Scotch-Irish-L ArchivesArchiver > Scotch-Irish > 2001-02 > 0981760227
Subject: [Scotch-Irish] FWD: A Symposium on the Scots-Irish Heritage in Northern Ireland
Date: Fri, 9 Feb 2001 15:10:27 -0800
"Ulster Roots/Southern Branches:
A Symposium on the Scots-Irish Heritage in Northern Ireland
and the Southern United States"
The W. B. Yeats Foundation of Emory University
March 3, 2001
The people commonly known in the United States as the Scots-Irish
(or Scotch-Irish) became one of the dominant ethnic groups populating the
American colonies, and remain one of the largest ethnic groups in the
American South. Their social, political, religious and cultural traditions
have placed an indelible stamp on the distinctive character of the South.
Yet, despite their numbers and influence, many Americans know little about
the Scots-Irish, especially the conditions that led to the removal of their
ancestors from Scotland in the early seventeenth century onto land (todays
Northern Ireland) which had been forcibly taken from the native
Gaelic-speaking and Catholic Irish. Nor is much commonly known about the
subsequent history of the Scots-Irish in Ireland, or about the reasons
which led many of them to emigrate to the New World where they ultimately
made their way down to the Southern States.
In Northern Ireland, the current peace process has led to a re-examination
of the Scots-Irish heritage and, in particular, the underlying reasons for
the tension and strife between two peoples who for four hundred years have
lived side by side in a relatively small area of land while barely
acknowledging the presence of the other . . . . .
Or is that statement entirely true? Recent scholarship has shown that in
some parts of the historic Province of Ulster the Scots-Irish planters and
the native Irish came to live peaceably together, even enjoying a common
share of the music, poetry, mythology and folklore of the region. Towards
the end of the eighteenth century, led by the Scots-Irish Presbyterians of
Ulster, a political and cultural movement known as the United Irishmen
developed with the avowed aim of creating a secular, pluralistic and
democratic Irish Republic. The United Irishmen were inspired by the example
of the American Revolution, in which the Scots-Irish settlers of the South
played a leading role as political strategists and as forceful combatants
against the British. Subsequently, back in Ireland, members of the United
Irishmen came together to try and win for the Protestant Dissenters and
Catholics of the whole island a measure of justice in the face of severe
religious and political discrimination levelled against them by
representatives of the Crown. The efforts of the United Irishmen culminated
in the Rebellion of 1798, one of the bloodiest in Irish history. Not only
were the United Irishmen defeated, but, in the aftermath of the Rebellion,
seeds of a lasting sectarian bitterness were sewn between the Protestants
and Catholics of Northern Ireland.
If many Americans of Protestant Scots-Irish descent are ignorant of their
own heritage, it is equally true that their Ulster cousins have much to
learn about their past, particularly regarding the brief time in which they
joined hands with their Catholic brethren to create a community in which
the rights and responsibilities of all Irishmen would be respected. It is,
of course, equally important for people of the Gaelic Catholic tradition,
both in Ireland and the United States, to understand the role played by the
Scots-Irish in building Northern Ireland, especially if a community worthy
of the pluralistic vision of the United Irishmen is to be created.
This symposium is basically intended to advance a greater understanding and
appreciation of the history and cultural tradition of the Scots-Irish on
both sides of the Atlantic. The symposium is part of an entire year devoted
to the theme of reconciliation at Emory University. It is also intended as
an important stage of a project leading to a PBS documentary on the
Scots-Irish, for which the W. B. Yeats Foundation will be the sponsoring
The formal part of the program will begin on Saturday, March 3, at 9:00
a.m. at the Miller-Ward Alumni House of Emory University, and will consist
of five hour-and-a-half sessions, as outlined in the attached program. The
first three sessions will consist of a lecture, followed by a thirty-minute
response paper. The final two sessions will take the form of twenty-minute
statements by each of the participants followed by a general discussion
among the panelists. Each of the sessions will conclude with questions and
commentaries from the floor.
The symposium will conclude delightfully with an 8:15 p.m. concert at
Cannon Chapel on the Emory University campus. The concert will, in a
dynamic and entertaining manner, explore the common traditions,
particularly in folk arts, that continues to exist between Ulster and the
Southern States, even across the divide of thousands of miles and many
generations of time. The performers will include top traditional musicians,
dancers, singers and other artists from both Northern Ireland and the
Michael Montgomery, one of the leading authorities on the subject of the
symposium observes that "historians have written much on [the Scots-Irish]
and disagreed widely, frequently and passionately." These disagreements
take on a tragic cast in light of the conflicts which have troubled
Northern Ireland for many years. One of the chief intentions of the
symposium is to add some fresh perspective on the underlying reasons for
those disagreements. But more importantly, it is also hoped that by drawing
upon the wisdom of a distinguished group of scholars and public figures who
have thought deeply on the subject, we can make a contribution towards a
better understanding of the extraordinary heritage of the Scots-Irish in
Ireland and the American South, thereby helping in a small way to advance
the process of reconciliation currently underway in Northern Ireland.
