Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Laggan Redshanks

Upcoming will be posts on the research on the Redshank settlements along the Foyle River. These were located along the west bank of the Foyle in present day Taughboyne parish and to a lessor extent on the east bank in northwest Tyrone.

The largest influx of Redshank came with Fionnuala Ní Dhónaill, or as she is often called in popular history, Iníon Dubh. She was the formidable wife of Aodh Mac Manus Ó Dónaill; she was also the cousin of Giolla Easpuig Caimbeul, who was the 5th Earl of Argyll. It was he that orchestrated Iníon Dubh's marriage to the Ó Dónaill and also supplied the Redshanks that settled around St Johnston.

Most of these men were recruited from the Earl's lands in mid Argyll, in what was then the heart of the Scottish Gaeltacht. These Redshanks all had Clann Chaimbeul associations and most were drawn from families that had Man Rent contracts with Clann Caimbeul. Many of the surnames of these families are well known even today in Donegal; surnames such as Crawford, MacAllen, Campbell, McKean, McClay, etc. These Redshanks moved to east Donegal beginning in the late summer of 1569, but during Iníon Dubh's tenure as de facto leader of Clann Úí Dhónaill she made many trips to both the 5th and 6th Earls of Argyll to procure additional warriors from the Caimbeul lands in Argyll.

Many of the descendants of this group of Redshanks are participants in the Ulster Heritage DNA Project. Their DNA results often reveal their actual point of origin in mid Argyll. The DNA results reveal also that most of them have the typical Atlantic Zone Celtic haplogroup, though as expected some also carry Norse paternal ancestry.

Monday, February 7, 2011


Duart Castle on the Island of Mull

Ferguson is the anglicised form of Mac Fearghusa; from the root name Fearghus meaning super-choice. Like most Gaelic surnames there are more than one origin for the name and there are separate and non related Mac Fearghusa families in both Scotland and Ireland. In Ulster there is one Mac Fearghusa family that originated on the island of Mull in the Hebrides and some of these settled initially in the Laggan district of Donegal circa 1570s through the early 1600s. Other anglicised forms of Mac Fearghusa include, Farguson, Fergus, and Vargus.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Belted Plaid and Trews from the 1630s

Here is another illustration of Redshank dress, this one from Blaeu's map of 'Scotia Antiqua' from the year 1634. The two forms of dress here are the belted plaid, or filleadh mór on the left and the tartan trews and short jacket on the right. Both styles were common in Redshank communities from the mid 1500s onward and by that time were replacing the leine and short jacket common to both Irish and Scottish Gaels.

Gallóglaigh, Ulster 1500s

Three Gallóglaigh (said Gall-og-glee) from the 1500s. The photo above courtesy of the Claíomh group that provide Museum-quality Medieval & Early Modern Gaelic-Irish and Scots Military Interpretations. Their link: Claíomh