“Protestant Rejection of Traditional Music in Northern Ireland:
Jigging at the Crossroads" ~ by Fintan Vallely
Release Date: June 2006
Hardcover 272 pages (June 2006)
Publisher: Irish Academic Press
Synopsis from Amazon.co.uk ~ for discussion ~ Ye Protestants all? I knew quite a few fine and respected Protestant Irish musicians when we were based in Eire…
"Looks at the present day booming Traditional Irish music scene and notes that while there is enthusiastic participation of Northern Ireland Catholics, Protestants have largely absented themselves. The author argues that not only are Protestants in general indifferent to the explosion of this music’s Irish ‘new-culture’ life in the expanding EC, but many Loyalists, at the cutting edge of Britishness in Northern Ireland, perceive the music as being actively hostile to Union with Britain, implicitly Republican. The process of acceleration of Catholic interest in the music and of Protestant rejection of it, is also looked at during the rise of Civil Rights politics and ‘the troubles’ since 1966. Contrary to many contemporary opinions, the author does not see any unique, society-healing power in this music, instead holding that the music only reflects what goes on in the outside political world."
We are somewhat removed from the isle at the moment, but most of our experiences are contrary to this, are of the healing sort, though there are a few sore memories where the likes of certain Comhaltas officials publically put down the music of the North, and not just Northern Ireland, but Ulster as a whole.
In one case a load of Northerners who’d come down for a cultural festival in Dublin, to do with RTE, they were there to support a call for preserving traditional content in the media, radio and T.V., at a time when there was a percieved threat to its reduction. Anyway, at a gathering outside RTE one of the spokespersons for Comhaltas dropped a nasty. Most of the Northerners, fed up with the hypocrisy, got in their cars and went home, weren’t there for any evening sessions or ceilis.
BUT ~ mostly our experiences have been the healing sort, with humour, hospitality and heart. I pray that hasn’t changed too much, though a recent ‘Cead Mille’ discussion started by Ptarmigan of Antrim is part seed for this. We are very fond of Ulster and all the hospitality and heart I found up there amongst those darker shadows of insecurity, fear and their attendendant suppressions… People, Catholic and Protestant, were kind to us, opened their doors, made us feel family. Yeah, there were others in cars and with guns curious about what the hell we were about, some even afraid of us, all sides and the British Army too. I still well remember the guy in the ditch aiming his gun at me while they had me empty my backpack in some backwoods area of Armagh. It turned out the guy with a gun played fiddle in an English ceilidh band back home… But, mostly it was good, even there we found a glimmer of commonality, community in the music…though I’d rather he had a fiddle bow aimed at me and was asking if I knew the tune he’d just played…