Monday, December 3, 2007

Lowlanders, Celts & Beginnings of the Troubles

From The Road to Guilford Courthouse, by John Buchanan, ©1997, John Wiley & Sons, pp. 120-121:

    There are Celtic myth enthusiasts who believe the Scotch Irish were Celts, have peopled with Highlanders whole American landscapes where there were none, imagined bagpipes on American battlefields that never echoed their wails, conjured a Celtic culture for an entire American region where it never existed. But the Scotch Irish were not Celts by either blood or culture. Their ancestors were Lowland Scots, inhabitants of a poor, backward, violent land. The difference between the Lowland Scots and the more famous Highland Scots should be established immediately. All that Lowlanders and Highlanders had in common, besides wretched poverty, was a political line on the map separating Scotland and England, and their incompatibility survived the Act of Union (1707) of the two kingdoms well into the nineteenth century. They might have lived in very different countries, for they were very dissimilar people and they hated each other.
    The hardening split between Highlanders and Lowlanders had developed at least by the late fourteenth century and was rendered more intransigent by deep ethnic and cultural differences. ... To these differences was added after the Protestant Reformation the profound distinction between Protestant Lowlanders and largely Catholic Highlanders in an age of fierce religious conflicts.
    In the early seventeenth century, in a continuation of an effort England had begun five centuries before to subdue Ireland, James I of England, who was also James VI of Scotland, confiscated the Ulster lands of the Irish aristocracy and created the Plantation of Ulster. On it were settled Scottish Lowlanders and English farmers and Londoners, Protestants all. Earlier settlements under private initiative were also composed of Scottish and English Protestants. James also hoped that flooding the land with Lowland Scots and English would prevent joint actions by Irish Celts and Scottish Highland Celts. Thus were the seeds planted for the terrible "troubles" we have witnessed on our television sets for the past decades.