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The Ellen Payne Odom Genealogy Library Family Tree
The Family Tree - February/March 2003
Ulster Roots

The Ulster-Scot and Other New Publications
Richard K. MacMaster

The Ulster-Scots Agency (aka The Board of Ulster-Scotch) recently published the first issue of a bi-monthly news magazine The Ulster-Scot and several leaflets telling the story of the Scotch-Irish in America. The Ulster-Scots Agency is a government bureau with the assignment to promote the language and culture of the Ulster-Scots at home and abroad. Copies of all their publications are available free of charge on request. On this side of the Atlantic, the Center for Scotch-Irish Studies published the latest issue of The Journal of Scotch-Irish Studies and mailed copies to subscribers in December. These new publications are all signs of increasing interest in the Scotch-Irish heritage.

Front page news in The Ulster-Scot, November-December 2002, is an announcement of a musical drama about 18th-century emigration from Ulster to North America that will have its premiere performance at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast next Spring. After that, there are plans to bring it to major cities in Canada and the United States. "On Eagle's Wing" has a cast of 300 singers, dancers and instrumentalists. John Anderson, who wrote the script, is quoted as saying: "There are two sides to the story: the Scots who came to Ulster from the 1500s onward and then emigrated again further afield, and the Scots who stayed in Ulster."

Other news stories recount the future of marching bands, new recordings of Ulster traditional music, and Northern Ireland pipe band contests. Feature articles include a fascinating look at one of the "weaver poets," James Orr of Ballycarry, a report on Ulster-Scot musical influences in America, a profile of James Fenton, a pioneer in the Ulster-Scots revival, and the special flavor of a Burns Supper. There is also news about the Institute of Ulster-Scots Studies at the University of Ulster in Londonderry and the Ulster-Scots Agency.

Editor of The Ulster-Scot is Billy Kennedy, veteran Belfast journalist and author of a series of books on the Ulster-Scots in America that have been widely read in Northern Ireland and in this country. The second issue is scheduled to appear at the end of January 2003 and future issues every two months thereafter. Subscriptions are free. For more information, write The Ulster-Scots Agency, Franklin House, 10-12 Brunswick Street, Belfast BT2 7GE, Northern Ireland, or e-mail them at

Billy Kennedy is the principal author of a series of handsomely-printed illustrated leaflets about the Scotch-Irish in America. There are eight titles in all, released together in a carrying case. "Voyage to the New World" is centered on how the Ulster-Scots or Scotch-Irish came to America. "Ulster-Scots and Washington's Generals" deals with the Scotch-Irish contribution to winning American independence. "Ulster-Scots and the Declaration of Independence" is focused on Ulster influences and Ulster-born signers of the Declaration. "Ulster-Scots and United States Presidents" tells about the seventeen American presidents whose ancestors came from Northern Ireland. "Ulster-Scots and the Presbyterian Church" is an exposition of the close ties between the Scotch-Irish and the growth of the Presbyterian Church in America.

On a lighter note, "From Folk to Country" tells how the Scotch-Irish influenced American music. The final leaflet in the packet deals with "The Ulster-Scots Legacy" with brief biographical sketches of several 19th-century Americans of Scotch-Irish background, among them Mark Twain, Cyrus McCormick, and Thomas Mellon. These leaflets are an easy introduction to the heritage of the Scotch-Irish. (The Ulster-Scots Agency also has a leaflet on how to plan a Burns Nicht that might be helpful in planning for next January.) They are all available free from the Ulster-Scots Agency at the above addresses.

The Winter 2002 issue of The Journal of Scotch-Irish Studies has a variety of scholarly articles on Scotch-Irish topics, including history, identity, travel, and genealogy. Five articles deal with aspects of American history. The effort of Indian traders George Galphin and John Rea to attract settlers from Ulster to the 18th-century South Carolina and Georgia backcountry is explored by Professor Michael P. Morris of the University of South Carolina. Professor Carole Watterson Troxler of Elon University traces the Scotch-Irish in the Southern backcountry who took the side of the King in the American Revolution, particularly South Carolina Loyalists who moved to Nova Scotia after the war. The Rev. David Caldwell and his work as minister and community leader in Guilford County, North Carolina, before and after the Revolution provided Dr. Robert McCluer Calhoon of the University of North Carolina with a cogent example of "The Scotch-Irish and Political Moderation." Dr. John Buchanan wrote about a less-moderate figure in "Andrew Jackson, the Scotch-Irish, and the Conquest of the Old Southwest." Genealogist Zona Gale Forbes traced the survivors of the wreck of the emigrant ship Faithful Steward on the Delaware coast in 1785.

Dr. Brian Lambkin, director of the Center for Migration Studies in Northern Ireland, used the visit that Judge Thomas Mellon (1813-1908) made to his birthplace near Omagh, County Tyrone, in 1882 as a way to document one prominent "returned Yank's" understanding of his Ulster heritage. Two scholars from Boise State University, Gary McCain and Nina M. Ray, looked at ordinary people like us revisiting the places where our ancestors lived in their study of "The Search for Personal Meaning in Legacy Travel to Ulster."

Michael D. Roe and Sybil Dunlap of Seattle Pacific University studied "Contemporary Scotch-Irish Identities and Attitudes toward The Troubles in Northern Ireland" and Harold R. Alexander of the Center for Scotch-Irish Studies analysed the meaning of a Scotch-Irish identity to contemporary Americans. He also contributed a research note on the vexing question of how many Scotch-Irish folk could be found in early America and how many are here now. There are also reviews of several recent books about the Scotch-Irish.

The Center for Scotch-Irish Studies cannot offer copies of its Journal of Scotch-Irish Studies free, but some researchers and librarians may think it well worth the modest price. The subscription price for individuals is $22 and for libraries $15, plus $3 for postage to addresses in the United States, $5 to Canadian addresses, and $7.50 for copies mailed overseas. Contact the Center for Scotch-Irish Studies, P.O. Box 71, Glenolden PA 19036-0071 or by e-mail at

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