The Catholics of Ulster

Published in 18th–19th - Century History, 20th-century / Contemporary History, Early Modern History (1500–1700), Issue 2 (Summer 2001), Letters, Letters, Medieval History (pre-1500), Northern Ireland 1920 - present, Troubles in Northern Ireland, Volume 9

Sir,—I found it odd that you did not aska historian to review The Catholics of Ulster by Marianne Elliott whois not only a noted historian but one of History Ireland’s patrons.
Others better qualified or at least possessing ‘the nobility of theGaelic mind’ (to use just one of Mons. Murray’s unhistorical phrases)will, no doubt take issue with some of his opinions on the text. Mypurpose in writing is to refute utterly his ludicrous assertion thatthe teaching of Irish history was banned in the schools of NorthernIreland until direct rule. I can assure Mons. Murray that in the 1950sand 1960s, along with countless others of every faith and none, Ilearnt, taught and was examined in Irish history in a series of grammarschools and institutions of further and higher education.
SinceMons. Murray was, presumably, living in Northern Ireland at that time,one can only speculate on how he came to be so misinformed. I simplycannot understand how you, as editors, did not bother to correct such aglaring error.

Yours etc.,
County Down

Editors’ reply

Whobetter than an Ulster Catholic to review a book entitled The Catholicsof Ulster, moreover one who has a doctorate in Celtic Studies, iseditor of one of Ireland’s most reputable local history journals,Seanchas Ard Mhacha, and who, as a human rights campaigner, has hadhands-on experience of the more recent history of Northern Ireland? Atthe same time both the reviewer and editors acknowledge that DeirdreBrown is correct in pointing out that the teaching of Irish history wasnot banned (or ‘forbidden’ to use Mons. Murray’s word) in the schoolsof Northern Ireland until direct rule. But neither was it encouraged:Irish history only featured as a sub-set of British history, which inturn was only half the curriculum (European history was the otherhalf). Consequently, little or no Irish history was taught in the vastmajority of state (in effect, Protestant) schools. Fortunately, therewere exceptions as Ms Brown’s own experience testifies.


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