Friday, 27 July 2012

New Book on Presbyterian Church in Ulster

While you may have to take out a second mortgage to afford this book, it will have many fascinating insights into the workings of the Presbyterian Church in the province in the mid seventeenth century.  Link to purchase below. 

The minutes of the Antrim ministers’ meetings, 1654–8
Mark S. Sweetnam, editor

These minutes record the business conducted at the regular meetings of
the Presbyterian ministers and elders who formed the leadership of the
predominantly Ulster-Scots community in Antrim. They provide an
unparalleled insight into the concerns and pressures that helped to
shape the identity and inform the practice of that community in a
precarious and difficult period, as they enjoyed a brief period of
toleration under the Cromwellian regime. These minutes are of
outstanding historical value, not least because they are among the
earliest surviving records of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. In
addition, the meetings’ concentration on the details of everyday life
provides us with information that cannot easily be reconstructed from
other sources. The minutes appear here in print for the first time,
with a comprehensive introduction and apparatus.

Mark S. Sweetnam is a research fellow in the School of History at TCD.
He has published widely on literature and theology, with a particular
focus on the early modern period, and on digital humanities.

Hardback.190pp. August 1st 2012
Catalogue Price: €50.00

The link to the book on the Four Courts Press website is:

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Donagheady Presbyterian Churches

Donagheady Presbyterian Churches
A Brief History & Photos

Edited and Submitted by

James A. McKane


In the early 17th century, the Scottish colony, Abercorn Estate which owned the manor of Dunnalong, was established in the Bready area. In 1622, the nearest church at Old Donagheady was in a sad state of repair being roofless. It was restored to become a Protestant place of worship. In the Rebellion of 1641, it was destroyed with the minister being fatally wounded.

John Hamilton was the first Presbyterian minister in Donagheady. He arrived in the 1650s from Scotland. At the time of the Restoration in 1660 Hamilton refused to conform to the will and practices of the Church of Ireland; therefore he lived as a virtual outlaw. Persecution by the authorities forced Hamilton to secretly preach to followers in small groups. Traditional lore has it that the Presbyterians met in the Wood near Magheramason. In 1667, the Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry excommunicated 19 Presbyterians from Donagheady.

Slowly restrictions became more relaxed with the Presbyterians of Donagheady being allowed to build their first church in Altrest townland in 1672.  Rev. Hamilton ministered at Donagheady until his death during the Siege in 1689 at Derry. Lore claims that his small gravestone, which can no longer by found was in the north-west corner of Grange graveyard. It is still debated whether he was actually buried in Grange as the gravestone may have only been to his memory. There was no minister at Donagheady Presbyterian until Rev. Thomas Wensley was ordained on 16 January 1699. After the service in the church, Church business was concluded after the service in the tavern, later known as Molly Kelly's, in Drumgauty close to the Grange graveyard.

Following the death of Rev. Wensley in 1736, a dispute over the choice of their next minister ended with the congregation splitting into two separate divisions. At its lowest point, there was a riot in the church during a Sunday service. By 1741, the Synod of Ulster agreed to splitting the congregation in two parts. The congregation in the original church became known as First Donagheady with the new one named Second Donagheady. The situation was so ridiculous that the Second Donagheady Church was built only 300 metres from the old one.

In the latter 1800s, both congregations built new churches. With changes in economic conditions membership in both congregations dwindled forcing the two Donagheady congregations to unite on 1 January 1933.  With the union, Second Donagheady was chosen at the succeeding church. A plaque in the church commemorates the union and honours the two retiring ministers – Rev. John Rutherford and Rev. James Connell.

The old First Donagheady church building was allowed to fall into disrepair and was later demolished. Today, there are two houses on the First Donagheady property with a portion of an original wall of the church still there.

First Donagheady Presbyterian, pre 1933

Link to additional photos: Donagheady Presbyterian Churches.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The Laggan Redshanks

A Short History of the Laggan Redshanks, 1569-1630, is the story of the Highland Scots, called Redshanks, which settled in east Donegal in the sixteenth century.  The story has many interesting elements which include Clan Campbell and their dynamic leader, Gaelic sexual intrigues, English Machiavellian manoeuvres, Iníon Dubh, and the Redshanks themselves. 

The Redshank settlement in the Laggan took place in the tumultuous years that were dominated by Elizabethan English attempts to bring Ulster firmly under the control of the Crown.  The initial wave of Redshanks came to the Laggan with Iníon Dubh (Fionnuala Nic Dhónaill) after she married Aodh Mac Manus Ó Dónaill in 1569.  The Redshanks were vital players in the affairs of those times and indeed it was their military skills that delayed the conquest of Ulster until the beginning of the next century.  They remained in service of the O'Donnell clan until the Gaelic military collapse after the Battle of Kinsale in 1602.

After Kinsale they remained in the Laggan, but as the Plantation scheme was implemented, they had new lords, the Lennox Stewarts, and the Cunninghams of Ayrshire.  The Laggan Redshanks were unique within the Gaelic world, because they were drawn from clan Campbell and their allies.  The Campbell clan under the leadership of the fifth Earl of Argyll were early converts to the Reformed Faith.  While part of the traditional Gaelic world, the Laggan Redshanks' Protestant faith allowed them to fit into the post Plantation Ulster Scots community in the Laggan.

Many of the Ulster settlers to Colonial America that became the Scots-Irish, were the descendants of the Redshanks from the Laggan.  The Highland Scottish element in the Scots-Irish is a commonly overlooked aspect of the Ulster Migration.  Even more descendants of the Laggan Redshanks migrated to New Brunswick and Ontario Canada in the nineteenth century. 

The Highland Scottish settlement in the Laggan is an integral part of the shared traditions and links between Ulster and Scotland and an important, though little known, aspect of Ulster's long history.    

A Short History of the Laggan Redshanks, 1569-1630 is available in a Pdf download which can be read on an Ipad, Kindle, computer, or similar device.  The book includes the 1630 muster roll for the Portlough precinct in the Laggan. 

Monday, 9 July 2012

DNA Test Summer Sale

Just received from the Family Tree DNA labs news of their substantial mark down in pricing for their testing services as part of their Summer Sale.  You will not see prices this low again I suspect.  his is a great opportunity to use the remarkable tool of DNA testing for your genealogy and family history projects. 

To take advantage of the sale visit the Ulster Heritage DNA Project 

Sale Runs Until 11:59 PM of 15 July, which is a Sunday. 

Last summer, we offered special pricing to attract new members to your projects. This was the most successful offering of its type in our company’s history. Our project administrators that got behind the recruitment efforts saw their projects grow, and, thus, our database also grew. With this in mind, we’d like to offer a summer special again this year.
Special Summer Prices
NEW KITS Current Group Price SALE PRICE
Y-DNA 12 $99 $59
Y-DNA 37 $149 $129
Y-DNA 67 $239 $199
Family Finder $289 $199
mtFullSequence (FMS) $299 $219
FF+ Y-DNA 37 $438 $328
FF + mtDNAPlus $438 $328
Comprehensive (FF + FMS + Y-DNA 67) $797 $617
SuperDNA $518 $428
12 to 37 $109 $70
25 to 37 $59 $35
25 to 67 $159 $114
37 to 67 $109 $79
37 to 111 $220 $188
67 to 111 $129 $109
mtHVR1 to Mega $269 $209
mtHVR2 to Mega $239 $199