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Scone's Scottish and Celtic Internet Book"

Scottish Highlands and Islands

Scottish History and Culture


by Sconemac

"another page in my book"

The Scots-Irish

by Nancy A. MacCorkill, F.S.A.Scot

Sometimes (Incorrectly) Called "Scotch"-Irish

Who Were They?

~~by Nancy MacCorkill~~

I would like to clarify the term Scots-Irish. Although it implies a mixture in marriage, this is "not" what it means. I am sure there were some Scots and Irish marriages thus making a person's heritage - Scot and Irish.

The real term came from the Ulster settlers, mainly Scottish Presbyterians, who were driven from the Lowlands by the English who felt they were a bothersome lot, too 'pilgrim like' for the English, and especially disliked, by Cromwell, who drove as many as he could into Northern Ireland. There were also Scots who were planning to immigrate out of Scotland, due to the the losses in their country, the Jacobite Uprisings and the fear of the unknown, the cruel treatment of the Highland Scots that brought on the "Clearances". Many of these Scots spoke Gaelic and although a different form than the Irish, they could understand each other and got along quite well. Some inter-married, and others moved on to the "Colonies in the US"; to Canada; to work in the Hudson Bay Fur Company Settlements; to Australia and New Zealand.

Northern Ireland was comprised mostly of Scots who were immigrating out of Scotland, and Irish who lived in Ulster, and would not give up their home to the Ulster Settlement. The Scots were settled in Northern Ireland, along with many other displaced Celts, to act as a buffer zone between the still "fighting" Irish and the English. The Ulster Colony is referred to now, as Northern Ireland, which looks more like East Ireland. As they served as a buffer for England, the later settlers of Northern Ireland, hardly spoke Gaelic and did not have much in common with the Irish.

These Scots especially the ultra-religious Presbyterians were quite bothersome to the English at times. By putting them in Northern Ireland, it solved England's problem, but made many problems for the Irish continent. The "Ulster Settlement" became embroiled in fighting with the Irish and it became so common, they both build up 'civilian soldiers' that took things into their own hands and fought all the time. The Protestant area had the better towns and jobs and the Irish the slums and the resentment grew and grew. The Scots were mostly protestant, (a reform put upon them, to pull them more in line with Protestant England and made possible by the Protestant movement from Germany by Martin Luther. John Knox, a Scottish clergyman was a zealot at turning Scotland into a Protestant nation, where it had been, (along with most of Europe), a Catholic nation, ruled by French Kings brought into Scotland by the "Auld Alliance" between Scotand and France against their common enemy, England.

The term 'Scots-Irish' became a common description to designate 'protestant', from the Irish Catholics. Many who lived in the settlement became know by the tag "Scots-Irish." The term is used more in the United States than anywhere else. It simply means people from Ireland, who were (mostly) Protestant Scots.

In the US, this term is almost always misconstrued to mean part Scot and part Irish, which some may well be, but they actually had their beginnings as described above.

I've had many people write to me and ask why they were 'termed' so, and it was simply to show a difference, by the English, between the two religions and it has stuck to this day. Scotch-Irish simply put, means Protestant Irish. It was to designate the people of the Ulster Settlement, which included many other peoples of the Island nation which was to become Britain.

What it has come to mean in Ireland today, is anyone's guess, and now there are many of English (British) heritage there also. All call themselves Irish, and many have had many generations to grow up there and believe they are the Irish. The British forces are sent in to protect the Protestant area when desent arrises, and the Irish take offense of it and created two or more underground groups to retaliate. I understand their wanting to retaliate, but I do not understand bombing, killing and maiming any and all peoples in Northern Ireland, because it is not their fault, they really are victims of 'circumstance'..... of being put there. Now they (the "Orange" they are called now), are always pushing at the Catholic Irish as well as the Irish and their terriorist ways are pushing the Protestants. The British forces are brought in to protect the Northern Irish and more resentment is built up. And now other British do live there, they are not immigrating out, as the original Scots were. What a mess!!

After the Clearances, I 'easily' believe these situations occuring. The only thing I do 'not' agree with is the terriorist bombing and shootings, either by the Irish terriorist or the soldiers brought in to protect N.I. However, that is how it was created; that is why there is constant anger and fighting, and that is why the term Scotch-Irish came to be a of common usage in the United States. It is not a simple situation.

by "Scone"
Nancy MacCorkill
Clans Gunn, MacLeod of Lewis, and Keith
Historian of the Ancient Scottish Highland Clans
"All Rights Reserved 01/1998/N.MacCorkill"

"He who stealeth my writings, sealeth my soul,
and my attorney will go soul-searching".


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