Projected Program for
"Ulster Roots/Southern Branches: A Symposium
on the Heritage of the Scots-Irish in Ireland
and the Southern United States"
March 3, 2001
Saturday, March 3, 9:00 AM 6:00 PM
Alumni House, Emory University
Symposium with Scholars from Two Continents
Welcome and Introduction: James W. Flannery
Ulster Roots, encompassing the first 200 years of the Scots-Irish in Ulster
Moderator: Tony McAuley Presenter: Owen Dudley Edwards Responder: Kerby Miller
Who were the Scots-Irish? Where were they from in Scotland?
What brought them to Ireland? Where did they settle? What was their
relationship with the native Irish? What was their relationship to England
and the Established Church of Ireland?
What are the distinctions between Highland and Lowland Scots? What about
the language - is it a dialect in English, or a distinctive tongue of its
own? What about the theories of Ian Adamson that the Lowland Scots are
really the original Pictish settlers of Northern Ireland, thus making their
settlement there really a return home?
What conditions led so many Scots-Irish to emigrate from Ulster to the
United States in the eighteenth century? How did the emigration patterns of
the Scots-Irish differ from those of the Gaelic Irish?
Ulster Scots and the Unionist/Nationalist Division
Moderator: Jim Flannery Presenter: Anne McCartney Responder: Michael Montgomery
How and why did the United Irishmen movement develop in Ulster at the close
of the eighteenth century? What was the distinctive contribution of the
Scots-Irish to its republican, non-sectarian and pluralistic concept of
Ireland and Irishness?
To what extent was the United Irishmen a cultural (as distinct from
political) movement? What were the distinctively Scots-Irish literary and
musical contributions to the United Irishmen?
What led the United Irishmen to become increasingly militant in promoting
its ideals, culminating in the Rebellion of 1798?
What was the lasting effect of the Rebellion of 1798, particularly in
creating the sectarian and political divisions of Ulster that continue to
the present day?
Why and how did the Orange Order develop? Why did Republican ideals
disappear among the Protestant people of Ulster?
Why did even music become politicized?
What, despite the divisions and tension between them, are the essential
commonalities between the Gaelic Catholics and the Scots-Irish in Northern
What remains both Scot and Irish in the Scots-Irish tradition? After now
being in Ireland for 400 years, what is the Scots-Irish response to the
music, mythology, folklore and history of Ulster? Are there two entirely
different points of view on this?
Given the current peace process underway in Northern Ireland, what efforts
are being made to reconcile the two communities of the North? Do the ideals
of the United Irishmen have any contemporary meaning to this process?
12:00 1:30, Luncheon
3. Scots-Irish Presbyterianism in Scotland, Ulster and the American South
Moderator: Richard MacMaster Presenter: Katharine Brown Responder: Erskine
What role did early Presbyterianism play in developing the distinctive
character of the Lowland Scots? What was the significance of the
Enlightenment on the intellectual development of Presbyterianism within
Scotland? What caused the Presbyterian Church in Ulster to evolve in such a
What was the relationship of Scots-Irish Presbyterians and other Protestant
Dissenters to the established Church of Ireland and to the Roman Catholic
Church in Ireland? How did both Catholics and Dissenters suffer from the
Why, particularly after the Rebellion of 1798 and increasingly in modern
times, did some branches of the Presbyterian Church and several other
Protestant denominations in Ulster take on a sectarian and political
character? To what extent was this a reflection of, and reaction to,
militant forms of Irish nationalism espoused by many Roman Catholics?
What happened to Presbyterianism in the United States, particularly in the
South, relative to other Protestant traditions?
Scots-Irish Intellectual, Political, Social and Economic Contributions to
Moderator: Chris Moser Presenters: Richard MacMaster, Jim Doan, Erskine Clarke
What distinctive contributions did Scots-Irish political thinkers like
Francis Hutchinson make to the Declaration of Independence? To the ideals
of Jefferson and Adams?
What was the role of the Scots-Irish in the Revolutionary War?
What was the role of the Scots-Irish in the Indian Wars? What was their
response to the development of slavery in the Southern States? To the
development of the Ku Klux Klan?
What was distinctively Scots-Irish about the political philosophy of Andrew
Jackson? Are any of the same characteristics evident in other American
Presidents, like Woodrow Wilson and William Clinton?
What were the distinctive contributions of Scots-Irish business leaders to
the economic development of the United States?
What validity lies in the Grady McWhiney theory of the Celtic American
South vs. the Anglo-Saxon North?
