Woven in Ulster: Ulster-Scots and the Story of Linen

Woven in Ulster: Ulster-Scots and the Story of Linen

Lesson 3: How the Mill Owners and their Workers Lived

This lesson explores where the workers and the Ulster-Scots mill owners lived and gives pupils, through Talking and Listening activities, the opportunity to explore differing homes and lifestyles. Pupils have an opportunity to write a narrative from the point of view of a mill owner’s son or daughter and a mill worker’s child who moves from the country to the town.

Lesson Plan

Keywords and Phrases

life expectancy Linenopolis industrialisation rural urban

Learning Intentions

Pupils will:

  • understand how the homes and lifestyles of some Ulster-Scots mill owners differed from their workers;
  • become aware of the changes that have occurred in houses over the last 100 years; and
  • become aware of how some Ulster-Scots words came from the countryside to the town and are still used today.

Plenary

Each group should report their findings to the class. Pupils will be encouraged to think about places around the world where living conditions are poor. Introduce the terms ‘slum’ and ‘shanty town’.

Additional Pupil Activities

1. Research Activity

Pupils may research a slum or a shanty town to discover the living conditions of a typical ten-year-old child, www.savethechildren.org.uk

2. Narrative Writing

Imagine what it would be like to be the son of one of the wealthy mill owners. Write about your life:

  • What is your home like and how do you spend your time?
  • What does your father do?
  • How do you feel about working for him when you grow up? Would you like to do something else?

OR

You could imagine you are a daughter in the family instead. Do you think your life would be very different from your brothers’ lives? Write about your life:

  • What is your home like and how do you spend your time?
  • What does your father do?
  • Your brothers will work for your father when they grow up. Would you like to do that too?

Information for teacher

While middle-class girls in the nineteenth century and even early twentieth century were usually expected to marry and look after the home, there were exceptions. Mary Ann McCracken, in addition to her active charity work, ran a textile business for a period. See:

OR

Imagine you are the child of an Ulster-Scots mill worker in Belfast who has moved from the country to the town. Write about your life:

  • What is your home like and how do you spend your time?
  • What language do you use when speaking with your friends?
    Don’t forget to include some Ulster-Scots sayings and folklore which came with you from the country to the town, phrases such as, ‘ye wudna hear a whimper’ (you wouldn’t hear a sound), ye’re no sae green as ye’re cabbage luckin’ (you’re wiser than you look), ‘I tuk a scunner tae it’ (I took a dislike to it)
  • How do your parents earn their living?
  • What do you hope to do with your life when you are older?

3. Ulster-Scots Place Names

When the mill workers moved from the country into the towns, they brought some Ulster-Scots words with them. Some examples are:

  • brae – hillside
  • burn – stream
  • knowe – small hill
  • flush – boggy
  • pad – path
  • loanen or loaney – lane

Ask pupils to think of place names with Ulster-Scots words in them, for example, Millburn, Braehill, Sandyknowes, Glenburn etc.

Links to Curriculum

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