Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies





Ulster Scots History & Heritage Lecture Series

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Ulster Scots Lecture Series

As proximate as the shores of a lake, the twelve miles between Scotland and Ireland at its narrowest point has resulted in perpetual political, religious, cultural and economic interaction and interdependency.  However traditional historical narratives tend to focus on nation states and unitary bodies, meaning the cultural connections of peoples who share no single national identity are often marginalised.  The movement of peoples across the North Channel over several centuries has left an indelible mark on the history of Ulster and Scotland, not to mention in the relationship between Britain and Ireland and beyond.  At a time when Derry/Londonderry displays its rich cultural heritage to the world, it is important to reflect on the historical influences that helped to build this great city.

In conjunction with Derry City Council, funded by the Ministerial Advisory Group on the Ulster Scots Academy (MAGUS) and the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL), the University of Ulster is pleased to be hosting a series of public lectures between June and November 2013.

These lectures focus on the history, heritage and culture of Scottish settlers in northwest Ulster and their local, national and international significance.  The next lecture in the series takes place on Friday, 8 November 2013 at 7pm in the Tower Museum, Union Place, Derry/Londonderry.  We are delighted to have Andrew Holmes (Queen’s University Belfast) as our guest speaker to present his talk entitled,  ‘The Presbyterians of the North-West: religion, politics, and Magee College, Derry, 1798-1914’ ‘

Dr Holmes’ talk will provide an overview of the principal developments and personalities within the Presbyterian community in north-west Ulster between the rebellion of 1798 and the outbreak of the Great War. It will examine the interplay between religious revival, political reform, and higher education in the region. It begins with how the community was transformed by evangelical religion and especially the remarkable religious revival of 1859. This resurgence of conservative faith did not produce political conservatives and the north west was a heartland of Presbyterian liberalism. Figures such as James McKnight rejected the continued ascendancy of the Church of Ireland and landlords and advocated political and social reform. These themes were encapsulated in Magee College Derry, which opened in 1865 as a college under the control of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. The professors of the college were evangelical and liberal in outlook and included Richard Smyth, Liberal MP for County Londonderry between 1874 and 1878, and Thomas Witherow, a noted historian of the siege of Derry and editor of the Derry Standard.

There is no cost to attend any of the lectures in the series and everyone is most welcome to attend.  If anyone has any questions or would like more information please contact Dr Andrew Robinson (robinson-a@email.ulster.ac.uk or Dr Billy Kelly (bp.kelly@ulster.ac.uk).

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