Yesterday evening our group unveiled our new mural in Rathcoole, Newtownabbey. A welcome change to the previous mural which was quite dated and had somewhat of a playful approach and not your conventional style of Paramilitary Mural.
Murals play an important role within our communities. Not only do they offer great artistry, they also stand as historical evidence. Northern Ireland has around 2,000 murals, most of which contain political themes or references to the Troubles. Dalaradia understand the importance of their murals and have worked to preserve and maintain them. Many murals depict gunmen, not to cause fear, not marking territory, not implying its the the present or whats to come in the future, but a reminder of what once was. Thanks to their artistic merit and historical value, murals have become an important tourist attraction in post-Troubles Northern Ireland.
Many thanks to members of the public for attending and to the various group representatives including the Rathcoole Somme Society, Newtownabbey Arts & Cultural Network and Thomas Hogg of the DUP. A big thanks to Councillor Julie-Anne Corr-Johnston of the PUP for opening the mural.
Cllr Corr-Johnston said “This is the first Red Hand Commando mural to be re-imaged. Formerly a mural depicting a militant past it is now a window into the rich historical tapestry of Ireland. It reaches beyond partition, beyond division and promotes a common identity as a way of transitioning from conflict to peace.”
She concluded “I’d like to record my thanks to Dalaradia, a historical and cultural group based in Rathcoole, for inviting me to share in their significant progress. Progress that has been made possible through their extensive consultation with South East Antrim, REACH UK and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.”
Residents in the area received leaflets explaining the mural and its origins. Below is its content.
“The Dalaradia Mural Rathcoole 2018
Dalaradia was one of the Ancient Ulster Kingdoms, sitting in the area now occupied by the Mid and East Antrim Council, it was bordered in the North by Dalriada and in the South by Dal Faitach. In 1967 our borough was to be named Dalriada but following a challenge in court was renamed Newtownabbey. The first mention of Belfast is in 667 when the tribes of Dalaradia in Co Antrim and those in Dal Faitach, Co Down fought for the title “Fir Uladh” – True Men Of Ulster. The Earldom of Ulster was founded in Carrickfergus Castle in the territory of Dalaradia and St Patricks first noble convert was Bronagh, daughter of the Dalaradian King , Milchu, also St Comgal a Dalaradian warrior monk founded Bangor Abbey which became the Centre of European Christianity.
The Pretani, – “ Cruithin in ulster gaelic “ – were the indigenous British people of Ulster and Dalaradia in particular. Both Ptolemy and Caesar wrote of the Isles of the Pretani when referring to the British Isles, the larger island known as Great Britain and Ireland known to them as Little Britain. The original Britonnic – Welsh version of Pretani remains today as Prydin on the second page of British Passports
The outline of Old Ulster – “ Ulidia / Uladh “, the counties of Antrim and Down is highlighted with Dalaradias Lough Neagh behind. Also shown is the field of Crewe Hill, with the Ancient Crowning Stone of Ulster Kings. This is one of Ulsters most historical sites, where huge battles were fought between the Ulster Pretani and the O Niell Gaels , the literal translation of the word Gael meaning “ Invader / Stranger “. A generic image of an Ulster Warrior overlooks the Kingdom.
Ulsters most potent symbol, the Red Hand, has many legends attached to it, from King Hermon cutting off his hand and throwing it ashore to claim the land, to stories of the Right Hand of God and older Legends telling of the Blood soaked hands of the Red Brach Knights and Conall Cernach putting a blood stained image on his standard as he avenged Cu Chulainn s death.
Rathcooles famous Landmark, the four tower blocks support the mural, paying tribute to our local community and their place in History, It is emblazoned with Dalaradias motto, “ Respect , Heritage, Culture” , representing our spirit of a common identity of inclusiveness and diversity as a way of transition from a troubled past to a peaceful shared future.”