Friday, 15 October 2010

A Northern Star?




















DCAL Minister Nelson McCausland has a fascinating blog contribution on the history of the Northern Ireland flag. The Blether Region was particularly interested in the following paragraphs.

"In a letter to the Northern Whig (27 July 1953) Captain H Malcolm McKee said, 'I think it was the Duke (of Abercorn) who suggested the six-pointed star to replace the white inescutcheon (small shield inside a larger one) for Northern Ireland.' The 3rd Duke of Abercorn James A E Hamilton was the first Governor of Northern Ireland, an office he held from 1922 to 1945, and he was a member of an old Ulster-Scots family. He resigned on 6 September 1945 and died on 12 September 1953.

In fact the six-pointed star is an emblem of great antiquity and here in Ulster it has been associated with the O'Neills for many centuries. The signet used by Owen Roe O'Neill (1590-1649) showed as its chief device a right hand but above this there were three six-pointed stars.

[A History of Irish Flags p 62]

The six-pointed star is also to be found on the Dunvegan Cup which is displayed in Dunvegan Castle, home of the Macleods on the Isle of Skye. The cup is a beaker of bog oak with mountings of silver and precious stones and the star is the chief item of the decorations. According to tradition it belonged to Niall Glun Dubh (d 919), King of Ulster, from whom the O'Neills derived their name. The mountings and decorations were added in 1493 and eventually the cup was given by one of the O'Neills as a gift to Rory Mor, 11th chief of the Macleods, around 1600."

Mr. McCausland was named as a British Israelite by the Guardian on 26 May 2010 and has previously addressed the British-Israel World Federation. It is clear from the above that he has a particular interest in the antiquity of the hexagram or Star of David as a symbol of Ulster.

Incidentally, it was also interesting to read Mr. McCausland's reference to Northern Ireland as a "state" — a turn of phrase that once induced a public fit of apoplexy in former Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble.

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