Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Dark Horse podcast / Alisa Childers podcast

While deskbound I get the opportunity to listen to many YouTube podcasts. Events in the USA of recent weeks continue to dominate the airwaves and online platforms. The two I am posting below are both truly fascinating and educational, but on another level also pretty disturbing. 

"from little acorns" – The oak sapling of the Covenanter Alexander Gordon, "The Bull of Earlstoun"

Back in April 2012 I was invited to give an illustrated Powerpoint talk about the Covenanters in Ulster at the AGM of the Scottish Covenanters Memorials Association, in Fenwick in Ayrshire. From memory I had about an hour, thankfully it went very well. It was one of the stories I was privileged to bring to wider public attention in 2007 during my term as Chair of the Ulster-Scots Agency (with invaluable guidance from others) and had learned so much more in the intervening five years.

The next day I was invited to visit the home of one of the SCMA members, Andrew Blackley from Irvine, who gave me an oak sapling. It was one of a number that he had grown from a famous tree. I had been sent an email a few days beforehand in which he offered me –

"a sapling taken from an acorn of the very tree where renowned Covenanter Alexander Gordon 'The Bull of Earlstoun' hid whilst avoiding his tormentors. If you're interested in having this piece of living history, let me know and we'll arrange something"

The Covenanter Alexander Gordon (1650–1726; Wikipedia here) was known as "The Bull of Earlstoun". Dr Mark Jardine's comprehensive blog 'Jardine's Book of Martyrs' has a post about it here.

In April 2012 we were just about to build our house, but I accepted the kind offer and so the poor sapling was fitted into the car and brought back home with me on the Stena Line ferry. It had to survive in a pot for a few years but thankfully it's been in the ground for a while and is now coming on pretty well. I hope it will one day tower over the plum tree and blackthorn hedge it is beside.

Sadly Andrew Blackley has since passed away, but I am honoured to be growing one of his saplings on this side of the North Channel - which itself is this year for the first time producing its own little acorns.

Monday, June 29, 2020

1926: When entrepreneur John Grant of Glasgow bought Belfast's Grand Central Hotel

The Grand Central Hotel was a virtual palace in the middle of Belfast. It had been funded and founded by Ulster-Scot retailer and department store owner John Robb in 1893. He was the father of Nesca Robb; he introduced her to the books of WG Lyttle and encouraged her to take an interest in local history and our cultural and linguistic links with Scotland. It had 200 bedrooms and electricity and when it opened it was described in the press as "undoubtedly the largest and finest hotel in Ireland, and one of the largest and finest in the kingdom".

But in September 1917 the magnificent hotel and its contents were requisitioned by the Government as part of the war effort. It was then used to provide accommodation for around 500 soldiers and was also a recruiting station where thousands of men from across the island signed up. But when the war ended, Robb didn't get it back. Hopefully he was 'looked after'.

• New Nation, New Future for the Hotel

In 1921 Northern Ireland became a new jurisdiction and the old hotel was a dire eyesore in the middle of Belfast's swish Royal Avenue. The Ulster Tourist Development Association had been set up and had big plans. International events were being planned. The regeneration of the Grand Central would in many ways be emblematic of the new nation, a post-War message to the world. Enter the entrepreneurs.

In early July 1926 the hotel was bought "on behalf of a syndicate" by Hugh Smylie, a chartered accountant and prominent civic figure, and Sir Crawford McCullagh.

In late July it was announced that a 50 year lease for the premises had been agreed with 45 year old Scottish hotelier and restaurateur John Grant of Glasgow, at a rent of £4,500 per year, announcing that "no expense will be spared on decorating and furnishing the hotel".

• The Grant Empire
John Grant might have been related to the William Grant who in 1886 had founded the Glenfiddich Distillery in Banffshire - this 1999 legal case shows how potentially confusing the two brand names became.

