Sunday, 22 January 2012

Border Reivers; The ancestors of many Ulster Scots

Anyone who lives in Ulster will be very familiar with surnames such as Armstrong, Irving, Murray, Kerr, Maxwell, Johnstone, Carruthers, Potts, Elliott, Burns, Douglas, Bell, Crozier, Scott & Graham. These are all Border Reiver family names.

Many Ulster-Scots (Scots-Irish) are descended from these Border Reivers;  lawless clans from the border between Scotland & England, where a lifestyle of raiding and marauding was the only way to survive. They started off as subsistence farmers but owing to their geographical position they were frequently harassed by passing armies who, at the very least, would require provisioning, often without payment,  but who were more often hell bent on destroying everything before them and causing as much damage and misery as they could. Crops were destroyed, homesteads burnt and the people murdered or dispersed.

It is no coincidence that these people, having had their crops regularly destroyed and their livestock stolen, looked for other means of sustaining themselves and their families... They took to reiving.

Raiding parties in battle

a short excerpt from Born Fighting on the Reivers 

For over 400 years between the 13th & 17th centuries, warring families from both sides of the lawless border valleys would carry out deadly raids on each other. These skilled warrior horsemen would live a life of looting, arson, murder & rustling.  The life of the Border Reiver was not necessarily ruled by his allegiance to the English or Scottish Crowns, but more likely by his allegiance to a family surname. The history of the Border Reivers has many similarities to that of  the American Wild West. It produced its share of outlaws and broken men, corrupt officials, greed, misery and struggle for survival.

Reiver map of the Scottish - English border

Reiver re-enactors

In 1603 James VI of Scotland became James I of England. He immediately set about unifying the two countries and started by bringing the Reivers under control. Many Reiver families were faced with the choice of hanging or accept exile across the Irish sea to the wild badlands of Ulster as part of James' Plantation project to bring the Irish natives under control.

ballads of the Border Reivers

In Ulster the Border Reiver family names were found in particularly concentrated numbers in county Fermanagh. Are you descended from the Border Reivers? Have a look a this list of the major family names from the Border Reivers website.

'Ulster-Scot' a clue to possible C.S. Lewis forgery?

C.S. Lewis
C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), the Ulster born author of 'The Chronicles Of Narnia', called his beloved personal tutor, W.T. Kirkpatrick (1848-1921), an Ulster-Scot (Kirkpatrick had grown up in an Ulster-Scots area of County Down). Indeed Lewis paid the great tribute to his tutor by including him as a character in his third and final science-fiction novel, 'That Hideous Strength' under the name of 'McPhee'. And in Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, the character of Professor Kirke (note the name) who appears in the first few pages of 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' appears to be drawn on Kirkpatrick as well.

Kirkpatrick had been Headmaster at Lurgan College, Co Armagh, when Albert Lewis was a pupil there - Albert was the father of C.S. and his brother, Warnie. Kirkpatrick retired to Great Bookham in Surrey ( to be close to his son, it seems) where Albert Lewis remained in regular touch with his former teacher, relying on his advice with difficult problems. So Kirkpatrick became Warnie's personal tutor to prepare Warnie successfully for Sandhurst.

W.T. Kirkpatrick
Despite his acknowledged ability, C.S. Lewis had never fitted into any of the schools Albert had sent him to. And so Kirkpatrick became Personal Tutor to C.S. Lewis as well, with the boy living with Kirkpatrick and his wife in Great Bookham. The goal in this case was to prepare the boy for entry to Oxford.

C.S. Lewis loved his time at Great Bookham with the Kirkpatricks. Kirkpatrick taught C.S. Lewis Italian so that the boy could read Dante in the original language. He testified to Albert Lewis that his son was the most brilliant translator of Latin verse that he had ever encountered.

The greatest controversy in C.S. Lewis studies concerns the claims of forgery levelled by critic Kathryn Lindskoog. Mrs. Lindskoog claimed that certain works published after Lewis's death as coming from Lewis's pen had, in fact, been forged. Among these work was the unfinished science-fiction short story 'The Dark Tower'.

The character of McPhee appears again in 'The Dark Tower' but this time as a rather wooden and colourless Scot. Note 'Scot', not 'Ulster-Scot'

In his introduction to the original edition of 'The Dark Tower' (1977), the American-born Walter Hooper suggested that the fragment had been written in 1938, to follow Lewis's first science-fiction work, the novel 'Out of the Silent Planet' (1938). Mrs Lindskoog responded by claiming that a Librarian at the Bodleian Library has observed that the ink of the manuscript of 'The Dark Tower' was not manufactured until after the Second World War. More recently, Douglas Gresham, stepson of C.S. Lewis, has opined that the short story was written after the Second World war, in the 1950s.

