The Scots-Irish population in the Appalachia region is credited with many things. Hardscrabble people who made a living farming hilly terrain in remote, isolated areas. They influenced our language, religion, music and helped to bring the art of whiskey making to Kentucky. I, along with many others, are fortunate to call these people my ancestors.
|My paternal great-grandparents, James Claude with his wife Fannie.|
The term "Scots-Irish" or "Scotch-Irish" is strictly an American term and not used in the countries of Britain or Ireland. The term does refer to Irish Protestant immigrants from the Ulster region of Ireland that came to America in the 1700's. The majority of these immigrants were descendants of Scottish and English families who had moved to Ireland in the 1600's. Sometimes referred to as "Ulster Irish" or "Ulster Presbyterians", approximately 250,000 migrated during the 18th century.
|My grandfather, Lallie.|
The Whiskey Rebellion in 1794 brought some Scots-Irish to Kentucky. In western Pennsylvania whiskey makers rebelled against General Washington over whiskey taxes. 5,000 protesters were put down by a militia which led to a mass migration of Scots-Irish to Kentucky and other territories to avoid taxes on whiskey, which was used as a form of currency.
|My maternal great-grandparents, Anna Lee and Lucas.|
NASCAR can trace its roots to the moonshine runners of the Applachian Mountains during prohibition. Bluegrass and Country Music can also trace their roots to the Scots-Irish culture. Bluegrass Music was widespread in the remote mountain sections until WSM radio brought it public in the 1930's with the Grand Old Opry.
One of the things that can really set an Appalachian person apart in a crowd is their dialect. Appalachian speakers often use "a-prefixing". This is a dialect practice that has died out in many other parts of the U.S., but it is still used in Appalachia. A person using this places an "a" in front of certain verbs. For example, "Here she comes a-cryin". People who study dialects think that this likely came from the Gaelic language, originally spoken in Ireland and Scotland. Although, this cannot be proven for certain.
Do you have some Irish history in your family? Chances are you do....even if you don't live in Appalachia. Dig around and do a little research this St. Patrick's Day. You might be pleasantly surprised.