Why do Unionists use the term Ulster to describe Northern Ireland when part of Ulster is in the Republic of Ireland ? | Notes and Queries (2023)

Why do Unionists use the term Ulster to describe Northern Ireland when part of Ulster is in the Republic of Ireland ? | Notes and Queries (1)
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Why do Unionists use the term Ulster to describe Northern Ireland when part of Ulster is in the Republic of Ireland ?

Ieuan Phillips, Derry, N Ireland

  • Basically, from a Unionist perspective, "Ulster" suggests a greater level of distinctiveness from the Republic of Ireland than "Northern Ireland" does.

    Antony, Reading, England

  • As an Ulsterman myself I am duty bound to lend my offerings to this. Whilst it is true that the 9 counties of Ulster do not form Northern Ireland (3 are in the republic), historically, Ulster was a province of Ireland and when Northern Ireland became a country and part of the UK in 1922, it was agreed that this province would be split as it is today; the 6 counties of Ulster that form Northern Ireland (Londonderry, Antrim, Down, Tyrone, Armagh and Fermanagh) and the 3 retained by the republic; Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal. On this basis the protestant or unionist collective term Ulster, is deliberately provocative to nationalists as the British 'stole' and retained part of their country. Not to mention the 1 syllable is easier than 4! Incidently, the author of the question has likely demonstrated which faith he belongs to when he says he is from 'Derry' it is common knowledge in Northern Ireland that catholics drop 'london' in order to disassociate themselves with the country and true nationality, you will never hear Northern Ireland or Ulster from jerry adams and co!

    Darren Jones, Bristol, UK

  • Ulster is a province with 9 counties. When Ireland became independent from Britain, and Northern Ireland was added to create the UK, it comprised 6 of the Ulster counties. The other three counties are part of Ireland.

    Andy Thomas, Calgary Canada

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  • In 1920, the Unionists would have actually preferred full integration into the UK, but the best that the British government offered them was the devolved Stormont regime, so they had to make do with Northern Ireland. In order to make their Protestant statelet viable, i.e. in possession of a Protestant majority, however, they were forced to jettison the three majority-Catholic counties of Cavan, Donegal, and Monaghan, but naturally continued to think of their patch of Ireland as Ulster, while nationalists became politically correct in refusing to use the term to refer to Northern Ireland.

    John Adams, Querétaro, Mexico

  • When Ireland was partitioned the plan was to separate Ulster from the rest of the the island of Ireland for the Unionists, but three counties were considered 'too Republican'. It serves the petty-mindedness of these people to still call it Ulster, partly so they don't have to say Ireland, and partly to wind up Nationalists. Republicans also don't like the name Northern Ireland, preferring instead the North of Ireland (implying Ireland is still one entity) or sometimes even 'the Six Counties'.

    Simon King, London, UK

  • It is an interesting one this, the term: "Ulster" or "The Province" refers to one of the old presidencies set up in Ireland by Elizabeth I, “Ulster” was finally controlled after the defeat of Chieftain O'Neill, though after Elizabeth’s reign (she knew Ireland was defeated by the time of her death, thanks to Lord Mountjoy’s deafeat of O’Neill’s Clan forces (and Spanish allies) (O’Neill was an Ulster Chief), Provincial presidencies were set up in Leinster, Connacht, Munster and finally Ulster. It is an irony that Ulster was the last part of Ireland to be defeated and now remains the last part of Ireland in the United Kingdom (there are good reasons why this happened, Ulster was set up differently to the rest of Ireland up to that point 1601 and by 1610, the plantation of Ulster). Northern Ireland set up after the Anglo-Irish Treaty, agreed by Lloyd George and Eamon DeValera, was set up by partition; using the boundary commission to separate the six-counties with the rest of Ulster, leaving three Ulster counties in the south. However it is not true to say that the term Ulster is offensive, indeed it is still referred to in the Republic or the “South” as just the name of the Province of Ulster, just as they would for Connacht or Leinster.

