Friday, 31 December 2010

Auld Lang Syne

The Kilt In Ireland

Is the kilt Irish…. was the kilt ever worn in Ireland? The answer to this question is a very simple yes, of course, but even simple answers need some explanation. The kilt comes in two forms, the filleadh beag and the filleadh mór. The wearing of kilts came into fashion in the Hebrides and Highlands of Scotland sometime during the late 1500s. Prior to the popularsation of the kilt most Hebrideans and Highlanders dressed identical to the native Irish in a léine and short jacket.

Liam Neeson portraying Rob Roy wearing the large kilt, of filleadh mór

Why the kilt came into fashion can only be speculated on, perhaps it was the changing climate, which was growing colder in the late 1500s and the full kilt offered warmth, or perhaps it was improved small looms that could produce more woolen cloth, or perhaps just a fashion trend indigenous to the Gaels of Scotland. For whatever reason, the kilt became popular and fashionable among Gaels in certain parts of Scotland and would be brought to Ireland by Scottish Gaels that settled there in the late 1500s.

The filleadh mór is comprised of a very long piece of material called a plaid, which is belted in the middle. The upper part could be arranged in various ways depending upon the temperature of the day. The part below the belt was folded in the back to make pleats and came down to the knees.

There is a pseudo history about the creation of the smaller kilt, the filleadh beag, which is the form of kilt still very much in use today. At some point prior to 1690s, Gaelic tailors began to cut the filleadh mór in half. It was an organic fashion development within the Scottish Gaelic community. The upper part became a separate plaid and the lower part had the folds sown into it. This way the lower half, the kilt, could be worn separately from the plaid.

Sean Connery wearing the small kilt, or filleadh beag

A false story has long circulated about the creation of the small kilt that maintained two English tailors invented this form in 1727. However, in Gaelic oral history it was known that the small kilt predates this time. The English creation myth persisted in some circles until writer Clifford Smyth produced an illustration of the small kilt in use in 1690 and put an end to the pseudo history of the small kilt.

18th Century illustration on how to wear the kilt

In Ireland the full kilt and small kilt were worn in those areas settled by Highland and Hebridean Gaels. There are eyewitness descriptions of the kilt being worn as early as the 1590s in Ulster. Originally it was worn in the Redshank communities in east Donegal, northwest Tyrone, and north Antrim. Its popularity has waxed and waned over the years, but more and more the small kilt can be seen in Ireland worn at weddings and parties, by hill walkers, and sportsmen. This growing popularity of this very old Gaelic garment is natural and part of the heritage of Ulster.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Kist O Wurds Program Interview

William Rouston (left) and Barry R McCain

The Ulster Heritage Project's Barry R McCain is interviewed by Dr William Roulston in this week's edition of the Kist o Wurds program on BBC Northern Ireland. To listen on line go to this link : A Kist O Wurds

The broadcast can also be heard via radio in Northern Ireland and Ireland; broadcast schedule is:

  1. Wed 15 Dec 2010
  2. Wed 15 Dec 2010

The program will also feature an interview with small pipe player Alan Wade and poet Willie Laverty.

Historian, Barry McCain from Oxford, Mississippi has had a life-long passion for tracing his Ulster-Scots roots – he started when he was 12! He talks to Dr William Roulston of Belfast’s Ulster Historical Foundation - who is also a distant relative! Barry uses DNA testing at a laboratory in Houston, Texas. He has traced relatives from Ireland and in other parts of the USA – including Senator John McCain - and has uncovered family roots as far back as the early 17th century in Scotland.

Musician Alan Wade specializes in playing the Scottish Small Pipes or as they are also called, Scottish Lowland Pipes. He lives in Stranocum outside Ballymoney and fell in love with these small, beautiful pipes some years ago. His pipes were made in Scotland to his own specifications.

Poet, Willie Laverty lives in Ballymoney and describes his poetry as just what he thinks of at any given moment. It’s unusual yet heartfelt - and his own melodic voice gives it an authentic sound.

Friday, 3 December 2010

New England Scots-Irish Research Project

21st Century Scotch-Irish in Northeastern U.S.

Permit me to introduce myself. My name is Michael Roe. I am a teacher at Seattle Pacific University and a research fellow at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. I also have Scotch-Irish roots in the eastern/northeastern U.S. With Clan Crawford ties in Scotland, my family lived in County Armagh, Ireland, and then immigrated to Philadelphia in the middle 1800’s. For the past decade or so, I have been doing research on present day Scotch-Irish in the U.S.; and I am currently beginning the fourth in a series of studies.

