Discover Ulster-Scots Centre
By Lisa Johnston, Tour Guide, Belfast City Sightseeing
Fair Faa Ye!
The Ulster-Scots phrase ‘Fair Faa Ye’ has long stood the test of time and can still be heard in the Province of Ulster, mainly on the north and east coasts of Counties Antrim and Down.
It’s an extremely versatile phrase and can be used both as a greeting or a welcome and can be traced back in written form to the 1730s when the Ulster-Scots poet William Starrett from Strabane in Co Tyrone used it when he wrote to his friend Allan Ramsey, the famous Scottish poet
But the connections between Ulster and Scotland date back much farther than that.
Back in the 1600s, the landscape of Ulster was changed forever when huge numbers of people from the Scottish Lowlands began to arrive during the Plantation of Ulster, an initiative designed to populate Ireland with ‘planters’ on behalf of the British Crown.
The new arrivals brought with them their traditions, their culture and their language.
And even today this very distinctive regional flavour of Ulster, compared with the rest of the island of Ireland, is overwhelmingly due to the influence of those from lowland Scotland who decided to make this part of the world their home.
To find out more about the Plantation of Ulster visit the Discover Ulster-Scots Centre which is located near to stop number 20 on Belfast City Sightseeing’s open-top bus tour – so hop off here to see for yourself what Belfast’s flagship Ulster-Scots cultural centre has to offer.
Ulster is separated from Scotland by the narrow North Channel which, at one point, is only 13 miles wide.
Historically, this channel has often been seen as a link rather than a barrier and some people have viewed Ulster as an extension of Scotland. There are even some who view Scotland as an extension of Ulster!
The Discover Ulster-Scots Centre is located in the Corn Exchange in the historic Cathedral Quarter of Belfast and was officially opened by the Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin in November 2014.
The Centre provides tourists and locals alike with information on the key sites across the Province related to the Ulster-Scots culture including a brand new Ulster-Scots heritage trail which traces Belfast’s maritime history.
At the Ulster-Scots Centre you can pick up a free copy of this new Maritime Trail which highlights 16 different locations connected to Belfast’s rich maritime heritage including the Sinclair Seamen’s Church and the Belfast Harbour Office.
You can also find out more about famous Ulster-Scots people including:
- Sir Hans Sloane from Killyleagh in Co Down who invented milk chocolate and after whom Sloane Square and Sloane Street in London are named
- Sir James Murray from Culnady in Co Londonderry who invented Milk of Magnesia
- Lord Kelvin, a scientist who was born in College Square East in Belfast, and after whom the Kelvin scale was named and who was said to be the most important scientist of the Victorian age
You’ll also find a book and gift shop, you can enjoy a welcome cup of tea or coffee, there’s free educational literature and numerous information displays which take a detailed look at the very rich and varied Ulster-Scots language, history and culture.So hop off at stop number 20 on our open-top bus tour to visit and enjoy Belfast’s flagship Ulster-Scots cultural centre.
The Discover Ulster-Scots Centre is open Monday-Friday. Group visits are welcome. It is open evenings and weekends by appointment.
T: 028 9043 6710
The Corn Exchange
31 Gordon street
Discover Ulster-Scots Centre