John was born somewhere in the north of Scotland in 1881 but moved to Bearsden and set up a laundry, and then a sweet shop and grocers in Maryhill. He opened his first restaurant in Govan, in 1920 bought and redeveloped the Royal Restaurant in Glasgow and in 1923 bought The Rosevale also in Glasgow. Other operations that he and his sons John G. Grant and Daniel (Don) C. Grant owned included the famous Rogano seafood restaurant, the Grant Arms Garden Lounge and Grill and also the Buchanan Arms Hotel in Drymen north of Glasgow near Loch Lomond. The company was later renamed John Grant (Wines and Food) Limited.

I have a jug from the time which I have blogged about before, which commemorates four of the Grant owned businesses:

John Grant already had business interests in Ulster; he had been Chairman of Irish Cold Bitumen Ltd of Stranmillis, Belfast. The firm resurfaced the 13 mile Ards TT motor race course (link here). Days after the agreement of the hotel lease, Grant made a legal application to renew the dormant alcohol licence for the hotel. In the application, he gave his address as Strathearn, Broomhill Park, Stranmillis Road – the address of William Hood Thomson, the owner of the bitumen business. Back in 1913 Thomson had business interests in Scotland with a company called Fergusson Brothers and Thomson which was based in Glasgow and which made and sold various oil, paint and varnish products. So maybe they'd known each other for many years.

In a hearing on August 1926 John Grant's legal representative T. J. Campbell K.C. outlined an impressive vision for the building and the regenerative effect its restoration would have on the city. The licence was approved. An investors prospectus was published in the press at the end of October 1926; the new company was named The Grand Central Hotel (Belfast) Ltd, with five directors. Just one of them -  Thomson - was from Belfast.

• The Official Reopening
The new hotel was officially opened on 31 March 1927 with Viscount Craigavon, the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, the guest of honour. The Northern Whig report below is packed with cultural resonances –

• "The heartiest good feeling on all sides"
An interesting dimension to all of this is that John Grant was a Catholic and his son Daniel C Grant was educated in Glasgow at St Aloysius School. Today some will insist that Craig's new Northern Ireland was an Orange or Protestant dominated 'regime'. Grant was warmly welcomed to Northern Ireland to take over its most prestigious hotel and, it appears from the article above, that the respect and comfort was mutual. The hotel was the glamorous centrepiece of the city's tourist offering for decades to come.

• Death, Will and Funeral
John Grant died on 5 January 1945, aged 63 at his townhouse home at 40 Kingsborough Gardens in Glasgow. His will left £870,205 and 43,689 gallons of whisky which was auctioned off for a value of £655,342, as well as (according to the Daily Record on 3 February 1945) stocks of port and sherry in the distilleries of Ardbeg, Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Glen Grant, Carsebridge, Clynelick, Cameronbridge and Strathclyde. Death duties were set at a colossal £430,109.

His funeral took place half a mile from his home at St Peter's Catholic Church at Hyndland Street, Partick.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Fair Fa Ye - the story of a traditional greeting: "'we doubt whether her Majesty be yet so far initiated into Lowland Scotch as to comprehend the precise meaning of these loyal aspirations for her happiness"

This large stone artwork was installed in Dunloy in County Antrim many years ago - the photo above dates from 2006. "Fair fa' ye" or "Fair faa ye" is a traditional greeting which, like so much Scots language, is best known from its usage by Robert Burns in the immortal introduction to 'Address to a Haggis' –

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin'-race!

The expression predates Burns and has also been used in historical Ulster-Scots printed literature. The HathiTrust online archive has 143 returns for it (see here). A spin through the British Newspaper Archive produces a wonderful array of usages with over 40 references. The earliest one there is the Aberdeen Press and Journal on 11 January 1779

Fair fa' ye, canty Reverend Sir,
Your humour blyth, like guid auld fir
To calriff thumbs, clears up wi' Vir
Our dowie Hours;
Thy pleasand Verse, wi' Mirth sae rair,
Dull thought devours

The Scots Magazine of 1 November 1788 has a long tribute poem to Burns which begins –

Fair fa' ye, honest rhyming Rab,
For a' your dainty well-turn'd gab
It gars me claw as we' the scab
For very glee;
A plack mair than wi' ony knab
I'd drink wi' thee

It's in the song My Collier Laddie from the Scots Musical Museum of 1797– "fair fa' my Collier laddie". The Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song of 1810 includes "fair fa' the hands whilk gie".