This new study is designed to “listen” to personal and family stories of Northeastern Scotch-Irish. I am looking for men and women, 18 years of age or older, to participate who are (1) of Scotch-Irish ancestry, (2) consider themselves to be Scotch-Irish, (3) are interested in their Scotch-Irish history and family stories, and (4) are willing to describe their experiences—to be storytellers in fine Scotch-Irish tradition.

Participants will be responding in writing to a series of questions about their family roots and their present day activities, opinions and identity as Scotch-Irish. Confidentiality, of course, will be maintained. The entire experience should take no more than one hour, although all are encouraged to write in as much detail as possible, so some may decide to spend more than an hour on their responses. Feedback from past participants indicates that most enjoyed describing their Scotch-Irish roots, and so our expectation is that this study too will be a motivating and enjoyable experience for all.

In my previous studies, I found that the Scotch-Irish participants were primarily locating their family histories and traditions in the South. It will be an important contribution to understanding Scotch-Irish identity and to the wider literature on the Scotch-Irish to have a strong contingent of participants whose roots are in the Northeast.

Please contact me at the email address, mailing address, or phone number below.

Thank you. Michael

Michael D. Roe, Ph.D.

Dean and Professor of Psychology

Seattle Pacific University

Seattle, WA 98119 U.S.A.

Phone: (206) 281-2252

Fax: (206) 281-2695


IRB #091002001R. Exp date: 8 June 2011

Mark Thompson's Ulster Scots Verse

Here are two quick poems I wrote tonight (when I should have been doing real work) and when panged with guilt looking at the iPod I hardly ever use any more. These are in my best pigeon Ulster-Scots, and inspired by Gary Blair, who was rightly complaining that Ulster-Scots has more to it than prootas and kye. (potatoes and cows)

Address to an iPod, version 1

Fair fa' yer fancy, shiny face
Chief gadget o the modern race
Aboon them a' yer thumpin' bass
Through white ear plugs
The status symbol o' the tasteful
An the smug

(that was with apologies to Robert Burns)

Address to an iPod, version 2

A langed tae buy an iPod
For aa ma favourite sangs
A wud pit aboot ten thoosant on't
Tae listen a' year lang

A seen ither fowk wi iPods
So A wanted yin masel
Wi wee white wires hanging fae mae lugs
Amang the sproots o' hair

Oh hoo A yearned for an iPod
A thocht A wus missin' oot
Wi' adverts on the television
iPod fowk aa jumpin' aboot

So A bocht masel an iPod
It wasnae very big
A cud pit it in ma pokit
Wi room for 80 gigs

Boys A loved ma new wee iPod
It haed a colour screen
It wus wee an black an shiny
An powerfu' on the een

Admirin' ma new iPod
A thocht A wus some boy
A footer't at it, och, for oors!
It wus my pride an joy

But, the coast o' ma new iPod
Weel it was far fae chape
Three hunner poun' A pairted wi'
Tae be redd o' CDs an' tapes

So for weeks A fill't ma iPod
Wi' aa' o my CDs
A burnt an burnt and fill't it
Tae the gills wi MP3s

But efter weeks an' weeks o' wantin'
It wusnae lang afore
A loast the notion o' ma iPod
Noo it sits here, getherin' stour

Noo A niver luk near ma iPod
A jist dinnae hae the time
Weel thon wus yin dear Aipple!
Three hunner poun'? A wusnae wise!

Burns he wrote o' the haggis
An Orr o' prootas an hills
But siccan a waste o' money!
O' gadgets A hae had ma fill

Yinst we jist haed grapes and prootas
Noo Ulster-Scots hae iPods forbye
But we irnae ony mair content
For we hinnae ony time.

Ulster History & Genealogy Summer School

The Ulster History & Genealogy Summer School, a joint project between the Ulster Historical Foundation and the University of Ulster. The summer school will run from the 26th of June to the 2nd of July 2011.

The Summer School is run in partnership with the University of Ulster. Participants will be able to register as part time students of the University for the duration of the school. This will allow access to the University’s library, computer suite and also its extensive range of electronic resources.

For details and rates visit: Ulster History & Genealogy Summer School

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Year End Price Reduction on DNA Test!

Starting tonight, and until December 31st, we will reduce the price of our YDNA37, YDNA67, mtDNAPlus, and Family Finder tests.

Price for NEW KITS: Regular Price Promotional Price
YDNA37 $149 $119
YDNA67 $239 $199
mtDNAPlus $159 $129
Family Finder $289 $249
Price for UPGRADE:
Family Finder $289 $229

Orders must be in and paid for by Dec. 31, 2010, to receive this offer.

