Friday, March 30, 2012

The Carter Family - "It Was Sad when that Great Ship Went Down"

Great oul song, was also recorded by Ulsterman Richard Hayward. Happy Titanic centenary.

An Ulster-Scots marriage

"A min' hearin' yinst," said Jock, "o' a man that marriet a wumman nearly twice his age. She was nae beauty ether, but she had a ferm o' lan'. The minister remonstrated wi' him aboot it; an' says he, 'A ken,' says he, 'that she's no young, an' the lan's hilly; but ye canna hae iverythin'."
- from the Humour of Druid's Island by Archibald M'Ilroy (1902)


Thursday, March 29, 2012

"Folk's wise that can content themsel's in their ain hames"

So says Widow M'Crum in Archibald M'Ilroy's collection of short stories The Humour of Druid's Island, published in 1902 and set in Islandmagee in County Antrim. After all our gallavantin' around the country lately it is nice for Graeme and I to be doing four consecutive nights just doon the road at the People's Hall, Portavogie, starting on Sunday at 8.15pm. If you have never been inside a traditional wee Ulster mission hall, with wooden floorboards, wooden forms (not plastic chairs) and a pot-bellied cast iron stove, then this is the opportunity you've been waiting for! We'll just be doing what we love, playing oul hymns from Redemption Songs for folk to sing along with - nothing fancy and nae nonsense. David Boyd is the speaker on all three nights, and we are very pleased he has asked us to help out. Hope to see you there.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

President Woodrow Wilson, County Down and Scotland


"...James Wilson, his grandfather, was the first of the family to come to America. He set sail from County Down, Ireland, in 1807. On the ship that sailed to Philadelphia, came also Anne Adams, an Ulster young woman, bound also for the land of freedom and opportunity. A sea voyage is notable for intimate confidences.That voyage brought the young people into the haven of love which was followed by marriage the next year in Philadelphia. Good Presbyterians, both, it was Rev. George C. Potts, pastor of the Fourth Presbyterian Church, who performed the ceremony. The wife had vivid recollections of her North of Ireland home and loved to old age to talk of it, saying from that home she could see the white linen flying on the line in Scotland..." - from The Life of Woodrow Wilson, by Josephus Daniels.

Let me suggest that President Woodrow Wilson's grandmother might have been from the Ards. And that she had eyes like a hawk.

The Ulster Tune Book: A Selection of Tunes in full vocal score, specially adapted for use in Presbyterian churches - published April 1868


From the Preface - " is to be regretted that not a few tunes in general use are far from meriting the position they occupy in public esteem. Such compositions are light and irreverent, abounding in trills and repeats, being for the most part mere perversions of secular airs and totally unsuited both for the Church and for the holy words with which they are associated...". Compiled and edited by Mr William Moss, Precentor of Fisherwick Place Church, Belfast.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Old Ulster Shirt - a "Fieldwear" product



With detachable collar and cuffs, this is the shirt for every gentleman.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Inaugural Whitelaw Reid Memorial Lecture - Assembly Buildings, Belfast, next Wednesday evening.


It's good when folk take notice! I cannot claim much credit here but I am glad that others are paying attention to important historical events and are marking them appropriately. Nelson will do a fine job giving this lecture in the same building as Reid did 100 years ago.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Liberty and St Patrick, 17 March 1764 - "the Christian white savages of Peckstang and Donegall"


Benjamin Franklin wasn't overly fussed about the Ulster-Scots who were filling Pennsylvania. Some have said that he feared the strength of their numbers, and the decline of Quaker control (much of which had been built up by Ulster-born James Logan). A group of them, known locally as the Paxton Boys, had killed 20 Conestoga Indians around 1763. Outraged, Franklin put pen to paper and wrote a famous response entitled A Narrative of the Late Massacres, in Lancaster County, of a Number of Indians, Friends of this Province, by Persons Unknown With Some Observations on the Same (link here). Persons unknown? Hardly, he probably knew them by name. He described the Scotch-Irish as 'the Christian white savages of Peckstang and Donegall'.

