Celebrating the identity, heritage, & culture of Ulster & the Ulster-Scots (a.k.a. "Scots-Irish") people worldwide!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Ulster-Scot McDowell no longer under the radar after US Open victory

'McDowell started playing golf at age 8 on the links courses of his native Northern Ireland. He suggested the background made him feel comfortable at cool and breezy Pebble Beach, even if the wind never gusted too strongly during the Open.

His story smacks of modest roots and sporting persistence. He grew up in the small seaside town of Portrush, where both of his parents, Ken and Marian, worked full time. McDowell's mom reportedly is nursing multiple sclerosis and watched Sunday's final round from Spain.'

Friday, June 25, 2010

'Flagship' Twelfth at Portrush

'The seaside resort of Portrush is the venue for the County Londonderry Twelfth this year. The big day on Monday, July 12, will be the culmination of Coleraine Twelfth Festival which runs from Saturday, July 3 and includes street entertainment, a historical re-enactment and an Ulster-Scots concert. The Twelfth celebrations in Coleraine in 2008 attracted 60,000 visitors to the town and it is expected that the crowds in Portrush this year will rival that number... There will also be a wealth of information about Ulster-Scots culture. The colourful pageant of the Twelfth will be led by King Billy on horse-back, accompanied by his foot soldiers, a junior William and Mary and the Ulster-Scots ship complete with 18th century emigrants.'

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Why must McCausland apologise?

Here is an editorial which appeared in the Belfast Telegraph calling for McCausland to apologise for his urging of the Ulster Museum to include more information on the Ulster-Scots, the Orange Order and Creationism. Why must the man apologise for voicing his own viewpoint? And why must he say that his views are his own? Of course, they are his own. Whose else would they be?

'Mr McCausland's letter concerns me. He should apologise and state that his views are his own and should not have been pushed on the secular community.'

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Saunt Petherick's Journey (Saint Patrick's Journey)

Here's a fun page that the BBC has made, telling a bit of the history of St Patrick and Ulster in the Ulster-Scots language. It's mostly for the youngins, it would seem, but I still enjoyed it.

Not everyone likes it. This piece from the Belfast Telegraph is quite critical of it.

What do y'all think? Personally, I like it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Ulster-Scot ethnic consciousness around the world

'There's a growing ethnic consciousness of Ulster Scot or Scotch-Irish ancestry in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, where both Scottish and Irish settlement took place in the expansion of British rule in these areas. Despite their descendants, if they knew their Ulster-Scot ancestry, were somewhat incorrectly identified simply as "Irish", "Scottish" or "British" for a long period of time, although it should be noted that in America the Ulster emigrants usually called themselves "Irish". And in the turn of the 20th century, several thousands of Ulster Scots migrated to Argentina, where a large British descent community thrives includes Ulster Scots, but not clearly known how many persons of Ulster Scottish ancestry are in Argentina.'

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Another steady performance by the Bready Ulster Scots Pipe Band

'The band were drawn last to play in their grade and were the only band in their grade to play in the torrential rain that fell that day. The Piping was judged by Pipe Major Richard Parkes from the Field Marshall Montgomery Pipe band and out of the 10 bands competing in the grade he felt the Band worthy of second place behind Moneygore. The Bready Drum Corps secured a 3rd place and put in another steady performance.'

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Belfast Hunting Club

Two folks in my family are members of the Belfast Hunting Club in South Carolina. I thought it was a cool connection to Ulster. They put these plates on the front of their trucks to identify members.

'Belfast plantation, 6000 acre estate of Judge and Mrs. H. M. Lightsey, of Columbia and Allendale County, is situated approximately fifteen miles west of the town of Allendale within an angle formed by the convergence of Lower Three Runs and the great Savannah River.... Records reveal that in the year 1744, an Irish gentleman by the name of Scarborough came to America from Belfast, Ireland, in search of property. It was he who acquired numerous small tracts from owners who had grants from the King of England, and welded them together in the formation of a huge estate which he called "Belfast" for his beloved home land.'

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Growing awareness of ties between Ulster and America

This article is somewhat dated but full of good information...