When Queen Victoria visited the village of Cochran beside Kincardine O'Neil on her famous tour of Scotland in 1848, the locals had built a series of arches to greet her. One of these bore two large red flags, one of which had the message 'Fair Fa' Ye' and the other 'Guid Gae Wi' Ye' (Aberdeen Press and Journal 13 September 1848). The Belfast Presbyterian newspaper the Banner of Ulster's report of the same event had the second slogan as 'Guid Guide You' but it went on to say 'we doubt whether her Majesty be yet so far initiated into Lowland Scotch as to comprehend the precise meaning of these loyal aspirations for her happiness'.

It crops up in the Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald on 6 March 1858 – 'fair fa' ye, my bonnie laddie'; the Dunfermline Saturday Press on 17 December 1859 – 'peace be wi' ye; fair fa' ye a' my bairns'. 

A gardener poet called Alick Murray (bio here) in the Aberdeen People's Journal of 19 June 1886 wrote a poem about the Home Rule movement and he implored William Gladstone

Heave awa' Wullie! Ne'er mind that they ca' ye;
Ye'll stan' best and best when it come to the poll
Return wi the Country's mandate – Fair fa' ye!
An' gie to 'Ould Oirland" the right o' Home Rule!

The Sussex Agricultural Press of 21 January 1898 reported on a wedding where a house was bedecked with 'Fair Fa Ye' in white letters on a red banner at the wedding of Rev Arthur Hamilton Boyd of Roxburghshire and Penelope Blencoew of Bineham in Sussex. It crops up in the New Ross Standard of Wexford in 1903.

The Ulster-Scots usages are many - Strabane/Lifford poet William Starrat's poem written by renowned Scots poet Allan Ramsay in 1722 included the lines –

Fair fa’ ye then, and may your Flocks grow rife,
And may nae Elf twin Crummy of her Life.

In his 1798 rebellion poem 'Donegore Hill', James Orr of Ballycarry wrote –

What joy at hame our entrance gave!
“Guid God! is’t you? fair fa’ ye!
’Twas wise, tho’ fools may ca’t no’ brave,
To rin or e’er they saw ye.” —

In his 1897 Border Reivers novel The Outlaws of the Marches, Tyrone-born Lord Ernest Hamilton (1858-1939; Wiki here) includes a character called Agnes who, on page 193, cries out "Fair fa' ye! watch your feet and haud up well to the right. There's a glog hold down ablow the big stane yonder." (see link here). Hamilton also wrote The Soul of Ulster in 1917.


The counter to all of these happy greetings is "Foul fa' ye" – that's another post for another day.

John Mitchel's "History of Ireland, from the Treaty of Limerick to the Present Time", William Drennan and Scotland

John Mitchel (1815-1875; Wikipedia here) is in the news again due to his statue in Newry and his infamous pro-slavery views. His father was a Presbyterian minister; John jr was married at famous Drumcree Parish Church outside Portadown in 1837. Mitchel's History of Ireland is online here.

