Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Ivan Knox lauches his Website

The Knox family was and is one of the most dynamic families not only in Ulster, but in all of Ireland. Ivan Knox, historian, poet, self made businessman, of the Finn Valley, has launched a web site with information and history about the Knox Family and their relations in Donegal. The website also has church records from Stranorlar and Rossnowlagh. Ivan has been gathering material on his world, which is the beautiful Finn Valley for many years now and his website is a very good read.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Ballintoy and District Local Historical and Archaeological Society

Parish Hall
junction of Whitepark and Ballinlea Roads


I was wondering if you could give our small historical society - Ballintoy And District Local Historicial and Archaeological Society - a plug on your blog?

We have just recently formed and our first official meeting is on the 25th March in Ballintoy Parish Hall at 8 pm - I have attached a copy of our circular.

Archaeologist Thomas McErlean, BA (QUB); FSA, Centre for Maritime Archaeology - University of Ulster at Coleraine, will be the guest speaker at the meeting.

We are a small cross community group with big aspirations'! We plan to meet each month with a guest speaker relating in some way to the local historical and archaeological past of the Ballintoy and wider "shore" area and we are planning to have guided walks in the evenings over the summer months.

We have had a good response so far and we hope to build upon this success in the coming months so every little bit of publicity would be very helpful.

Thank-you & Best Wishes

Shaun Leighton

Monday, 22 March 2010

The Mystery of the Portballintrae Cable

These photos were taken by north Antrim writer and historian, Nevin Taggart and show the very mysterious cable that at one time ran from Portballintrae in north Antrim, to the island of Islay, in the southern Hebrides. The cable, which has an iron casing, was placed in 1947, and locals remember its use being to in some manner track shipping in the area.

If anyone has any knowledge about this strange cable and it history and use, please contact the Ulster Heritage Magazine.

the mysterious Portballintrae cable

Friday, 19 March 2010

Ulster Surnames Scurlock

Scurlock is an Ulster surname, somewhat rare in Ulster, more common in points south, Meath and around Waterford and Wexford. Like so many good Ulster surnames there is some mystery and argument about its meaning and origins. The name Scurlock on the face of it is Old English, perhaps Danish or Flemish. The etymology is thought to be from the words scirr locc meaning 'bright hair,' but some sources say that it means 'short hair.'

The name came to Ireland from Wales with the Cymro-Normans. Now that is not to say that families with this name are all Norman in origin, many may be southern Welsh in origin and their DNA will be the same haplogroup (DNA signature) as the majority of the Irish. Celts, both Irish Gaels and Cymry of Wales, were fond of adopting names from cultures they came into contact with. For these reason, just having a surname of non Irish origins does not mean the family is of non Irish origins.

We do know that a prominent family of Scurlocks came to Ireland in the 1180s from Wales, with a Welsh and Norman settlement (military adventure would be a better description) and from that time on the surname Scurlock has been in Ireland. In Gaelic the surname is Scurlog and it has several anglicised forms with Sherlock being perhaps the most familiar to people.

In the 1700s several Scurlock families emigrated from Ulster to the Colonies and followed the frontier west with what history likes to call the Scots-Irish. By the early and mid 1800s Scurlock families had settled in the Old Southwest (Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana) and in Texas. Scurlock is another fascinating Ulster surname.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The Real Saint Patrick's Day

In the way of a slight editorial I offer the following thoughts on St Patrick's Day.

Much like Halloween, St Patrick's Day has been taken over and redefined, rudely commercialised, made into, something it was not. Today there are very silly outward expressions to celebrate this great man's day, such as dyeing lager beer green, or rivers green, or wearing over-sized green clothing, followed by too much drink and too much food, and all the while not a thought given to Saint Patrick, nor his feast day.

There is also the real St Patrick's Day, An lá fhéile Pádraig, the Patron Saint of Ireland, a historical figure that brought much good to Ireland. A Celt himself, from the Cymro population of the Britain. His day we celebrate and we enjoy a feast on this day because it is a 'feast' day during the season of Lent. The day is one of wholesome celebration of Ireland's Patron Saint by Irish and Northern Irish Christians, family's gather, good food is served, there is ól, ceol, agus craic, but with decorum and observation of the gravity of the day and tomorrow it is back to Lent.

A good way to remember St Patrick is to read his writings. Two genuine writings of Saint Patrick are in existence today. These writings have become public only during the 19th century. One is "The Confession", an autobiography of Saint Patrick near the end of his life. Another is "A letter to Coroticus", containing a fierce complaint against Coroticus who had raided a number of Patrick’s converts. Both of these can be found online with a Google search and are highly recommended as part of a real St Patrick's Day celebration.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Lá Fhéile Pádraig

Beannachtaí Lá Fhéile Pádraig Daoibh

Saint Patrick, or Naomh Pádraig as he is known in Gaelic, was one of the most remarkable men of his age. We are fortunate in that two Latin letters have survived that were written by Saint Patrick, his 'Confessio' and a letter to the soldiers of Coroticus called in Latin the 'Epistola.' In his Confessio he gives a short account of his life and his mission as a Christian. Patrick was born Celtic Britain as most people know, his father was a deacon and grandfather a priest (who could be married in those days) and were early leaders in the Christian Church there. He was captured by Irish raiders and the rest is as they say, 'history.'

