Thursday, February 14, 2019

The 'Border Clearances' and the Graham Reivers in Roscommon

(this was emailed to me by a friend a few years ago)

After the so-called ‘Ill Week’, when the riding clans of the Scottish borders raided deep into England after the accession of James I in 1603 in search of plunder, radical measures were taken to bring law and order to the Borders.

In the crackdown that followed ‘terror tactics’ were used. ‘Clan leaders, were dealt with. Thirty-two Armstrongs, Batys, Elliots, Johnstons and others were hanged. Fifteen more were sent into exile and 140 outlawed and in that year alone a force of 2,000 Scots left the region to fight for the Dutch in their war with Spain’.

The Graham family were singled out for ‘transportation’ or ‘transplantation’ to County Roscommon. They were to be settled together in order ‘the better to conserve their language and manners without mixture’. It proved impossible to keep the Grahams in Roscommon.

There was later a formal proposal to transplant them to Ulster in 1610. In practice, this was to happen unofficially. While keeping the Grahams together did not work in practice, the manner in which so many Scots were planted together in Scottish precincts during the Plantation of Ulster may well have helped to ‘to conserve their language and manners’.

Sources: Calendar of State Papers Ireland, James I, 1603-6, 1606-8, 1608-10; Michael Perceval Maxwell, Scottish migration to Ulster; Robert Bell, 'Sheep Stealers from the North of England': The Riding Clans in Ulster: History Ireland, Vol. 2, No. 4 (Winter, 1994), pp. 25-29

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Connecting Ulster and Scotland via a causeway to the Copeland Islands, 1832

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Telling stories today

Over the past year or so, I’ve noticed that people now respond to stories in very different ways than they used to.

Stories of victory are now a turn-off. But stories of struggle and suffering really grip people.

Stories of triumph and success bring assumptions of domination and exploitation. But stories of oppression and injustice create empathy and support.

Most stories can be told both ways. If you tell yours the wrong way, you will lose your audience.

John Colter & the Blackfeet escape

When recently watching an episode of Steven Rinella’s brilliant Netflix series Meateater, (some clips on his YouTube channel here) he mentioned John Colter’s remarkable story.  

Born in 1774 in Stuart’s Draft in the Shenandoah area of Virginia, and of Ulster-Scots descent on both sides of his family, his tale is one of heroism in the face of barbarism and brutality. When he was young the family moved to frontier Kentucky and in 1803 he signed up to be one of the “Nine Young Men of Kentucky” who joined the Lewis & Clark expedition which headed into the then unknown West from 1804-1806. The other eight were William Bratton, Joseph Field, Reubin Field, Charles Floyd, George Gibson, Nathaniel Pryor, George Shannon, and John Shields.

In 1808 John Colter and John Potts were attacked by a war party of Blackfeet Indians. Potts was cut to pieces, Colter was stripped naked and Potts’ blood and remains wiped all over Colter's body. The Blackfeet allowed Colter a head start but then pursued him, intending to kill him too. An experienced trapper, he found refuge in a beaver dam which he hid inside and eventually escaped. 

• Wikipedia entry here.

Not for the squeamish!