Alternative Ulsters: Conversations on Identity Mark Carruthers
The province of Ulster - nine counties in total, six in Northern Ireland and three in the Republic of Ireland - is an ambiguous and complex patch of Irish soil. Known for the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the Ulster Rugby Team, the Red Hand of Ulster, Monaghan-poet Patrick Kavanagh, among a host other things, Ulster represents an eclectic mix of national and cultural identities, religious ideologies, and political allegiances. The idea of a communal or conclusive Ulster identity seems impossible and questions such as, 'Are you an Ulsterman/woman? Are you Northern Irish? Are you Irish? What does it mean to be from Ulster? Are you proud to be from Ulster?', can result in more confusion than certainty. In Alternative Ulsters, BBC NI broadcaster Mark Carruthers has interviewed a host of well-known artists, writers, journalists, sportspeople, and political figures, all born in Ulster. Each interview begins with the question, 'Would you say you are an Ulsterman/woman?' and goes on to explore the complex idea of Ulster identity for those from a province characterized by fragmentation. Interviewees include Seamus Heaney, Ian Paisley, Anna Lo, Gerry Adams, Jennifer Johnston, James Nesbitt, and Mary Peters, among others.