The Ullans Academy: 4

The Academy’s research would also extend beyond language and literature to historical, cultural and philosophical themes such as the life and works of Francis Hutcheson and CS 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. Lewis’s magisterial work Poetry and Prose in the Sixteenth Century Volume IV in the Oxford History of English Literature (1954) was particulary important, illustrating as it does language and literature at the close of the Middle Ages in Scotland. Characteristically Lewis writes Scotch not Scottish,claiming the freedom of “my ain vulgaire”, which has historical precedence.

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 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. 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 History Forum and Portavogie Culture and Heritage Society 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 first travelled to see Professor John Corbett at Glasgow University on Saturday, 21st June, 2008 to facilitate this. Relations with the Sorbonne were maintained through Professor Wesley Hutchinson. Ideally, however, a prestigious location in Belfast was still required for the Ullans Academy but that is a continuing story.

 To be continued

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