Liam Neeson, St Patrick and the Northern Ireland identity headache…

Ballymena’s finest Liam Neeson it seems is the official voice of Ireland. Here is is narrating the official St Patricks Day video:

 

He is also the voice for Discover Northern Ireland. Here is the ad Liam narrated for Discover Northern Ireland:

You got to hand it to him, he is great at the aul voice overs. Watching these ads you can really imagine the headache Discover Northern Ireland have in trying to market brand NI.

Is it Ulster? the North of Ireland? the six counties? Northern Ireland? The accepted term seems to be Northern Ireland but it is not a great sign when the Deputy First Minister can not bear to utter the name of the place he governs.

Then there is the huge issue of what you put in the ads. Watching the Discover NI ad it is indistinguishable from brand Ireland. It is all traditional Irish sessions, pubs and greens fields. There is not much that represents the ‘British’ identity in any of Discover NI videos.

So the question is can you market the British identity of NI? Does it just confuse the message?

What exactly is the NI brand? We are Irish but er… different??

Local companies have decided the smart business option seems to be go with brand Ireland. What is your view?

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  • Dinny

    Dublin to Limerick City is all motorway – about two hours. Then a short trip to Clare.

    Or did you avoid Limerick, so as not to spoil your holiday/year?

  • Niall Chapman

    It is a strange idea and Dinny has given a reference to why it might have happened below.

    Bit of a segwey but I’ve no idea why anyone drinks Jamesons it tastes revolting, Bushmills is average as far as whiskeys go but much better

  • Dinny

    That’s very interesting!

    Sorry if my above point was long winded – the link between Donegal Irish and Scots Gaelic that is often trotted out (essentially it is a intermediary between Irish and Scots Gaelic) is a sore spot for me because I had heard it growing up and believed it!

    I then did a Commerce and Irish course in University, we had a module on Scots Gaelic, which was at 9am and I rarely made into. We were given a long piece of Scots Gaelic to translate as part of the assessment and I hadn’t a clue, so my Da knew a school teacher from the Donegal Gaeltacht and I was thinking perfect! The bloke had a look, said Scots Gaelic isnt too bad spoken by a young person for him to understand but that would be the same for anyone from any Irish Gaelthact and it was essentially gibberish to him written down.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Um, it’s just the way I speak. So it is…

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I wonder how many different variants there are?

    I’ve heard of it varying from island to island but I wonder to what extent?
    I’d love to know more about the topic. Someday….

  • Devil Eire

    Unless the ‘British education’ refers to his musical training in London, rather than where he did his A-levels. “Galway went to London as a teenager to study the flute. He studied at the Royal College of Music under John Francis and then at the Guildhall School of Music under Geoffrey Gilbert.” (Wikipedia)

  • Alan N/Ards

    That would be some of the working class British in NI who do that sort of thing. The nice middle class British citizen, like here in North Down, have better things to do.

  • Alan N/Ards

    How do you define Protestant culture? Not every protestant is in to bands and parading. I was at a St. Patrick’s celebration at the weekend and there were a couple of hundred, non parading Protestants at it, who were singing Irish songs like; In Dublins Fair city, Galway Bay, Mountains of Mourne etc. There were also Protestant Irish dancers strutting their stuff. There was nothing there that would have offended anyone. In my humble opinion, there is no such thing as Protestant culture, and no such thing as Catholic culture.

  • Alan N/Ards

    Why aren’t the Orange Order dealing with it?

  • Practically_Family

    There’s as much in it for Protestants as there is for catholics, athiests, Hindus, Zen Shintoists or Jedi.

    Not so much for the zealot of any kidney.

  • John Collins

    Funny. I think Jamesons were (are) a Protestant family, as of course the Guinness family are. The most famous Catholic family are the Powers. Marciano, the great wireless man, was a son of one of the Power family.

  • John Collins

    Had not read above before I replied to PF. Well said

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Not our problem mate.

  • Alan N/Ards

    There are many Protestant St. Paddy celebrations in NI. A lot of them are church functions, so they are TT. But they are good fun and thankfully not a Tricolour in sight.

