Following the path of our Scotch-Irish ancestors

"Growing up in North Carolina, I always knew we had a huge group of Scotch-Irish settlers in the Piedmont of the Carolinas, but I didn't understand their ancestry. Were they from Scotland or Ireland?" Jennifer Hudson Taylor looks for an answer on her blog.

In her search, she came across the book The Scotch-Irish: A Social History by James G. Leyburn and published by the North Carolina University Press. The book begins in early 17th century Scotland and follows the path of the immigrants to the Carolinas.

Such an insult

This article is such an insult to the Scottish and Irish dispora in North America. This is not anything like the history of Scotland and Ireland. The "facts" in this article are so twisted they make my head spin. Because I am half Irish and half Scottish, raised in a Scottish community with very strong ties to the old country and my roots I grew up with a great interest in my family history. In fact, my bachelors degree is in the history of the Scots and Irish from prehistoric celtic tribes in Europe, through the Roman Period and on up until modern times. I have studied their language (Classical Gaelic, Irish Gaelic and Scots Gaelic with some minor delving into the Welsh as well), but also the mythology, their tales of origin, their religious believes and rituals (what little is known about them), I spent a lot of time studying their literature (including the non verbal literature) their culture, their travels around Europe and beyond. I learned about their dress, their habits, their shoes, their boats, their occupations. I studied about how the Irish were christianized long before the Roman Catholic church was organized, and changed only after the Roman church tried to eliminate the monastic system in Ireland because the Irish church had become too strong. The Irish church was the seat of learning renowned around the medieval world. I studied the dark ages in Europe and learned that while the dark ages spread across the continent, Irish monks followed and slowly brought classical language and literature, culture, and education with them and brought back knowledge of the classical civilization back to the world.

Probably most importantly, I studied the poetry of the bardic period in it's original language, as well as in translation, because the poetry is their history and gives us a clear picture of everyday life in the communities. All their battles are recorded in their poetry. I also studied their music and how it evolved.

I learned all about their enemies, the English and how they interfered in the politics and life of the Scots and the Irish from setting one clan of Scots against another, to "planting" Ulster. Basically, when the English "planted" Ulster, they gathered up the drunks, and bums, and low life criminals of the streets of London and gave them the land of the Irish people who they kicked out and sent to Connaught where there was no decent land to work.

Finally, I studied the diaspora, how each of the peoples left the home country and why, where they went and what they did when they got there. I learned about the Scots and the Irish in the Carolinas of the USA, and in the area of New York, I learned about the Irish in Boston and New York. I learned about the Scots in Nova Scotia who went on to New Zealand and eventually some of whom returned to Nova Scotia. I learned about the Irish in Newfoundland and about the Scots in Cape Breton in Northern Nova Scotia. I learned about the English soldiers meeting the emmigrant ships and kidnapping the Scots to fight for the British against the colonies.

I spent four years studying the Scots and the Irish, because these are my ancestors. I can trace my ancestors back to the area around Loch Ness in Scotland in the 16th century. And my Irish ancestors who were traditional bards, and their transplantation to Connaught before being forced into boats to come to Prince Edward Island to live where they could have land to cultivate.

I also studied what they suffered before the Scottish clearances and the Irish potato famines. I know the stories of the houses burned down with the elderly grandmother still inside. I know the story of how the English soldiers played a game of throwing the family cat back into the burning house and catching as it tried to escape and tossing it back in until it stopped coming out again. I know who was responsible for the atrocities as well. I could tell you tales that would make grown men cry to hear them. It's history, but it's only two hundred years ago, and Scottish and Irish people have long memories as my dear departed grandmother would say.

When I read some article that has the facts so amazingly screwed up that it makes it appear that the aggressors were merely bystanders, and the people who suffered the most from those aggressors actually are made out to be the bad guys, I get furious. The post today from SCA today has absolutely enraged me. Do you honestly think there were pagans to convert in the 17th Century? Christianity was in Ireland and Scotland since the Romans were there!

This is my history, my family story, and when someone totally gets it so wrong and makes it out to be great literature it infuriates me. I spent four years studying this history and I barely scratched the surface. There are a lot of good books out there written by scholars who make it their life work to write good history books. This is not one of them and it is books and articles like this that give the SCA such a bad name in academic circles.

For the record SCOTCH is a whiskey, it's good whiskey but it's whiskey. Any writer who would use the word Scotch to refer to the people in Scotland or Ireland and their ancestors should not be taken seriously in anything they write including their grocery orders.

* Mood: infuriated

Such an Insult

I apppreciate your differing opinion from the author of the book. I certainly don't want to be thinking something is correct when it isn't. I'd be interested in some books you'd recommend on this topic. Have you read the "Carolina Scots" by Douglas F. Kelly and Caroline Switzer Kelly?

Jennifer Hudson Taylor