Sunday, May 14, 2023

The "Turn Oot" - the 1798 Rebellion and County Antrim

For some time I thought that the term 'The Turn Oot", said to be the Ulster-Scots for the 1798 Rebellion, was a neologism. Not at all. It can be found by searching the British Newspaper Archive, and in this important source too –

"... We talked much of the Rebellion or 'turn-oot', taking pride in the part which some of our forefathers had played in it. Nothing could have made us so angry as hearing our ancestors jeered at and called “pike men”, or to be reminded that the gallant patriots had gone to battle provided with grindstones for the occasional sharpening of their spears. It was a base calumny and unworthy of credence – almost as insulting as to be told that the brave men had fired on the soldiers from the insides of houses and shops..."
- Archibald McIlroy, When Lint Was In the Bell, page 9 (1897).

This book is set in Ballyclare, it uses a line from Robert Burns as its title, and it's about as socially conservative and theologically orthodox as it's possible to be.

The 1798 Rebellion has its 225th anniversary this June. The best way to understand it, and its complexity and contradictions, is through the lens of bottom-up community, not top-down nationality.