    Peter , Manchester

  • I fear Peter is quite wrong in his statement that the term 'Ulster' is not regarded as pejorative in the Republic. It is only used there to refer to the ancient province of nine counties, and never, but never, used to refer to Northern Ireland. The title 'Ulster' was adopted mainly to give the suggestion that the statelet had some form of historical or territorial integrity, which, of course, it does not.

    Philip Foxe, London, UK

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  • Sorry, Darren, but Ulster has two syllables. Says it all, really.

    Pete Wigens, Stroud, Glos UK

  • Darren (Jones, Bristol UK) Your suggestion that the person who posted the original question gave away their political leanings is true to a certain extent, however you did the exact same. Whether you call it one or the other, you are making a statement and identifying yourself. The fact that the majority of people in that area refer to it as Derry (Nationalists now form a majority in Derry as a whole, due to their demographic dominance of the city) is quite a statement in itself. Should it not be the people of the area who decide? In any case I believe in democracy and freedom of speech (google it and see what it means, Darren) and at the end of the day, people should be able to call it what they want, as long as they expect that and respect that there are others who chose to call it differently. You obviously cannot do that.From my experiences, any of my friends from the North/Northern Ireland/whatever/Ulster/the six counties all call it Derry, whether they are my very good friend who is a Catholic from Newry, or my even better friend who is a Protestant from Newtownards, or my very similar friend who's a Heathen like me from south Belfast.

    Oisin, Wexford, Ireland

  • Darren, what about the men who fought and died in the Great War for the cause of freedom who came back to Ulster to find that six of their counties were taken by a foreign power? Mike.

    Mike Docherty, Charteralley, England

  • I am a protestant from Co Down, and I am proud to say I am Irish. I was Born in Down which is one of the nine counties in the Province of Ulster. I love my Rugby and, when it is Ruby Season, I wear my Ulster shirt. When it comes down to my country I wear my Ireland shirt. I think Irish history should be taught to all children in the schools. I never knew anything about Irish History until I was older, and boy oh boy did it open my eyes. When I was at school it was always rammed down my throat by my peers that I was British not Irish - and it always confused me, as people in other countries would always say I was Irish. You grow up with a sense of not knowing what bloody nationality you are, being a protestant! Scotland is part of the UK and they class themselves as Scottish. I am Irish and very proud to say it.

    Julie, Wales

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  • Agreed there is a lot of confusion regarding Ulster and Northern Ireland. Even those that should know (newscasters, for example, frequently mistaken refer to something which happened in Northern Ireland as having happened in Ulster. It is not incorrect geographically, but misleading, nonetheless. Ulster is one of four provinces of Ireland and lies to the north. The remaining 3 provinces are Leinster to the east, Munster to the south and Connaucht to the west. Ulster is comprised of 9 counties (Londonderry(Derry), Antrim, Down, Tyrone, Armagh, Fermanagh, Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal. Northern Ireland was created under the Government of Ireland Act 1920, which existed from 22 June 1921 to 30 March 1972, when it was suspended. It was subsequently abolished under the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973. In 1921the 6 counties of Northern Ireland were partitioned (separated politically from the other 26 counties of Ireland). The 6 of Northern Ireland are: Londonderry, Antrim, Down, Armagh, Tyrone and Fermanagh. Some people refer to Londonderry as Derry for political reasons. Ireland is now made up of two separate countries: 1) The Republic of Ireland Republic and 2)Northern Ireland. Most people whether in Northern Ireland or The Republic of Ireland refer to themselves as Irish, some people in Northern Ireland refer to themselves as British. The roots/history of some organizations go back to before partition and have Ulster in their name. The parliament of Northern Ireland is based in Stormont and the parliament of The Republic of Ireland (or Irish Republic) is based in Dublin.

    Jeane Hannigan nee Sproule, Fintona Tyrone

  • Great to see a sensible post from Julie.Just because a person is British in outlook, does not mean he/she is any less Irish. There is plenty of Irish people south of the border who are of a British line, they just don't see the need to prove that by taping union jacks to estate lamp posts.

