruption.

  • TwilightoftheProds

    Oh Chris. Oh dear me. What have you done.

    No one-nationalist or unionist- should ever start a blog entry about names of nations and states on this island and expect to walk away happy or smugly superior.

    case in point. What is the official name (given in the constitution)of the independent state on the island? Is this in anyway currently geographically, or politically accurate? Isn’t it just as historically and geographically as inaccurate as ‘ulster’ in the nationalist critique?

    Lets all step way from this.Slow news day.

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    Only when you stop going on about the occupied 6 counties lol… or ‘the north’ or whatever other made up terminology from the shinner encyclopedia of irish history lol

  • DC

    supremacists is a loaded term, don’t you think it is more to do with protestant exceptionalism i.e being unique and different, than supremacism and feeling superior?

    Although sectarianism and discrimination are at times the outworking of exceptionalism when it all goes wrong i guess in the same way that incompetence can produce the same outcomes as corruption.

    (re-posted this and cleaned it up, seeing as slugger doesn’t have an edit function.)

  • SK

    “I don’t mind the use of the word province. I’d much prefer that than Country”

    I’d concur. “Country” seems more politically loaded (and factually inaccurate) than “province” To my ear at least.

  • Lionel Hutz

    If I were a nationalist politician, I would say “the province”. It’s not loaded from either end. It wouldn’t seem as forced as “the north” does. In real life, I only say “the north” if I’m comparing north and south – like “unemployment is probably worse in the south than it is in the north”. I think “the province” should be used more.

  • DC

    Have to admit I am fond of saying the Province, usually in reference to the NI football team, somewhat jokingly.

    “unemployment is probably worse in the south than it is in the north”

    So too emigration, I guess the Covenant has helped to stave off migration to Britain and given us a stability here which has not been afforded to those in the Republic (aka the South, the Free State or the Not So Free State).

  • Barnshee

    When will unionists stop misusing the terms ‘Ulster’ and ‘Province’?

    Around about the same time republicans stop using “Ireland” and start using “Republic of Ireland”

  • Neil

    Good to see our pols tackle the substantive issues. Once we get all this kind of stuff sorted with the apologies etc. I’m sure the small stuff like our shitty economy will straighten itself right out.

  • DoppiaVu

    “When will unionists stop misusing the terms ulster and province”

    This particular unionist will continue to use the words Ulster, Province, Northern Ireland, or whatever I f**king feel like using regardless of what Donnelly (or indeed Robinson) tell me to use.

  • Lionel Hutz


    Well “Ireland” is the official name recognized by everyone but FIFA. We don’t have to say the Republic of France or the Kingdom of Spain do we?

    But I do find it frustrating given that the territorial claim is gone.

  • DC

    Not to mention the two tier health system in the Free State, where you have to pay for healthcare and then in the end treatment is actually carried out in a public hospital, or the taking of EU structural funds, taking money off other countries, and then using this subsidy to cover the massive cut in corporation tax, whenever it might have been better to keep corporation tax a tad higher to cover public services and roads, and of course healthcare.

    Anyway, I’ve digressed. Apologies.

  • Reader

    Chris Donnelly: when unionists have for generations ‘disrespected and assiduously avoided using the proper title’ when erroneously referring to Northern Ireland as ‘Ulster’ or ‘The Province.’
    Use of the word ‘Province’ to refer to Northern Ireland is entirely correct, and not at all disrespectful. Northern Ireland is an administrative province of the UK.

  • Neil

    Around about the same time republicans stop using “Ireland”Around about the same time republicans stop using “Ireland”

    LOL Unionists have a bad habit of trying to dictate to others on things that have nothing to do with them. Like what another sovereign state names itself, whether or not someone is Irish, hell even trying to force people to play for their 10th rate international football team. Just for you Barnshee:

    On 29 December 1937, the new Constitution of Ireland (Bunreacht na hÉireann) came into force, which replaced the Constitution of the Irish Free State and called the state Ireland, or Éire in Irish.

    The state is called Ireland, and is recognised as such by the international community. Sorry if that doesn’t fit Unionism’s (incorrect) world view, but once again you’re on one side of the argument and the rest of the planet is on the other so you might want to get over it.

  • DC

    The state is called Ireland, and is recognised as the Failed State by the international community.

  • BluesJazz

    Always liked ‘the Black North’ term used by Southeners.

    Shows the disdain they have for all of us.

  • Lionel Hutz


    Ireland has the ability to recover, and it will. This province would need over a decade to replace the jobs lost at FG Wilson.