There are many interesting references in it, such as these two: –

p.346 – "a strong address written by Dr Drennan was sent by the Society of United Irishmen in Dublin to the delegates for promoting a reform in Scotland, in which this sentence occurs ... 'If Government has a sincere regard for the safety of the constitution, let them coincide with the people in the speedy reform of its abuses, and not, by an obstinate adherence to them, drive that people into Republicanism'"

p.463 – "the seeds of insurrection which had manifested themselves in Scotland and England were, by the vigour and promptitude of the British government, rapidly crushed ... Lord Melville had obtained and published prints of the different pikes manufactured in Scotland, long before that weapon had been manufactured by the Irish peasantry..."
• The original source for the William Drennan and Archibald Hamilton Rowan address 'for promoting a reform in Scotland' is online here, dated 23 November 1792

There's also an interesting reference to the horrors of Glencoe in 1692, on p. 15 – "King William we are assured did not wish to perpetuate this iniquity ... but certain wicked advisers in Scotland forced him to do the one deed ... in Scotland it was the wicked Master of Stair, together with the vindictive Marquis of Breadalbane, who planned the slaughter"

• The 'Master of Stair' was John Dalrymple (Wikipedia here) ; the Marquis of Breadalbane was John Campbell (Wikipedia here).

Monday, June 22, 2020


The centenary year of Northern Ireland / Irish Free State / Partition is just six months away. But with the entire world in a state of flux because of coronavirus, global health issues paramount, travel restricted, and 'western' nations in the midst of Black Lives Matter related protests and campaigns, it will be interesting to see if the centenary, or CentenNIal, will be marked in a meaningful way.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Another one bites the dust - Ulysses S Grant statue down in San Francisco

The 'recreational rioting' that we in Northern Ireland have become familiar with over too many generations is now happening in other places. I have stayed away from the mainstream news as much as possible during lockdown but you'd have to have been on a different planet to have missed it. According to Twitter, the images here are of the statue of President Ulysses S Grant in San Francisco which was pulled down in the small hours of last night. Grant? Grant? The ironies cannot be overstated. Here it is in its original state.

Of Grant, the Black Abolitionist Frederick Douglass (who visited Belfast and lectured here in the 1840s) said this –

"No man in high position has manifested in his intercourse with me upon all occasions and in all places a more entire freedom from vulgar prejudice of race and color, than Ulysses S. Grant ... I see in him the vigilant, firm, impartial, and wise protector of my race from all the malign, reactionary, social, and political elements that would overwhelm them in destruction."

This illustration celebrates Grant's Fifteenth Amendment of 3 February 1870, which granted African American men the right to vote. Douglas' friend, the African-American Baptist pastor, campaigner and author George Washington Williams, in his 1885 History of the Negro Race in America, wrote that with this momentous change, Grant had done more for Black Americans than even Abraham Lincoln had done –

"The Emancipation Proclamation itself did not call forth such genuine and widespread rejoicing as the message of President Grant. The event was celebrated by the Colored people in all the larger cities North and South. Processions, orations, music and dancing proclaimed the unbounded joy of the new citizen ... a new era was opened up before the Colored people. They were now for the first time in possession of their full political rights..." (online here)

Soon after, Grant appointed former slave James Milton Turner (1840–1915, who as a boy had been sold for $50 on the steps of St Louis Courthouse in Missouri) as Consul General to Liberia.

Some of the supposedly "woke" turn out to be a bit dozy.

• History is full of darkness and horrors.

• It also shines with moments of light and hope and the co-operation of human solidarity.

• Disbelieve anyone who insists that there has only ever been injustice and exploitation and oppression across particular 'people groups'. Disbelieve it in Ulster, in Ireland and around the world.

However, if we dig through the history of everyone who ever lived on this planet, and knock down every one of our own personal little self-statues, there will be just One who'll make the grade.


• Williams' Wikipedia page is here. A 'Son of Ulster', President Chester Alan Arthur (whose father's home cottage is at Dreen near Cullybackey) appointed Williams as Consul General to Haiti and San Domingo. Another President of Ulster ancestry, Grover Cleveland, appointed African-American John E W Thompson to that same position.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Music and Family - The Avett Brothers movie "May It Last"

"Know I never want to hurt our family" – a line from Salvation Song, which opens this film about the very wonderful Avett Brothers from Concord in North Carolina which came out in 2017. It is near-perfect documentary making. We tried to buy it on the iTunes Store tonight but were unable as it seems to be limited to the USA store only, but we found that somebody has uploaded it to Dailymotion.com –