  • Alan N/Ards

    If a lodge hires them, then it’s their problem. If they don’t care, then that’s pretty shameful.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    That’s right, Mr Jameson was a Protestant Scot from Edinburgh.
    When you say Marciano, do you mean ‘Marconi’?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    How do the Irish regiments of the British Army celebrate Paddy’s Day these days? Anyone know?

  • willie drennan

    I think we are missing the tourism boat by not focusing on aspects of Northern Ireland I that are distinct and unique. If nothing else we should be promoting the diversity of our cultural traditions. I have a fair bit of experience as a guide and and entertainer for visitors to NI tourists and there is definitely a huge untapped market out there for educated professionals who want to get their teeth into the culture.

    Of course traditional music in the pubs is an essential component but what they do not need is more of the green plastic gifts that they can get in abundance down South. In fairness to ROI however they do seem to have more of a handle on providing tourists with quality Irish product and real arts and culture than we do here. On several occasions in recent years I’ve heard tourists express surprise and bemoan the fact that Asian-made plastic souvenirs are everywhere in Belfast city centre, airports and at big tourist attractions.

    I have also on many occasions shown band parades, loyal order marches, Lambeg drumming matches etc to foreign visitors and they have always been fascinated. They couldn’t understand what the controversy was all about, and on occasions, this included visitors of Irish American origins.

    What we need are politicians who have our local economy as a priority. Our diverse cultural traditions have tremendous marketing potential. Let’s also not forget the millions of people out there who are of Scotch Irish decent who crave insight into their roots.

    If we could at least pretend we don’t hate each other’s cultural traditions our tourism industry would benefit greatly.

  • Alan N/Ards

    You can’t really blame the people alive today for what happened hundreds of years ago. No one is answerable for what their forefathers did. Are the American or Canadian people answerable for what their forefathers did? If you think that we are deplorable then why do you want us to integrate with the rest of the population?

  • Am Ghobsmacht
  • Kevin Cannon

    I think if the protestant marches and festivals were more associated with peace, music and celebration, then it’d be possible to market them as events to attend.

    Unfortunately, that’s not the association now, and some events may not even be safe for tourists. That’s a shame.

  • Séamus

    McAdam Ó Fiaich is the name of a cultural centre in west Belfast.

  • Brian O’Neill

    Well said Willie.

  • Brian O’Neill
  • Gingray

    Very true. Btw during last year’s gathering in use south the Scots irish thing was pushed with events particularly in the border counties. An opportunity missed

  • Gingray

    And ignoring the fact that many of the best musicians don’t come from Ireland north or south but the diaspora. It’s Gaelic/Celtic music that is part of everyones heritage regardless of the view on politics and the border. Cross community interest is growing, largely because those involved just care about good music

  • Brian O’Neill

    To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, culture is either good or bad that is all.

    Full quote if you are interested:

    “There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book.
    Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.”

  • submariner

    Bushmills is a great example of that, basically producing a Scottish product but in NI.

    Good god man have you lost the run of yourself. No self respecting Whiskey drinker who has sampled the delights of a single pot stilled Irish whiskey could ever compare it to the much inferior product produced by our Celtic cousins across the Irish sea. Shame on you sir, shame i say.

  • submariner

    I like both Bushmills and Jameson .guess you could class meas Alliance when it comes to whiskey

  • submariner

    I take it someone seared off your taste buds with a hot poker.

  • carl marks

    Yep that’s going to happen! Will look good on a tourist video as well.
    cJ2 troop away son. Since you rarely bother with Actual debate you might as well.

  • Niall Chapman

    I tried Jamesons first, not many tastebuds left after that but they prefer Glenfiddich

  • Jag

    It’s about three years since the Irish Times in Dublin sold their Ireland.com website domain name to the tourism ministries on both sides of the border. It was sold for €495,000 (around £350,000) with the Dublin government contributing €330,000 and Arlene Foster’s department contributing the remaining €165,000. The most expensive sale of an Irish domain name ever, I believe.

