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DarkThrone. Black Heart Metal, Ulster Loyalists and The Battle of Moira 1980.


This is a painting of mine from 1980 titled ‘The Battle of Moira’ was commissioned by my friend Ian Adamson for the cover of his book of the same name and later I added to this series by producing a painting of the Setanta, CúChulainn, the Hound of Ulster, the greatest warrior in Early Irish Mythology, for the cover of his book, ‘The Cruitin’ -an essay on the genealogy and heritage of the Loyalist, Protestant, Scots-Irish people of Northern Ireland.

Ian was the Independent Unionist representative for the Shankill area of Belfast and, like myself, felt strongly that the Loyalist/Protestant tribal people were wrongly and erroniously labeled by the Nationalist (I’m still one and an Irish Catholic -despite the clerical paedos) as just a bunch of English/British Planters. Of course there were Planters who robbed the Irish of their lands but there were also indigenous peoples of a different persuasion here too from earliest times and many of the present wild tribe we call ‘Loyalists’ are in fact more Scots-Irish than Irish but Ireland is in their DNA since earliest times and they remain fiercely independent too to this day, often without understanding the reasons for their singular and separate identity. They too were persecuted by the British and rose in rebellion against the Crown many times and their kith and kin were driven from Ireland -not by the Gaelic Irish -but by the religious persecution of the British Anglican church.

From them came many past American presidents whose names are honoured in the USA and hardly even know here at home.

Don’t be fooled by the thugs you see on Television news either. The real Loyalist people I know are warm friendly and full of wicked humour. But not all; I remember that brutish mass-murderer of innocent Catholics, (who I cannot name but we all know who I mean) bragging that this book, with my cover of CúChulainn, was his ‘Bible’.

I tried to explain that the book contained words, adjectives, verbs, adverbs and nouns and they were sweet fuckall use if you couldn’t read. I remember too that when it was first published by the UDA and featured in a great window display that same yokel went in demanding that it be removed. Quote; ‘What’s that Taig muck doing in the window?”. He was too thick and uneducated to understand what this book represented; a challenge to all the pre-concieved notions of Irish, British, Loyalist lineage and heritage. So much for declaring later it was his ‘Bible’.

I had my life threatened by him once in the bar of the Wellington Arms, in Belfast. Luckily I was alert and sober for that one but I was rescued but a great buddy of mine, the Shankill photographer Buzz Logan, who I figured would save my ass anyway. I also was a friend of the then ‘Vicar’ of the Shankill, the wonderful Reverend Brian Smeeton so I had a bit of heavy artillery on my side if I needed it.

Every picture tells a story but this one tells many.

The original Battle of Moira was the subject of an epic poem called ‘Congal’ by the great Ulster poet and patriot Sir Samuel Ferguson.

Ferguson’s account of the battle has long been regarded as one of the greatest epic poems of all. Titled ‘Congal’ from the name of the principal participants of the great battle, Congal Clean, King of Ulster. Congal fought to maintain the sovereignty of Ulster against the powerful Uí Neill dynasty. His huge army of Ulstermen, Cruitin, Scots, Angles, Saxons, Vikings, Franks and Britons were defested decisively by the Gaelic armies of Leinster, Connaught and Leath Mogha (Southern Ireland).

Congal was slain in the battle and with him died allhope of Ulster’s independence from Gaelic Ireland.

After the Battle of Moira Ulster was subjugated by the powerful Uí Neill (O’Neill) dynasty, the old Bardic order was overthrown and the migration of the Cruitin, Old Scots and Ulaid -all pre-Celtic tribes of Ancient Ireland -to the kingdom of Dal-Riada Alba (modern Scotland) was accelerated and continued up to the time of the Elizabethan plantations.

The rest is history and today we still have to learn to live together as the consequences of the Plantations and the slaughter of the native Gaelic people continue to reverberate up to this day in Northen Ireland after a vicious 35 year civil war.


I was approached by DarkThrone last year, 2012, to allow them to use my painting “The Battle of Moira’ for their new album cover for ‘The Underground Resistance’, a classic Black Metal band album. Back in the day I loved Trash Metal, Speed metal and pretty any kind of raucous rock music so I knew this would be a good one except for the fact that money was tight, very tight. In the end I agreed a small fee so the project could go ahead and besides I loved the music. Despite the bad rap Black Metal gets in the media it is not neo-Nazi stuff and as far as I am aware and having checked via the web I am pretty sure that does not apply in any way, shape or form with DarkThrone.

An American friend of mine did remind me that when he was servingwith the 84th Airborne in Iraq and Afganistan this was their music of choice. I could easily understand that one: if I was in a war zone and needed psyching up my choice of ambient noise blasting from the speakers would not be ‘The Sound of Music’.

2 thoughts on “DarkThrone. Black Heart Metal, Ulster Loyalists and The Battle of Moira 1980.

  1. My comment is more of a query.

    Would Jim Fitzpatrick be interested in designing a Celtic Style label for a Poitin/Whiskey Brand?
    A response would be appreciated.
    pat cooney

  2. I am a big fan but your view of a threatened Unionist people is based on scant knowledge and even less experience. I too wish for a new inclusive way forward but that means being objective and truthful on recent history. Repression was not an illusion but a Unionist Government policy still evident in 2016 in many ways. The conflict in the north as conducted by elements in my Nationalist community was regrettable in many ways but in context it had more moral basis than the 1916 Rising. I abhor 1916 as much as forced Partition and the broken Treaty which was part of the Partition arrangement. That Treaty may have avoided later conflicts and death had it been observed by those with the power to do so. My Nationalist community was powerless for 50 yrs and only asked for Civil Rights within the contrived northern State. Refusal was not enough for Unionism they had to deliver punishment too. Hence the pogroms recognised as such by UK’s Scarman Tribunal. Then the first atrocities, legal and quasi-ilegal and illegal were carried out against Nationalists isolated here in an Alien and contrived entity. Many of these were ignored and downplayed in the South for the sake of a stability rocked by Mi5 in 1974. Saddest of all is the southern left’s attitude to the north, this cowardice lengthened the conflict and allowed the oppressor to become acknowledged as the oppressed because it suited a comfortable status quo agenda in the south. Without the selling, for that’s what it was Jim, of northern Nationalist people into a situation in which they were the ONLY group given no choice in the Treaty – there would be no southern state to continually break our hopes and our hearts. I would embrace my Unionist neighbours in the morning but they would refuse out of fear and a smug knowledge that the establishment in the south and London would back their short-sightedness and their continued lack of generosity.

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