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

William Lamartine Thompson of East Liverpool, Ohio – America's First Million Dollar songwriter and hymnwriter

I have posted few clippings here about the life of William Lamartine Thompson (1847–1909; Wikipedia here) whose ancestry was in the Ballymena area somewhere, and a few of whose songs I and millions around the world grew up with. I've posted two Johnny Cash recordings at the very bottom. The Newspapers.com website has piles more about Thompson - he was a very famous and successful writer of his generation in the pre-radio and pre-recorded music era.

The History of Columbiana County, Ohio (1905) says that William's namesake and grandfather "...William Thompson, was a son of Matthew Thompson, who was born in the town of Ballymena, Ireland, in the year 1763, but was of Scotch parentage...".

• From the Ballymena area to Western Pennsylvania
According to a detailed family history that was published in The Evening Review of East Liverpool Ohio on 6 October 1934, the family emigrated from Ballymena in 1790, and in 1792 settled in western Pennsylvania, the region where the tax protests which would become the Whiskey Rebellion were already underway.

The Rebellion was led by Tyrone-born Revolutionary War Veteran Major James McFarlane. [McFarlane was shot and killed during the Rebellion; his gravestone says that he  had fought with undaunted courage "against the lawless and despotic encroachments of Great Britain; he fell at last by the hands of an unprincipled villain in support of what he supposed to be the rights of his country"].

• East Liverpool, Ohio
In 1811 Josiah Thompson was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania, to William Thompson and Eleanor McDowell Thompson. In 1818 the Thompsons moved across the Ohio River to Fawcettstown / East Liverpool in Ohio. They pretty much built the town and attended First Presbyterian Church (which in the 1950s was renamed Trinity Presbyterian, and a new building erected). Such was William L's wealth, both from his own musical instrument mail-order business, and sheet music publishing sales, added to also his family's massive industrial pottery business, that he gave 100 acres land to his home town community of East Liverpool in Ohio which became Thompson Park (website here).

• Illness in Ireland
William fell ill during a trip through Europe, in Queenstown (now Cobh) in September 1909 and died a short time later on his return to the United States. One of his most famous gospel songs, 'Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling' was sung at the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr in 1968.

The Evening Review, East Liverpool, Ohio, 19 Sep 1959:

• Family history
In the early 20th century, a relative called Josiah VanKirk Thompson carried out exhaustive research into the genealogy of many families in the region. From his notes in 1930 he wrote:
"...I have a letter dated Dec 6, 1930 from George C. Thompson of the C.C. Thompson Pottery Co of East Liverpool Ohio who says he has learned of my interest in the Thompson genealogy & says he is a grandson of Josiah Thompson (with whom I once corresponded) & whose grandfather came from Ballymena, Ireland where many Thompsons are buried in the Presbyterian Churchyard there & he had no trouble in connecting his family with those now there. He says his ancestors were Scotch & left Scotland by reason of religious persecution about three centuries ago & settled in the north of Ireland at Ballymena..."

The Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Sun, Jan 31, 1954

A Narrow Sea: The Irish-Scottish Connection by Dr Jonathan Bardon

Dr Jonathan Bardon died just recently. I never had the pleasure of meeting him in person, but we had many mutual friends.

I once found myself unwittingly lined up against him over this old blog post from November 2009. Within about 24 hours of posting it I had a call from Radio Ulster to ask me to talk about it. I had completed my four year role as Chair of the Ulster-Scots Agency in June of that year and I felt liberated to do pretty much whatever I wanted to. So I agreed, and was interviewed in the passenger seat of the interviewer's car in a dark and rain-swept Newtownards early one November morning. The interviewer was fine, a few times he got me a bit riled up, he recorded some remarks, and that was that.