C.S. Lewis was born and bred in Belfast, but non-Ulstermen may not understand properly the distinction between a Scot and an Ulster-Scot. Dr Philip Robinson of the Ulster Folk Museum is a world authority on Ulster-Scots and author of 'An Ulster-Scots Grammar'. In the 1990s, Dr Robinson was expressing interest in C.S. Lewis and his attention was drawn to this point. As a result he wrote a letter to Mrs Lindskoog, which she published in her quarterly, 'The Lewis Legacy', claiming that "I can say with conviction that there is no possibility whatsoever that Lewis would have characterised his MacPhee in The Dark Tower as a Scotsman after describing him as an Ulster-Scot in That Hideous Strength". 'That Hideous Strength' was published in 1945.

So if the ink tells us that the manuscript could only have been written after the Second World War, and the literary evidence in the Ulster-Scot connection tells us that C.S. Lewis could not have written the story after 1945, when could the author have written it?

Article from An Ulster-Scot by James O'Fee

Saturday, 14 January 2012

The antiquity of the Scots In Ulster

A lot of people like to make the point that the Scottish are in fact ancestrally Irish, which is only partly true. They are usually referring of course to the Scoti, a Latin name given by the Romans to describe Irish raiders, who would loot & plunder parts of northern Britain in the 4th century before later going on to carve out the kingdom of Dalriada. Of course there was already a large population of  indigenous Picts & Britons living in Caledonia (Scotland) long before the arrival of the Scoti. The kingdom of Dalriada and the greater Highlands area has always been sparsely populated and the vast majority of the Scottish people have always lived in the Lowlands. If the Scoti were indeed Irish settlers/invaders of the western Highlands (some academics now doubt this) then it's estimated there would have been only a few thousand souls that settled there during that time.  Today the population of the entire Highlands is less than 5% of the total population of Scotland, even though it covers a third of the country's land mass. In fact there is a lot more traceable Ulster genetic heritage in the Lowlands than there is in the Highlands. So while a portion of Scotland's population overall is undoubtedly descended from the Irish, the majority isn't. 

Ulster-Scottish kingdom of Dalriada

Going in the opposite direction, there has always been migration of people from Scotland to Ulster, stretching back to Mesolithic period when the first humans permanently settled in Ireland. Long before the Plantations, before the Hamilton & Montgomery settlement, before the Gallowglass (the Antrim Scots), the Scots had influence in Ulster.

In the summer of 637, the Battle Of Moira was reputed to be the largest battle ever fought on the island of Ireland. King Congal of Ulster and his allies from Dalriada mustered an army of Ulstermen, Cruthin, Scots, Picts & Anglo Saxons (Sassenachs) to fight against the High King of Ireland, Domnall II. The defeat & death of Congal  led to the loss of Ulaid & Dalriada territory to the Ui'Neills and the retreat of many Ulstermen/Cruthin to Scotland. The Cruthin people of Ulster were referred to by the Gaels as Picts. The Irish word Cruithne meaning that they believed the Cruthin originated in Pritani (or Qritani in Goidelic), which was Britain, most likely from modern day Scotland. Perhaps they had originally spoke the same ancient form of the Brythonic (British) celtic language as the Scottish Picts. Noted historian professor T. F. O'Rahilly said of the Cruthin, that they were "the earliest inhabitants of these islands to whom a name can be assigned".

Battle of Moira, Co. Down 673 A.D.

Even before the Ulster-Scottish kingdom of Dalriada and even before the Cruthin  there were 'Scots' (or rather people originating from northern Britain) in Ulster. One of the earliest known human settlements in Ireland is in Mountsandel, Co. Londonderry, Northern Ireland. It's believed these Mesolithic peoples came here from Scotland, first settling in Co Antrim some 9000 years ago.  It is thought they were attracted to the coast of Co. Antrim in the search for flint, which they would have known was to be found in the limestone cliffs they could see distantly glinting in the sun from  the coast of modern day Scotland. Flint was a rare and valuable commodity in northern Britain. These were amongst Ireland's first people. They would have been descendants of Iberian migrants who first settled southern England and over the course of many generations, as the Ice Age receded, moved up through Britain and finally over to Ireland, maybe via a seasonal land-bridge connecting south west Scotland to the Antrim coast. The ancient stone Court Cairn tombs of the British Isles, built around 6000 years ago in the Neolithic period are most highly concentrated in South west Scotland & North East Ireland. This is proof of a common culture and shared beliefs between Scotland and Ulster going back into the midsts of time.

