Swapping Frontiers: The story of the Scotch Irish/Ulster Scots

The ‘Scotch’ Irish are the descendants of Lowland Scots who colonized the north of Ireland from the early 1600s. After a few generations, they left Ireland with a deep sense of betrayal towards the new British State and its king. An estimated 200,000 of them arrived in colonial America in the fifty years leading up to 1776. They provided the military strength that made the political ideas of the American Revolution achievable. If you are Protestant and one of over 30 million Americans who have Irish ancestry, you likely descend from them.

The term pops up for the first time in recorded history in 1573. That’s when Elizabeth I of England used it in reference to Gaelic-speaking Scottish Highlanders who crossed the Irish Sea and intermarried Irish Catholic natives of Ireland. These two groups had family and cultural links that regularly crisscrossed the Irish Sea way back into the mists of time. In later years their descendants would merge in the United States as Irish Catholic Americans.

Before the American Revolution many Protestants arriving from Ireland may have called themselves Irish on account of their place of birth, but that changed as Irish Catholics began to arrive in numbers in hope of a better life free of discrimination, poverty and starvation.

This article is coming soon. In the meantime read up on Scottish Americans to discover the fascinating differences between the Scots Irish and the Lowland and Highland Scots who emigrated directly to America from Scotland.