5. Scots-Irish Cultural Contributions to the American South
Moderator: Allen Tullos Presenters: Michael Montgomery, Tyler Blethen,
Maggie Holtzberg, Tony McAuley
How can the frontier tradition of rugged individualism (Davy Crockett, Sam
Houston, Kit Carson) be considered a Scots-Irish contribution?
What are the distinctive Scots-Irish contributions to the speech patterns,
folklore, literature, crafts and music of the South?
Why, given the above contributions, do the Scots-Irish seemingly know so
little about their heritage? How did the cultural traditions of the
Scots-Irish come to be stigmatized under the label "hillbilly?"
What relationship currently exists between the Scots-Irish in the American
South and their cousins back in Ireland? What role can the Scots-Irish of
the United States play in helping nurture and advance the peace process in
Registration $15. For more information call the W.B. Yeats Foundation,
"Roots and Branches" Concert to Climax
Emory Scots-Irish Symposium
The most noted musicians in Northern Ireland's Ulster Scot tradition will
share the stage with some of Georgia's finest traditional performers in a
March 3 concert bringing a day-long Emory University public program on
Scots-Irish history and culture to a spectacular close. "Roots and
Branches: the Scots-Irish Heritage in Music, Song and Dance" will be
presented by the W.B. Yeats Foundation of Emory University at 8:15 PM in
The concert will cap the Yeats Foundation's public daytime program, "Ulster
Roots / Southern Branches: a Symposium on the Scots-Irish Heritage of
Northern Ireland and the American South." The symposium will present
several of the most eminent scholars in Scots-Irish studies from both sides
of the Atlantic, from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM at Emory's Alumni House. The
evening entertainment will colorfully elaborate on the symposium's themes
of indigenous cultural continuity between Ulster and the Southern United
> Northern Ireland Clatter O Fowk will perform a sampling of poetry,
music and song from the Ulster Scot tradition. Featured will be John
Trotter (fiddle, accordion, Highland bagpipes, vocals), Willie Drennan
(fiddle, tin whistle, bodhran, wee Lambeg, vocals), Laura Sinnerton (viola,
fiddle, unaccompanied singing), Eleesha Drennan (fiddle), Alan Niblock
(double bass), and Bob Speers (folksinger / songwriter / guitarist).
The Georgia Mudcats, a band hailing from the North Georgia Mountains, will
further demonstrate how the traditional music and song of Ulster folk were
preserved in modified forms by their descendants in the Southern
Appalachian Mountains. Mudcats Lisa Deaton, Joel Cordle, Tom Ryan, Patrick
Shields, and David Swanson play fiddle, mandolin, banjo, guitar, and bass
fiddle. Their recordings have received play on American radio stations and
on Northern Ireland's BBC network, where they also performed a live concert
during their 1999 tour of Ireland.
Other performers in the concert will include Nonesuch, a traditional
mountain folk group headed by Atlanta fiddler/singer Barbara Panter, and
Celtic fiddle virtuoso Maggie Holtzberg, Director of Folklife Programs for
the Massachusetts Council for the Arts and one of the symposium scholars.
The Ulster Scots are the descendants of mostly Protestant Scottish people
enticed by King James I to settle in the north of Ireland during the Ulster
Plantation period starting in the early 1600s, thus sparking centuries of
conflict with the displaced Catholic native Irish. Beginning in the early
1800's, hundreds of thousands of the Ulster Scots' progeny immigrated to
America, where they are known today as the "Scotch-Irish" or "Scots-Irish."
Until recently in Ireland, not much attention was given to their music
traditions. Now that seems to be changing. "Ulster Scots music has been
going through a tremendous revival in Northern Ireland in recent years,"
reports Willie Drennan.
The recently formed Ulster Scots Folk Orchestra, of which Clatter O Fowk is
an offshoot, is taking this musical expression to a more professional
level. "There is a growing curiosity throughout the island of Ireland in
Ulster Scots tradition," Drennan says. "The Orchestra has been booked for a
festival in Limerick in late March."
Clatter O Fowk's musicians see the Yeats Foundation's March symposium and
concert as an exciting opportunity. "Along with the growing interest in
Ulster, of our roots, comes a greater awareness of the impotant role that
the Scotch-Irish have played in the formation of the USA," Willie Drennan
suggests. "We're certain that our involvement in this Scotch Irish
symposium will open many doors that will lead to a greater musical
understanding of Ulster-American cultural links. This will create an ideal
platform to explore the common emotions in the music and to examine how the
differing styles have evolved."
"Roots and Branches: the Scots-Irish Heritage in Music, Song and Dance,
Saturday, March 3, 8:15 PM,Emory University's Cannon Chapel. Admission $12
in advance, $15 at door, $5 for Symposium advance registrants and students.
Advance ticket sales start Feb. 16. For more information call the W.B.
Yeats Foundation, 404-727-6180.