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Old November 23rd, 2011, 01:18 PM   #1
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Glorious Northern Ireland


Hi. I'm from Northern Ireland. I've recently(ish) joined the site and after briefly participating in a couple of 'Irish themed' threads, I thought it might be interesting to start one. Not sure if I'm in the correct forum, because I'm as much interested in the present and future as in the past, and interested in all things cultural generally.

I should perhaps first point out that my thread title is slightly ironic. I once read that one of our British Secretarys of State (British Government Minister with responsibility for N.I.) boarded a plane in Belfast after a visit during the 1970's in order to return to London, and immediately asked for a large gin and tonic and for the pilot to 'get out of this hole of a place as quickly as possible' (or words to that effect). I forget which Secretary of state it was, but I know what he meant, and have sometimes felt the same.

My own cultural interests have more to do with the arts and sport than with politics and religion. You could put an 'a' in front of both of the latter in my case.

Having said that, I would throw the thread open to allcomers who have anything, positive or negative, to say or ask about our tiny little country and it's short history, or future.

I'll start by comparing northern 'Protestant' culture (which forms my own background) with southern 'Catholic/Celtic' culture (within which, in a geographical sense, I was born and spent my earliest years). This question/comparison is, it's fair to say, something of a no-brainer when it comes to art and sport, IMO. I think the latter would probably win hands down most often (though not always). I greatly admire Gaelic Games, which I consider to be some of the most inherently exciting spectator team sports on the planet. Gaelic Football is particularly enjoyable for its blend of hand and foot ball skills, and for its physicality and athleticism. One thing I particularly admire the GAA for is in the way they promote women's sports. I won't use the term ladies. Camogie. Need I say more? What a game, eh? Perhaps just a quick visual sample:

Click the image to open in full size.



When it comes to music, literature, poetry, architecture and creative art generally, I think (and I'm generalizing terribly here) that this is more often and more freely expressed by our neighbours down south also.

We're quite good at religion and politics. Arguably on a par with 'Free-Staters' (or, as they were sometimes called, pre-Celtic Tiger, 'Mexicans'). :]

Rather than waffle on any longer at this point, I will simply finish on a positive note as regards our reputation, and mention a couple of celebrated Northern Irish (indeed in this case culturally Protestant) 'geniuses'. I refer to arguably the greatest footballer ever (including, allegedly, in the opinion of the famous Brazilian footballer, Pele), George Best, and the no less worthy (IMO) musician Van Morrison. Anyone unfamiliar can make enquiries.

I could also mention Bushmills Whiskey and on a culinary note, the Ulster Fry (unsophisticated, but is there a better hangover cure in the known universe?) and on a general note, suggest that if dourness was an Olympic sport, we might clean up in London next year.

Cheers.

ps Pot shots welcome. I am fairly thick-skinned and not averse to banter or plain-speaking, though I must warn that I may dish it back, since I have been known to relish a bit of good old argy-bargy at times.

Last edited by archibald; November 23rd, 2011 at 01:57 PM.
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Old November 23rd, 2011, 01:39 PM   #2

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I'll start off------END PARTITION NOW!-------- in soccer that is!

for those who don't know the traditional 'protestant' sports are soccer and rugby, but when the two 'states' formed in the early twenties soccer split into 2 teams Northern Ireland and the republic of Ireland.

Rugby on the other hand stayed as a 32 county team--- also into a provincial structure of 4 --Leinster, Munster, Connaught and Ulster.

Do you think soccer should be 32 county?

I know in Wales they are very concerned about Welsh players involved in Team GB for 2012 as it might mean the formation af a British team.
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Old November 23rd, 2011, 01:41 PM   #3
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Great starting question/declaration. If I wasn't going to beddie byes, I'd love to reply. Catch you later.
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Old November 23rd, 2011, 03:18 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Kevinmeath View Post

Do you think soccer should be 32 county?
Me again. Couldn't sleep. A common problem for us Northern Prods. All that guilt about what we did to the poor Catholics over the years.

This is actually a great question, offering some interesting historical/political analogies.

As you may already know, football (soccer) is particularly partisan up here, often lining up on cultural sides. Rugby is pretty 'Protestant' (hate these labels actually, by the way, I think the use of languange in this way impedes harmony and reconciliation generally) but becoming less so, as the 'Protestant' (whoops) grammar schools (where it is mainly played at school level) become increasingly, unofficially, integrated (unlike their Catholic counterparts, unfortunately. Don't start me on that. It's a bit of a bugbear, especially for an atheist).