    Anyway, you can have your “they wouldn’t want to pay for us” line at the ready. It won’t be that long until you need it again

  • Neil

    The state is called Ireland, and is recognised as the Failed State by the international community.

    Most amusing. Though it may be worth remembering that pride comes before a fall, Ireland have 12 billion less in debt than the UK, and aren’t nor have they been in a recession for some time.

    The UK has total external debt of 360% of GDP, compared to Ireland’s 108% GDP. It’s funny watching Unionist throw stones in that direction given the widening deficit in the UK and the lack of light at the end of the tunnel. We’ll not dig into the NI economy as we all know that this ‘wee country’ would go bankrupt overnight if we weren’t picking the pockets of the South East of England to the tune of 5 bn a year.

    People living in dilapidated, shitty broken ass 2 berth caravans shouldn’t throw stones.

  • Neil

    Sorry scratch that 14 billion, head’s mangled. 7 trillion approx would be the difference.


  • SK


    If the British taxpayer decided to cut NI’s pocket money,you would be living off southern food parcels. There would be oxfam adverts depicting hungry northern children on RTE.

    In other words, wind your heavily subsidised neck in.

  • CD. It’s welcome as you said to see and hear the ire [highly ironic that word in the case of Robbo with his state of denial of his irish identity] of Peter as it shows the pips are already squeaking at the death throes of his wee country even before the census results come out. By giving us the entertaining spectacle of his cry for help, Peter has done us a favour on this side of the fence. The howls will only keep getting louder from the supremacists in the unionist parties. Roll on the centenary of the creation of their wee colony. The screaming will be deafening from them come 2021, if it’s this bad already.

  • DC


    They wouldn’t want to pay for us!

    Sure, nowadays people work out of their computers, what would be the point in taking on territory? Besides, if you like the way Ireland is governed you can move, that’s one of the good things about the EU, free movement of people. It amazes me why some hang around in a place they purport isn’t up to scratch. Just move to where you think it best or to a place that you think is better.

    I like NI because it has a nice balance of religions and ideologies, it is unique in that sense and is something to be admired and maintained than taken over and homogenized as part of some crude statist cultural project, be it under the auspices of unionism or nationalism.

  • Lionel Hutz

    “I like NI because it has a nice balance of religions and ideologies, it is unique in that sense and is something to be admired”


    *That gap is place I might have written something, but I’m speechless

  • galloglaigh

    Not to mention one of the terror groups Robbo helped to arm: The ULSTER Volunteer Force, who bombed both Donegal and Monaghan.

    Poor Cavan, mustn’t have had enough fenians…

    It’s good to see that connection between the DUP (the UUP), and armed terrorist groups has lasted longer than an Orange March down the Garvaghy Road. And of course We’re a party for all!

    Dead on Mike!

  • Brian Walker

    A lot of this comment provides excellent reasons for being pretty relaxed about terms all round. As usual hyper-pedantry is the enemy of good sense. A lot depends on tone and motive doesn’t it?

    “Six Counties” is a factual but a deliberately diminishing term dating from the 1920s. “Six county statelet” is deliberately offensive. “Free State” and “Eire” still widely used in my childhood are now of course obsolete and are mildly offensive (or at best ignorant) if used by all but the elderly. (I heard a youngish woman asking for “two to the viceregal” to pay her fares in a Dublin bus when I was 15 in the early 1960s.)

    Personally I’m relaxed about “the North” but I found Seamus Mallon’s invariable “the North of Ireland” mildly irritating and at odds with his frequent political and personal generosity. I think it was Garret FitzGerald in the 1970s who decisively led the change in official southern usage to “Northern Ireland”. But to the death I’m pretty sure the term never sullied the pages of the Irish Press. “Londonderry” is never objectively used in the southern prints – though is the cumbersome but well intentioned “Derry/Londonderry” creeping in?

    Making every acknowledgment towards the 9 county province (defined under British administration), I personally rather like “Ulster” as a generic but I realise its use has coat trailing unionist associations unacceptable to nationalists and therefore unusable as a rough synonym. “The province” although with unionist associations and now fashionably dropped in favour of “region” in officialise is nevertheless accurate both for Ulster and Northern Ireland. NI sits uneasily as a Nation (which of course it isn’t in fact but it is a devolved area) in the governmental term also used by the BBC, “Nations and Regions.”

