Saturday, 16 August 2008

The Ulster Diaspora in the USA

The fascinating map above is a coloured coded map of the USA according to the ancestry of the population by counties or parishes in the case of the state of Louisiana. I reproduce it here in a small version, the link to see this map with the legend is located below:

As I say, the map is utterly fascinating. The Counties and parishes in the brown colour are listed as 'American.' This curious term means the non-hyphenated people living in the USA. The dominate ethnicity in these areas would be people of Ulster ancestry. It is popular to use an aggregate term Scots-Irish to describe them, but this has always struck me as odd as this population also includes numbers of Highland Gaels, Welsh, Manx, Border English, a few Huguenots, etc.

Does Scots-Irish mean only people that descend from Ulster Scot ancestry or has it grown now to include all the groups living in Ulster that migrated to the Colonies in the 18th Century?

Nomenclature is always difficult when trying to describe Ulster society. When I was younger I read the works of a very talented Texas historian T R Fehrenbach. In his book Lone Star: A History of Texas and Texans, he calls this group of people the Anglo-Celts. He was writing in the late 1950s and he too needed a term to describe these non hyphenated Americans with ancestry from the Celtic parts of the British Isles.

With Anglo-Celts he meant they were all from the traditional Celtic areas of the British Isles and had migrated to North America early, had formed their own society using shared folkways they brought with them, and had all gone through a language shift from their Gaelic or Welsh to English. It is a very handy term because it is very inclusive to all the groups within what many call Scots-Irish.

The Scots-Irish population was dominated by Ulster Scots so it is understandable that this term is used of course, but we should remember that what pop histories call Scots-Irish also include many Highland and Isles Gaels, Native Irish, English, etc. in Ulster that migrated to the Colonial backsettlements in the 18th Century. These groups settled together, through marriage and shared values became the people T R Fehrenbach calls the Anglo-Celts and appear in the brown areas in the map above. We can also look at those brown areas on the map above and see the Ulster Diaspora in the USA.

Barry R McCain © 2008

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