Monday, 9 September 2013
US President Barrack Obama (himself, partly of Irish Protestant ancestry) talks about the men and women of Ulster who emigrated to America and helped found the United States...
Wednesday, 4 September 2013
On 3rd September 1777 the American flag (stars & stripes), which was approved by Congress on June 14th of that year, was carried into battle for the first time by a force under an Ulster-Scots commander, General William Maxwell.
|General William Maxwell (centre) from Co. Tyrone|
The brigadier general who was born in Co. Tyrone, Ulster and commanded the New Jersey brigade, ordered the stars and stripes banner raised as a detachment of his infantry and cavalry met an advance guard of British and Hessian troops at Cooch's Bridge, Delaware.
|Battle of Cooch's Bridge|
Karen McCarthy, author of 'The Other Irish, The Scots-Irish Rascals Who Made America', is interviewed by Wisconsin Public Radio about the Scots-Irish and the researching of her book in the southern states of the USA.
Listen at link below:
(copyright Wisconsin Public Radio)
Karen McCarthy's book is available at Amazon. Click book cover below....
Friday, 17 May 2013
Ulster tartan is basically the only Irish tartan with any historic pedigree. Before Victorian times different tartans didn't represent clans or families they represented regions. Even this was more by accident than design, it was due to differing styles of local weavers and the limitations of locally sourced natural dyes available.
|Ulster Tartan (peat)|
|Ulster Tartan (modern)|
The Ulster Tartan was re-discovered in 1956 when it was found on a 350 year old pair of trousers (trews) discovered in Dungiven, Co. Londonderry. Experts believe the material may have been designed & woven by Ulster Scots, who were known to be weaving tartan at the time (they mainly used the fabric for shawls & blankets rather than kilts). The trousers themselves are believed to have been tailored in Scotland from the Ulster cloth. Apart from Ulster tartan, practically all other Irish tartans are inventions of the 20th century or later, originating no earlier than the 1960's. There are no historical depictions or descriptions of Gaelic Irish wearing tartan.
It's a similar story with Irish kilts. Although they have a slightly older pedigree than most Irish tartan, there is no historical basis for an Irish kilt that goes beyond the formative years of the 20th century or the late Victorian period. At this time Irish Nationalists caught up in the Gaelic Revival were looking to design a national costume of Ireland. They didn't think the traditional trews or Leine-croich shirt/tunic historically worn by the Gaels looked handsome or heroic enough for modern times so chose instead to adopt the Scottish kilt. So there's no ancient pedigree for an Irishman to wear a kilt, especially a tartan one, unless of course he has Scottish heritage!
Sunday, 12 May 2013
Quite apart from the fact that one third to one half of the American colonial army were Ulstermen or the sons of Ulstermen, nothing brings more conviction of the great part played by our people in the Revolution than to consider the number of American officers of high distinction who were of Ulster origin or descent. Over 25 of Washington’s generals were of Ulster heritage, here are some of those men…
General Richard Montgomery was from County Donegal. He fell while gallantly leading his men in an attack on Quebec. By a strange co-incidence, the British commander on that occasion, and the man who saved Canada for the British Empire, was General Sir Guy Carleton, who was born near Strabane, only a few miles from Montgomery's home.
|General Henry Knox|
General Henry Knox has been described as, after Washington, the most illustrious soldier of the Revolution. He was from New Derry, and was the son of an emigrant from Donegal. He was the organiser and commander of the American artillery arm, and he fought in every battle of the war. He was dearer to Washington than any other man and was the Secretary for War in Washington's first Cabinet.
General Anthony Wayne's grandfather fought under King William at the Boyne. He was a great cavalry leader, and a fierce fighting general of infantry who told Washington he would storm hell if he got the orders. General Andrew Lewis was born in Donegal, and at one time it looked as if he would become Commander-in-Chief of the American army. General Dan Morgan was born at Ballynascreen, in County Derry. The British General Burgoyne said to him after the battle of Saratoga: "Your Scotch-Irish Rifles is the finest in the world". Bancroft pronounced him the ablest commander of Light Troops in the world, and affirmed that in no European army of that day were there troops like those he had trained.
|General Andrew Lewis|
General Walter Stewart was born in Ulster in the city of Derry. General Thomas Robinson went out from Ulster just before the war. He was Anthony Wayne's brother-in-law. General William Thompson and his famous brother Charles were born in Maghera. General Enoch Poor was born of Ulster parents in New Hampshire. General John Stark was born in New Derry. General William Maxwell was born in Ulster. General John Clark was born in Antrim. General Andrew Pickens was born in Pennsylvania of Ulster parents. General Ephraim Blaine was born in Donegal. He was Washington's quartermaster. General Thomas Polk's people had been in America for 100 years before the war, but the original emigrant came from Ulster.
|General Walter Stewart|
General James Miller was from New Derry and so also was General George Reid. General George Rodgers Clarke was born in the valley of Virginia. He was of Ulster forebears, and was one of the most distinguished officers in the American army. General Joseph Reed was the son of Ulster parents who settled in New Jersey. He was Washington's adjutant-general. General James Clinton was an Ulsterman who won distinction by his defence of Fort Clinton in 1777. His brother George was Governor of New York for 18 years, and was twice Vice-President of the United States. General John Armstrong was born in Ulster.
|General William Irvine|
General James Ewing, General William Henry, and General Rutherford were all of Ulster descent. General Michael Simpson was an Ulsterman who served under Montgomery at Quebec. General William Irvine was born at Enniskillen. He raised the 6th Pennsylvania Regiment and commanded the troops on the N.W. frontier. The father of General Francis Preston was born in Ulster, and the general's father-in-law was General William Campbell, one of the five Presbyterian colonels at the battle of King's Mountain.