'Anyone who spends much time in the book shops of Northern Ireland, keeps up with the popular press there, or becomes acquainted with the activities of its local historical societies or the Ulster-Scots Agency (a government-funded body set up in 1999 as an outgrowth of the Belfast Good Friday Agreement) begins to discover an extensive popular literature and awareness on Ulster people who went to North America in the 18th or early 19th century and contributed to the developing new country of the United States of America.'

New identity allows Pubs of Ulster to broaden their public perception

'Local pubs are set to reinforce their contribution to the hospitality, leisure, and tourism sector by uniting under a new trade body identity. The Federation of the Retail Licensed Trade (FRLT) has announced that from today it will become known as Pubs of Ulster.'

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Davy Crockett's Ulster connections

One of my boyhood heroes was Davy Crockett, "King of the Wild Frontier" as the song went. A frontiersman, US Congressman and hero of the Battle of the Alamo, David Crockett is the sort of immortal figure in history who doesn't come along very often. As such, he has inspired generation after generation.

There's also an Ulster connection to Davy Crockett that many people may not be aware of...

'David Crockett was born near the Nolichucky River in what is now Greene County, Tennessee. A replica of his birthplace cabin stands in Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park on the Nolichucky River near Limestone, Tennessee. The Crockett family derived their name from Monsieur de la Croquetagne, a captain in the Royal Guard of French King Louis XIV. The family converted to Protestantism and as Huguenots fled France in the 17th century, settling in the north of Ireland. Family tradition says that David Crockett's father was born on the voyage to America from Ireland, though in fact Crockett's great-grandfather, William David Crockett, was registered as having been born in New Rochelle, New York in 1709.'

What the article here calls "the north of Ireland" is in fact Ulster, of course. It's interesting how his family went from France to Ulster to New York to Tennessee and ultimately Davy was killed at the Alamo in Texas, the climax of an amazing life.

Amber (the horse) and the Ulster flag

This is a picture I snapped the other day when Amber, always curious, walked over and wanted to see what I was up to.

Friday, June 11, 2010

South East Antrim Ulster-Scots mural

South East Antrim Ulster-Scots mural.

Click here for more 'Hope and Glory' marching band artwork. They do some really nice work as you can see from the many pictures on their site.

Food fight as rival erupts after Ulster chef named Ireland’s best

'One is head chef at a much-loved restaurant in rural Northern Ireland. The other is a Michelin-starred chef with premises in an affluent Dublin suburb. But temperatures reached boiling point when the Ulster chef Danny Millar walked away with the top prize in the culinary version of the Oscars, leaving Michelin-starred Oliver Dunne choking on his after-dinner mints. Dunne’s sour grapes episode happened after Millar, from Balloo House in Co Down, was named Best Irish Chef at the prestigious Irish Restaurant Awards in Dublin on Wednesday night. But Millar’s victory was too hard to swallow for Dubliner Dunne, who said he would boycott the event in the future due to changes in the judging system.'

Congrats to Mr Millar! I'd love to visit his restaurant one day.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ulster Connections (video)

What is Ullans?

Ullans is a variety of Scots language spoken in Ulster. The word is similar to "lallans" - a variant of the Scots word lawlands (“lowlands of Scotland"). Lallans used to refer to the Scots language traditionally spoken in Lowland Scotland. Scots is a Germanic language closely related to English and descended from northern dialects of Old English.

Here's a bit more information on the subject...

'The accent in the northern counties of Ulster is defined by its Scots accent and vocabulary. Many people from this region visiting other parts of the English speaking world are often mistaken as being from Scotland.

While broad Ulster-Scots is only spoken in rural communities, especially in Donegal's Laggan district, everyone in Ulster uses some of its words and phrases in everyday speech (example: the word "wee" is used to mean many things, from a term of endearment, to a description of small size).'

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Ulster-Scots people (audio)

This audio piece was recorded by a Belfast friend of mine speaking about the unique Ulster-Scots people and our heritage.

Click here for the audio

Jim Shannon's Ulster-Scots maiden speech

'Mr Shannon, who says he is not a fluent speaker of Ulster-Scots but is a keen enthusiast, provided a translation for his fellow MPs. "Having had the opportunity to acknowledge and express my Ulster Scots roots and thanking the Speaker for his tolerance, I'll say it so you can all understand me," he said. "There are many good things that I could say about the people of my constituency, but first of all I count it a great honour to speak on their behalf in the House of Commons.'

