Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Census 1911: Belfast's Shankill had as many Irish speakers as Falls

One hundred years ago there were as many Irish speakers on the Shankill Road as there were on the Falls Road, according to new Census data now available online.

The Census 1911 returns showed that most streets on the almost exclusively Protestant Shankill had families who could speak “Irish and English” and in some streets, up to 17% of people - all Protestants - said they had a level of Irish.

The new research has led to a series of programmes on Protestants on the Belfast station Raidio Failte 107FM which shows that the “history of Belfast, Ulster and Ireland at that period is much more complex than we tend to perceive it to be now from a distance of 100 years”, broadcaster Eoghan O Neill told the Irish News.

He said that in view of doubts that the residents may have thought the Census question related to Scots Gaelic, as well as the long-held historial view that Irish was more associated with the nationalists Falls area, “it’s an interesting proposition that the truth is a bit more complex than that”.

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