    I would certainly like the reformed state to re-adopt the Red Hand as a symbol rich in Irish associations and like many symbols not exclusive to the particular State using it, like the Cross of St George. Now that would be something worthwhile to work towards as a inclusive symbol.

  • Dont Drink Bleach

    When are you going to start using ‘Nationalist’ instead of ‘Republican’ Chris?

    You know the difference, right?

  • galloglaigh


    Surely unionism is a form of nationalism; British nationalism?

    You know the difference, right?

  • GoldenFleece

    Gallogaligh, traditional unionism in Northern Ireland is very like nationalism.

    Unionism in Britain and Europe is a very different matter. Unionism is the idea that people of different nationalities who share so much in common can work together for the common good. Nationalism is steeped in tribalism and hatred for outsiders and has caused many wars and deaths in this world.

  • Dont Drink Bleach


    Not my Unionism.

  • sonofstrongbow

    This is a win-win argument for unionists. No matter what territorial nomenclature is used they are all British inventions.

    Part of the great, and ongoing, labour of putting manners on the Great Unwashed was the formation of administrative boundaries. That part of the task can get its tick for job-done as everyone is seemingly happy to use some form of the British system.

  • The same illtempered and poor manners as the Order’s demands to have respect shown but no reciprocal respect apparently due from them, can be heard in Robinson call for proper use of the colony’ official name, but not reciprocated in his use of non-official namnes for the Republic. all those grand sounding and statesman like speeches from Robinson have been shown up as false by his actions and inactions this last month, as he needn’t have bothered writing them. We have his measure now.

  • ayeYerMa

    When are Nationalists/Republicans going to come up to date and stop using an archaic definition of the province as imposed by the Tudor conquerors , instead of the definition decided by the people who live in Ulster?

  • ayeYerMa

    Brain Walker, I don’t believe “Derry/Londonderry” to be well intentioned. Derry is a shortened colloquialism of Londonderry (and to be sensible should be treated like Carrick and Ards — the longer term formally, the shorter informally). By saying “Derry/Londonderry” you are making it an issue when it need not be — saying “Ards/Newtownards” and “Carrick/ Carrickfergus” merely highlights the absurdity.

  • mollymooly

    9-county Ulster is a province of 32-county Ireland. 6-county Ulster is a province of the United Kingdom. Context is your friend.

    The most neutral term is probably “jurisdiction”, but it’s too long for everyday use. “Country” or, worse, “nation” ought to be far more objectionable to nationalists than “province”. Characterising the UK as made up of four countries or nations is very bad history, though perhaps not bad geography.

    The fact that “Ulster” is unofficial for NI whereas “Ireland” is official for RoI is not really relevant. If the 1940s proposal to officially rename the place “Ulster” had proceeded, nationalists would object more, not less.

  • ArdoyneUnionist

    Congratulations Chris this wins not just MOPE post of the year but MOPE post of the century.

    Wouldn’t be awful if posters on here were to refer to Ulster republicans and Ulster nationalists in there posts. Knowing that the title “Ulster” grates with Ulster republicans and Ulster nationalists.

    Chris may be you can clear this up? If you ever need to go to hospital Chris, and all the other Ulster republicans and Ulster nationalists who disprove of the term Ulster. Will you instruct all ambulances to drive past the Ulster Hospital, as a matter of principal. Because you don’t want to go to the “Ulster” you want to go straight to the Royal Victoria Hospital????

  • jagmaster

    Seems Robinson is sabre rattling. Obviously trying to win back some “street cred” among the rank and file Unionists before the next General Election. He’ll do and say anything to get back to Westminster.

  • ForkHandles

    “unionists claiming grievance at the term ’6 Counties’ or ‘The North’ ”

    Personally I don’t mind The North as a term. I would say The South when talking about the ROI without intending any insult, so The North is ok with me. The key to using terms is knowing when to use slang terms or abbreviations etc. and when to use the correct official name. Normal people use a variety of terms and usually use the correct term when required, but the nationalist / republican type of person often has lost any awareness of what is stupid and what makes them look ridiculous. I am of course talking about the very amusing type of person that spends their life running around trying not to say Northern Ireland. You know the type of person! You’re reading one of their threads right now 🙂 You see them on TV panel discussion programs concentrating their hardest not to let a Northern Ireland slip out when they are surrounded with Northern Irelands being uttered by everyone else around them. I find this type of person very amusing to observe. It is ofcourse a bit annoying to listen to people trying to insult your country, but the main feeling is one of pity for the person who is making a fool of themselves in such a childish way. Its obvious they have got some pretend world going on in their heads that they need to avoid words that would suggest Ireland is two different countries. If they accepted two different states, or whatever you want to call them, they may have a nervous breakdown!

