Celebrations of the centenary of the creation of Northern Ireland have been dampened by the fall-out from Brexit and the NI Protocol, the on-going coronavirus restrictions (and the leadership races in both the DUP and UUP). This Rathcoole house a flag to mark the centenary (the coat of arms of NI on a St Patrick’s Saltire) and stickers decrying the Protocol (“Northern Ireland unionists against NI Protocol”) and thanking the NHS.
“By order of R. Coole.” Two of the Rathcoole towers have been scheduled for demolition by the NIHE, beginning with Monkscoole House this summer, to be followed later by Abbottscoole House. In their place, 50 homes will be built, about half as many as currently reside in the two blocks; this has led to graffiti in the estate protesting the plan (Newtownabbey Times one | two).
The slogan “How is freedom measured? By the effort which it costs to retain!” dates back to WWI and, in the Irish context, to the Home Rule era. It looked as though Britain was going to give Ireland – as a whole – some measure of self-governance (whether while remaining in the UK (“constitutional Home Rule”) or separating from it (“revolutionary Home Rule” or “Fenianism”). In response, it seemed to some that fighting for Britain in the war might secure the status quo. Perhaps additionally or alternatively, it indicated the willingness of unionists to fight. Great effort is the measure of freedom greatly prized – “loyalist Rathcoole will NEVER accept a border in the Irish Sea.” The placards are a product of United Unionists Of Ulster (News Letter). For a mural rendition of the WWI postcard, see previously: How Is Freedom Measured?
“Ulster sold out – time to fight”. The DUP’s Sammy Wilson declared the party would “fight guerilla warfare” against the ‘Northern Ireland Protocol’ which caused Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg to beseech them to “work through the democratic processes” (Irish Times). This graffiti is on Church Road, Newtownabbey.
The Portrush Flyer is a steam-engine train service operating (since 1973) between Belfast and Portrush on Sundays during the summer months. The mural, in Ards Park, Monkstown, replaces a UFF mural dating back to 2001. Shown is engine ‘No. 85’ (which is just one of the engines that have been used; for images of ‘No. 171’, ‘No. 4’, ‘No. 85’, and ‘No. 131’ dating back to the 1970s, see SteamTrainsIreland) passing under one of the “new” viaducts (for more info, see Geograph). For an image of the mural’s 2019 launch, see Newtownabbey Times.
The “Ulster’s Finest” mural in Monkstown was remarkable for its depiction of two female volunteers, carrying Uzis, the only depiction of female loyalist volunteers (see Rolston ‘Women on the walls’ in Crime Media Culture 14.3, 2018, p. 373). It was plastered over in 1996 because the gable is next to Hollybank primary. Some of the pebbledash wore away in January/February to reveal the mural – still in good condition – beneath (Vintage_UVF).
Ten years after ending its armed campaign, the Red Hand Commando in 2017 applied to be de-proscribed, on the basis that it had given up its arms in 2009 and transformed itself into an ‘old comrades association’ (see the emblem in the bottom left of the wide shot) (BBC | NewsLetter). According to this mural, however, B company is ready to reform in response to those who “play with peace”, fifty years later (or so – the mural claims the group was founded in 1970; other sources give 1972 (WP cites Peter Taylor).
“50 years has passed/We were forced to don our masks/Don’t play with peace/Or attack our land/We await in the shadows/B Coy Red Hand”
“Pretani” is the Brittonic version of the Greek term “Prettanoi”, possibly borrowed from the Gauls (WP), for the inhabitants of the two islands now known as Ireland and Britain, and “Cruthin” the Gaelic term. According to the eponymous web site, Dalaradia was “was a kingdom of the Cruthin in the north-east of Ireland and parts of Scotland in the first millennium” with the Cruthin being (more narrowly than above) a people in Antrim and Down with (in the middle of the mural) “the field of Crewe Hill, with the Ancient Crowning Stone of Ulster Kings” (REACH) in Glenavy (pretani.co.uk).
The WP page on the Cruthin notes, “The name Cruthin survives in the placenames Duncrun (Dún Cruithean, “fort of the Cruthin”) and Drumcroon (Droim Cruithean, “ridge of the Cruthin”) in County Londonderry, and Ballycrune (Bealach Cruithean, “pass of the Cruthin”) and Crown Mound (Áth Cruithean, “ford of the Cruthin”) in County Down. These placenames are believed to mark the edges of Cruthin territory.”
The towers of Rathcoole can be seen underneath the slogan “Respect, heritage, culture.”