Scotch-Irish & Black Irish


Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
United States
As a genealogist, let me advise you to ignore online trees.
Oh yeah. When I was first starting out with genealogy I trusted them somewhat (!), but it didn't take long for me to realize that was a mistake.
Sep 2013
I had a friend who was of Irish descent and he used to comment that his black hair was the result of some Spaniard being stranded on Ireland after the failure of the Spanish Armada. The fact is, people of Celtic descent will often have black hair. Many speculate that redheads come from the nordic lands and were brought to Ireland by the Vikings. Scots-Irish is a common term in the area where I live. These were people who settled in Ulster Ireland, from Scotland (mainly the lowlands) and northern England during the Plantation Perod (17th century). After a 100 years or so in Ulster, many came to the U.S. and settled primarily in the Appalachians.
The Scotch-Irish
Yes, but there were also many Gaelic Highlanders & Gaelic Irish who settled in Appalachia. A lot of people mistakenly apply this term too them. Too be clear, these people were Saxons just like the English. I'm also pretty sure red headed Celts & Saxons were fairly common long before the Viking age. Genetically i don't think you can distinguish a Celt from Germanics. It's not Genetics but culture & a different language that separates them.

PS I think any group with blondes also has redheads, redheads are just rusty blondes.
The Scotch-Irish as they are called in America came to America in the 1700s. The Irish did not come in any big number until the 1800s after the potato famine about 100 years later.
Oct 2010
The Scots-Irish are a distinct people whom first migrated mostly from the Scottish borders during 17th century to Ulster in the North of Ireland. They were mostly border Scots but also included many of their brethren from the North of England. The term Scots or English to these border people meant very little in reality as they looked upon themselves as borders first and Scots or English only secondly. In 1603 James VI of Scotland became also James I of England and this Union of Thrones caused James to look closely at what was once the disputed border land between his two kingdoms. In the past the the freedom loving and unruly borderers had been useful to both Scots and English monarchs as they could be used as both a first line of defence and a tool for raiding over the border. However many of the Border clans were often without control of either monarch and orchestrated raids and protection rackets throughout and beyond the borders. In essence many of the families were gangsters and hard men who did not shirk from murder, protection rackets or blackmail to achieve their gains. Infact the very term "Blackmail" comes directly from the activities of these border families.

Shortly after James VI of Scotland became James I of England it became quite apparent that the border clans both Scottish and English were now redundant in their usefulness to the Crown. As there was no real border anymore their activities and inter family feuding quickly became an annoyance to the King and a solution had to be sought. The solution that James came up with was two fold a typical case of carrot and stick. The most notorious and unruly reivers were hunted down and executed and displayed on gibbets from Melrose to Carlisle whilst many of their kinsmen were given the option of a one way ticket to Ulster. The idea behind this was not only to remove a nuisance from the border lands of the now united Kingdom (In monarch at least) but to ferment the Crown's dominion and power in her Irish territories. Who better to do this than arguably the hardest and most unruly people in the Kingdom. Therefore during the first part of the 17th Century many Southern Scottish and Northern English families emigrated or were planted to Ulster and spread throughout Ireland. That is why there are so many people in Ireland who have Scottish or English border names such as Armstrongs, Johnston's, Scott's or Hetheringtons, Robson's or Grahams.

For the most part these families performed their purpose but by the late 17th century many had become disillusioned with their life in Ulster and as their ancestors choked under authority they also looked to free themselves. Many opted to emmigrate to the Colonies in the New World. Here they found themselves once again on the margins as the established English colonists had little time for the new comers many found themselves being forced once again beyond the pale. However this did not deter these people as a life on the border or frontier was what they were used to and in this environment they flourished. Overtime they once again proved themselves a bulwark for the colonies whether it be against Native attacks, the French, Spanish or a combination of all three they proved their metal and worth more than once to their more pacific fellow colonists to the rear. They perhaps due to their roots and their disregard to authority also proved to be some of the staunchest supporters of the rebellion against the crown in the 1770's. They were also the trail blazers of the new continent. It should be of no suprise to anyone that "Hawkeye" of the famous novel "Last of the Mohicans" was an Ulster Scot.
The Scots-Irish legacy in the United States cannot be underestimated as they have been a pivotal influence throughout the 243 years of its existence.

As to racial characteristics I would not say there is one type of Scotsman or one type of Celt. We do have to distinguish between the Scots-Irish who emmigrated first to Ulster and then the Colonies between 17th and early 18th century and the Scots and later the mass Irish Immigrations during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The earlier emigration was chiefly by second generation Border Scots and English who had lived in Ulster for around 50-80 years between 1612-1700 and then moved onto the America's. These were the Scots-Irish or to give them their true name Ulster-Scots. The other Scots that came later were of many different backgrounds as were their Irish cousins in the 19th century.

I would say if you wish to go back in time that I would most certainly agree that there is no Celtic race but a Celtic culture and therefore many peoples of different genetic origins formed and created a pan European Celtic culture. I for one agree with Tacitus when he he stated in his Agricola, chapter XI (c. 98 AD) described the Caledonians as red haired and large limbed, which he considered features of Germanic origin: “The reddish (rutilae) hair and large limbs of the Caledonians proclaim a German origin”. I would not discount this as we know now that the Scandanavians had been accomplished seafarers for perhaps millenia prior to the age of the Vikings so it does stand to reason that these peoples had been sailing across the North sea and settling in Scotland for a long time. A DNA survey of the British Isles in the late 90's confirmed that most Scots share a Scandanavian orgin which seems to contradict our Celtic heritage. However this only contradicts our Celtic heritiage if you believe that the Celts were a race and not a culture.