The Ulster Covenant was part of a response by Ulster Unionists to the efforts of successive Westminster governments to settle the running sore of the 'Irish Question' by giving Ireland a limited measure of local autonomy known as 'Home Rule'. The first two Home Rule Bills, in 1886 and 1893, had been rejected by Parliament, following concerted pressure from Unionists in Great Britain and Ireland.
Sir Edward Carson (Edward Henry Carson, later Lord Carson, also well known for his involvement in the trial of Oscar Wilde) and James Craig the Unionist MP for East Down, (later Lord Craigavon) were key leaders of the campaign to persuade the people to give their backing to the Ulster Covenant as a means of resisting Home Rule. During a Covenant campaign of meetings held during September 1912 supporters were asked to sign the Covenant.
The full declaration of the Ulster Covenant is shown below:
Below are the signatures of my grandmother, her sister and her father (my great-grandfather) on the Ulster Covenant. Or more accurately the Covenant as signed by the men-folk and the parallel Declaration as signed by the women-folk. In total, the Covenant was signed by 237,368 men, and the Declaration by 234,046 women. These pictures are taken from the digitised copies now held at the Public Record Office for Northern Ireland, see http://www.proni.gov.uk/ulstercovenant/index.html which provides a lot of background information about the Ulster Covenant as well as the complete set of collected signatures.
More information about the Ulster Covenant, Carson and Craig can be found at Ulster Covenant.
Several other Bryson connections are available on-line. Information from the Bryson link.
There are a number of other areas of Ulster-related life that might be of interest to the reader, and just some of these are shown below.
World War I had a major impact on the lives of many in Europe and Ireland, and in particular Ulster. See World War I, particularly in relation to the 36th Ulster Division and 16th Irish Division.
There are numerous connections between Ulster and the Antipodes. Just a few are available from Antipodean links, e.g. Gallipoli Campaign/Anzac Day, Ballance House (home of New Zealand Prime Minister John Ballance), etc.
Again there are numerous links, frequently of Scotch/Irish descent, between Ulster and the United States of America. For example the USA links: shows direct Ulster links to Andrew Jackson, Ulysses Simpson Grant, Chester Alan Arthur, Stonewall Jackson, etc.
Mural painting has long been a feature of Protestant popular culture when symbols began to adorn the gable walls of the working-class areas of Belfast. It was not until the early 1980s that murals became a prominent form of street display in Nationalist areas. In recent years Northern Ireland's political street art has become something of a tourist attraction for visitors to the principal cities of Belfast and Londonderry.
See Murals for example across the divide.
Finally, for those interested in more general information surrounding what is euphemistically called "The Troubles", then the Conflict Archive on the INternet link is a useful starting point. Note that the provision of the link implies no acceptance or responsibility for any content or views expressed thereon.