  • Dont Drink Bleach

    Feeney had a go in today’s Irish News and made an even bigger fool of himself than usual.

    “Northern Ireland is not a country… It’s part of the country called Ireland.”

    hee hee

  • ArdoyneUnionist

    I had a wee chuckle the other day when Robbo and wee Marty, were over visiting the Prime Minister. When interview out side number 10, wee Marty when referring to David Cameron, he said the Prime Minister, and no Ulster republican or Ulster nationalist silly “British” prefix.

    Wee Marty seems to be getting more comfortable with administrating British rule in a British administration here in Ulster.

  • carnmoney.guy

    At least we acknowledge that there is a place in the north east of this island, really did annoy that the Olympics jamboree just used team GB instead of recognising us at all..

  • SK

    “Northern Ireland is not a country…”

    It isn’t.

  • Personally I wouldn’t even grace the place with the privilege of a capital letter, ‘the north’ or ‘six counties’ does well enough… or if I’m feeling generous ‘the black north’.

  • Ulick Robinson knows only too well what happened to the province official status at the Good Friday agreement signing, that unlike England |Scotland Wales and Rep. Ireland who exist as political entites of their own right, NI only exists until further notice, which FIFA is recognising by their ruling. Whether that is for twenty, thirty or forty years more, it will in the end cease to exist after the referendum that seals it’s fate. The other four politiacal entities in these islands will carry on indefinitely.

  • RyanAdams

    “Whether that is for twenty, thirty or forty years more, it will in the end cease to exist after the referendum that seals it’s fate. The other four politiacal entities in these islands will carry on indefinitely.”

    Yes. “Whether” being the operative word. I thought nationalists had learned from their mistakes and stopped putting time scales on this? For years we heard tales of 2016 … Now any quantitive measure has been abandoned.

    ” ‘six counties’ does well enough”

    Ahhh counties … Also British engineering – All 32 of em 😉

  • IJP

    Northern Ireland is clearly a “country” by any reasonable definition of the term. I appreciate some people might find that unpalatable, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

    But Chris absolutely has a point. There is such a thing as a reasonable MOPE – one which points to obvious and ludicrous hypocrisy.

    As a quick check a few years back I looked at the News Letter and Irish News from the same day and found the News Letter in fact used “Ulster” more often than the Irish News used “the north”.

    Besides, I don’t remotely expect people to use “Northern Ireland’ out of “respect to Unionism”, but rather out of respect to reality. And I would make that point to Unionists! (If you must abbreviate, why not just “NI”?)

  • ForkHandles

    I also find people from NI that do not recognize that they are Irish people, to be totally ridiculous. The clue is in the name of our country! We are not of course from the ROI, so we are not Irish nationals. We are from the UK so we are British nationals. It’s not rocket science. The term British is just the name of the nationality of the people from the UK. It is also used as a collective term describing anything at all that originates from the UK. No big deal really, and not something that needs endlessly explained on slugger….
    To be honest I find these endlessly repeating threads on slugger to be a bit of an embarrassment. You can pretty much predict the next subject that will be posted and who by. LOL.

  • Semantics, semantics and more semantics.
    What is it?
    It is 6 counties in the north east of a small island, one and a half of which have a majority in favour of seccession to a neighbouring state.
    In the meantime why not have a bunfight over what to call the place?
    I have no problem what Unionists want to call it. I know what it is. For me that is enough

  • Peter robinson is, no doubt, aware of the interview his former Boss Ian Snr gave the Newsletter a couple of years back in which he said that he thought a UI was likely in the 2050s, but added that as he wouldn’t be around then, it didn’t matter about this for him. Revealing. How PR must wish that Tyrone had been given to the Republic at partition as well as the other three, they would be sitting with a comfortable majority now.

  • Why not NIFUN? Close enough phonetically. Can’t spell it out; Mick might chastise me.

  • ForkHandles

    But Bangordub aren’t you trying to pretend otherwise if you don’t just use the correct name? I mean, isn’t it a bit silly to try to avoid correct names? To be honest I find it hard to not to laugh at people who try to pretend that reality is otherwise..

  • ForkHandles,

    You’re being a bit silly too, given that “unionists” call the “place” by different names.

  • ForkHandles.
    What correct name?
    The existence of the Northern entity was brought about by the denial of a legal democratic mandate under the threat of violent resistance.
    It was legalised by the Government of Ireland Act 1920. That is now repealed and superseded by the GFA.
    I have never recognised the legitimacy of the original partition of the Island from a democratic viewpoint, why should I change that view now?

  • galloglaigh

    For people from NI that don’t recognize they’re Irish is totally ridiculous.

    The clue is in the name: Ireland. We are not of course united with the ROI, but we are still Irish. We are for now, part the UK, and will always be able choose British citizenship. It’s not rocket science. The term British is just the name of the nationality of the people from Britain. It is also used as a collective term when describing UK nationals. No big deal really, and not something that needs endlessly explained to the likes of ForkHandles…


    Derry is not a shortened colloquialism of Londonderry. The later was an addition to the Anglicised name of the existing city of Doire, in thanks to the City of London…

  • From the BBC (A British company in case anyone is confused):

    Derry, nó Doire means ‘Oak- grove’ . Doire is commonly used in Irish logainmneacha or place-names, and translated as Derry eg
    In 1613, as part of the Ulster Plantation, a charter was granted to the London companies who had settled in the Derry area. This charter allowed the prefix London to be added to the existing Derry.

  • ayeYerMa

    ” ForkHandles (profile)
    22 September 2012 at 9:25 pm

    I also find people from NI that do not recognize that they are Irish people, to be totally ridiculous.”

    This is a lot of nonsense. One’s identity relates to groups of people, not lumps of rock. “Irish” is merely a technicality based on a geophysical feature, not a people.

  • ayeYerMa

    Mister Joe, besides from the fact that you are talking about BBC NI who never would stand up for British interests, there was no such settlement as “Derry” other than a monastery Doire-somethinggaelicandunrememberable. It was the back-end of nowhere before the London companies built a settlement there.

  • ayeYerMa

    On the actual topic by Peter Robinson, I don’t actually agree with Peter Robinson either. We should be pushing strongly for the only form of nationalism that binds all of us together — Ulster Nationalism — and it should be accepted that this has a flexible definition. “Northern Ireland” is an awkward mouthful forced upon us by English ministers (a bit like those “nine counties” were back in the day I suppose :P)

    I also find the comments from Brian Walker in letting Irish Nationalists (“offended” at everything) define any aspect of his own use of terminology a bit pathetic.

  • AYM,

    I was not “talking about” the BBC. I cut and paste from the BBC site. Check it out yerself.
    You are perfectly entitled to believe anything you want.
    A much admired former Canadian premier died this week. One of his quotes is much repeated:
    A mind is a bit like a parachute; they both work best when they are open”.

  • Greenflag

    @AYM aka Ayeyeralumpofrock

    “Irish” is merely a technicality based on a geophysical feature, not a people.

    And so we can also conclude that

    “English” is merely a technicality based on a geophysical feature, not a people.

    “Scottish ” is merely a technicality based on a geophysical feature, not a people.

    “French ” is merely a technicality based on a geophysical feature, not a people.

    Have you ever considered a future in stand up comedy ?

    ‘One’s identity relates to groups of people, not lumps of rock. ‘

    You might think that but the evidence from our TV screens is that the recent lumps of rock thrown by protesting loyalists at the PSNI indicates that their identity is closely related /bound up with rocks . To be fair the same applies to their differently denominated competitor rock throwers ,

    Perhaps the traditional hymn ‘Rock of Ages ‘ could be given new lyrics and a new amended title ‘ “Rocks or Wages ‘ as the new ‘Ulster/Province /Northern Ireland / etc etc anthem ?

    Given a choice between rock throwing and making NI an attractive location for inward investment and job creation it seems that rock throwing is the preferred option 🙁

    But I have to advise you that if you continue to refer to the ‘mere Irish ‘ an outdated historical term much beloved of our English conquistadors in the 16th and 17th centuries I ‘ll have to start referring to you not as ayeyerman but as
    wait for it ‘Ayeyeralumpofrock’ 🙂

    But thanks anyway for raising a laugh much appreciated !

  • Greenflag

    And the answer to the thread question posited by Chris Donnelly above is well known already

    Question :

    When will unionists stop misusing the terms ‘Ulster’ and ‘Province’?

    Answer :

    Around the same time as Spanish speaking people stop calling tomorrow manana 😉

    As to the other side

    Question :

    When will Irish people stop misusing the terms Irish and Ireland ?

    Answers: There are 2 !

    1) Misuse ? what are you on about don’t be a gobshite ffs Ireland is Ireland and the people are Irish end of story !


