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Facts

This section provides 40 facts about Ulster-Scots history, language and culture.

Burns

  • Did you know that Samuel Thomson, the Bard of Carngranny, dedicated a volume of his poetry in 1793 to ‘Mr Robert Burns, the Ayrshire poet’, and in 1794 travelled to Dumfries to meet and exchange poems with Burns.

  • Did you know that in 1787 James Magee of Bridge Street, Belfast, published the first edition of Burns’s poetry outside Scotland.

  • Did you know that thanks to Andrew Gibson, a businessman who was a native of Ayrshire, The Linen Hall Library in Belfast has in the Gibson Collection one of the finest collections of Burns material in the world.

General

  • Did you know that a "Blue Plaque" commemorating John Boyd Dunlop can be found on a building at 38/42 May Street, Belfast where his workshop was situated!

  • Did you know that a commerative plaque is displayed at Growell and an Ulster History Circle "Blue Plaque" is on the Ulster Bank Building, which was the former showroom of Harry Ferguson Limited, Donegal Square East, Belfast. There is also a granite memorial to his pioneering flight on the North Promenade in Newcastle.

  • Did you know the late sixth- and early seventh-century Kingdom of Dál Riata, corresponding approximately to modern counties of Argyll in Scotland and Antrim in Ulster, straddled the North Channel.

  • Did you know that from the 1390s the powerbase of the MacDonald Lords of the Isles straddled the North Channel as a result of the marriage of Ian Mor to Margery Bisset, heiress to the Glens of Antrim?

  • Did you know that in May 1653 Oliver Cromwell gave orders that Ulster Presbyterians be deported to Kilkenny, Tipperary and Waterford.

  • Did you know founded in 1613, Ballycarry is the oldest congregation in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and is situated in Templecoran parish six miles north of Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim. It remains an area of strong Ulster-Scots settlement. more »

  • Did you know that the first regularly constituted Presbytery in Ireland, composed of chaplains drawn from Robert Monro’s Scottish army, met in Carrickfergus on 10 June 1642.

  • Did you know that Revd Francis Makemie (1658 – 1708) is usually regarded as the Father of American Presbyterianism? more »

  • Did you know that the Presbyterian Historical Society was founded in 1907 with the remit of promoting interest in, knowledge of and understanding of the history of the three Presbyterian traditions which exist in Ireland: the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland and the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland.

  • Did you know that Ulster-Scots has its own literature, including the works of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century ‘rhyming weaver’ poets such as Hugh Porter, the Bard of Moneyslane; James Orr, the Bard of Ballycarry; Samuel Thomson, the Bard of Carngranny; and David Herbison, the Bard of Dunclug.

  • Did you know that three women poets merit the ‘weaver poet’ description. The early nineteenth-century poet Sarah Leech of Raphoe in east Donegal was by far the most talented. more »

  • Did you know that Ulster-Scots literature also finds expression in the ‘Kailyard’ novel. The term is derived from the Scots ‘kailyaird’ or ‘kailyard’ which means the small cabbage patch (usually adjacent to a cottage). more »

  • Did you know that the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (RSPBA) was founded in 1930 as a governing body to oversee pipe band competition and to promote and encourage the development of pipe band culture throughout the world. more »

  • Did you know that in the course of the eighteenth century 250,000 or more Ulster Scots left Ulster in search of a better life for themselves and their children in the New World. They left as a result of a complex mixture of economic and religious reasons which are difficult to disentangle satisfactorily.

  • Did you know that the great Ulster-Scot exodus to the New World began in earnest when the Friends’ Goodwill sailed from Larne, County Antrim, for Boston, Massachusetts, in April 1717.

  • Did you know that Francis Allison, another Donegal born Presbyterian minister, was a student of Francis Hutcheson and as a teacher played a crucial key role in transmitting Hutcheson’s political thought to the American colonies and in shaping opinion on American independence. more »

  • Did you know that contrary to popular opinion, not all Ulster Scots supported the American Revolution. For example: Alexander Chesney from Dunclug, near Ballymena, emigrated with his parents and seven brothers and sisters to South Carolina. Although his younger brother was a rebel, during the Revolutionary War Alexander served as an officer in the loyalist militia. After the war he returned to Ireland and in 1798 he helped to suppress the United Irish rebellion.

