7 FEBRUARY 1958, Page 16

must protest against the claim made by Mr. Cyril Ray

in his otherwise admirable article that the bowler hat is an exclusively English possession, and must draw his attention to its almost ritualistic sig- nificance amongst Orange circles in Northern Ireland. There it is known not as the bowler but as the hard hat. This difference in terminology which may have confused Mr. Ray is due not, I believe, to any Mis- anglican sentiment, and only partly if at all to its properties of defence against physical assault, but to its value as a symbol of the true unity of the Ulster Unionist, as opposed to the less rigid qualities of the common foe.

Hard-hatted Ulstermen flocked in their thousands in 1912 to denounce Home Rule and the Pope, and even today, when austerity generally allows the regular wear of nothing more elaborate than a cloth cap, at least one specimen is closeted with care in every loyal household, that Ulstermen may still gather, hard-hatted by the thousand, once a year to denounce the Republic of Ireland and the Pope.

And indeed it cannot fail to seem incongruous, even to the most casual visitor, that the statue of Lord Carson at Stormont, the very scene of his triumph, is bareheaded.—Yours faithfuly,