Click here for the video of Mr Shannon delivering the historic words before the House of Commons. Hopefully the speech will inspire further effort to save and promote the language. Congrats, Mr Shannon, and well done!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ulster-Scots in Maine

'The Maine Ulster Scots Project is sponsored by the Saint Andrew's Society of Maine. Its mission is to gather and save the stories of Maine's Ulster Scots (Scots-Irish) families and to periodically publish and otherwise share that information with the public and with Maine's students.'

The site has gotten some attention as well. Here's an article about it.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Ulster-Scots settle the South Carolina backcountry

'In addition to those who came into South Carolina through Charleston, there were some who came down the Great Wagon Road that ran from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, through the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia into the piedmont of the two Carolinas. Their numbers were insignificant in comparison with the thousands of Scots-Irish who began moving into South Carolina in the 1750s. The Scots-Irish who moved to the South Carolina frontier were descendants of Scots Protestants who originally settled in northern Ireland in the seventeenth century. When the Church of England began to press for conformity, the independent-minded folks now called Scots-Irish immigrated to Pennsylvania so that they could worship as they saw fit. They settled on the Pennsylvania frontier, where they came into conflict with both the Indians and the Quaker government in Philadelphia. As far as the government of Pennsylvania was concerned, the Indians were not a problem, but the Scots-Irish were. Unhappy with conditions in Pennsylvania, Scots-Irish families began to trek southward to the Carolinas.

For those who came from southeastern Pennsylvania, the journey was about 475 miles. All along the route settlers from Maryland and Virginia joined the group moving to the piedmont of the two Carolinas. They settled above the fall zone in an arc that stretched from present-day Lancaster County on the North Carolina border to Abbeville County on the Savannah River. They established settlements in the Waxhaws, and area claimed by both South and North Carolina, and along Long Cane Creek, a tributary of the Savannah. Very few, if any, sought land in townships, and none was created for them.

By not fitting into the plan for the orderly settlement of the frontier, the Scots-Irish disrupted a process that had been in effect for a generation. The places they chose to settle also brought them into conflict with Cherokee land claims. It is no wonder, then, that their relationship with the government in Charleston was a stormy one. Part of the difficulty was due to differences in ethnicity and religion.

The Reverend Charles Woodmason, and Anglican missionary, described the Waxhaws in 1767: "This is a very fruitful Spot, thro' which the dividing Line between North and South Carolina runs - The Heads of P.D. [Peedee River], Lynch's Creek, and many other Creeks take their Rise in this Quarter - so that a finer Body of Land is no where to be seen - But it is occupied by a Sett of the most lowest vilest Crew breathing - Scotch Irish Presbyterians from the North of Ireland." While Woodmason's hostility might be traced to his personal difficulties with some backcountry settlers, his disdain for the Scots-Irish reflects his own ethnic and religious biases - biases that were shared, in large measure by most white lowcountry residents.

The ill will that was generated by the mass migration of Scots-Irish into the backcountry was not felt by Scots-Irish who had come to South Carolina within a few years after the township plan was announced. In 1732 a group settled in Williamsburg Township, and from their angry letters it appears that they wanted the township for themselves. However, grants of choice lands had been made to Charleston merchants and lawyers. With the introduction of indigo in the 1740s. Williamsburg would become the most prosperous of the townships. The Scots-Irish were a tightly knit group united by "their National Adherence to each other," family ties and membership in the Williamsburg Presbyterian Church. Kingston was another township with a sizable Scots-Irish population. As in Williamsburg, the Presbyterian church helped strengthen the bonds of the community.'

South Carolina: A History by Walter Edgar, University of South Carolina Press, pages 56-58

NI MP to use Ulster-Scots in speech to House of Commons

'The words of one new Northern Ireland MP will face a closer examination than most when he delivers his maiden speech in the House of Commons. For Strangford representative Jim Shannon says he will be the first person to speak Ulster-Scots at Westminster when it happens. The DUP MP approached one of the speakers at the Houses of Parliament earlier this month about the prospect of using some of the dialect in his maiden speech. He said it was at the speaker's discretion, but that a few sentences would be allowed.