Geography

  • Did you know that geographically, 12 or 13 miles of water separate the coasts of Ulster and Scotland. Since travel by water was easier than land travel for the greater part of human history, it is scarcely surprising that Ulster has been more closely linked with Scotland than the rest of the island of Ireland

History

  • Did you know Paschel Grousset, the French traveller and former Communard, writing in the 1880s, thought ‘Ulster is a neighbour to Scotland and belongs to the same geological, ethnological, commercial and religious system’.

  • Did you know Sir Hans Sloane from Kilyleagh in County Down was a famous Ulster-Scot who invented milk chocolate

  • Did you know that Sloane Square, Sloane Street, Hans Place and Hans Road in the centre of Londond were all named in the honour of the famous Ulster-Scot Sir Hans Sloane who invented chocolate.

  • Did you know David Manson was an Ulsterman who started the first playschool in Belfast in 1751

  • Did you know Travelling around Ireland in 1796-7, just after Burns’s early death, the French Royalist émigré, the Chevalier de Latocnaye, concluded that ‘Belfast has almost entirely the look of a Scotch town, and the character of its inhabitants has considerable resemblance to that of the people of Glasgow’. Writing about County Antrim, de Latocnaye thought ‘the way of speaking, and even of dressing, is much more Scotch than Irish’.

  • Did you know that Joseph Black was a famous Ulster-Scot who first identified carbon dioxide in our air and he was the son of a Scot who settled here during the Plantation of James I.

  • Did you know that James Murrary was a famous Ulster-Scot who came from Culnady, Co Londonderry in 1788 and was the first person to discover how to disolve magnesium carbonate into a liquid form. more »

  • Did you know Murry Street, Fisherwick Place, Belfast has a "Blue Plaque" mounted by the Ulster History Circle to mark the famous Ulster-Scot Sir James Murray as the Inventor of Milk of Magensia.

  • Did you know that the man who first described "OZONE" (atmosphere) was Thomas Andrews from Ulster. He was also the first person to liquefy gases, which led to uses in refrigerators and bottled gas, and the fuel of rockets!

  • Did you know In the Special Collections section at the main Library of Queen's University kes tge Thomas Andrews Manuscript Collection of about 85 items donated to the University by the "Andrew's" family in 1935.

  • Did you know that due to the efforts of the extraordinary Ulsterman William Thomson (Lord Kevlin) telegraph cabel was laid on the seabed from Ireland to Canada so that we could phone and make contact with each other.

  • Did you know that William Thomson was an extraodinary Ulsterman who was the most important scientist of the Victorian age?

  • Did you know that the famous Ulsterman William Thomson (Lord Kelvin) was born at 17 College Square East, Belfast on 26 June 1824?

  • Did you know in 1846 Ulsterman William Thomson (Lord Kelvin) made the first scientific calculation of the age of the earth, thus challenging the bibical fundamentalists who claimed that ir begain 6,000 years ago. more »

  • Did you know Ulsterman William Thomson (Lord Kelvin) was awarded a knighthood in November 1866 at the age of 42 for the success in Thomson's translantic cable?

  • Did you know that Ulsterman William Thomson became Baron Kelvin of Largs in 1892 at the age of 68. more »

  • Did you know that an Ulster History Ciricle "Blue Plaque" can be found at Lord Kelvin's birthplace in COllege Square, Belfast. The Institute of Physics unveiled one at the University of Glasgow also on 11 January 1999.

  • Did you know that John Boyd Dunlop was a Scotsman who came to Ulster in the middle of the 19th Century. He invented a tube from thin rubber sheets and fixed this to a wooden wheel with strips of linen from one of his wife's old dresses and a teat from a baby's bottle to create the first tyre!

  • Did you know that Augustine Henry who had Ulster-Scots connections was the discover of the kiwi fruit! more »

  • Did you know that Augustine Henry of Ulster-Scots desendant discovered a rose which flowered all year round. more »

  • Did you know that a memorial was established many years ago in Portglenone forest - the Augustine Henry Grove which consists of several specimen trees and bushes in honour of Augustine Henry.