    The aim was to promote Ireland the country as a tourist destination and do away with the separate DiscoverIreland and DiscoverNorthernIreland websites, though you would wonder if the two governments obtained value for money with their purchase. The six counties are tiny, it doesn’t make sense to spend money separately promoting them internationally, as much sense as separating promoting Connacht or Munster.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    It certainly is Seamus, I should have written “I’m mainly going on the writings of Robert shipboy McAdam “.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    This is getting all too reminisent of the father in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” who keeps claiming thet everything is in its inception Greek. F.J. Bigger was a great man, I was told, for claiming the Scots stole pretty much everything in their “culture” from us Irish, kilts, (war) pipes, language, wire-strung harps, whiskey…….

    The first textual mention of whiskey is for 1405, in the “Annals of Clonmacnoise”, which attributes the death of a chieftain to “taking a surfeit of aqua vitae” at Christmas festivities. I have this from a note in Vol. III, p.785 of the “Annals of the Four Masters”. I think teh first mention of Aqua Vitae in Scotland is about eighty years later, but….

    No-one actually knows authorativly when distilling started in the Celtic world, or where.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Wait a minute, the name is a combination of two Irish language scholars, the nineteenth century Robert Shipboy McAdam and the twentieth century Cardinal Ó Fiaich………

    And did the last native Glynnes Irish speaker not die before the revival brought McGinley and the Gaelic League in the early 1900s to teach a Donegall version to re-vitalise the langauge?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I think the problem is the spelling! My grandfather who spoke (and wrote in) both, said that you could easily make yourself understood, taking into account some entirely different words a few different pronounciations.

  • willie drennan

    “You don’t fancy running for office, do you Willie?”

    Thanks for the suggestion but I think I’ll stick to scraping on fiddles and bating Lambeg drums. Not as much money in it as in the politics but I don’t think I would fit in too well at Stormont. Besides there is no political party out there who agrees with me 100%

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I thought William Crawley made a good stab at a more positive vision of our local NI identity in Episode 3 of his Imagining Ulster series: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b05n7rzk/imagining-ulster-episode-3

    Well worth a look on the iPlayer for anyone that hasn’t seen it – sort of expresses very well what Ulster British culture is about, which doesn’t mean necessarily banging on about red, white and blue Britishness all the time (though I am very happy to do so for quite a large proportion of the time ;-))

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I’m a Bushmills drinker myself … actually it turns out John Jameson was a Scot (and a unionist) 🙂

  • MainlandUlsterman

    It was a tongue in cheek comment about Bushmills whiskey being Scottish, but it is fair to say Bushmills is in the part of NI with the strongest backwards and forwards connections with our kilted cousins, as Am Ghobsmacht points out.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Fair enough but I do think it’s a selling point for Northern Ireland that the whole place is so compact, anywhere in the province is day-trippable from Belfast. When you get towards 3 hours each way for a drive, it starts to shout ‘overnight stay’. Having suffered what seemed like long drives as a kid to Strabane and back to visit grandparents, it amazed me when we went back a couple of years ago and the drive was only about an hour and a half. That said, I still think twice about planning a day trip to Fermanagh as the travel starts to eat into your time there, esp in winter.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Oh yeah and Games of Thrones …

  • I agree about the possibility of marketing the orange traditions. However, the parades in Belfast with the blood and thunder bands and the huge police presence are a no go. A lot of the more rural 12th celebrations in County Armagh and Derry are actually quite sensible affairs with pipe bands and brass bands and a positive atmosphere. A bit more UUP than UVF. I have seen tourists who seemed to repsond positively to it all, and there may be something which can be built on.

  • submariner

    And this is relevant to Whiskey how exactly?

  • submariner

    Niall im also partial to Glenfiddich but do yourself a favour and sample some Redbreast or Powers Johns Lane they will knock your socks off. Slainte

  • submariner

    (though I am very happy to do so for quite a large proportion of the time ;-))

    Really? we havent noticed

  • MainlandUlsterman

    we were talking about Bushmills in the context of the Scots-influenced part of NI identity that could be marketed … the “Northern Ireland identity headache” of the title of this thread. It’s not really a thread about whiskey 🙂

  • MainlandUlsterman

    😉

  • MainlandUlsterman

    thx for the information though Dinny, that was informative. Someone who seemed knowledgeable told me once about Bushmills really being a Scotch. But having now read your post and explored online a bit, I think you’re right and they must have been talking through their a***. We live and learn! I’m no distillation expert for sure.