    Paul, Dublin Ireland

  • I completely agree with Julie. Although granted, I am a Catholic from NI and so think of myself as Irish, I don't shy away from the realisation that I'm British. There's a bit of both in all of us, whether Catholic or Protestant. I do Irish dancing and there's just as many Protestants that do it if not more than Catholics. We all live on the island of Ireland and as such have an Irish identity, whether it be Northern Irish or from the Republic. It's all still Irish.

    Mathew, Belfast, UK

  • Ulster is and always will be the land of No Surrender.

    John Knox, Edinburgh Scotland

    (Video) The new Irish border question

  • Ta Mr. Darren Jones of Bristol.A syllable, is a part of a word containing a single sound. So, while Ireland as two syllables, and Mom, only 1, Ulster, also, ..listen closely...has TWO!!!!It is comforting to see how many of the answers come from human beings, Irish and otherwise, than can see past the idiotic tribalism of the conflict, even with the VERY OBVIOUS history of British Genocide in Ireland.

    Jordi Capalett, Barcalona Catalunya

  • Ulster to me means bigotry and hatred. I am Welsh and British same as you can be English and British or Scottish and British - so if you're from Ulster then you're Irish and British. In fact you can be from Pakistan and British if you were born before their independence. I'm never been to NI and no wish to but I have been to ROI being neighbours and guess what - none of them that I met have not the slightest interest in Ulster.

    Nerys Williams, Pembroke Dock Wales

  • Modern Ulster as it exists today does so because of the prevarications of the likes of Asquith and Lloyd George, and their failure to address the problems arising from (and before) the Easter Uprising in Dublin in 1916. Typical of politicians of all eras, the wrong decisions,and conclusions are decided.

    Kevan Hurst, Bolton Lancashire

Add your answer


Why do unionists call it Ulster? ›

Political names

Ulster is often used by unionists and some media outlets in the UK. This is the Hiberno-Norse form of the province of Uladh (pronounced "Ull-ah") (Irish Uladh and Old Norse ster, meaning "province", yields "Uladh Ster" or, in English, "Ulster").

Why is Northern Ireland referred to as Ulster? ›

Early history. Ulster is one of the four Irish provinces. Its name derives from the Irish language Cúige Uladh (pronounced [ˌkuːɟə ˈʊlˠə]), meaning "fifth of the Ulaidh", named for the ancient inhabitants of the region.

What exactly is meant by Ulster? ›

Proper noun. Ulster. (geographical) The northern province of Ireland, made up of all six Northern Irish counties and three counties in the Republic of Ireland. (politics, proscribed) The six counties that make up Northern Ireland.

When did Ulster become Northern Ireland? ›

Northern Ireland was created in 1921, when Ireland was partitioned by the Government of Ireland Act 1920, creating a devolved government for the six northeastern counties.

What was the Ulster question? ›

The main issue of contention during the parliamentary debates was the "coercion of Ulster", and mention was made of whether or which counties of Ulster should be excluded from the provisions of Home Rule.

What do Northern Ireland call themselves? ›

Northern Irish people is a demonym for all people born in Northern Ireland or people who are entitled to reside in Northern Ireland without any restriction on their period of residence. Most Northern Irish people either identify as Northern Irish, Irish or British, or a combination thereof.

Which counties of Ulster are in the Republic of Ireland? ›

Ulster is the ancient Irish province made up of nine counties, three of which are now in the Republic of Ireland (Cavan, Monaghan, Donegal) and six of which are in Northern Ireland (Antrim, Down, Armagh, Derry, Fermanagh and Tyrone).

What is the difference between Ulster Unionists and Ulster loyalists? ›

Like other unionists, loyalists support the continued existence of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom, and oppose a united Ireland. Unlike other strands of unionism, loyalism has been described as an ethnic nationalism of Ulster Protestants and "a variation of British nationalism".

