Culture of Ulster
Ulster is one of the four provinces of Ireland. Due to large-scale plantations of people from Scotland and England during the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as half a century of paramilitary activity in the 20th, Ulster has a unique culture, quite different from the rest of Ireland. As all of Northern Ireland lies within Ulster and comprises about 90% of its population, the culture of Northern Ireland is often considered to be very similar to that of the whole of Ulster.
Mid Ulster English is the English-based dialect of most people in Ulster, including those in the two main cities. It represents a cross-over area between Ulster Scots and Hiberno-English. It spoken across mid Ulster between the Lagan and Clogher valleys in areas historically planted by settlers, the majority of which came over to Ireland from the West Midlands of England. The dialect is currently encroaching on the Ulster Scots area, especially in the Belfast commuter belt, and may eventually consume it.
Ulster Irish is the dialect of the Irish language spoken in Ulster. The only county in Ulster to include Gaeltacht regions today is County Donegal, so that the term Donegal Irish is often used synonymously. Because of historical connections with Ulster, the dialects of southern Scotland and Manx, share similarities with Ulster Irish.
Food and Drink
A well-known sweet made in Ulster is Yellow Man, while a famous confectionery company is Oatfield Sweets Ltd., who are based in Letterkenny in County Donegal. Oatfield, who have been in business since 1927, are particularly famous for producing the Emerald sweet.
Ulster Irish or Donegal Irish is exclusive to Ulster. Ulster Irish is very different, as is the old style of prose and songwriting. Whereas in other parts of Ireland songs tend to be structured, in Ulster songs are wider ranging in style. Counties Donegal and Antrim are well known for songs of speed, much like Donegal fiddle playing. It is unique in the sean-nós traditional in both tempo and in wording and is often more free in structure and ornamentation.
Notable Ulster singers and songwriters by historical area*:
- Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh – Gaoth Dobhair, County Donegal
- Moya Brennan – Gaoth Dobhair, County Donegal
- Sarah Makem – Keady, County Armagh
* Historical area refers to the period of the traditional music the artist is known best for singing.
- BBC Nations History of Ireland
- The British Isles Independent view of Ireland and the UK
- Inconvenient Peripheries Ethnic Identity and the United Kingdom Estate The cases of “Protestant Ulster” and Cornwall’ by prof Philip Payton
- Mercator Atlas of Europe Map of Ireland ("Irlandia") circa 1564
- "McDaid's Football Special". Where's Grandad. Retrieved 15 July 2012.