  • submariner

    I think it was your good self who introduced the Whiskey angle hence the wrath of us IRISH whiskey drinkers.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Ah! My bad, I just assumed it was (somehow) a translation of his names (Shipboy).

    Right, in that case the above post should have read “I’m mainly going on the writings of Robert Shipboy McAdam”

    I recall you telling me about the Donegal based Antrim ‘revival’ but this woman claims to have an unbroken family chain of Glynnes Gaelic and I’m sure her grandmother would have been in adulthood by the time of said revival.

    Damn it, I must track her down….

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Sticking with the whiskey angle, did you ever see the McAllister’s Whiskey (Ballymena) poster that was written entirely in Irish?

    Oh to dig that up.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    no but sounds great

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I’m an Irish whiskey drinker too though – sorry for the Scottish slight, I think I got that wrong. Though I have done the Bushmills tour, it was a long time ago and I probably misremembered it.

  • siphonophorest

    .

  • Rory14

    Living in the States for over 20 years, I’ve only heard that type of thing once, some years ago (at least before the Wire episode).

    Jamesons is actually pretty popular, cheaper than Bushmills and also has lots of marketing here.

  • chrisjones2

    They need no help from Fenians or anyone else to make themselves look like eidjits

  • SeaanUiNeill

    AG, you’re talking to the man who distrusts text as the find arbiter of anything! There’s no reason to start doubting the person who had the actual experience, simply because I’d heard something differently!

    I was told that Glynnes Irish had almost gone, and that Peader Toner McGinley started the local Gaelic League classes that got it going again, but this is not to say that there was not any survival in some families. Certainly in 1893 there were Irish speakers in Glenarm, Glenariff and the wilder pets of Carey, now I’ve had some time too check my notes and not simply misinform you by speaking from memory. But the revival and the classes for new learners in the Glynnes was very much a Donegal Irish affair rather than any attempt to continue local Irish, at least that’s what I’d heard. But none of this makes her story in any way unlikely. Me, I tend believe people unless I’ve heard something that seriously suggests otherwise. Yeah, track her down……

  • carl marks

    Chris really, I know you don’t like this, but I am going to ask you to prove that. Sorry but making up insults while typical of you Is not really a discussion.
    But if all you can manage is poor quality trolling then I suppose it is amusing in its own way!

  • Dinny

    How clued in do you think people are? We tend to deal in broad strokes in the South when it comes to the North, i.e., good guys and bad guys. Bushmills sponsor Antrim GAA… GAA is normal, Irish, as are the Antrim people who play it…therefore Bushmills is grand, from “our side”, the good guys.

    You think your average punter in the South realises the town of Bushmills is festooned in British paraphernalia? Most are confused enough by a concept of Britishness living on this island but find it even more confusing when it is in a rural ulster setting that looks identical to their locale. Loads in the South think unionism is confined to parts of North that look like working class Dublin but with union flags hanging on the lampposts. Normal, nice rural nordies are assumed to be catholic nationalists

  • carl marks

    “Not our problem mate” yes it is. Like I said before Joe lie with dogs you get fleas..
    You can have hundreds of family friendly parades but the one with the hate filled bands will be the one in the news..
    And it good to in ow that you think people who delight in insulting me and mine at OO parades is not your problem.
    And you have the gall to wonder why Catholics/nationalists have issues with the OO!

  • carl marks

    Hey they are selling Irish culture very well.
    And I know many Protestant’s who believe that waving terrorist flags is not a protestant thing to do. And what is this balance crap !
    Are you saying that someone can onlycomvplain about prods if they make a similar statement about Catholics,

  • carl marks

    I missed the part about police and government because I thought it was embarrassing enough for you already,, but it you don’t mind bringing it up why should I.
    How do you see fitting in the psni into a tourism video, perhaps the nightly stand off at TeardropTwaddell ( double win there plenty of Britishness what with all those flags and bands) and how exactly do you think we could use the constitutional set up to bring in. Tourists.
    Go on tell how us how you would do it.

