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Soldiers of the Ulster Division at the Somme

Soldiers of the Ulster Division at the Somme

Soldiers of the Ulster Division at the Somme

Rresearchers investigating the backgrounds of soldiers from east Belfast who fought in the First World War have discovered that 74 of them spoke Irish.

Many of the Irish speakers were Protestants, an 18-month trawl of military records by Irish language organisation Turas found. Turas claims officials may have altered records in an attempt to conceal the prevalence of Irish within the Protestant community.

An iron law of history is that it has a way of frustrating attempts to tidy it up. For example, Presbyterians were to the fore preserving manuscripts and publishing new texts in Irish in the 19th century. East Belfast, of course, is once again a hub of Gaelic culture, with the founding of East Belfast GAA last year. Turas has done us a service in revealing our shared histories in all their compelling complexity.


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