IMPORTANT: since this promotion will run through the month of December, we encourage you to spread the word starting now, as the natural tendency is for people to order at the last minute, and we will not extend it beyond 12/31/2010.

We thank you for your continued support and look forward to the sustained growth of the Family Tree DNA matching database.

To Join the Ulster Heritage DNA Project use this link: ULSTER HERITAGE

Cré na Cille on DVD

A DVD of Cré na Cille (Graveyard Clay), the feature film adaptation of Máirtín Ó Cadhain’s celebrated Irish language novel, has been released by ROSG.
The DVD, which has the option of no subtitles or subtitles in Irish, English, French, Spanish, German and Chinese, is now available to buy from selected retailers and websites.
Directed by Robert Quinn and produced by Ciaran Ó Cofaigh for ROSG, a Conamara based film and television production company, Cré na Cille (Graveyard Clay) is a darkly-humorous tale of an intense jealousy and hatred between two sisters which worsens with age and continues into the afterlife. Set in the rugged Conamara landscape, Cré na Cille reaches out to the Irish diaspora and exposes images of Ireland in a time gone by and culture and traditions which will be all too familiar to the millions of Irish at home and abroad.
According to producer, Ciarán Ó Cofaigh, “Máirtín Ó Cadhain’s novel is the most important contemporary literary piece of work written in the Irish/Gaelic language. Our film adaptation accentuates the comedic element of this fantastic piece of work and makes it much more accessible to both Irish and non-Irish speaking audiences. The availability of this DVD will expose both Máirtín Ó Cadhain’s work and the Irish language to a much wider audience.”
The DVD is formatted for PAL an NTSC Regions so is suitable for playing in all countries / regions. We would appreciate it if you could share this.

Tá an scannán lán-fhada Gaeilge Cré na Cille, leagan d’úrscéal iomráiteach Mháirtín Uí Chadhain, ar fáil le ceannach ar DVD.
Tá an DVD ar fáil le rogha gan fotheidil nó le fotheideal i nGaeilge, Béarla, Fraincís, Spáinis, Gearmanaís agus Sínis, agus insíonn sé an scéal faoin éad is faoin bhfuath atá ag beirt deirfiúracha dá chéile. Coimhlint a théann in olcas le haois, agus a leantar de fiú san athshaol.
Stiúrtha ag Robert Quinn agus léirithe ag Ciarán Ó Cofaigh do ROSG, comhlacht léirithe scannáin is teilifíse, insíonn sé an scéal faoin éad is faoin bhfuath atá ag beirt deirfiúracha dá chéile. Coimhlint a théann in olcas le haois, agus a leantar de fiú san athshaol.
Tá liosta de na suíomhanna agus siopaí ina bhfuil sé ar fáil anseo

Dúirt Ciarán Ó Cofaigh, léiritheoir Cré an Cille:
‘Aithnítear Cré na Cille mar phríomh-úrscéal comhaimseartha na Gaeilge. Leagann an athchóiriú scannáin béim ar eilimintí grinn an mhórshaothair seo agus tabharfaidh an DVD deis do lucht féachana leathan sult a bhaint as, in Éirinn agus thar lear. Níl aon dabht orainn ach go mbainfidh an lucht féachana taitneamh as an scannán, bíodh Gaeilge acu nó ná bíodh agus tá muid an bhródúil as athchóiriú ar an úrscéal iomráiteach seo a chuir os comhair lucht féachana níos leithne’.
Tá formáid an DVD déanta do PAL agus NTSC, mar sin tá sé oiriúnach do chuil tír / réigiúin. Bheimis buíoch dá bhféadfá seo a scaipeadh.
Le gach dea-mhéin,
Julianne Ní Chonchobhair
+44 7766555891

Ulster Scot Trail News

(from the Belfast Telegraph 26 November 2010)

Ards has been showcasing its Ulster Scots influences and history in a ‘test tour’ of a potential Ulster Scots Trail.

More than 20 tourism advisors experienced the ‘Fair Fa’Ye tae the Airds’ coach trip which included a talk from a native Ulster Scots speaker and a guided walking tour of Donaghadee, where characters along the route brought the town’s history to life.

The trip was organised and hosted by Ards Tourist Information Centre, one of only a handful of centres to be selected by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) to promote the best that an area has to offer.

“We were delighted not only to be chosen again as a showcase destination, but also to have the opportunity to test some of the elements which we hope to develop further into an Ulster Scots Trail,” said Judith Francey, Tourist Information Centre Advisor. “The day was a great success and helped raise awareness, not just of our unique history, but of the attractions and beauty of the Ards in general. Our guests enjoyed themselves and left much more knowledgeable about this area.”

Read more: