‘Mind your language at the Giant’s Causeway’ by Randall Stephen Hall

Finn cover Finn Shout 3


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 . . .

All right?






More tunes, poems pictures and stories

Can be found at www.randallstephenhall.com













2 Responses to ‘Mind your language at the Giant’s Causeway’ by Randall Stephen Hall

  1. Am Ghobsmacht June 12, 2014 at 12:07 am #

    Interesting topic, especially given that he mentioned Scots Gaelic.

    I think this area should be given some thought.

    To the best of my knowledge (limited as it is) Antrim Gaelic was/is identical to certain Scottish Gaelic dialects such as Arran and Galloway (according to Shipboy Adam).

    This dialect would have presumably been the mainstay of the Gaelic that was spoken by Protestants up until a century ago:

    Not to mention the glensmen and Rathlin islanders of either religion.

    Marry this into the notion that the Ulster Scots ‘revival’ (fabrication?) has in theory opened the back door to Scottish Gaelic (especially as most speakers of the language tend to Presbyterians or Free Presbyterians).

    This could prove to be the trade off regarding the Irish language act and indeed the idea of dual-names for streets in Belfast.

    Think about it, all signs in Belfast, Co Antrim could be renamed in Antrim Gaelic.

    There’s enough muscle behind it to sell it to Protestants and from a Gaelic point of view, well, what would Antrim Gaels have against Antrim Gaelic?

    And it’s not that the names would differ THAT much, I mean what is the popular Irish translation of ‘Great Victoria St’ would be so different from a Scots/Antrim translation would it?

    I suspect though that as usual my suggestion will have two major pitfalls:

    1/ To many unionists it would be too ‘taigy’ for them

    2/ To many nationalists it just won’t be ‘Irish’ enough for them

  2. Am Ghobsmacht June 12, 2014 at 12:09 am #


    “And it’s not that the translations would differ THAT much, I mean what is the popular Irish translation of ‘Great Victoria St’ and would be so different from a Scots/Antrim translation?”

    I really need to check these….