What (if I recall correctly) I didn't know when I agreed to the interview was that Dr Bardon was also going to be interviewed, and the two would then be intercut. It transpired that he had overseen the alterations to the interpretation of the Ulster Tartan Dungiven Costume that I was complaining about. When I listened to the edited version that was broadcast on Good Morning Ulster he came over like the erudite gentleman that he always was. I however sounded a wee bit mad, with my shriller moments used and my more measured moments not. It was an early lesson in my interactions with the Northern Ireland media. Be cautious when the tape is rolling.

About a year ago William Crawley did a superb one-hour special interview with Dr Bardon on his life and times, which was a wonderful listen and I hope it is made available again on iPlayer.

• The image shown here is the cover of the 2018 book version of his excellent 120 Radio Ulster episodes (which I think began around 2015) about our multi-faceted relationship with Scotland.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Isabella Tod on Elizabeth Hamilton, in the Ulster Journal of Archaeology in 1894

More or less a century apart from one another, the lives of both of these two women were spent on each side of the North Channel. Elizabeth Hamilton (1756–1816) was born in Belfast but moved to Stirling. Isabella Tod (1836-1896) was born in Edinburgh but moved to Belfast. This article by Tod in the Ulster Journal of Archaeology is a portion of a longer biography of Hamilton. It can be found in the September 1894 edition.

Here is Elizabeth Hamilton's famous poem, My Ain Fireside. This is a digital image of the version which was reprinted by Robert Dinsmoor in his 1828 Incidental Poems which was printed in Haverhill, Massachussetts (see previous post here), showing how well-loved it was and how far it has travelled in the hearts and libraries of Ulster-Scots emigrants.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Whiskey at the 'Ulster Pavilion' at the British Empire Exhibition, London 1924

Whiskey. Lots of whiskey. Among the displays about shipbuilding and ropes and tobacco and linen was Ulster's other massive industry. Shown above is a photo from the Ballymena Weekly Telegraph - Saturday 17 May 1924 showing the repro pub that was built as part of the visitor experience. Sometimes I think our predecessors were a lot more chilled out than we have come to imagine.

In a era which was both mourning and recovering from the First World War, and in between Prohibition in the USA in 1920 and the Wall Street Crash which would hit in 1929, some people were thinking big and positive thoughts. Fair play to them.

Here's a list of all of the brands who displayed their wares there.

Below is the official programme and also the short description inside.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

14 June 1690 - Landing of William III at Carrickfergus; and 200 years later an unlikely advocate

"O my Protestant countrymen of Ulster and Ireland, let us all look to the awful past, not for motives of continued division, but for reasons why Irishmen of different creeds should at length begin to understand that the mutual knowledge of the real facts of history, which the clerical spirit has so long distorted or hid, is the surest guide to toleration, to mutual respect, to the unity of the common country, and the same dear Irish home!"

Frank Hugh O'Donnell, Belfast News-Letter, 11 July 1903

This painting is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, depicting the arrival at Carrickfergus of William of Orange, an event that took place 330 years ago today.

What you will hear about 1690, pretty much all the time, is the boil-in-the-bag simplified description that it was only and always about "Protestant King defeats Catholic King". But this doesn't even scratch the surface.

What will not be properly explained is "why?". As Simon Sinek's leadership book title shows, 'why' is the essence, 'why' is the reason, 'why' needs to be the starting point. Always 'start with why'. So why did William of Orange show up at Carrickfergus in 1690?

Some of those who celebrate these events often do so with a kind of unthinking and uninformed triumphalism, which they have grown up imagining is a positive. But in doing so they misrepresent the story, and also play into the hands of their opponents. Because when one claims to be the perpetual victor, then it follows that someone else must be the perpetual victim. It is an historical moment that's usually presented as an attack, whereas perhaps it was actually a defence. But never mind the old "two sides" stuff. It is far better, as per the O'Donnell quote above, to look at these events for improved understanding and to be better neighbours. Historical commemorations are important, but understanding the meaning behind the commemorations, is even more so. It can even improve the quality and relevance of those commemorations.

