Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies




1641 Depositions

The purpose of this project is to compare and contrast the rhetoric of Ulster Scots identity at the time of its development in the seventeenth century and that of its contemporary existence today.  It is the aim of this project to study how members of this community, or those who may be considered a part of this community, view themselves and their contemporaries. The project shall focus on national, political and religious identity as major areas of interest, but shall remain open to any other factors that prove relevant.  The research shall focus on the aspect of “loyalism” as a rallying cry.

In 1641, loyalism had a very different meaning of that of contemporary Northern Irish society.  Through this research it is hoped that we shall learn more about the symbols and markers adhered by the Ulster Scots, that we might more easily identity them as a unique and discreet cultural entity; and also trace the changes that take place within loyalism, perhaps lending credence to Elliot’s 1986 findings that group consciousness can be arterially stimulated and maintained, providing evidence once more that culture is socially constructed artefact that can be manipulated – theoretically at least – into something positive and inclusive, in place of the turmoil and violence currently experienced by Ulster’s fractured identity.

To do this, the research will critically analyse the 1641 depositions, alongside a collection of contemporary transcriptions dealing with Ulster Scots identity, isolating and examining the metaphors employed by various individuals to present and perpetuate their own views on their social identity and that of others.

1718 From Londonderry, Ireland to Londonderry, New Hampshire

This project highlights the first substantial movement of people from Ireland to North America in the eighteenth century.  It was a precursor to the Great Migration of Ulster Protestants in the later 1700s.  The project will trace the movement of a group of Presbyterians from Aghadowey, Co. Londonderry on their journey to the New World, and their settlement in Londonderry, New Hampshire.  It will address questions such as why did they leave, who left, their arrival in colonial America and their legacy.  This project reflects the Institute’s objective to explore the experience of the Ulster Scots Diaspora and to broaden perspectives and understanding of Ulster Scots history and identity.  The Ulster Scots Agency is a partner in the project and their website will host the research.

 Ulster Scots 1798 Rebellion

The work on 1798 rebellion builds on previous work from the 1641 depositions.  The aim of this project is to investigate how people show their identity or come more passionate and thus more open about their identity when it is contested or threatened.  This project will focus on Ulster Scots identity during the 1798 rebellion, research will be limited to the counties of Antrim and Down and will utilise any available eyewitness statements as well as church records, letters and press releases should they be deemed appropriate.

Active and Passive Knowledge of Ulster Scots Language in Correlation To Age and Gender Across Northern Ireland

Participants were distributed in terms of age, gender and geographical location.  Results illustrated that overall men know and use more Ulster Scots Words than woman, across all age ranges.  There was also a rise in knowledge across the three age groups of 18-30, 31-50 and 51+.  This pattern was also seen for those who actively used Ulster Scots, demonstrating that the youngest age groups used the least.  Results from this study raised many important issues regarding Ulster Scots; one such issue concerned its active use by the younger generations.  As the 18-30 age group know and use very little Ulster Scots in both non Ulster Scots (i.e. Co. Tyrone) and Ulster Scots speaking areas (i.e. Co. Down), it suggests Ulster Scots is not being passed on to the younger generations.  If Ulster Scots is to be maintained and supported this is a factor that will need to be considered in future planning for Ulster Scots.

Northern Ireland Press Reaction to The ‘issue’ of the Ulster Scots

The aim of this project was to provide an analysis of the coverage given to Ulster Scots in the three local daily newspapers, the Belfast Telegraph, Irish Times and Belfast News Letter from 1996 to the present day.  The analysis was informed by three general thematic approaches i.e. the press perception of Ulster Scots in terms of how it was defined; the political stance of the press with regard to the issue of the Ulster Scots within the more general socio-political context in Northern Ireland.  Although the project will be loosely arranged around these themes, several more specific topics also informed the substantive discussion.  They included, analysing how the press react to the funding given to promote Ulster Scots; how the press view the status of the Ullans as either a language or dialect; who the press perceive the Ulster Scots people to be and how they view the relationship between Ulster Scots and Irish language and culture.

Diaspora, Migration and Identities

Following the announcement of the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s new strategic programme ‘Diasporas, Migration and Identities’ in 2004, the Institute of Ulster Scots Studies has engaged in research on the Ulster Scots Diaspora.  Research is ongoing relating to the Ulster Scots in America, Canada and New Zealand.  One particular issue is the role of the Orange Order in these countries, especially in New Zealand.  More recently, a two-day symposium was held at the University of Melbourne on the Ulster Scots and Australia.  In February 2006 the Institute hosted an Australia Week in which three leading Australian academics presented papers on Ulster and Australia.

Siege and Restoration Drama Project

This project is based on Colonel John Michelburne’s Ireland Preserved or the Siege of Londonderry. The project, so far, has resulted in the creation of an original script, Voices of the Siege which received three, fully staged and costumed performances at The Playhouse on the 22nd and 23rd June 2005 to excellent houses including a packed out schools matinee.  The production drew together a cross community cast of 15, most of whom were aged between 16 and 32, who leaned how to deliver period dialogue, musket and arms drills and much about the involvement of the Ulster Scots community in the Siege, on both The Williamite and Jacobite sides.

The project was funded by the Ulster Scots Agency and ILEX, the urban regeneration company.  An article John Michelburne and another on North West Ulster authors of the late 17th and early 18th Century have been produced and published for the Culture Northern Ireland website and another article on Michelburne and his play will be published shortly in The Crimson Banner.

Foundational Presidents Fund

This project recognises the achievements of the Scots Irish in building the United States of America.  From the 18th century onwards they played a major role in expanding the frontiers, forging the nation, developing education and business and, perhaps most importantly providing political leadership.  The Scots Irish provided up to seventeen Presidents of the USA and had a huge disproportionate impact on American education, politics, commerce, the military, journalism, the arts and entertainment.  The fund aims to commemorate the Presidents through a range of academic research projects and teaching delivered through an International Research Network of scholars.  The Fund will recover and preserve for posterity the significance of the cultural, political intellectual legacy of the American Revolution and the key role of the Scots Irish.  The fund will promote awareness and understanding of the foundation of modern democratic societies and examine the role of democracy in modern societies.

Continuing Development of on-line Bibliography of primary and secondary sources for the study of the Ulster Scots abroad.

This project is concerned with the development of primary source literature on-line relating to Ulster Scots history and culture in conjunction with the continuing development of secondary source literature.  The on-line bibliography is an important and valuable research tool in the study of Ulster Scots’ history and culture.  It is a unique site as it is the first bibliography of Ulster Scots’ primary source literature to be produced, especially to a wider audience throughout the world.

Atlantic Arc Network

The IUSS and senior academics from the University of Ulster has taken part in the foundation of the Atlantic Arc, a new collaborative research network studying the migration of Ulster-Scots, Scots and Irish to Canada and the US.  The goal of this project is to explore the Diaspora experience of the Ulster Scots and their influence on the formation of the modern world.  A special event has been organised on 25th-28th June 2008 for the Atlantic Arc Network that will be held as part of the Ulster American Heritage Symposium.  This event is hosted by the IUSS and Four Courts Press and will take place at the conference panel and a plenary session by the New Brunswick partners from the Provincial Archives and the University of St. Thomas.

 Monreagh Manse Educational and Heritage Centre

The achievements of two of Donegal’s famous sons, Francis Makemie and William Gregg as towering figures in the growth of the Presbyterian Church in the United States and Canada, will be centre-stage in this educational and interpretive centre established in the cradle of Irish Presbyterianism – the Laggan district in the north-east of the county.

The first Irish Presbytery was founded at Carrickfergus in 1642 in the Scots army.  The Presbytery of the Laggan, an area of Scottish and Presbyterian settlement, was the second formed in Ireland.  Founded in 1644, Monreagh is the oldest of five congregations founded in the Laggan and the oldest Presbyterian community in the Republic of Ireland.

Funded by the International Fund for Ireland with assistance from the Ulster Scots Agency and the Department of Foreign Affairs the new centre will be a living attraction which will celebrate an Ulster Scots heritage that will attract tourists and generate income in the north-west.  It will be a significant addition to the many reasons for visiting this area.

Ulster Scots and their Maritime Heritage

The International ‘Ulster Maritime Conference’ will take place from 3rd-5th September 2009.  It will be hosted jointly with the IUSS and their research partnership Atlantic Arc (New Brunswick, Lock Haven, Toronto, Virginia and Guelph).  A provisional title for the conference is, ‘Ports and Hinterlands in History’.  The purpose of the project is to create an interactive platform chronicling the Maritime heritage of Derry and the Northwest from 1000BC through to 1945 and beyond.  There are clear indications that Derry’s Maritime history is to play a central role in the city’s tourist strategy.  This resource will allow students, tourists and heritage professionals to explore Derry’s long and rich Maritime heritage.

Plantation Anniversary

The IUSS had planned a series of events for the celebrations of the 400th commemoration Plantation of Ulster.  These include the following:

  • The Hamilton and Montgomery Plantations of 1606 in Counties Antrim and Down
  • The Flight of the Earls/Imeacht na n -Iarlai of 1607
  • The Ulster Plantation from 1607

The University of Ulster intends that six major events will take place to commemorate the anniversaries of the heritage of plantation and migration in Ireland, in Ulster and between our islands, European continent and the Americas.  These will explore the history and the legacy of plantation between Britain and Ireland.  Re-visiting and re-interpreting the history, politics and cultural heritages of the plantation goes to the heart of the University’s endeavours to re-define Irish studies and teach history, political and Irish cultural heritages through the ports, towns, farms, bleaching-greens, literature and printing presses of Ulster.

Anthology of Ulster Scots literature

While there remains much debate and discussion about the linguistic nature of Ulster Scots in the modern context, the influence of the language the settlers brought to Ulster is not only still in evidence around us, but is also available directly and indirectly in Ulster Scots influenced writings over the last few hundred years.  This projects brings together these writings, not only as forms of linguistic evidence for the literary heritage of Ulster Scots, but also in relation to the political, religious, and ideological debates of Ulster which wile often in English reflect quite clearly a Scottish and Ulster foundation.