Is Northern Ireland classed as Irish? ›

Nationality and citizenship

These include the birthright of the people of Northern Ireland to identify and be accepted as British or Irish, or both, and to hold both British and Irish citizenship.

What does the Irish red hand mean? ›

In medieval Irish literature, several real and legendary kings were given the byname 'red hand' or 'red-handed' (lámhdhearg or crobhdhearg). It signified that they were a great warrior, their hand being red with the blood of their enemies.

Is the red hand of Ulster left or right? ›

The Flag of Ulster adopted around 1264. It features a yellow field with red cross, white shield and red right hand of Ulster.

Which part of Ireland is Catholic? ›

Ireland is split between the Republic of Ireland (predominantly Catholic) and Northern Ireland (predominantly Protestant).

Why does Northern Ireland not have a flag? ›

When the Parliament of Northern Ireland was dissolved by the British government under the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973, the flag ceased to be used by a body with a royal warrant but remains the only flag to date which represents Northern Ireland at international level in sport.

When did Northern Ireland become separate from Ireland? ›

Not long before this, the Government of Ireland Act 1920, had also allowed for the creation of a separate Parliament in Northern Ireland, which came into being in June 1921, essentially partitioning the island of Ireland.

What is my nationality if I was born in Northern Ireland? ›

People born in Northern Ireland are generally considered British citizens by birth under the British Nationality Act 1981 if one of their parents was either a British citizen or legally settled in the UK at the time of their birth.

What do Ulster Unionists want? ›

Since Partition (1921), as Ulster Unionism its goal has been to maintain Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom and to resist a transfer of sovereignty to an all-Ireland republic.

Are Ulster-Scots Irish or Scottish? ›

The term Ulster-Scots refers to people from Scotland that settled in Ulster, and their descendants. It also refers to their heritage and cultural traditions.

Does Ireland have home rule? ›

The Irish Home Rule movement was a movement that campaigned for self-government (or "home rule") for Ireland within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It was the dominant political movement of Irish nationalism from 1870 to the end of World War I.

What do Brits call Ireland? ›

As others have said most British would call it 'Ireland' or the 'Republic of Ireland' these days but not everyone. There's a few reasons why some would still use the name “Eire”. Éire is the Gaelic for Ireland and Gaelic is a recognised language of the UK.

What accent is Northern Ireland? ›

Ulster English (Ulster Scots: Ulstèr Inglish, Irish: Béarla Ultach, also called Northern Hiberno-English or Northern Irish English) is the variety of English spoken in most of the Irish province of Ulster and throughout Northern Ireland.

What words can Northern Irish people not say? ›

Irish people famously struggle with their pronunciation of words beginning with 'th'. 'This', 'that', 'these' and 'those', are transformed into 'dis', 'dat', 'dese' and 'dose'.
  • Arctic. ...
  • Specifically. ...
  • Film. ...
  • Etcetera. ...
  • Vehicle. ...
  • Mischievous. ...
  • Quinoa. ...
  • Prostate.
22 Oct 2022

Why did Northern Ireland split from Ireland? ›

The territory that became Northern Ireland, within the Irish province of Ulster, had a Protestant and Unionist majority who wanted to maintain ties to Britain. This was largely due to 17th-century British colonisation.

Is Northern Ireland considered Catholic or Protestant? ›

Data from the 2021 census showed 45.7% of respondents identified as Catholic or were brought up Catholic, compared with 43.5% identifying as Protestants. The previous census in 2011 showed Protestants outnumbered Catholics 48% to 45%.

Why is Northern Ireland not in the Union Jack? ›

The Union Flag, or Union Jack, is the national flag of the United Kingdom. It is so called because it combines the crosses of the three countries united under one Sovereign - the kingdoms of England and Wales, of Scotland and of Ireland (although since 1921 only Northern Ireland has been part of the United Kingdom).