  • carl marks

    Sorry Joe systemvery buggy. Firstly St Patrick’s day parad3s are mainly free of trouble. The problems with the blue bag brigade are minute compared to the 12th. Also peeing in people’s property is almost a tradition on the 12. I have never seen a kick the queen band at a St pats parade. Will that do or will you continue to try weak whataboutry to divert attention from the reasons why the 12 is unsalable in its present from.but it does demonstrate that you would prefer to ignore than deal with it.
    The problem is the rest of the world does not share your selective vision.

  • Practically_Family

    In one of my previous postings I mentioned that calypso could work on the
    Twelfth.
    I was serious.

    If the parading culture is to become part of the mainstream, then there needs to be a fundamental shift of emphasis in the parades and related events themselves.

    The core principles of adherence to the Protestant faith &
    loyalty to the Crown may still be very much to the fore for the
    brethren, their followers and supporters but the public face of
    parading really needs to be much more ‘Fest’ & much less
    ‘Orange’.

    Guy Fawkes Day is arguably an entirely sectarian festival, but one
    which with time has become essentially one which is simply British
    (and slightly kitsch). Closer to home, the conversion of the
    internment “commemorations” to festivals, fleadhs & féile is
    to my mind an example worthy of study. There is still a (very
    strong) political subtext to these events but it needs to be sought
    out by those of mind. This is particularly true of Feile an Phobail
    which to the vast majority of people who visit it, or possibly more
    importantly, look at it from the outside is simply an enormous
    community festival that attracts some of the biggest acts going. Yet
    there’s a concurrent series of political lectures, debates and
    presentations some of which are highly charged, most of which are
    very well attended.

    Meanwhile here’s One Direction, Status Quo, Madness…. blah blah
    blah.

  • John Collins

    Yes. Your right. The Power family had an estate in Edermine Co Wexford

  • Practically_Family

    That assumes that you see Northern Ireland as a separate place from the rest of the island. Most don’t, really. It’s all part of the same trip (the bit you have to get your money changed for). It’s just physical as opposed to political geography.

  • Zeno

    St Patricks Day should really be pushed by the Tourist Boards, especially the bit where you can wrap a flag around you, get blind drunk, fight and vomit wherever you like. It’s akin to running with the Bulls in Pamplona.

  • siphonophorest

    .

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    PF
    I have for a long time harboured the thought that 12th days in rural areas are fertile ground for Mountain gospel and Appalachian folk music.

    The Ulster Scots movement makes a deal of highlighting the cultural links and there’s the potential that an influx of folk singing, banjos and fiddles may be a catalyst for something bigger.

    I know each 12th differs and perhaps already some have similar undertakings already.

    I reckon it would be an easy enough sell and could bring some people in from the cold (I know people who wouldn’t be seen dead at a 12th day gig as it stands BUT tell them there’s a banjo about the place or a Kris Kristofferson tribute act they’d be there with bells on. Well, a Stetson anyway).

  • MainlandUlsterman

    It’s not completely separate but we are trying to attract visitors to spend as much of their time in NI as possible – so we do need to put forward a case as to the benefits of that. I think it’s quite an attractive proposition to say you can base yourself in Belfast and still get easily around the whole region and even beyond. The wilds of Donegal etc. Other places can claim that too perhaps but I honestly we think we have more diversity of activities, experiences and types of scenery immediately at hand than is the case in Dublin, Cork or Glasgow, particularly as Belfast can make something interesting and unique for a visitor from our unique urban environment (!!!) that other cities can’t match. I don’t think we can compete with Edinburgh though 🙁

  • Croiteir

    Bear in mind gentlemen that Islay and Ireland has had close links, tradinig in the lammas fair in Ballycastle until the 1930’s, a link that has recently resumed, and were mutually intelligible as was Kintyre, the spelling is the issue. Gaelic is a continuum. Nils Holmer did multiple studies into this.

