The Ullans Academy:2

I was greatly honoured that Professor Fréchet should take an interest in my work. Commenting on my Identity of Ulster, published under my own imprint, Pretani Press in 1982. he was to write:

“What an interesting, curious piece of work this is. Generally, if we are told it is not a question of a war of religion in Ulster, we are told about opposition between Catholics, whom people think of as mostly wishing for the unification of the island, and Protestants who want to remain British.

Adamson however, does not militate in favour of the bringing together of two quite distinct communities. He says that their division is artificial, that they are all more or less descendants of pre-Celtic peoples, and in particular of the Cruthin, who were constantly moving backwards and forwards between Ulster and Scotland, where they were called Picts, a fact that did not prevent their homeland becoming the most Gaelic part of Ireland. “British”, as far as he is concerned, takes on a meaning that Ulster people tend to forget.

Here are some interesting phrases for comparison. “Old British” was displaced in Ireland by Gaelic just as English displaced Gaelic”; “the people of the Shankill Road speak an English which is almost a literal translation of Gaelic”; “the majority of Scottish Gaelic speakers are Protestants”. In fact the author is especially interested in Protestants, but those Protestants who have worked or are working towards reconciliation (could these even be the United Irishmen of the 1790’s), for a co-operative movement, for a kind of popular autonomy or self-management. He shows the paradoxical confusion of antagonistic, partly mythical traditions, and is trying to convince people of the fundamental unity of Ulster”.

In the chapter The Language of Ulster in this book, I set out my vision for the future of our several languages and their variants, as part of an attempt to foster a common identity in Ulster to take our people beyond the religious divide. Little did I realise the extent of hostility this would engender, not among the ordinary people, but by a section of the academic establishment in Northern Ireland .

To be continued

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