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16 October 2014
Ulster Scots Voices

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- Mark Thompson
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- Charlie Gillen
- Iain McAfee
- Kenny Blair
- Margaret Taylor

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Charlie Gillen - transcript of interview

Charlie Gillen

For folk to teach it, it’s ok being a trained teacher, but a trained teacher in what? Maybe English or some other language. But they need a wee natural thing in them to teach this here. For pronunciation things like that there. Even the rise and fall of your voice telling a story. That has to be natural. If somebody tries to put that on its going to look put on and it’s going to make the whole thing a laughing stock. There needs to be a wee bit of natural Ulster-Scots in you to do that. I could talk Ulster-Scots, I couldn’t teach nobody nothing. Teachers could teach and they couldn’t talk the way I do. It’s trying to get the one body into two skins and it’s not easy done.

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A beetle could be a bum clock, it could be a wee black clock running across the floor. It could be a thing with long hair from Liverpool. But to me, it’s a beetle for beetling champ with. But if you put the two together and you get the long-haired thing from Liverpool and he got a nice wee bit of rhythm going. If you get into the swing of that you could say that was a quere wee tune for beetling champ with.

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Ach, I’m proud to be what I am because our ancestors get nothing reached to them. They baffled every inch of the way. They came over here, I suppose they were labourers just at that time. They rassled on with what they had until they were wee farmers. Now, some of thems a brave size of farmers. That old heritage thing, it’s in everybody. You want to hold up what you are and what you are is what you come from and you have to think of your ancestors being shipped out of Scotland to work on big estates and one thing and another like that there. They did alright and Ulster-Scots, they way you talk, maybe the way you talk more than anything else because I suppose I was persecuted a bit for the way I talk. Instead of putting it out of me, I think it made me all the wickeder to hold onto it, and I’m still holding onto it.

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I think to be an Ulster-Scot, to me, it's where my roots are. It gives me a sense of identity of who I am and what I am. And there was someone said to me, one time, not so long ago, he say's 'you know, we really have no culture,' and I thought, a pity of him. He was just, in my eyes, he was a lost soul nearly. He didn't have any connections to anything or felt he had. He was talking specifically about Irish music and Irish language and thing and says like the people from Ireland, from Southern Ireland, or whatever have their own culture, have their Irish music and all and their language. And he says, we have nothing and I didn't even get in to a debate with the fella because I knew he wouldn't be wanting a debate.

But to me, being Ulster-Scots, as I says, I'm proud of being an Ulster-Scot too. The very fact that the Good Friday Agreement came in to it and immediately put a political label on the Ulster-Scots by being part of the Good Friday Agreement. But it was seen as being given to the unionist population specifically rather than the nationalist and that.

I don't think they really intended it to be that way but I'm delighted to see that some nationalist politicians and nationalist people do seem to be interested in Ulster-Scots. And the way forward for Ulster-Scots is to recognise it does cross all divides and it's for everyone, it's free, the language. Especially, I'm speaking more so about the language and I hope the rest of the culture will be the same, but I'm only involved in the language part of it.

I don't wish to see the paramilitaries replacing it, instead of putting their flag up, we're Ulster-Scots and proud of it. They probably are Ulster-Scots, some of them but not in the sense I would refer to as an Ulster-Scot. An Ulster-Scot to me was an honest, hard-working person for who, their neighbour was their neighbour and it never came into it what persuasion they were or whatever.

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Now listen to Iain McAfee's story >>

Hae Yer Ain Say / Tell Your Story...
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