What is the difference between Irish nationalists and unionists? ›

Unionists and loyalists, who for historical reasons were mostly Ulster Protestants, wanted Northern Ireland to remain within the United Kingdom. Irish nationalists and republicans, who were mostly Irish Catholics, wanted Northern Ireland to leave the United Kingdom and join a united Ireland.

What does Red Right Hand mean Ulster? ›

Title: Red Hand of Ulster. Description: The Red Hand of Ulster is the official seal of the O'Neill family. It is believed to originate from a mythical tale wherein two chieftains were racing across a stretch of water in a bid to be the first to reach the land and claim it as his own.

What race are Northern Irish? ›

Within this latter classification, the largest groups were Mixed Ethnicities (14,400), Black (11,000), Indian (9,900), Chinese (9,500), and Filipino (4,500). Irish Traveller, Arab, Pakistani and Roma ethnicities also each constituted 1,500 people or more.

Am I an Irish citizen if I have an Irish passport? ›

You are automatically an Irish Citizen if you were born in Ireland before 2005 or if you were born abroad to a parent who was born in Ireland before 2005. If you do not fit either of these categories, you will have to establish your claim to Irish citizenship before you apply for an Irish Passport.

Can you get Irish passport if you live in Northern Ireland? ›

If you live in Northern Ireland you can apply for an Irish passport by using the passport postal service at certain Post Office branches.

What animal represents Northern Ireland? ›

Northern Ireland is also bereft of an animal whether real or fictitious. Scotland has its Unicorn, Wales its Dragon and England its Lion but Northern Ireland has nothing. The old heraldic Coat of Arms of Northern Ireland did have an Irish Elk on the right side but it was put out to pasture in 1972.

What color symbolizes the Irish cause? ›

According to the Irish government, green on the national flag symbolizes the Gaelic political and social order of Ireland or the Catholic side while orange symbolizes the followers of William of Orange in Ireland or the protestant side.

What Colour is dearg in Irish? ›

The colours of the rainbow in Irish are the following: dearg (red), oráiste (orange), buí (yellow), glas (green), gorm (blue), plúirineach (indigo), corcairghorm (violet).

Why is there no Northern Ireland Emoji? ›

The Northern Ireland flags controversy has led to Unicode being unable to release an equivalent country emoji for Northern Ireland, as it has for Scotland, England, and Wales.

What does an orange flag with a purple star mean? ›

Description: The Orange Order is an organisation with branches across Northern Ireland. It is exclusively Protestant and bans Catholics, and those married to Catholics, from joining. The flag is Orange with a purple star which was the symbol of the Williamite forces.

Can you make a left on red in Ireland? ›

In the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, drivers sit on the right side of the car and drive on the left side of the road. Unlike in the U.S., where motorists can turn right at most red lights, you can never turn left on red in Ireland.

Is Belfast more Catholic or Protestant? ›

These figures based on the 2021 census at district level mask wide variations on smaller scales. In the Belfast City Council and Derry and Strabane District Council areas, the figures at ward level vary from 99% Protestant to 92% Catholic.

Is it illegal to fly the Tricolour in Northern Ireland? ›

The ban on the Irish tricolour being flown in six of Ireland's British ruled counties was imposed by the Parliament of Northern Ireland, as part of the Flags and Emblems Act, in 1954.

What do you call the UK without Northern Ireland? ›

Great Britain is the official collective name of of England, Scotland and Wales and their associated islands. It does not include Northern Ireland and therefore should never be used interchangeably with 'UK' – something you see all too often.

Why doesn't Britain include Northern Ireland? ›

Northern Ireland has been a member of the United Kingdom since 1922, however, the Republic of Ireland is a sovereign state. When the Irish Free State (later renamed Ireland, 1937) became a free state in 1922, Northern Ireland exercised its right to stay within the UK. In 1949, Ireland declared itself as a Republic.

Is Ireland a member of NATO? ›

Subsequently, Irish neutrality became more established and the country never applied to join NATO as a full member.

What would the UK be called if it became a Republic? ›

Probably just the Republic of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, because politicians are notoriously unimaginative and have no sense of history. Last time we were a Republic, the official name of the state was the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland.