    2) Around the same time as German speaking people stop calling the day after tomorrow Ubermorgen 😉

  • “ffs Ireland is Ireland and the people are Irish end of story !”

    Greenflag, do you mean Ireland-26 or Ireland-32? Read on – to the end of the story 😉

  • paul23

    although this clip is about Football Violence, i think Billy Connolly sum up are intrench view on place names..

  • Reader

    Greenflag: And so we can also conclude that
    I fear you missed his entire point. Ireland is an island, England, Scotland and Wales are not islands. Your ridiculous extrapolation fails.
    Greenflag: But I have to advise you that if you continue to refer to the ‘mere Irish ‘
    Here’s a chance at redemption. Can you work out what the word “mere” truly meant back when its use was commonplace? If you can, it will ease the offence you feel now over remarks from hundreds of years ago.

  • Greenflag

    @ reader ,

    All I can find on ‘mere’ is the family name .Apparently there were mere English as well as mere Irish 🙂


    The mere history is in the above link ..

    Here’s a chance at redemption.

    I’m not a sinner 😉 And I know what the medieval and late meaning was

    ‘it will ease the offence you feel now over remarks from hundreds of years ago.’

    Offence ? You mistake some humour directed at ayeralumpofrock for offence ? Lighten up . I know what the medieval and late meaning was but I’m living in the 21st century and while the middle ages is of some interest -life expectancy , health care and sanitary standards were nothing to write home about .

    ‘I fear you missed his entire point.’

    I fear he made himself/herself unclear and indeed seemed confused between lumps of rock and human beings at one point .

    ‘Ireland is an island, England, Scotland and Wales are not islands.’

    Your geographic knowledge is of an exactitude rarely found .
    I could add that France and Russia are also not islands but I don’t want to be seen as a geography nerd 😉

  • Granni Trixie

    I was brought up a Catholic but we have a crackly copy of the Covenant in our house (my husband,a humanist,was born Protestant and we presume it is from his family). Until recently it was meaningless to us. anyone know if its worth anything as a collectible item?

  • Greenflag

    @ Nevin .

    ‘do you mean Ireland-26 or Ireland-32?’

    Neither -Just Ireland -Tourists are not interested in 26, 32 Ireland . They just want to have a good time a pleasant vacation and if they are into the ‘roots ‘ business well and good.

    Lets hope both ‘gatherings ‘ in Ireland and Scotland are successful and can be built on . Peripheral countries need to promote their tourist trade whichever way they can and lets face it they can’t offer sunshine and sub tropical tans 😉

    Keep the local politics minimal -the vast majority of visitors will have little knowledge and minimal interest and as for understanding the local history- probably only for a very small number of history buffs and academics.

  • otto

    Perhaps when people from Hawaii, like, er, The US president, stop calling themselves American?

  • BluesJazz


    There was a great programme on BBC1 tonight about apes and territory. In this programme it was about macaque monkeys rather than humans, but the topic was similar. Given that we are all apes.

    The name(s) we give to places are of no more relevance than Gondwanaland.

    There are more people in ‘Ireland’ gloating tonight about a ‘Manchester’ football ream beating a ‘Liverpool’ team than about the gaelic soccer match between Donegal and some other southern team . Culturally we’re 99% English.
    We’re all 100% Ape. In the same way that an Irish wolfhound or English collie is 100% wolf in origin.

  • galloglaigh

    Culturally we’re 99% English

    No we’re not. Culturally we’re all Celtic/Gaelic, since most of our traditions, past-times, and heritage is Celtic/Gaelic.

    Can you explain how we’re 99% English?

    And before you go on about soccer, currency, and the NHS etc., Is the culture of the Manx’ people also 99% English? Or the Scots for that matter?

  • BluesJazz

    “And before you go on about soccer, currency, and the NHS etc., Is the culture of the Manx’ peole also 99% English? Or the Scots for that matter?”

    Errr, yes.

  • Yer Honour. I should not be punished for throwing stones. It’s part of who we are. We’ve been doing it for 4 million years now and we can no more not throw stones just like we have to go s**t in the woods every day.

  • “Just Ireland -Tourists are not interested in 26, 32 Ireland”

    That’s the point I was making on NALIL, Greenflag. However, your ‘Ireland’ is the island of the 32 counties but your political ‘masters’ in Dublin have limited The Gathering Ireland 2013 to Ireland-26 instead of linking up with Belfast for a joint venture. According to the exchanges in the Belfast assembly, Dublin provided 24 hours notice of the event.

