Scots in Ireland

Today, if you glance at a list of Irish and Scottish surnames side-by-side, chances are you'll notice a lot of similarities. Many of the more common family names, like MacDonald, Stewart, and Campbell occur in both places, and the 50 most common Scottish surnames can all be found in Ireland in one form or another. This is both a cause and effect of centuries of shared culture, history, and language between the Scottish and Irish people. Evidence also points to there being, at one time, a land bridge between the two countries.

Throughout history there has been constant migration between Scotland and Ireland, made possible because of the relatively short distance between their coasts. Migration occurred for a variety of reasons, from deposed rulers and loyalists fleeing their enemies, to those who were simply settlers. The exchange of people was, however, not entirely equal; at least in the later centuries, more Scots relocated to Ireland than Irish moved to Scotland.

Features this week:

King MacBeth - this week's Famous Scot

All about "The Kilt"

Clan of the Week: Clan Kinnaird

Cut to: Scottish Film

In later centuries, much of the migration to Ireland was a result of English influence. During the era of Elizabeth I, many attempts were made to make Ireland more amenable to English rule, with limited success. To this end, the English set up plantations of Welsh and English in Ireland. It was hoped that these "planted" families would intertwine with the native Irish and "breed out" their animosity for England. The plantations failed to have the desired effect however, as the settlers often ended up liking the Irish, adopting their religion, and intermarrying with them; in effect, becoming Irish themselves.

Adopting a different approach after this failure, the English (during the 17th century) again set up plantations in Ireland, but populated them this time with Scots instead of Welsh and English. And rather than placing Anglicans in the southern, eastern, and western parts of Ireland, they settled Presbyterian/Protestants in the Northern regions of Ireland, which had so far been the area that most resisted English rule. In what is now known as the "Ulster Plantation," the Irish were evicted from their lands in favor of the new settlers, and it was at this point that the modern sectarian divisions began to take shape.

This proved more effective than earlier English attempts, rather than trying to mingle English/Welsh and Irish, they simply attempted to replace Celts with other Celts. These planted Scots (for the most part) eventually became Irish themselves, but were separated from much of the rest of Scotland by their religion. Later, in the 18th century, when many Protestants from Ulster emigrated to America, the majority of them were descended from the settlers of the previous century.

Who are the Scotch-Irish?

A majority of Irish people who emigrated to America in the 18th century were Protestants from Ulster. Most of these, in turn, were descendants of settlers brought in from Scotland from the 17th century during the so called plantation of Ulster. (Being Protestant, it was believed they would prove more loyal than the troublesome Irish.) "Scotch-Irish" usually refers to those emigrants or to their descendants. However, most Scots do not like being called "Scotch" nowadays, because this word is used for whisky from Scotland.

Thursday, December 26th, 2019

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