  • Did you know that Robert Lloyd Praeger was a famous Ulster-Scot - he found weeds so interesting and facinating that he published a book about them in 1913!

  • Did you know that a Blue Plaque in the honour of Robert Lloyd Praeger and his sisiter was unviled in Holywood, Co Down by the Ulster History Society Circle. more »

  • Did you know that Harry Ferguson was a famous Ulster-Scot who invented the first tractor that didnt just tow implements like a horse, but had a special hydraulic system?

  • Did you know that the famous Harry Ferguson who is internationally recognised as one of the greatest inventors and innocators of the 20th Century and came from Growell in COunty DOwn?

  • Did you know that at the age of 17, Harry Ferguson had decided that farming life was not for him... more »

  • Did you know that Harry Ferguson's efferts led to the introduction of the Stormont Road Races Act of 1932 which made possible the first Ulster Grand Prix?

  • Did you know that Harry Ferguson designed and built a new-style plough for the Ford Tractor in his May Street Garage, Belfast? more »

  • Did you know that Harry Ferguson, the famous Ulster-Scot merged his company with Massy-Harris (a large firm on Toronto) to form Massey-Ferguson. Harry Fergus was the Chairman of the company.

  • Did you know that the famous Ulster-Scot Harry Ferguson invented the model using four wheel drive for wide public use and a device for preventing the locing of wheels in a skid?

  • Did you know that that a full-scale replica of Harry Ferguson's aeroplane, an early Ferguson-Brown tractor and a Sherman-Ferguson plough are on display in the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum at Cultra, Co Down.

  • Did you know that in August 1990 the Northern Bank issed a £20 note which featured the famous Ulster-Scot Harry Ferguson?

  • Did you know that recently the University of Ulster established the "Harry Ferguson Engineering Village" within the Facilty of Engineering after the famous Ulster-Scot Harry Ferguson?

  • Did you know that over 7,000 lives have been saved using MB's Ejector Seat, which is now in use with nore that 90 airforces and navies. The number of lives saved increased at an average of more than three a week. This is all thanks to the invention of the ejector seat which James Martin, the famous Ulster-Scot invented.

  • Did you know that the famous Ulsterman Frank Pantridege was the man who developed the world's mobile defibrillator adn became know as the "Father of emergency medicine"?

  • Did you know that the famous Ulsterman Frank Pantridge was born into the farming and tradition on the outskirts of the Plantation Town of Hilsborough, Co Down? more »

  • Did you know Did you know that Ulsterman Frank Pantridge introduced Belfast surgeons to the operation of mitral valvotomy in 1949. more »

  • Did you know that there is a life-size bronze sculpture of the famous Ulsterman Professor Pantridge at Lagan Valley Island in Lisburn?

  • Did you know the English historian G. M. Trevelyan (1876-1962) described the interaction between Ulster and Scotland as ‘a constant factor’ in history.

  • Did you know on 26 May 1315 Edward Bruce, brother of Robert Bruce, King of Scotland, arrived at Larne, County Antrim, with a view to making himself King of Ireland. Edward Bruce was eventually defeated and killed at the Battle of Faughart on 14 October 1318.

  • Did you know that in 1606 Sir Hugh Montgomery, Laird of Braidstane in Ayrshire, and Sir James Hamilton, an adventurer and a don at Trinity College, Dublin, settled North Down and the Ards with Lowland Scots in an unofficial plantation (the Montgomery and Hamilton settlement) which predated the Plantation of Ulster?

  • Did you know that the official Plantation of Ulster was facilitated by the departure of Hugh O’Neill and Hugh O’Donnell, the Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnell respectively, who sailed from Lough Swilly for the Continent on 3 or 4 September 1607. more »

  • Did you know that the Plantation of Ulster represented a remarkable U-turn in policy for the Government in London. Normally policy had been directed at trying (in vain) to keep the Scots out of Ulster rather than encouraging them to settle in Ulster.

