Wednesday, August 15, 2012

MacFarlane in Ulster

Members of the MacFarlane Highland Scottish clan settled in Ulster in the sixteenth century, as did many other families from the Scottish Gaeltacht.  The MacFarlane, or more properly, Mac Pharláinn, families were native to the lands west of Loch Lomond.  Many of the Mac Pharláinn families that settled in Ulster were in the Redshank colony in the old Portlough precinct in east Donegal. The Redshanks in the Portlough precinct were part of an elaborate plan initiated by the fifth Earl of Argyll, Giolla Easpuig Donn Caimbeul.  His niece was the famous Iníon Dubh, mother of Aodh Rua Ó Dónaill, and it was on her lands that many Caimbeul sponsored Highland Gaels settled. 

The ruins of Iníon Dubh's castle near Porthall; photo copyright  Jim McKane 2012

In the sixteenth century  Clann Chaimbeul spread from their homelands in mid Argyll extending their bases and influence in both the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland.  Clann Chaimbeul was the most successful kinship group in early modern Scotland.  Their great advantage was they were Gaels, but could operate not only in their traditional Gaelic society, but also in the emerging British world, including the Scottish Lowlands. The earls' (of Argyll, head of Clann Chaimbeul) main base was Inveraray on Loch Fyne, and there they had access to the Firth of Clyde and the western seas including the North Channel passage to Ireland.  The Mac Pharláinns of Arrochar were drawn into Lord Argyll's elaborate network of allies and they were one of the many Redshank families that settled in east Donegal.

For more information of Mac Pharláinn families in Ulster follow the link below.

Link:  Mac Pharláinn in Ulster

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Redshank in Belted Kilt

Redshank circa 1600

Above is archaeologist turned actor Dave Swift who runs the Claíobh historical group and has appeared in several historical productions with the BBC, RTÉ, and other productions.  Many of the Redshanks in both Ireland and Scotland were wearing the full belted kilt (feileadh Mór)  by the late 1500s.  The helmet type is a Morion and a design popular and available to Gaels at this time.  Usually they were imported from Germany or Spain.  The sword is the archetypical two handed Gaelic type called a Claíobh Mór.  The shirt of mail was still popular in 1600 and worn by those Gaels with the funding to afford one, they were quite expensive.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Laggan Redshanks

A Short History of the Laggan Redshanks, 1569-1630, was published in July and is now available on the Ulster Heritage website as a Pdf download suitable for Ipad, computers, and will read on a Kindle or similar device.  There is also a Kindle copy available from Amazon, though the download version has better graphics.

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.  The book runs 79 pages in the Pdf and has a map of the Laggan and illustrations of the dress of the Redshanks in the late 1500s and early 1600s.