Monday, 15 March 2010

UH DNA Project Research Tips

Tips for family historians and genealogists participating in the Ulster Heritage DNA Project.

1) make sure you upload your results into the Ysearch data base, you can do this via your Family Tree page.

2) Use the 'My Maps' feature on your Family Tree page to enter the location of your most distant ancestor. This very handy feature will also bring up your matches and allow you to perform analysis of date to shared paternal ancestor.

3) have your preferences set to allow non surname matches; this is very important, surnames were not fixed in Ulster until quite recently. Gaelic surname will have multiple anglicised forms also. Often you can learn as much from a non surname match as from a surname match.

4) Email all your matches and compare your family histories.

5) Look for a geographic pattern in your matches, often if one can locate a probable geographic point of origin, this will allow you to research the history of a district and this could locate your people. (several families have had great success doing this)

5) make use of genealogy forums to post information about your most distant ancestor; use the Ulster Heritage Forum and any local forums of the geographic area you have an interest in. The main Ulster Heritage web site has the link to the UH Forum.

6) If you need help with Gaelic orthography and etymology email the UH Project.

7) When you reach the point that you need research on records in Ireland and N Ireland the UH Project can put you in touch with trusted researchers that are the top in the field, just email us for details.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

The 1641 Depositions Online

Fully searchable digital edition of the 1641 depositions at Trinity College Dublin Library, comprising transcripts and images of all 4000 depositions, examinations and associated materials in which Protestant men and women of all classes told of their experiences following the outbreak of the rebellion by the Irish in October, 1641.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Family History Library Classes Now Available on Internet

Quoted directly from the Legacy Family Tree Blog - 
This is great news from FamilySearch. Classes in the following topics are now available online at no charge:
  • England Beginning Research
  • Germany Research
  • Ireland Research
  • Italy Research
  • Principios básicos para la investigación genealógica en Hispanoamérica (México)
  • Research Principles and Tools
  • Russia Research
  • U.S. Research
Here's today's press release:
SALT LAKE CITY–It is rare that Marcia Covington can make the trip from her home in State College, Pennsylvania, to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Now, however, people like Covington can take classes from the world-famous library without ever leaving home.
The FamilySearch Family History Library is now making its popular classes available at, where anyone anywhere in the world can access them for free at a time that is convenient for them. The classes have been offered on-site in Salt Lake City for years. Until now, attendance has been limited to those patrons who are fortunate to live in the surrounding community or happen to be visiting the library as part of a research trip. Making the classes available online allows access to many more patrons.
“Most people do family history whenever they can fit it in their busy lives, on evenings, holidays, weekends, and so forth. Whether you are a beginner or experienced researcher, you can choose subjects of interest to you from the available classes and watch them anytime and anywhere,” said FamilySearch Community Services Manager Diane Loosle.
The online classes are a great complement to the free personal research assistance the Family History Library offers to its patrons in Utah and through its family history centers worldwide. According to Loosle, the free online classes are one part of the growing number of tools FamilySearch is building for its online patrons. That is great news to people like Covington.
“Very few people have the opportunity to come to Salt Lake City, but these classes give me the same access at home as I can get in Utah,” Covington said. “Our distances here are pretty long, and for some people it is a 40-minute drive to the nearest family history center. These classes make it possible to get training in your home whenever you want, and it is so nice that it is free.”
There are currently 23 Family History Library classes available online, with subjects ranging from European research to United States military records. The most popular offerings are the Beginning Research Series for Ireland and England and a class on descendancy research.

The classes vary in length from 6 to 58 minutes, with most lasting about 25 minutes. The format of the class varies, depending on the content being presented. One type of class shows a video that alternates between the teacher and the PowerPoint slides. Another kind of class integrates video of the presenter, the accompanying PowerPoint slides, and links to supplemental materials all in one screen.
Several of the classes are interactive, such as a course on reading German handwriting. In these classes, the teacher is represented with still photographs and audio narration, and the student can actively participate in learning activities, such as matching English and German characters or transcribing selected words from a document. As a student types, the correct text appears in green and incorrect answers appear in red, providing immediate feedback.
FamilySearch is continually adding new online offerings; classes on how to read English handwritten records are currently in development. All of the classes can be accessed on by clicking on Free Online Classes on the home page.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Ulster Heritage DNA Test Results

To view the results of the Ulster Heritage DNA Project go to the website page and look at the menu of the left side, follow the DNA Test Results link. Ulster Heritage DNA Project

The results have confirmed that the most common by far haplogroup in the nine counties province of Ulster is the R1b1b2a1b5. Those great majority of those participants that have tested for the L-21 marker are positive.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Teastas Eorpach na Gaeilge Irish exams launched in New York

At the launch of Teastas Eorpach na Gaeilge (TEG) exams in New York recently were: Dr. Arthur Hughes, Fulbright Irish language scholar at NYU, Pádraig Ó Cearúil and Hilary Mhic Suibhne, Irish language lecturers at NYU, and Dara Calleary, Irish Minister of State.

