By Randall Stephen Hall 7.6.14
I’m raising an issue of “CULTURE”, here in this poem.
That in Northern Ireland, sixteen years after the 1998 Peace Agreement,
there is no evidence, at all, of the Irish Language, the Ulster Scots Language or even
Scots Gaelic at the newly built Giant’s Causeway Visitors Centre, in 2014. (For those
unfamiliar with this place in the north of County Antrim, I have attached the story/legend of
Finn MacCool in video, and in English.) There are links to the Irish and Ulster Scots language
versions at the end of the poem.
There is a place that we all love.
There is a myth that Finn MacCool did shove
Every single piece of rock into place.
A broken bridge, he built, that we embrace.
We so rarely argue over this
You could even say, this cultural kiss
Does hug our northern shelter
Like parting relations, one and all.
Each hugging each other, these sounds.
English, Irish, Ulster Scots and Scots Gaelic abound.
All interconnected, these rocks
Each one, each block
A missing jigsaw piece
When set back into place
We breath our own words
We own our own expelled breath.
Yet, shared amongst this space
Peace could finally come to life.
We rarely make a fuss of this
But quietly recognize
The strength in it, this bridge, amongst ourselves.
A causeway to peace.
Yet delve a little deeper
And you will find
Our National Trust is not our keeper.
Not at all inclined . . .
To budge, or shift, or give an inch.
To celebrate this fact that quietly is
Emboldening all those who really care.
About our local voice . . . here.
For it is just not there.
Not there, at “our” Giant’s Causeway . . .
The bus loads come
And then they go.
They want to see auld Finn you know.
But out to lunch he’s gone you’ll find
That’s how it seems to me and mine.
His languages hidden in a box.
The Gaelic, Irish, Ulster Scots.
Not one vestige, to be seen.
Not one . . . at all . . .
Has the National Trust got a thing about green?
If it’s good enough for this my queen.
(My Queen Elizabeth.)
The fact it’s missing, seems obscene, to me . . .
I mean to say, is this the day
We all speak up and say
“Okay? Okay, this is enough!”
My language may be powerful rough.
Like hessian bags to your finer things.
But my magic language, dances, she sings!
It is so real, so real to me.
So, at the Giant’s Causway . . . come on
Ye boy ye . . .
Could you not just set my language free?
At the Giant’s Causeway, I dare you . . .
Go on, go on friend . . .
Set my language free.
So I’m flagging up this thing that’s wrong.
Empire building’s long, long gone.
It’s time to rhett the corners out
And shed some light on those I doubt
Would ever do the decent thing.
Release our sounds and let them ring
About the place, at the Giant’s Causeway, today.
For tomorrow wouldn’t be soon enough.
Into the fields like Beltie cows.
To me it seems so black and white.
My languages, my speech, my rights!
My language, my speech, my rights . . .
More tunes, poems pictures and stories
Can be found at www.randallstephenhall.com