"We do all speak the English language and we do express it well and are knowledgeable in it," he said. "But this is an opportunity to present my culture and heritage and I have had quite a lot of encouragement from a number in my constituency who are very keen to see my Ulster-Scots history and language on the floor of the Houses of Parliament.'

Sunday, June 6, 2010

From Ulster to New Zealand

Here are a few sources of information on the numbers and nature of Ulster migration to New Zealand.

'In the nineteenth century, Ireland sent a fifth or more of all Europeans who went to New Zealand. With the Scots, they contributed almost half of the total settler population, and Ulster yielded the largest provincial Irish stream.'

'Ulster provided a very significant part of the Irish inflow, and it became more significant as time progressed. By the eve of the Great War those from Ulster comprised about 56% of Irish immigrants. Between a fifth and a quarter of the Ulster settlers were Catholic; and among the Protestants the numbers of Presbyterians increased over time. The increasing proportion of the Irish deriving from Ulster in part reflected the preference for Protestants among New Zealand immigration authorities.'

'Ties between New Zealand and Ulster are close, according to Dr Billy Kelly of the University’s Institute of Ulster-Scots Studies, based at the Magee campus. “A considerable number of New Zealand’s Irish migrants, some say up to half, have come from Ulster. “While it has been assumed that the majority Protestants, Ulster Scots who were quickly absorbed into the ‘British’ settler population, thereby losing their cultural identity, the reality is arguably more complex. “Just how far Ulster/New Zealand migration constituted a transfer of Ulster Scots culture to the New World, as well as the often ignored contributions of Ulster settlers from other cultural and religious groups, is an import, but as yet under-explored field of study.”'

Why this blog? Why Ulster Connections?

As a South Carolinian who found out about my Ulster-Scots ancestry rather late in life I felt deprived somewhat, spending all those years rather confused about my heritage. There is widespread confusion in America among people of Ulster-Scots (or more commonly called "Scots-Irish" or Scotch-Irish" in the States) background. Having lived in America for as long as we have (most of our ancestors having crossed the Atlantic and settled in the New World in the 1700's) and being so instrumental in the founding of "America" as we know her, many Ulster-Scots Americans have lost or partially lost their identity and family memory of their roots in Ulster. Some of these folks mistakenly believe themselves to be just "Irish" - as I did for most of my childhood and even into university years. For those who examine it carefully, they'll find, for instance, that their ancestors have been in the New World so long while most Irish Catholics are relative new-comers. Yet most people do not delve into the question deeply.

A few years ago I began studying my own heritage more thoroughly and especially the Ulster-Scots connections. My mother's side of the family are McClains from North Carolina long ago, who at least in recent family memory (going back into the late 1800's) have lived in southern Georgia with other people like themselves. Being very poor farmers who barely scratched out a living on the edges of the Okefenokee Swamp for generation after generation with others of similar surnames, appearance, values, etc., you can see how confusion would set in after a while as to their origins long ago. The more I dug, the more connections I saw between our family and those like us throughout North America (though mostly centered in the South and Appalachia) and even back across the Atlantic in Ulster.

While working for a few years in Europe, I was able to visit Ulster and there met people very much like myself - people with a fierce sense of loyalty, honour, family pride and a communion with the soil and country itself. I traveled around Ulster with a friend from Belfast and we saw the ancestral homes of Stonewall Jackson and Andrew Jackson. We visited Londonderry and there I marched alongside the men in Orange (who came from across Ulster, Scotland and from as far away as Australia, New Zealand, North America and Africa) across the bridge and through that historic town which was laid siege in 1688-1689. I drank beers with folks in small neighbourhood pubs in Belfast and other towns, sharing conversation with people who constantly reminded me of my own culture back in South Carolina.

So that is sort of a round-about way of explaining why this blog exists. I would like to see more connections built and more awareness of our common ancestry as Ulster-Scots and Ulsterfolk no matter where we may be living in the world today. Our ancestors who were so instrumental in the founding of not just Ulster but also many other countries are a largely forgotten and ignored people today. The heritage and history of other peoples are routinely celebrated while ours is not. This is something we can correct. And that is why we're here. I hope you enjoy this blog!