  • Did you know that the Scottish settlers came from Lanarkshire, Ayrshire, the Borders and the Lothians? more »

  • Did you know that after the execution of King Charles I in January 1649, the Presbytery of Belfast published a document condemning the King’s ‘murder’ and other actions of the English Parliament and declaring their support for the Solemn League and Covenant drawn up by their Scottish co-religionists. On behalf of the English Parliament John Milton, the Latin Secretary of the Commonwealth, responded by vigorously denouncing the ‘blockish presbyters of Clandeboye’ for their pains and dismissing Belfast as ‘a barbarous nook’ and a place ‘whose obscurity till now never came to our hearing’.

  • Did you know that Lowlands Scots speech was introduced to Ulster around 1600, at a time when, according to Dr Caroline Macafee, editor of A Concise Ulster Dictionary (Oxford, 1996) it displayed ‘the greatest differences from English’.

  • Did you know that in 1786 the Belfast News Letter was the first newspaper outside Scotland to publish extracts of Burns’s poetry. more »

  • Did you know that Burns’s poetry was published with a glossary. In Ulster volumes of Burns are found with the poems well thumbed but the glossary in almost pristine condition. more »

  • Did you know that Archibald McIlroy, perhaps the foremost local exponent of the Kailyard school of writing, died as a result of the sinking of the RMS Lusitania by a German submarine off the Old Head of Kinsale on 7 May 1915. more »

  • Did you know that the most successful and famous Kailyard novel is probably W. G. Lyttle’s Betsy Gray or, Hearts of Down: A Tale of Ninety-Eight. Although a work of fiction, the book contains real historical figures and describes real events to such an extent that it is difficult to disentangle fact and fiction. more »

  • Did you know that Francis Hutcheson was a philosopher born in Saintfield, County Down, and is usually described as ‘the Father of the Scottish Enlightenment’. His political thought was very influential in the American colonies and also helped shape the thinking of the United Irishmen in their constitutional phase in the early 1790s. He was one of the first authors to challenge the legitimacy of slavery. more »

  • Did you know that George Washington, the founding father of the United States, is alleged to have remarked: ‘If defeated everywhere else I will make my last stand for liberty among the Scotch-Irish [or Ulster-Scots] of my native Virginia’. more »

Language

  • Did you know Ulster Scots has its own literature, including the works of the eighteenth and nineteenth Century ‘rhyming weaver’ poets such as Hugh Porter, the Bard of Moneyslane; James Orr, the Bard of Ballycarry; Samuel Thomson, the Bard of Carngranny; and David Herbison, the Bard of Dunclug.

  • Did you know that Sir James Martin the famous Ulser-Scot from Crossgar in County Down invented the ejection seat for aeroplanes?

Musical traditions

  • Did you know that the Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band, formed in 1946, is the most successful pipe band ever to have emerged from Northern Ireland. Having been promoted to Grade One in 1985, the band has been crowned World Champions at the World Pipe Band Championships in 1992, 1993, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2007. The band is the current European and Cowal Highland Gathering Champion (2008).

Ulster-Scots Dance

  • Did you know that highland dancing is a very athletic form of dancing which requires a massive amount of stamina and arm strength. Originally performed by men as a display before battle, today 95% of those who participate are female.

  • Did you know that Scottish Country Dancing is often regarded as a form of folk dancing. This is not entirely true because at least some Scottish Country dances have their origins in the courtly dances of the Renaissance.

  • Did you know that Scottish Country dances are categorized as reels (including hornpipes), jigs and Strathspeys according to the type of music to which they are danced. The first two types (also called quick-time dances) feature fast tempos, quick movements and a lively feel. The third type (strathspey) has a much slower tempo and a more formal, stately feel. more »

  • Did you know that Scottish Country dancing became popular in Ulster in the 1940s. The Belfast Branch of the Royal Scottish Country Dancing Society is in the forefront of promoting this extremely enjoyable cultural activity and has recently trained six new teachers to teach Scottish Country dancing in Coleraine, Belfast, Whitehead, Portadown, Newry and Birt in Co. Donegal.