Last Wednesday 24 February, the 2010 Teastas Eorpach na Gaeilge (TEG) examinations were launched formally in New York. TEG examinations are Irish language proficiency tests for adult learners of Irish. Last year 15 people sat the exam at Level A1(Elementary 1) in New York. The Language Centre at NUI Maynooth sets and administers the exams and is offering tests at two levels this year in New York, A1 and A2 (Elementary 2).

The TEG event was hosted by the Irish Consulate in New York in conjunction with Glucksman Ireland House New York University (NYU). The hosts were Deputy Consul General Breandán Ó Caollaí and his wife Carmel Callan. Also present were the Minister of State Dara Calleary T.D., who spoke about the learning of Irish in general. Breandán Ó Caollaí and Hilary Mhic Suibhne (NYU) spoke about the importance of TEG and the quality of support it provides to adult learners outside of Ireland. The event was very well attended by, among others, those involved in the teaching of Irish at New York University, City University of New York, University of Pennsylvania and learners from Irish Centres in Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania agus New York.

The increase in the number of Irish language learners at all levels in the United States is remarkable. It is estimated that up to 40 higher level institutions provide Irish language learning programmes. There are also several organizations outside of the formal education system throughout the US where Irish language courses are provided. Several of these institutions and organizations use the TEG system as their core programme due to its step by step approach to fluency and the high quality of its teaching materials, all available free of charge on

TEG exams take place in eight centres throughout Ireland and in New York, Paris, London and Prague in April and May. All information at or from 01 7086417.

Tráthnóna Dé Céadaoin 24 Feabhra seo caite, seoladh scrúduithe Theastas Eorpach na Gaeilge (TEG) 2010 i Nua Eabhrac. Is scrúduithe cumais Gaeilge do fhoghlaimeoirí fásta iad scrúduithe TEG agus rinne thart ar 15 duine scrúdú A1 in Nua Eabhrac anuraidh. I mbliana tá Ionad na dTeangacha Ollscoil na hÉireann Má Nuad, a chuireann na scrúduithe ar fáil, ag súil go mbeidh méadú ar líon na n-iarrthóirí agus beidh scrúduithe ar siúl ar dhá leibhéal, A1 agus A2.

Ba é Ard-Chonsalacht na hÉireann Nua Eabhrac i gcomhpháirt le Glucksman Ireland House New York University (NYU) a d’eagraigh an ócáid le TEG a sheoladh sna Stáit Aontaithe an tseachtain seo caite. Ba é an Leas Ard-Chonsal Breandán Ó Caollaí agus a bhean Carmel Callan a bhí mar fhear agus bean an tí ar an oíche. Bhí an tAire Stáit, Dara Calleary T.D. i láthair agus labhair sé mar gheall ar fhoghlaim na Gaeilge i gcoitinne. Labhair Breandán Ó Caollaí agus Hilary Nic Suibhne (NYU) faoin tábhacht a bhaineann le TEG do fhoghlaimeoirí fásta agus faoin tacaíocht a chuireann an córas seo ar fáil do fhoghlaimeoirí thar lear. Bhí go leor daoine atá ag teagasc na Gaeilge in New York University, City University of New York agus in Ollscoil Pennsylvania i láthair chomh maith le grúpa mór foghlaimeoirí ó na hionaid Éireannacha i gConnecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania agus nua Eabhrac.

Is ábhar suntais é an méadú atá tagtha ar líon na bhfoghlaimeoirí Gaeilge sna Stáit Aontaithe ag gach leibhéal. Meastar go bhfuil suas le 40 institiúid tríú leibhéal i Meiriceá go bhfuil an Ghaeilge á teagasc iontu. Is suntasaí fós líon na ranganna Gaeilge lasmuigh de na hinstitiúidí foirmiúla oideachais. Baineann an-chuid de na hinstitiúidí agus eagraíochtaí seo úsáid as TEG toisc cur chuige céim ar chéim an chórais agus de bharr ardchaighdeán an ábhar theagaisc atá ar fáil saor in aisce ar líne ó

Beidh scrúduithe TEG ar siúl in ocht n-ionad in Éirinn agus i Nua Eabhrac, Páras, Londain agus Prág i rith mhí an Aibreáin agus Bealtaine. Gach eolas ar fáil ó