My answer is, on sporting grounds alone, yes. For one thing, George Best would possibly have gotten a chance to shine on a world stage. Don't think too many of the present N.I. team would make it onto the Republic team, mind you.

Sequeing into political analogy, it strikes me that the split football teams are a microcosm of an unfortunate legacy, in that, like the island as a whole, they may be hard to join together now, but it might, possibly, have been a good thing in the long term if they had been joined in 1921. Or maybe not. Maybe there would have been even more trouble and violence. I don't know.

And another interesting aspect (this time actual politics, albeit with a small p) is the controversy over the Republic of Ireland Football Authority 'poaching' Northern Irish players by giving them eligibility to play for the Republic. This is seen by some, in effect, as a sporting version of a territorial claim.

Last edited by archibald; November 23rd, 2011 at 03:40 PM.
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Old November 23rd, 2011, 03:19 PM   #5

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Scot Ulster music over here in America, is called "Kentucky Bluegrass".
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Old November 23rd, 2011, 03:28 PM   #6
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Scot Ulster music over here in America, is called "Kentucky Bluegrass".
I'm not entirely familiar with what that is (though I have a fair idea), but I have a feeling that it isn't entirely indigenous to or common nowadays in either Ulster or Scotland, though I imagine there must be historical links.
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Old November 23rd, 2011, 03:29 PM   #7

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When it come to soccor the English are not Great Britian!
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Old November 23rd, 2011, 03:34 PM   #8

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Quote:
Originally Posted by archibald View Post
Me again. Couldn't sleep. A common problem for us Northern Prods. All that guilt about what we did to the poor Catholics over the years.

This is actually a great question, offering some interesting historical/political analogies.

As you may already know, football (soccer) is particularly partisan up here, often lining up on cultural sides. Rugby is pretty 'Protestant' (hate these labels actually, by the way, I think the use of languange in this way impedes harmony and reconciliation generally) but becoming less so, as the 'Protestant' (whoops) grammar schools (where it is mainly played at school level) become increasingly, unofficially, integrated (unlike their Catholic counterparts, unfortunately).

My answer is, on sporting grounds alone, yes. For one thing, George Best would possibly have gotten a chance to shine on a world stage. Don't think too many of the present N.I. team would make it onto the Republic team, mind you.

Sequeing into political analogy, it strikes me that the split football teams are a microcosm of an unfortunate legacy, in that, like the island as a whole, they may be hard to join together now, but it would probably have been a good thing in the long term if they had been joined in 1921.

And another interesting aspect (this time actual politics, albeit with a small p) is the controversy over the Republic of Ireland Football Authority 'poaching' Northern Irish players by giving them eligibility to play for the Republic. This is seen by some, in effect, as a sporting version of a territorial claim.

Its me on to bed now!

its an interesting topic and as you say its reflects the political conflict.

Rugby for instance (yes I have a bias) do not really notice 1922 a republic of Ireland but ignored it--- Ireland was not England (or Wales or Scotland) had always be so, Home Rule if you like to the ultimate degree the RFU (English) had no say at all on the IRFU except that they were in the same organisation or game.

Its interesting to watch how an 'english protestant' game like rugby is making such gains in Munster and Leinster.
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Old November 23rd, 2011, 03:45 PM   #9

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Originally Posted by archibald View Post
I'm not entirely familiar with what that is (though I have a fair idea), but I have a feeling that it isn't entirely indigenous to or common nowadays in either Ulster or Scotland, though I imagine there must be historical links.
The Scot-Irish or Ulster -Scot settle in the Moutians of Kentucky, they created Bluegrass music. So its a culture link to your past. It has more in common with what Southern Irish call Celtic, just add bandjos and steal guitars. After all the Scotts are considered Celts. The Scots and Ulster had similar cultures, just different religions.

Last edited by annelouise17; November 23rd, 2011 at 03:58 PM.
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Old November 23rd, 2011, 04:10 PM   #10

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Another Norn Iron member, welcome sir! I've done some work in the south around Tip and Cork but haven't ventured north yet.

Top Guinness too!
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