THERE once was a golf club. On the door it didn’t say men only. There were women about it, but their roles and presence were clearly defined. The men played golf, held membership, sat in the directors’ chairs and made the decisions. The women cooked the meals, cleaned the grassy floors, came along to the restaurant as guests and dressed up for the fancy dinners.

It was the way it was, until one day a nasty woman asked why she could not play golf, hold membership and so on. She was told by the men and the few women about the place that she was unwanted and causing trouble. There was one day where there was a bit of a scene out on the golf course where the woman, inspired by the Boston Marathon where a woman just joined in, just started to play. That unpleasantness was dealt with nice and quickly and the woman was removed, fined and put in her place.

Equality laws came before the golf club changed. There was resistance, but the threat of a fine moved the position of the golfing brothers and now women are all over the place. On the course, in changing rooms, in car park spaces, still cleaning the floors and making dinners. The sky did not fall in. The men were not emasculated. Life goes on and little balls still get hit through the air until they drop into little holes.

In Tobermore – or Tobar Mór – some of the residents are struggling with the concept of cultural equality in the village of the Big Well. A bilingual sign caused terrible consternation for some. The little sign welcomed everyone to the little part of the little village in English and as Gaeilge. This distressed some of the people so much that they removed the sign and replaced it with little plastic union flags.

It was of course illegal to remove the sign and destroy it. It also cast some of the people of Tobermore in a less than glorious light. A DUP councillor proclaimed that Tobermore is a “unionist” and therefore English-speaking village and that Irish is not wanted. A few residents worried that Irish was on the sign before English and complained of a lack of consultation. Which was notably different to the assertions of the DUP councillor.

Change and equality are always a little discomforting to some, who think they are losing. Of course, no-one loses by embracing the dual language of our place names. Tobermore is no more an English place name than Belfast. Wouldn’t it be lovely to see the well the village is named after? Wouldn’t our children be enriched feeling their connections to their place? In a world of modern disconnection we need all the connection we can have.

If there were issues regarding process and education and inclusion then those lessons should be learned. But that can never hide resistance to equality and progress. Understanding our heritage and connection is progress. No-one asks that inclusion of An Gaeilge replaces any person’s allegiance to any flag of choice. That would be absurd. But there is no village, town or city owned by majority. There never was and there never will be.

Equality is always about the protection of the minority. Cultural equality will gently challenge, but we will all ultimately benefit.