Friday, September 4, 2015

Highlanders in West Ulster, 1569-1630

In the sixteenth century Scottish Highlanders settled in the Laggan district of east Donegal. They were called Redshanks. Their story is told in the book The Laggan Redshanks.  The history of the Laggan Redshanks has many fascinating elements which include Clann Chaimbeul and their dynamic leader the fifth Earl of Argyll, Gaelic sexual intrigues, English Machiavellian maneuvers, and the Redshanks themselves.

The Redshank settlement in the Laggan took place in the tumultuous years during the sixteenth century that were dominated by Elizabethan English attempts to bring Ulster firmly under the control of the Crown.  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.

The Laggan Redshanks remained on their lands in Portlough precinct after the Plantaion began.  Their Campbell connections, Reformed faith, along with their reputation as elite fighting men, which made them not only acceptable to the incoming Stewarts, but a welcomed van guard.  The Redshanks could be considered British subjects in an ecumenical Scottish sense, complete with appropriate loyalties, and a version of the Protestant faith.  In the Portlough area, the incoming Planter Scots came from Ayrshire and Lennox.  Lennox included lands in the Scottish Gaeltacht and parts of Ayrshire were still Gaelic speaking in the early 1600s.  The Scots from these areas were familiar with Gaelic language and customs and were ethnically similar to the Campbell Redshanks.

Many of the descendants of the Laggan Redshanks migrated to the English Colonies during the Ulster Migration and became part of the Scots-Irish people. Of interest to the genealogist, the book includes appendices of the muster rolls and surnames of the Redshanks and notes on their point of origin in Scotland.

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