Twenty-five years ago this month, in June 1995, there was an event in Belfast City Hall to launch the Ulster-Scots Heritage Council. It was the culmination of a series of meetings that had taken place over the previous winter, with representatives from a number of organisations, as well as other interested individuals.
The meetings were convened on the initiative of the Ulster-Scots Language Society and there were folk from the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (Northern Ireland Branch), the Northern Ireland Piping and Drumming School, the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, the Presbyterian Historical Society and Burns Clubs, as well as the Ulster-Scots Language Society and Ulster-Scots Academy.
The Ulster-Scots Language Society had been formed in 1992 and the formation of the Ulster-Scots Heritage Council in 1995 was another significant landmark. It preceded the Belfast Agreement and the creation of a cross-border language body and is now known as the Ulster-Scots Community Network.
I was invited along to the meetings as someone with a broad interest in Ulster-Scots language and culture and became the first chairman of the USHC. They were exciting times as we sought to encourage a better understanding of the Ulster-Scots tradition and as we battled for recognition, respect and resources.
Meanwhile, Dr Philip Robinson published an impressive Ulster-Scots Grammar in 1997 and James Fenton compiled another important resource, The Hamely Tongue. Professor Jack Aitken, from Scotland, described the grammar as being "of outstanding importance" and Tom Paulin described The Hamely Tongue as "a cultural treasure".
There was a lot happening and, in the midst of it all, recognition was an important issue. In previous generations, there had been a better understanding of Ulster's cultural diversity and a greater appreciation of the Ulster-Scots as one strand of that diversity.
At the time of the Festival of Britain in 1951, a Northern Ireland guidebook was produced and in it Professor Estyn Evans observed that in Belfast "three strands are woven into the human fabric of this city of linen and ropes": the English, the Scottish and the old Irish. He then added that the same three strands "enter into the composition of the province as a whole".
The same truth was expressed in similar ways by a number of other cultural commentators. In 1953, Richard Hayward addressed an international conference in Belfast and described "the Ulster dialect as a piece of Donegal tweed. The main strands will be green for Ireland, blue for England and a kind of tartan twist for Scotland".
Sadly, there was a point in the 1980s where the Northern Ireland Office set aside decades of cultural understanding and abandoned that pluralist approach.
Much of the cultural Establishment followed their lead and the Ulster-Scots were airbrushed out and excluded.
There were even some people who told us that the term "Ulster-Scots" was a new invention; something we had just made up.
I always liked to direct them to a speech given by the late Gerry Fitt back in 1967, where he acknowledged, "they call themselves the Ulster Scots".
We also directed them to The Ulster Scot, written in 1914 by a Presbyterian minister, Rev J B Woodburn. The book was reviewed in The Times newspaper on April 30, 1914 and the reviewer commented: "He is a mystery, this Ulster Scot. All other peoples Ireland tends to absorb."
Indeed, going back further there was for many years in the 19th century a popular weekly column in a Belfast newspaper, written under the pseudonym "Ulster Scot".
Significant progress was made and, indeed, as regards the language, in 2009 Seamus Heaney wrote warmly of "that tongue the Ulster Scots brought wi' them".
A 25th anniversary is an occasion when most organisations and movements take time to reflect. There are seminars and conferences. You can look back at the past 25 years and look forward to the next 25 years.
Unfortunately, Covid-19 has prevented that, but hopefully there will be opportunity later in the year for Ulster-Scots to meet and reflect on the way ahead.
The truth is that it is impossible to understand the making of modern Ulster and the creation of Northern Ireland without understanding the role of the Ulster-Scots in the industrial, commercial, political and cultural life of this place we call "Hame".