Ullans, or Ulster-Scots

What distinguished the Ulster plantation from other 17th century plantations of Ireland was the addition of Scottish settlers. This was due to James VI of Scotland becoming James I of England and Ireland.

Without this union in 1603, Scots , as foreigners, would not have been allowed into Ireland. However, due to the nearness of the two countries, most Scots had been for many years crossing into Antrim and Down, which were not included in the official plantation scheme.

The settlers brought with them their religion, customs, farming practices, and most of all, their speech. They spoke Scots, a Germanic language closely related to English; this mixed with the local language led to the birth of Ullans, or what is referred to today as Ulster-Scots.

The accent in the northern counties of Ulster is defined by its Scots accent and vocabulary. Many people from this region visiting other parts of the English speaking world are often mistaken as being from Scotland.

While broad Ulster-Scots is only spoken in rural communities, especially in Donegal's Laggan district, everyone in Ulster uses some of its words and phrases in everyday speech (example: the word "wee" is used to mean many things, from a term of endearment, to a description of small size).

There are presently strong efforts being made to revive this language, driven more recently by the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. One of the agreements states that Ulster Scots "is part of the cultural wealth of the island of Ireland." This led to the establishment of the Ulster-Scots Agency.

In 2005, the Taobh Tire project of Donegal County Library services collaborated with the young people of the Laggan area (St Johnston and Carrigans) in researching and collating an Ulster-Scots dictionary.

These youngsters had expressed a pride in the vocabulary and accents of their hometowns, and concentrated in collecting words still in use in their own locality today. Their booklet "What do you think of the way we talk?" is the result of their work.

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