  • Croiteir

    The truth is that 15th August is the true comparison even if it is that

  • submariner

    MU you may be interested in this its very informative- http://irishwhiskeychaser.webs.com/

  • MainlandUlsterman

    nice one, thanks 🙂
    Nice to see the last 20 years have seen a diversification in Irish whiskies.
    I drink so little of the stuff, though, I’ll probably just go for another Bushmills 10 year old single malt when the current bottle gets finished.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Glad to hear the link is being revived, thanks for that.

  • kalista63

    I’d assert that it might be the Easter Rising commemorations or 9th of August. The former, we keep to ourselves and the latter has become an amazing festival.

    A lesson for unionism that it’s incaable of learning.

  • carl marks

    And look how well the Irish have taken him and Arthur Guinness to their hearts. A lesson to be learned perhaps up here!

  • Croiteir

    Have you been in Cullybackey for St Pats day?

  • Croiteir

    I seriously doubt she is a native speaker, McNeil in Glenarm was native and she died in the 1980’s (I think), Black from Rathlin held on longer. However I am very sure there is no longer a native speaker from the glens.

  • Croiteir

    Brian McAuley from Glenariffe was a fluent native speaker who gave much material to Delargy, (a glensman who had to learn Irish), in the 1930’s

  • Croiteir

    Was the piece from Skye or Islay, Tapadh leat or Go Raibh Maith agat

  • Croiteir

    If we replaced the innacurate term Irish and put in Gaelic would it help?

  • Croiteir

    There simply is nothing unique enough to sell

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    No?!
    Is there stuff going on?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    So I’m told, how interesting would it be to get her to sit down with academic to see what the story is.

    Right, I need to push this one. *note to self, track down woman…*

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Do you mean for the language?
    I think so, but, who knows. The nay sayers will find something else to say nay to….

  • Croiteir

    Please do – it would upset a lot of apple carts if true

  • Croiteir

    There was a trad session on

  • Croiteir

    Get a shovel that man, I would love to see it

  • SeaanUiNeill

    No trouble, Croitier, believing a few native speakers were still about in the 1930s. A similar situation existed in the Sperrins, where there has been, I’m told, dialect continuity. I had the story of McGinley introducing Irish back to the Glynnes ( and using his own Blue Stacks Irish!) from my grandfather who learnt Irish from “Cu Ulaid” himself in the wee front room of “Bothan-an-Eidhim” in Beersbridge Road before he started taking classes at Queen Street, circa 1904-8.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Part of me thinks that I saw it on the wall of a pub up in Stroke-city (cityside), I’ll form a reconnaissance unit to trawl the city’s pubs…

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    brilliant!

  • Croiteir

    Was that the man they called ta sé fuar?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Never heard that before, but with the man’s strong love of a good, well stoked fire while he taught, it might have been something he frequently said in ill warmed Glynnes halls! Before the Great war he wrote as “Cu Ulaid”, and I have a cartoon of him somewhere from the “Irish News” from that date, resplendent in kilt and bonnet. He was, with the Kerryman Pat O’Shea, one of the two founders of the Belfast Gaelic League (in the doorway of Robinson and Cleaver one rainy night in 1895).

    After he’d started the classes in the Glynnes in the wake of the big 1904 Feis na nGleann, a number of other people picked up on the teaching, as I’d heard it. Frank Bigger had made a wide circle of contacts (including “Benmore”, Maggie Dobbs and Ita McNeill) through the Glynnes who facilitated all this.

  • Croiteir

    There was an Irish teacher in Glenarm and very soon the locals hasd him nicknamed, as he greeted everyone with ta sé fuar. Fits the timeline. Glenarm is a pretty place, its church it has a steeple, but behind every dure, there is a ?, a -spying on the people. (Poet McKay)

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Glenarm had quite a few significant Irish speakers. Eoin McNeill’s sister Annie McGavock who judged language events at the Feis, had a shop on the High Street and “Benmore” (Sean Clarke) ran the Seaview Hotel close by, although I think he was more GAA than language. I think the schoolmaster Jimmy McRann might have been the Irish teacher perhaps, I think he was a bit of a language enthusiast.