Tuesday, August 12. 2008
Continued from Visitors from the Falls:
In the last post I added footnotes on the Irish etymology of the names "Falls" and "Shankill".
The only piece of writing in the Irish language that I could find appeared on a mural which included the words "Lamh Dearg Abu" - from the Irish lamh = hand, dearg = red and abu a term of approbation, making the whole something like "Up the Red Hand!" or "The Red Hand Forever!" The mural was place by the Red Hand Commando, a small terrorist and paramilitary group incorporated into the structures of the UVF. I suspect that the Irish saying functions as the group's motto.
The Red Hand, of course, was originally a symbol used by the O'Neills, and therefore County Tyrone. In the Middle Ages the O'Neills of mid-Ulster ousted the Ulaid of East Ulster (after whom the province takes its name) as the province's dominant clan. So the Red Hand, symbol of the O'Neills, has come to be applied to the Prrovince of Ulster as a whole, and therefore to Northern Ireland.
A Left Hand would seem to be closer to the meaning of the original story (see here) of why a red, or bloody, hand came to be used by the O'Neills as their symbol. Indeed a left hand is used in Belfast at the Linen Hall Library (see here) and at Queen's University. Elsewhere, however, a Right Hand has become the norm, following its adoption in the flags of the Province of Ulster and of Northern Ireland.
I was able to discover Ulster-Scots used in this plaque outside West Belfast Orange Hall on the Shankill Road. The plaque reads -
342-344 Shankill Road, Belfast BT13 3AB
translated into Ulster-Scots as -
342-344 Auld Kirk Gate, Bilfawst BT13 3AB
So the Ulster-Scots for "Shankill Road" is "Auld Kirk Gate" and for "Belfast" is "Bilfawst "!
For better versions of the photos see Irish and Ulster-Scots on the Shankill on the Mister Keep Fit site, and click each to enlarge.
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