Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Sutton, David

Second Advisor

Fuller, Janet


Linguistic identities and ideologies of Irish and Ulster-Scots speakers in Northern Ireland (NI) and the Republic of Ireland (ROI) are examined through a focus on rampant sectarianism during the violent 30 years known as “The Troubles”. Seven historical events are reviewed such as the 1798 Ulster Rebellion, the Great Irish Famine, the failed Easter Rising of 1916 and the political ideology of Orangeism in the geopolitical landscape of NI. John Hewitt’s The Rhyming Weavers (1974) and Feargal Mac Ionnrachtaigh’s work, Language, Resistance, and Revival: Republican Prisoners and the Irish Language in the North of Ireland (2013) represent the development of resistant and covert identities through Irish and Ulster-Scots language “code” and the creation of prison Gaeltachts with fáinnes as symbols of pride and connectivity. The Ulster Weaver Poets affirmed that “death would be welcome” opposed to a life on the weaving loom under British imperialistic rule while the Republican Irish prisoners “preferred to face death rather than be classed as criminals'' by the British hierarchy (Coogan 1980, 159; Mac Ionnrachtaigh 2013, 134). Brian Friel’s Translations (1980), Hugo Hamilton’s The Speckled People (2003), and Ciarán Collins’ The Gamal (2013) highlight unexpected and disheartening consequences of identity loss and entrapment for characters in ROI as Irish discourse usage is a barrier to fulfillment as well as viewed as violent and dangerous. Commonality in narrative expression is the preoccupation with self-sacrifice, martyrship, and death to reinforce the “authentic” citizen true to Ireland’s future. Newspaper articles, editorial comments, and personal opinion narratives from seven news publications from NI and the ROI are discussed. Whom the languages actually “belong” to— political parties such as Sinn Féin or community members is difficult because roles are intricately interwoven. The Troubles and Brexit have emphasized the hybridity of identities of Britishness and Irishness and subsequent linguistic choices and realities for all citizens of Ireland. All narratives firmly establish that understanding the languages as a form of linguistic resistance to a silencing of a traumatic past, regardless of political positioning or linguistic ideology, are foundational in solutions for the future survival and maintenance of these languages, not to mention social, cultural, and personal healing.




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