    As for the Diaspora, their roots are unlikely to be limited to the island so Tourism Ireland should take account of this on their website. For example, my relatives in Seattle are more likely to arrive via London than Dublin but they’re only offered a few departure points in the USA to Dublin so the Tourism Ireland ‘How to get here’ information is pretty well useless.

  • “When will unionists stop misusing the terms ‘Ulster’ and ‘Province’?”

    Chris, haranguing by supporters of the PRM is unlikely to lead to a change of use; to coin a phrase: ‘The Athboy strategy hasn’t gone away you know’.

    As you will know, Unionism precedes the formation of two jurisdictions on the island and Ulster unionism was based on the province of Ulster. The Ulster Unionist convention of 1892 had echoes of earlier Ulster conventions at the end of the previous century.

    Unionism’s use of Ulster is on a par with Dublin’s use of Ireland yet you fail to give parity of esteem to the two uses.

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m cool with all the ways people talk about where we come from… six counties, Ulster, Occupied Six, our we province, the province, Northern Ireland, the North…

    It comprises who we are… and we love tearing strips off each other for getting it wrong or showing disrespect for others by showing disrespect by in turn not using the ‘required’ terminology…

    That aside, I do think there’s a good rationale in calling for blog contributions on identity on the island of Ireland, what they are and what they mean to us as a disparate set of peoples…

  • “I do think there’s a good rationale in calling for blog contributions on identity on the island of Ireland”

    Is there not a good rationale, Mick, for dropping the ending ‘on the island of Ireland’? My identity is a composite of both wider and narrower elements so, where possible, I tend to drop the labels with restrictive political trappings/contexts.

  • Greenflag

    @ Nevin ,

    I agree with Mick above re whatever people want to call either NI or ROI apart from the Free State term which has been defunct since 1949 . If ever asked what part of Ireland I’m from and I detect /sniff that they are hooked on the North /South aspectery my reply is always I’m from the East . When asked by those who are not ‘political i.e the vast majority my reply is Dublin .

    As to my political ‘masters ‘. Would that they were .It’s been many a long year since they were masters of anything bar one disaster after another . I’d like to say your lot in NI are somewhat more ‘masterful ‘ but alas they may even be worse but then neither London nor Washington have been ‘masterful’ in their financial policy making for the past decade or more and signs are they are becoming increasingly less masterful.

    Re ‘on the island of Ireland ‘ is imo neutral enough a bit unwieldy perhaps and inexact -there are a 1,000 plus islands around the Irish coast .

    I don’t believe the term excludes those of us including themuns who have antecedents in their lineage from elsewhere in the British archipelago or further afield . The recent Vietnamese or Polish immigrant is included along with Lord Dunsaney and even people from Donegal and Kerry not to mention Ballyfermot .

    What they have in common is that they all live on the island of Ireland and what could be more identifiable than that ?

    Perhaps you are exaggerating the importance of terminology in this instance? You may be hyper sensitive to labels which in your view are ‘restrictive political trappings’. My experience is that most people are’nt all that bothered particularly in the Republic . Perhaps it’s just another sympton of ‘northernitis ‘ with it’s attendant ‘contrariness ‘ or as you might put it ‘thrawnitude ‘ ?

  • “Re ‘on the island of Ireland ‘ is imo neutral enough”

    Well if it’s neutral enough, Greenflag, it can be easily dropped.

    I dropped ‘Irish dancing’ in favour of ‘Traditional dancing’ when I found that dancers from one affiliation organisation could not appear in the same programme as one from imo a sister organisation. ‘Traditional dancing’ is much more inclusive; it even embraces those who, traditionally, dance on the head of a pin.

  • (contd) I’m familiar with ‘thrawnness’, not ‘thrawnitude’ 🙂

  • Granni Trixie

    I just find it irritating when certain political people and even the Irish News steadfastly refuses to name “Northern Ireland”. strategic decisions obviously afoot.

    Put it another way, I always refer to “Derry” because its shorter and comes naturally to mind. if I lived in Stroke city however I might ring the changes if I became sensitised to how such words give offence,to Protestants, I presume. Context is everything and there is a difference in consciously deciding to name a place to make a political point (“the North” ) and just saying what comes naturally.

  • Granni Trixie


    I enjoyed your wee head of pin joke – u won’t mind if I pass it off as my own sometimes?

  • I won’t, Granni Trixie.