That's all good in theory, but to continue the junk food metaphors, the Pot Noodle approach of "just add boiling water, let it simmer and frequently stir" is still far too common in Northern Ireland, in print, on airwaves, and online, to inflame and provoke. What you'll seldom hear about 1690 in particular is the absolutely essential context:

• the series of tyrannical Stuart Kings from 1603 onwards

• 1641 massacres which were still in living memory

• the Cromwellian bloodbath of 1400 Ulster-Scot tenant farmers in one day Lisburn in 1649

• 1685 Edict of Nantes revoked in France, large-scale Protestant persecution commenced.

• persecutions of Presbyterians up to 1688

• the Covenanters in Scotland (and the "18,000 martyrs" of the 'Killing Times' at the hands of the Stuart state from 1661–1688, as quoted on the Greyfriars monument which was erected in 1707)

• the Comber Letter of December 1688 proposing widespread massacres again; even though probably a hoax, the fear and refugee situation that it caused was very real: "they are to fall on, to kill and murder man, wife, and child, and to spare none". 3000 fled from Dublin alone, boats in the harbour were overloaded – "it resembled the flight of the Jews out of Egypt".

• Siege of Derry, 18 April – 1 August 1689 (8,000 civilians dead by starvation at the hands of their own King James)

• May 1689: there were so many Ulster Presbyterians in Glasgow that all of the meeting houses overflowed.

• Spring 1689: The rampage of James' troops through the countryside. As two examples from Reid – "General Buchan, with the horse, proceeded to Newtownards, Donaghadee and Portaferry, driving before him the fleeing Protestants" / "three hundred were slain in this break of Killyleagh".

• Ongoing opposition from Bishop William King (Wikipedia here)

• Soon after William died in 1702, forms of anti-Presbyterian persecution resumed. There had been just 12 years of relative liberty. But in 1718 a consequent and massive migration to America commenced.

Context is meaning. In the annual chatter about 1690 you will hear almost none of this. Pot Noodles have zero nutritional value but they are handy and tasty. Keep adding the boiling water. Keep stirring. Keep it simple.

• James Seaton Reid's landmark History of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (1834) has a detailed account in chapter 20 (online here) of the events prior, during, and after the arrival of William at Carrickfergus – detailing who was present with him and who was sent to greet him, including various named Church of Ireland and Presbyterian ministers.

• Among those gathered at the quayside that day was John Wilson, a brother of Covenanter martyr Margaret Wilson who was one of the more famous of the 18,000. She and an older friend, Margaret McLachlan, had been drowned at the stake by King James’ troops at Wigtown Bay in 1685 for attending a State-unauthorised church service. William had referred to her murder in his Declaration ... for Restoring the Laws and Liberties of the ancient Kingdom of Scotland written from The Hague on 10 October 1688 (full text online here) with his reference to '... drowning them without any form of law or respect for age and sex, not giving some of them time to pray to God for mercy'. John Wilson settled at Rashee near Ballyclare; Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson (1864–1922) was a descendant of John (see here).

Some people do think outside the box. One writer who saw the events of 1690 in a positive light was Frank Hugh O'Donnell (1846–1916). As with the painting above, O'Donnell's portrait is in the National Portrait Gallery. Born either in Carndonagh in Donegal, or possibly in Devon, O'Donnell appears to have been a bit of a maverick but also a staunch Home Ruler, as the title page of his History of the Irish Parliamentary Party (1910; online here) shows. It lists his credentials as 'formerly MP for Galway and Dungarvan; ex-member of Council of Home Rule League of Ireland; ex-Vice-President of Home Rule Confederation in Great Britain; and ex-President of Glasgow Home Rule Association'.

In 1903 one of his articles was published as a booklet, and if the statistic quoted on the cover can be believed, it was a bestseller. But the subtitle is wrong; it should be "What no-one is ever told". O'Donnell appears to have been another 'man o' independent mind'.