Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Scotland the Brave (aye, brave and close tae us!)

I've stolen this from Stephen Jamison's blog - a fantastic image. For those readers who are in far-flung places, this is the Ards Peninsula - the Low Country - and just across the narrow stretch of water is Bonnie Scotland. The distance across is just 18 miles from Donaghadee to Portpatrick, which was the main sea route between the two countries from 1606 until 1862.

At this point the shps were too big to get into the harbours, so a new route from Larne to Stranraer was established. Today, ferry operators (Stena Line and P&O) take about 1.5million people across the water every year. Donaghadee is close to the wee island you can see near the top of the Peninsula, and Portpatrick is about halfway down the Scottish peninsula opposite (its name is the Mull of Galloway)

When Sir Hugh Montgomery brought the first big Scots settlement across to Ulster in 1606 and established Newtownards, Scottish traders would come across every week on market day. They travelled over land to Portpatrick, loaded their goods onto boats, sailed to Donaghadee, loaded their goods onto horses and then went to Newtownards - and were back in Scotland by bedtime that same day.

And during the Covenanters' times of the late 1630s and early 1640s, many Ulster-Scots Presbyterians rowed across the water to attend church services in Scotland, and then rowed back to Ulster by bedtime.

(oh, to explain the title of this post, "Brave" in Ulster-Scots means something like "quite" or "rather", but with a positive/quirky inference. So "Brave and Close" in the title means "rather close")