Platform - Treasuring the Lallans Language
ON 10 March, 1999, Marjorie Mowlam, one of Her Majesty&s Principal Secretaries of State, made Order 1999 No 859 on North/South Co-operation (Implementation Bodies).
The functions of the language body in relation to Ullans and Ulster-Scots cultural issues would be exercised by an Ulster-Scots agency of the body. Ullans$ was to be understood as the variety of the Scots language traditionally found in parts of Northern Ireland and Donegal. Ulster-Scots cultural issues$ related to the cultural traditions of the part of the population of Northern Ireland and the border counties which was of Scottish ancestry and the influence of their cultural traditions on others, both within the island of Ireland and in the rest of the world. This was a very skilfully crafted document which allowed a distinction between the language, which is spoken by people of varying ancestries, and the cultural traditions, which are an amalgam of Ulster and Scottish traditions, both Highland and Lowland.
One of my favourite books is A Treasury of Irish Folklore$ edited by Padraic Colum, which I bought in New York in the early 70s, where one reads: In north-east Ulster where the country people speak ! or, until recently, spoke ! the Lallans or Lowlands Scots, there is a particular tradition. The examples from that tradition given here are few, not because there is not a great deal to select from, but because much of it blends with the lore of the rest of the country. To come on a couple of striking poems in Lallans is, for this editor, a particularly fortunate circumstance ! they do not come in the usual Irish publications. In reading Winter and To a Hedgehog$, the one by a schoolmaster and other by a weaver, one might be left with the impression that they derive from Burns. This would be wrong. They are phrased in their own idiom$, says John Hewitt, the idiom being a branch of the great Lallans tree which still flourishes across the Moyle$. Written in Winter$ by James Orr and To a Hedgehog$ by Samuel Thompson were collected by my friend John Hewitt, in The Ulster Quarterly of Poetry Rann$, winter 1950. …