vocabulary lesson

Coat of Arms: St. George's Cross, with the Imp...
Coat of Arms: St. George’s Cross, with the Imperial Crown on top of the Red Hand of Ulster, in the centre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I figured now was as good a time as any to pause and clarify some vocabulary regarding Northern Ireland and her people.

Act of Union: Passed in 1800, this act solidified Ireland as a protectorate of Great Britain

Battle of the Boyne: Fought in 1690 on the banks of the Boyne River, the battle signified the last armed standoff between the Catholic King James I of Ireland and William of Orange, a Protestant lord funded by the British crown. In light of James’ defeat, Protestants in Ireland often claim William as spiritual emblem of their right to rule the island.

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP): Founded by Reverend Ian Paisley, the DUP is one of the largest loyalist political parties in Northern Ireland. Of all the loyalist parties, it is the most conservative and is seen throughout its history supporting radical movements.

Free Presbyterian Church:  Founded by Reverend Ian Paisley, the FPC is a hyper-conservative denomination. Preaching strong anti-Catholic and strong pro-Christendom messages, the FPC has become emblematic of the loyalist factions of the country.

Good Friday Agreement: The official peace treaty, signed on Good Friday of 1998. In colloquial terms, this is currently seen as the new constitution of Northern Ireland and its implications and regulations are constantly being discerned.

Government of Ireland Act: Passed in 1920, when United Kingdom declared ownership of the northern six counties of Ireland and created Northern Ireland.

Irish Republican Army (IRA): Drawing its heritage from the United Irishmen of the 18th and 19th centuries, the IRA viewed itself as a liberation front for the people of Ireland against Britain. It has many offshoots throughout generations.

July 12th Fortnight: The two weeks surrounding July 12th tend to see heightened loyalist violence and sentiments. The night of July 11th is often marked with community celebrations in loyalist neighborhoods, where the Irish flag is often burned atop large bonfires. Many moderate Northern Irish persons plan their family vacations during this time and a majority of businesses and services are suspended.

Loyalist: One who is loyal to the British crown and feels Britain should continue to claim Northern Ireland. This movement is overwhelming Protestant in nature.

Marching Season: Typically from April to September, the traditional time of Protestant marches. Centers around the July 12th anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne.

Nationalist: One who feels Ireland should be united as one nation and Northern Ireland itself should dissolve and be absored by the Republic of Ireland. See also republican.

Orange Order: A fraternal Protestant organization with the intention of celebrating Protestant heritage in Ulster. Most Protestant villages in Northern Ireland contain an Orange Hall where meetings and ceremonies are held. Typically, the Orange Order’s activity is limited to marching in parades. Dressed in their typical costume of orange decorative sashes and black bowler hats, the Orangemen carry banners asserting Protestant superiority as they play Lambeg drums.

Protestant Paramilitaries – UDA, UDF, UVF: Protestant paramilitaries are legion and tend to thrive only in the neighborhoods they were created in. Infighting among paramilitaries is frequent. The three most powerful are Ulster Defense Association (UDA), Ulster Defense Federation (UDF) and Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).

Republican: One who believes Northern Ireland should belong to the Republic of Ireland and the British government should abandon its claim to the island. See also nationalist.

The Troubles: The name given to the period of heightened violence from 1966-1998.

Ulster: Historically, Ireland was divided up into four counties: Ulster, Leinster, Munster and Connacht. As the country developed, the counties were divided into further counties. The eight counties of Ulster were the target for James I’s plantation in 1607. When partition was introduced, six of the counties of Ulster (Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone) were taken to create Northern Ireland. Thus, “Ulster” is sometimes used interchangeably for Northern Ireland, though mostly by loyalists.

Unionist: A person who, especially politically, supports the union of Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom.

War of Independence: 1919-1921, also referred to as the Anglo-Irish War. Ended in creation of Republic of Ireland as a separate nation-state.


Author: kristen

msw, mdiv (baylor university): phd (queens university belfast) : researcher, social worker, human resource director: focus on intersection of gender and religion: wife, daughter, friend, banyan tree

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