Sunday, April 14, 2019


If your worldview sees only 'power' and 'oppression' then even migrations are perceived or claimed to be 'colonial' invasions or occupations. Migrations between the coastlines of Ireland and Scotland have been going on for thousands of years. Posted here are some maps from William F Skene's Celtic Scotland, published 1876, showing our small part of the world in the 5th and 6th centuries.

As you can see 'Scotia' was the name of the landmass on the west of the North Channel, ie today's Ireland. But people migrated eastward, and so did that name. Eventually the landmass on the east of the North Channel was given the name 'Scotland'.  Sometimes, especially in creative writing, it has also been called 'Scotia' (see here for just one example).

So who 'colonised' who? Which nefarious 'power' contrived this human outrage? Or is migration a natural part of the human experience around the world?

Migration repeatedly brought people back and forth across the water. Migrations and settlement happened before the much-maligned organised Plantation of Ulster of 1610. And migration and settlement continued for centuries afterwards. The first map below (which, as with recent posts is from Barry Griffin's remarkable mapping of the Census of Ireland) shows people born in Scotland who were living in Ireland in 1901. So were these folk colonists or migrants?

We probably need to 'decolonise' the vocabulary we deploy, and use the correct and accurate terminologies, because language shapes perception. And loaded language is dangerous.

PS - there's some very interesting DNA analysis on this whole subject. The Scottish Origenes website has some fascinating content, including the map I've posted at the very bottom here which says that, genetically, the Lowland Scots who arrived into 1600s Ulster were biological descendants of Inishowen Gaels.