Strangford MP Jim Shannon speaking at the launch of two volumes of poetry and the republishing of Orange Lily said: “Having grown up in Ballywalter, Ulster Scots truly is a second language. I can well remember my teachers in Ballywalter Primary trying to beat it out of me and make me speak the Queen’s English and now we are desperately trying to give our young people in insight into this aspect of their culture and heritage.
“It is through men like James Fenton and our own Phillip Robinson that this language can and will be kept alive.
“I do not want to get political, this is not what it is about, but I would say that rather than attempting to force an Irish Language Act on an unwilling people perhaps Sein Féin would be better taking a leaf out of the pages of this book tonight and engaging people with their history and culture in an effective way.
“The very fact that the Irish Language choice on Bank of Ireland ATMs is being removed as less than 1% opted for this choice speaks volumes as to the desire there is for this language to be prioritised. Money would be better spent in funding events such as this event tonight which excites interest and passion in culture and heritage. And that’s enough politics for one night. Now we go to a shared passion… Ulster Scots.
“I was privileged and honoured to be permitted to take my seat in Westminster using an oath that was translated into Ulster Scots by Philip Robinson. I was the first person to speak in a language other than English during the Oath section and I now note that the oaths have been made available for Welsh and Scots Gaelic speakers as well as Cornish speakers to take the oath in their native tongue. This is what happens when passion is expressed in a helpful way. It encourages others to make the most of their history and culture. I was so proud to stand in the greatest seat of democracy in the world and make my vow and oath in English and then in Ulster Scots.
“The whole point of this evening’s event is to celebrate and promote the fantastic poetry of James Fenton and Philip Robinson and the re-release of the classic ‘Orange Lily’ by May Crommelin. I am excited to take time to read these books of poetry and you may not be surprised to see them used during speeches and events at Westminster.
May Crommelin was born not too far from here in Carrowdore Castle. She was an Ulster Scot who was proud to wax lyrical wherever she went about her strong history and culture and ancestry which went back to the French Huguenots who fought for King William in 1690. She wrote this book ‘Orange Lily’ in 1879 and this republishing today shows that classics truly do stand the test of time.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank every person here for their help in making this book launch such a success. There really is an onus on all of us as Ulster Scots enthusiasts to promote our culture and heritage in an engaging and effective way and events like this tonight are exactly what is needed to do this. Thank you to James and Philip for taking the time to channel your passion and enjoyment in to something that we can all enjoy and perhaps more importantly that is left for Generations to enjoy in future days for posterity.
“Hopefully in 100years time they are republishing these books along with new author books and the spoken and written forms of Ulster Scots will be going from strength to strength,” said Jim Shannon.