Incensed by what he regarded as Franklin's one-sided account of the context and events, a Carrickmacross (County Monaghan) born Anglican itinerant missionary, Thomas Barton (1730-1780), responded with his own publication The Conduct of the Paxton-men, Impartially Represented (link here). He quoted a Quaker member of the assembly for Chester County, Nathaniel Grubb, who in 1755 in an 'unChristian and ungenerous speech' had described the Ulster settlers as 'a pack of insignificant Scotch-Irish, who, if they were all killed, could well enough be spared' (source here). Grubb later denied he had ever said such thing. Barton believed the Pennsylvania authorities had left the Scotch-Irish communities unprotected for many years, and therefore they had a right to self-defence.

Here's the main point for today. He signed it off as follows:

Dated from my Farm-House, March 17th, 1764
A Day dedicated to Liberty and St Patrick.

So in Scotch-Irish frontier Pennsylvania of 1764, St Patrick's Day was being observed.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Mair fae MacIntosh, 1900

#alttext#'...very frequently and in different quarters the question is raised: What do we mean by the term "Scotch-Irish?". First, let it be said that this expression, as a common phrase, is a peculiarly American form of speech. In Britain, and particularly in the North of Ireland it is rarely heard. When used it is generally by some visiting American, or in a connection where the reference is to some American speech or action. The customary and familiar expression on the other side of the water is the "Ulsterman" or the "Ulster Scot" or the "Scot in Ulster"... this present day the term "Ulster-Scot" is a very frequent one on the lips of the people found in County Antrim, County Derry, and County Down. In one of the leading journals of the North of Ireland for many years there appeared regularly articles from the pen of a well-known Presbyterian minister, who always signed himself "Ulster Scot"...'

From Scotch-Irish: The Term and the Fact by Rev J S MacIntosh (an Ulster-American if ever there was one), speaking in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1900.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Something different

Rock band The Answer are from Downpatrick, their most recent album is called Revival. The video is of their second single, Nowhere Freeway. Great stuff! Some of you will enjoy the one below...

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

"The Making of the Ulsterman" by Rev Dr J S MacIntosh

'...What changed the Lowlander, and what gave us the Ulsterman? In this study I have drawn very largely upon the labors of two friends of former years Dr. William D. Killen of the Assembly's College, one of the most learned and accurate of historians, and the Rev. George Hill, once Librarian of Queen's College, Belfast, Ireland, than whom never was there more ardent student of old annals and reliable of antiquarians.

But more largely still have I drawn on my own personal watch and study of this Ulster folk in their homes, their markets and their churches. From Derry to Down I have lived with them. Every town, village and hamlet from the Causeway to Carlingford is familiar to me. Knowing the Lowlander and the Scotch-Irish of this land, I have studied the Ulsterman and his story of rights and wrongs, and that eagerly, for years. I speak that which I have seen, and testify what I have heard from their lips, read from old family books, church records and many a tombstone in kirk-yards...

...You can not measure aright his burning sense of wrong at a later day ; you can not understand his methodized madness till he shows his broken treaties and dishonored compacts. He had the right to expect the backing of England, the fullest enjoyment of his hard-won home, the co-equal privileges of citizenship, the largest possession of freedom in both church and state. This statement can be easily verified to the fullest from the family history of many old Ulster family histories, from the Montgomery and Hamilton MSS, from state papers, and from a proclamation inviting settlers for Ulster and dated at Edinburgh, 28th of March, 1609 (see here)...'

Short bio: John Samuel Macintosh was born in Philadelphia in 1839, but after the death of his father, he came 'home' to Ulster along with his mother. He became minister of Connor Presbyterian Church in 1862 - 1868, after which he succeeded the famous Henry Cooke at May Street, Belfast. MacIntosh returned to the USA in 1881 to become minister of Second Presbyterian in Philadelphia, and was a leading figure in the Scotch-Irish Society of the USA. He died in San Franscisco in 1906.

Here is a link to his 1884 book The Breakers of the Yoke - Sketches and Studies of the Men and Scenes of the Reformation.