Can Northern Ireland leave the UK? ›

The Northern Ireland Act 1998, a statute of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, provides that Northern Ireland will remain within the United Kingdom unless a majority of the people of Northern Ireland vote to form part of a united Ireland.

What is your ethnicity if you are Irish? ›

For most of Ireland's recorded history, the Irish have been primarily a Gaelic people (see Gaelic Ireland). From the 9th century, small numbers of Vikings settled in Ireland, becoming the Norse-Gaels.

Can I get an Irish passport if my mum was born in Northern Ireland? ›

Yes, if your parent was an Irish citizen when you were born. You can apply for Irish citizenship through the Foreign Birth Register. Once a person is entered onto the Foreign Births Register they are an Irish citizen and entitled to apply for an Irish passport.

Can I get an Irish passport if my grandmother was born in Northern Ireland? ›

Citizenship through descent from Irish grandparent

If one of your grandparents was born in Ireland, but neither of your parents was born in Ireland, you may become an Irish citizen. You will need to have your birth registered in the Foreign Births Register.

Is Ulster Irish or Scottish? ›

In different parts of the world Ulster-Scots are often referred to as Scots-Irish or Scotch-Irish – all terms for the same people and their culture and heritage. Over centuries, Ulster-Scots people have migrated to many parts of the world, taking with them their pioneering spirit and culture.

Where did the Ulster Unionists come from? ›

The initial leadership of the Ulster Unionist Party all came from outside what would later become Northern Ireland; men such as Colonel Saunderson, Viscount (later the Earl of) Midleton and the Dubliner Sir Edward Carson, all members of the Irish Unionist Alliance.

What does red hand mean Ulster? ›

In medieval Irish literature, several real and legendary kings were given the byname 'red hand' or 'red-handed' (lámhdhearg or crobhdhearg). It signified that they were a great warrior, their hand being red with the blood of their enemies.

Is Scottish and Irish DNA the same? ›

Oct 2021. Scotland and Ireland are close neighbours, and it is no surprise that commercial ancestral Y-DNA testing and the resulting hundreds of Y-DNA Case Studies conducted at Scottish and Irish Origenes have revealed lots of shared ancestry among males with Scottish or Irish origins.

Are Scots Irish Scottish or Irish? ›

Are Scots-Irish Scottish or Irish? Simply put: The Scots-Irish are ethnic Scottish people who, in the 16th and 17th centuries, answered the call of leases for land in the northern counties of Ireland, known as Ulster, before immigrating en masse to America in the 18th century.

What do Irish Unionists stand for? ›

Unionism is a political tradition on the island of Ireland that favours political union with Great Britain and professes loyalty to the British Crown and constitution.

Is Northern Ireland still unionist? ›

the Northern Ireland Assembly has 90 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) (currently 40 unionists, 40 nationalists, 10 others [constitutionally neutral]), which had its powers restored on 8 May 2007. 18 seats in the United Kingdom House of Commons (currently 8 unionist MPs, 9 nationalist MPs and 1 neutral MP)

Are unionists Irish? ›

The Irish Unionist Alliance (IUA), also known as the Irish Unionist Party, Irish Unionists or simply the Unionists, was a unionist political party founded in Ireland in 1891 from a merger of the Irish Conservative Party and the Irish Loyal and Patriotic Union to oppose plans for home rule for Ireland within the United ...

What do you call someone from Ulster? ›

Further to previous answers, anyone from Northern Ireland can be described as an Ulsterman or Ulsterwoman, unless of course they prefer to be considered non-binary. Bear in mind that the province of Ulster also includes three counties of the Republic of Ireland.

Is the Red Right Hand Irish? ›

The Red Hand is one of the only emblems in Northern Ireland used by both communities in Northern Ireland although it is more associated with the Protestant community. Catholics see it as representing the nine counties of Ulster while Protestants see it as representing the six counties of Northern Ireland.


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