Belfast Telegraph

Git yir fingers oot and gie Ulster Scot wans a haun, heid culchie yin Nelson*

Blog 1690 An' All Thon has achieved cult status in Ulster Scots circles. But is it a spoof or a heartfelt celebration of the 'hamely tongue'? Its creator Billy McWilliams outlines a plan for the Minister

Ulster Scots suffers frae a chronic lack of funn'in'

Frae Portavogie tae Ballyhalbert, frae Donemana in as far as Cullion, the hamely tongue is the language o' the folk. An' yit, as we enter the new millennium, the Ulster Scots community suffers frae a chronic lack o' funn'in'.

Lukkin' roun' ye, it is clear thit thar is a massive disparity in whit is available fur language an' cultural promotion in this country.

Oan the yin hawn, yiv gat Irish taichers in schools, wall tae wall coverage o' thy'on GAA, TV programmes, the lat.

Whit hiv the Ulster Scots gat? Danner wi' Drennan. Admittedly yin o' the finest programmes o' awl time, but it his bin removed frae the schedules by the BBC, the budget nae doubt gaein' oan brock like Gary an' Danielle's Nairthern Exposure.

Yit thar is a ray o' hope. A braw new Minster fur Culture is in place, yin wha' his the best intrests o' the hamely tongue at heart.

But whit dae we, in the Ulster Scots academic community, want tae hear frae this boy? Ah hiv consulted far an' wide, an hiv come up wi' a new plan fur the future development o' the language an' culture, a plan thit will redress the fundimental imbalance in public spendin' wi'in oor society:

Gaeltacht: Fur years themuns hiv bin gittin' Goverment funnin' fur til git rid o' thar wains in the summer an' stick thum wi' Donegal folk. We call fur the creation o' a Scotstacht type thing, yin wur the Goverment fun' yung folk frae culturally deprived areas such as Hillsborough, Cultra an' the Malone Loanin', fur til spen' a rake o' days larnin' aboot thar heritage in places the likes o' Ballywalter an' Armoy.

Language: Ulster Scots shud be tocht in schools. When ah wis growin' up fernenst Lisnafiffy, ye larned at the apron o' yer Granny.

If she said she wid gie ye a clout ye didnae nae whither it wid be a slap oor a teacloth, but ye cannae rely oan thy'on noo.

How come the o'er sort git thar language tocht at the expense o' the state when we dinnae? Oor tongue is spake by mair folk in ivryday life than thy'on, an' yit isnae regarded as a "madurn" language.

Music: Oor culture is yin wi' a rich musical heritage: Anyyin examinin' the histry o' music will acknowledge thit wi'oot the Ulster Scot thared be nae Rock an' Roll, nae Marchin' bawnds and probably nae rap (drum an' bass, ah ask ye?).

But whar daes Ulster Scots music fit intil the school curriculum? Naewhar. Think oan yer time at school. Whit wis the yinst instrument stuck in yer hawns? Ah'd be willin' tae lay yis odds thit it wis a recorder, nat a Lambeg. Fur why? Admittedly it wud be a prablem tae git a Lambeg oan an' aff the bus, but it isnae beyon' the powers o' oor educational system til git roun' thy'on.

Sport: The GAA folk are wile well funn'ed. This dispite the fak that thar sport disnae exactly cross the community bounry. Last time ah lukked at a GAA shurt it hid the county name in oany yin language.

We call fur an immediate suspension o' funn'in' fur the GAA til they include the Ulster Scots names fur the counties oan thar jerseys. (Ah'm nae tae sure whit they awl are, but ah knaw yin o' thum is Londonderry.) The money saved kin be giv til the true sport o' the Ulster Scot - motorcycle road racin'. Sae whar dae we gae frae noo? We in the braid Ulster Scots community are oan the cusp o' a grate cultural explosion.

As a folk we hiv giv the wurld upwards o' 73 US presidents an' invented awl kines o' things - frae rubber tyres tae sinkin' ships.

Oor new Minster fur Culture maist make his stawn, this is oor time, an' he is the mawn in place.

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