This is Ulster Scots Language Week.
When speaking to someone from the East Donegal, especially the area known as the Laggan, you might be forgiven for thinking that they are actually from some part of county Down or Antrim, such is the richness of the Ulster-Scots language spoken there.
As the Ulster-Scots have continued to live in a tightly-knit community, there was little need to change their manner of speech and so it has continued to the present day. The speech of the Laggan was captured in the writings of poets like Sarah Leech and Frances Browne of Stranorlar.
The daughter of a linen weaver, Sarah Leech was born near Raphoe, and is one of the few published women writers in the Ulster-Scots tradition of that era. Beyond the biographical account contained in her only published collection, Poems on Various Subjects (1828), very little more is known about her. Her staunch unionism and Protestantism are evidenced by poems such as ‘The Brunswick Clubs’ and ‘Progress of the Reformation’. Sarah’s ‘weaver poetry’ is genuinely impressive and unfortunately undervalued.
Frances Browne was the daughter of the village postmaster who lost her sight at aged only 18 months as a result of smallpox. Despite this, and the lack of a formal education, Frances developed a great love of learning and began to write poems and short stories. In addition to a number of books, Frances contributed to periodicals including Chambers’ Edinburgh Journal and The Athenaeum.
The Ulster-Scots language is still spoken widely in East Donegal and there is a growing interest among local people to recognise their linguistic heritage.
Last night, there was an evening of Ulster-Scots poetry and storytelling, entitled A Gaitherin o Yarns, in the East Donegal Discover Ulster-Scots Centre, Raphoe, Ulster-Scotch Leid Week.
Ulster-Scots Language week runs until November 30.
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