  • ayeYerMa

    Nevin: “Unionism’s use of Ulster is on a par with Dublin’s use of Ireland yet you fail to give parity of esteem to the two uses”.

    As I have posted before, this is nonsense. Ireland is a distinct geophysical feature, whereas Ulster has had many different definitions over the centuries. The great irony is that Irish Nationalists, for no other reason other than pure awkwardness, insist that only the old definition imposed by the Tudor conquerors must be correct!

  • galloglaigh

    Errr, yes

    Errr, no. People from the ‘parts’ I outlined think differently. Just because your mono-cultural view of what the UK should be, doesn’t mean that your mono-cultural view is a reality in Fraserburgh or Ramsey. But sure what would I know – I’m apparently 99% English!

  • “Ulster has had many different definitions over the centuries.”

    AYM, I’m aware of Ulster’s varying geometry over the centuries; my observation relates to the current Ireland 26/32 and Ulster 9/6 confused and confusing labelling.

  • CW

    Now that the Sam Maguire Cup is back in northern (with a small n) Ireland and back in the province of Ulster after a 4 year gap, I’m surprised no-one’s picked up on this topical absurdity 😉
    Plenty of scope for irritatig pedantry and point scoring there!
    For the record I’m glad to see the cup back up north (again with a small n), even if it is the wrong side of the river Finn

  • BluesJazz

    What’s the sam maguire cup? Some sort of fishing trophy, presumably someone from Ireland won it. Good for them, i suspect winning the wotld tiddlywinks championship would be heralded in the Republic.

  • CW

    Your reference to a fishing trophy is rather appropriate here, BJ, as on this occasion I’m definitely not rising to the bait.

  • sonofstrongbow


    You are of course mistaken. The ‘Sam Maguire Cup’ is a GAA trophy.

    It may interest you to know that Sam Maguire was a Protestant from Dunmanway County Cork. The ‘Cup’ was originally awarded to him for his good fortune in being one of the few of his religion to survive the Irish nationalist sectarian murder spree in his part of the county back in the early 1920s.

  • Greenflag

    The ‘Cup’ was originally awarded to him for his good fortune in being one of the few of his religion to survive —-

    He survived the Civil War but not by much . Despite his undercover work in London and being Michael Collin’s Chief Intelligence Office -Sam like many hundreds of other anti treaty irregulars was dismissed by the Free State Government in 1924 . He passed away in 1927 .

    The Sam Maguire Cup was designed and presented to the Gaelic Athletic Association in 1928 in his honour after his death in 1927.

    He is buried in the cemetery of Saint Mary’s in Dunmanway,Co Cork . A Celtic cross was raised over his grave with a simple inscription

    ‘Erected to the memory of Samuel Maguire, Mallabraca who died 6th February 1927 by the people of Dunmanway and his numerous friends throughout Ireland and England in recognition of his love for his country.’

    The list of those who anti treaty people who were hounded out of the country by the first Free State Government is a long one . The vast majority of those killed on both sides were from Catholic backgrounds mostly in the south west of the country .


  • sonofstrongbow

    Surely the monument reads ‘erected….by the cleansed people of Dunmanaway”?

  • Greenflag

    Get a life SOS and try to refrain from being an eejit . I don’t know about his gravestone but I’d presume the taxpayers paid for the public statue in Dunmanway plaza.

  • Henry94

    Culturally we’re 99% English.

    Certainly when it comes to Premier League football we are. But if you judge us by the films we watch we are 90% American. I certainly am for music too and thrillers and clothes. For serious fiction I’m largely European and when it comes to food I’m more Indian than I used to be.

    Does that mean I wish to be ruled over by any of those places?

    Happy the man who on last Sunday could enjoy both the All-Ireland final and the Liverpool Manchester United match. Of course nobody had to beg the Mayo and Donegal fans to behave themselves but such cultural differences are to be treasured.

  • Greenflag

    I get very Chinese sometimes when I’m in town and near a Chinese buffet .

    Happy the man indeed 😉

    Some folks will however insist on being happy -born whining will live complaining and destined to die disappointed still poised between two worlds one dead and the other as yet unborn !

  • JR

    Some background on the Sam Maguire cup for the less informed.

    PS i don’t remember any scenes like this when any soccer team won anything.

  • Greenflag

    An edit function would be good should read

    ‘ Some of our northern brethern insist on being Unhappy but then they may have much to be unhappy about 😉

  • otto

    Well this is a bit weird and after midnight. Slugger thread spontaneous resurrection.