Mountsandel (1) and other prehistoric sites

artists impression of a Court Cairn tomb

So it is perhaps more accurate to say that the Irish are descended from the people of (what is now called) Scotland. We are indigenous peoples of this land and the migration between Ulster & Scotland has been constant throughout the millennia. Ireland, Scotland and the rest of Britain share the same ancient race of ancestors at their core. For anyone to say the Scots are foreigners in Ulster is plainly wrong and  i would suggest they take a long look back into the depths of Irish history!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Toronto Ulster United F.C.

Formed in 1914 by Ulster-Scots migrants, Toronto Ulster United F.C. were one of the most legendary Canadian soccer teams of the past. 

Also known as 'The Red Handers' They won the National Championship in 1925, 1946 and 1951 and were finalists in 1922 and 1937. Also won the Ontario Cup in 1927, 1929 and 1937. Playing in the National Soccer League, which was formed in 1926, they were champions in the first year and again in 1932, 1933, 1934 and 1941. In 1926 Ulster won the Nathan Straus Cup as champions of the International League, a competition played between U.S. and Canadian clubs. Sadly the club disbanded in 1963.

 They had played against teams such as Liverpool, Manchester united, Glasgow Rangers, Sparta Prague, Belfast Celtic & Dusseldorf.

Above is a rare silent film clip from 1930 showing Ulster United take on Glasgow Rangers at the Ulster Stadium, Toronto, Canada. The event included a display of Scots culture with Scottish dancing pre-match and a regimental bagpipe band at half-time.

The teams on the day were as follows:
Ulster: Bobby Kirk, Dave Eadie, Dick Pryor, Billy Stewart, Matt Wilson, Jimmy Hagan, John Paxton, Allan Mathieson, George Graham, Jimmy Galloway, Jimmy Moir.

Rangers: T. Hamilton, Gray, R. Hamilton, McDonald, Simpson, Craig, Archibald, Brown, Fleming, Muirhead, Morton.

Unfortunately, just like the team, the Ulster Stadium no longer exists. The only reminder that stands today is a an old dive bar called the Ulster Arms Tavern that sits just across the road on Gerrard St. East where the Ulster United's ground once stood. It's over 80 years old and used to be the Ulster Arms Hotel when United were the top team in Canada. The bar has seen better days. The Ulster United team were inducted into the Canadian soccer hall of fame in 2011.

Action at Ulster Stadium.

A Taste of Ulster

Judith McLoughlin, an Ulster-Scot girl from co. Armagh who now lives in Atlanta, Georgia, brings Scots-Irish cooking to America's deep south.

As well as running her own gourmet food business called ‘The Ulster Kitchen’, Specializing in Scots-Irish cuisine Judith also keeps a blog, holds Scots-Irish cooking courses and has just released a cookbook which blends traditional Ulster-Scots recipes with the flavours of the southern states of the USA.

Visit The Ulster Kitchen for a real taste of Ulster!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Scotch-Irish will no longer be included in official US census figures.


 Almost 35 million people currently living in the US claim Irish ancestry, according to the just released figures from the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey for 2010.
But in a controversial move the  figures for the numbers of Scotch-Irish are no longer available. The Census Bureau has announced the change.
In a statement they said “While the ancestry tables will all look the same, the interpretation of the"Scotch-Irish" and "Other groups" estimates will change. ….Individuals reporting Irish-Scotch are no longer tabulated as "Scotch-Irish" but rather are included in the "Other groups" category.”
That information could well upset the millions of Americans who are of Scotch-Irish heritage which will no longer now be acknowledged as a separate heritage.
US Senator Jim Webb of Virginia has been an outspoken advocate of the Scotch-Irish and wrote a best selling book called "Born Fighting” about them.
Among the most famous Scotch-Irish are Andrew Jackson, Davy Crockett and President Chester Arthur.
Much of the appeal for Northern Ireland tourism efforts to woo American tourists has been aimed at the Scotch-Irish, primaily in the south. Now it will be far moredifficult to locate them.

It is thought the figure for people of Scots Irish heritage in the USA is widely under-estimated. It is believed a large potion of those who claim their ancestry as just Irish or Scottish are in fact actually of Scots-Irish descent.