The Ulster-Scots Community, Part 4

In September 2002, the Agency held its first formal meeting with the Ullans Academy. It was agreed that the Academy would reconstitute itself as a company limited by guarantee, in order that the existing voluntary programme with the Academy be properly resourced and established. In October 2002, the Minister for Cultural, Arts and Leisure, Mr. Michael McGimpsey, responded to the repeated representations from the Ulster-Scots Community for resolute action by Government to promote Ulster-Scots more effectively.


His department organised a three-day “Future Search” conference to clear the way forward between statutory bodies, Government and the Ulster-Scots Community. In the context of Ulster-Scots as a recognised European Regional and Minority Language, the Ullans Academy would be modelled on the Friesian Academy in the Netherlands, which I have already mentioned. However, it would also promote the inter-relationships between Ullans and Ulster Gaelic, as well as the study of Ulster English and Northumbrian English in general.


This has led to a difference in philosophical approach between those who would see the promotion of Ulster-Scots as something of a political tool in their opposition to the Irish language and my Ullans movement. Furthermore, the Academy’s research would also extend beyond language and literature to historical, cultural and philosophical themes such as the life and works of Frances Hutcheson and C. S. Lewis, and to studies of the history of Ulidia in general, especially Dalriada, Dalaradia, Dal Fiatach, Galloway and Carrick, not forgetting Ellan Vannin, the Isle of Man.


The Scotch-Irish would also provide a particular focus on the American dimension, but emigration studies would also be necessary for the countries of the Commonwealth and other countries. Closely associated were the Heirschipe Villages projects, which were proposals to construct living history and traditional craft centres based on eighteenth century Ulster-Scots villages and towns at the time of the American War of Independence and the French Revolution. This would have many parallels with the leading American attraction at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia[1] and would be a centre of cultural tourism development.


In 2003 I was instrumental in ensuring that the Joint Declaration of the British and Irish Governments would indicate that the British Government would take steps to encourage support to be made available for an Ulster-Scots Academy.[2] However, differences in philosophy continued. The original Ullans Academy wished to be associated with An Culturlann McAdam/O Fiaich and the Gaeltacht quarter of West Belfast. It was envisaged that the Heirschipe Village concept, initiated by the Ullans Academy, with its focus on cultural tourism, should also be developed under the remit of the Ulster-Scots Agency.


 The Ullans Speakers Association of Ballymoney, County Antrim, the United Ulster HistoryForum of the Ards Peninsula, County Down and the Monreagh Project, County Donegal , would be encouraged as Friends of the Academy and an Ullans Centre of Academic Excellence would be established between the University of Glasgow, Queen’s University, Belfast, and the University of Ulster. Dr Paisley and I travelled to Glasgow University on Saturday 21st June 2008 to facilitate this.


I hope that I have been able to give you some insights into the recent history of the Ulster-Scots or Ullans movement.  Much of the ground has already been covered.[3] However it has given me great pleasure to be here at a location which was of such crucial importance in the development of that movement.  As a physician and student of John-Paul Marat, I have been privileged to tell you about my own private and quiet revolution as a “friend of the people.” It has also given me the opportunity to thank René Fréchet, Paul Brennan and Wesley Hutchinson, as well as all those who have been involved in Irish Studies  in France. I trust that all our efforts to create an Ullans Academy in Belfast will not be in vain.

[1] See the official site at:

[2] Letter in my recordsentitled “Ulster-Scots Academy” from David Trimble MP to Paul Murphy MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, 20th May 2003

[3] See Wesley Hutchinson (1999), Espaces de L’imaginaire unioniste nord-irlandais  Caen, Presses Universitaires.  See also Ian Adamson, “”The Ullans Academy,” John M. Kirk and Dónall P.Ó Baoill (eds.) (2005), Legislation, Literature and Sociolinguistics: Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland, Belfast, Cló Ollscoil na Banríona, 65-68, and Frank Ferguson (ed.) (2008) Ulster-Scots Writing – An Anthology.  Dublin, Four Courts Press.

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