Sunday, 28 April 2013
Timothy Murphy, was an American Revolutionary War hero and was the most famous marksman of his day. He served with distinction on the frontier, and then with famed General Daniel Morgan as a rifleman. Murphy was said to be responsible for one of the turning points of the Revolutionary War.
It was October 7, 1777 and a heavily Scots-Irish contingent of the Continental Army was advancing on the British soldiers in the second battle of Saratoga. British Brigadier General Simon Fraser, in charge of 2,000 men, was attempting to rally his harried troops. In a tree, 300 yards away, sat Timothy Murphy, a sharpshooter in the 1st Continental Regiment, also known as The Kentucky Riflemen, under the command of Colonel Daniel Morgan.
Murphy took aim at General Fraser with his Kentucky long rifle and fired off four shots — the first barely missed, the second went through the General's horse's mane, and the third hit General Fraser in the stomach, knocking him off his horse. Sir Francis Clarke, British General John Burgoyne's aide, rode out onto the battlefield to deliver a message. Murphy's fourth shot felled Clarke, killing him instantly.
|the mainly Scotch-Irish riflemen at Saratoga|
Murphy's fatal shots directly resulted in Burgoyne's demoralizing surrender of his entire army, an event unheard of in the annals of British military history. General Burgoyne was reported to have told Colonel Morgan, "Your Scotch-Irish rifles are the finest in the world".
Little is known about the early life of Timothy Murphy other than the fact he was born in the vicinity of the Delaware Water Gap in 1751 to Ulster Presbyterian emigrants from Donegal. Many of the soldiers who served the patriot cause throughout the war were Ulstermen from the western frontiers of the colonies so it is not surprising that Tim Murphy found himself with the Northern army.
|by Roy F. Chandler|
In his book 'Timothy Murphy - Rifleman', Roy Chandler claims that Murphy was born William Baskins. During an Indian raid on his family's homestead when he was three years old William's father was killed and he, along with his mother and sister (aged seven) were taken by the raiding party. The family was split up and young William was adopted by the Iroquois Indians. A few years later he was brought under the tutelage of Sir William Johnson, an English gentlemen who's job was to keep the peace between colonists and natives. On learning the boy had been abducted from an area of Scots-Irish settlement Johnson decided to call the boy Timothy Murphy.
|Murphy's grave marker|
While dedicating a new grave monument to Murphy in 1926 Franklin D. Roosevelt said:
"This country has been made by Timothy Murphys, the men in the ranks. Conditions here called for the qualities of the heart and head that Tim Murphy had in abundance. Our histories should tell us more of the men in the ranks, for it was to them, more than to the generals, that we were indebted for our military victories."
Thursday, 14 February 2013
In 1988 Channel 4 (UK) in co-operation with Ulster Television produced a four episode mini-series and accompanying book entitled 'God's Frontiersmen - The Scots-Irish Epic' by Rory Fitzpatrick. The TV production was part drama, part documentary exploring the Ulster-Scot journey from Scotland to Ulster and then for many, onto America. The series containing around 3.5 hours of video was released on VHS in 1989 and possibly on DVD a little later. Both the book and the video are worth trying to track down for anyone interested in Scots-Irish / Ulster-Scot history.
|the hardback book|
Presented below are a series of clips from TV series plotting part of that journey.... Thanks to YouTube user BickyBox for uploading these clips!
The introduction to 'God's Frontiersmen'. This opening clip looks at an infamous section of the Anglo-Scots border communities who comprised part of the plantation settlers in Ulster; The riding families or Border Reivers.
This clip, set in Ulster around 1604 - 1610 introduces us to some of the typical characters that would have been part of the early settlements.
Having been in Ulster for around 100 years the Scots settlers (now Ulster-Scots) were now enduring famines, increasing rents and other economic hardships. Also, since the death of king William III of Orange they were once again suffering religious persecution. The colonies in America offered cheap land and religious freedom but getting there wasn't so easy. Many had to sell themselves into indentured servitude (basically slavery) for a number of years.
Ulster-Scots were suffering under the penal laws in the early 1700's. Many Presbyterian ministers encouraged and in some cases led their their flocks to seek a new life in America. Many decided they would go. They faced a harrowing journey though, not all would make it.
Having survived a perilous 14 week sea crossing to the American colonies and then most having endured at least four years of indentured slavery to pay for that crossing, the next step for the Ulster-Scots was to head for the frontier wilderness in search of cheap or free land. They cleared the trees in the thick forests, built a homestead and ploughed a field, just like their forefathers had done 100 years previously in Ulster.
The tune that is being whistled by the character in clips 4 & 5 is called Lilliburlero and was a very popular song with followers of William of Orange in Ireland around the time of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 and remained a popular tune among Ulster-Scots ever since. You can hear a recorded version of the tune by clicking the link on the Play button below...