What did the Irish ever do for Scotland?

"The Terrorist or the Dreamer'...Banners of William Wallace & Bobby Sands at Celtic Park
Ireland and Scotland have shared a common culture going back thousands of years, particularly from the time that the Celts arrived in these northern islands.
For over a millennia, the Gaels of both lands fought and often united against a common enemy- Vikings, Normans and English. Foreign invasions for these indigenous peoples brought brutal repression, famine, ethnic cleansing, colonisation, enslavement, forced emigration and suppression of their Gaelic culture with the threat ever present since the twelfth century of being subsumed into an imperial English society and state.
Celtic Music Festival, Kansas, USA
However the Gaels in Scotland or Ireland never gave up hope. They may have lost innumerable battles and wars over many centuries. But the flame of liberty inspired resistance that took many forms, from armed rebellion to cultural expression in song, poetry and dance.  

Last year's referendum on Scottish independence did not lead to the emergence of another Celtic-influenced nation arising from the ashes of assimilation to stand once again as an equal entity in peace with its English neighbour. But that day will I believe happen some time in the future. Even though the Scottish National Party (SNP) lost its campaign for independence, nevertheless it has emerged re-energised, its membership dramatically increased especially appealing to a youth disillusioned with a staid London-centric political establishment, its new female leader winning hands-down in televised debates with her political British and Scottish adversaries in the lead-up to the Westminster general election. The result is that the party has caused the greatest political upheaval in centuries on the island by winning an unprecedented 56 of the 59 Westminster Scottish seats. In the process, it has wiped the Labour Party off the landscape much as Sinn Féin did to the old Irish Parliamentary Party during the 1918 Westminster elections. 
There is now a political faultline separating Scotland from England. Can Saor Alba now be far off?

I personally have a deep affinity with the Scots. My maternal grandparents are Agnews, an ancient Gaelic family originally known during the Medieval period as O'Gnimh, whose ancestral homeland was in what is now county Antrim but was once part of Dál Riata (Dalriada) a Gaelic territory that included parts of western Scotland and north eastern Ireland. My maternal great grandmother was Eccles, a name associated with the Scottish borderlands. When I first travelled to Scotland I felt as if I had been there before. I love the emotive sound of the Scottish bagpipes, the Scottish accent and Scottish traditional dance. My heroes include William Wallace, the medieval Scottish liberation hero, and James Connolly, the radical republican leader. 
Remembering An Gorta Mór (Great Famine), Emigration & Brother Walfrid. Celtic Park, Glasgow.
My favourite soccer team is Glasgow Celtic and I long for the day when I can be in Celtic Park to join with the fans in singing the Fields of Athenry. 
So let us examine what the Irish did for their Scottish cousins!

The name 'Scotland' is called after an Irish tribe
Territory of Dál Riata (green)
The ancient Romans who ruled much of Britain for over 400 years referred, in the 4th and 5th century, to sea raiders from Hibernia (Ireland) as Scotti.  It seems that from the latter period of the 4th century, many of these Irish Scotti settled in western Caledonia, the unconquered country north of Hadrian’s Wall, (or maybe already have had tribal connections there) establishing the Gaelic territory of  Dál Riata that included parts of western Scotland (Argyll & Lochabar) and north eastern Ireland. These Gaels grew in influence across western Caledonia up until the early 7th century when Dál Riata was defeated by the invading Angles of Northumbria at the battle of  Degsastan near Lillesdale in south eastern Scotland. 

Irish Helped the Picts against the Romans
Pict warrior, http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk
In the winter of 367AD what is known as the Great Barbarian Conspiracy took place. A coordinated series of attacks across the sea and land frontiers of Roman Britain almost led to the collapse of imperial rule on the island. The Scots of Hibernia (Ireland), the Picts and Attacotti from Caledonia (Scotland) and the Saxons from Germania (Holland) overwhelmed Roman military units across Britannia.  The invaders were defeated in the following year by an imperial army commanded by Flavius Theodosius.

Irish Gaelic became Language of Scotland
During the 5th and 6th centuries many languages where spoken in Caledonia- Gaelic, Pictish, Brittonic (Old Welsh, Cumbric) and later Old English in the southern areas. But with the expansion of the Gaelic kingdom of Dál Riata, Gaelic language and customs began to dominate. Gaelicisation was complete by the final absorption of the last Cumbric kingdom (Strathclyde) into Scotland in the 11th century.  But by then many of the peoples of lower Scotland had already adopted Gaelic ways.

First King of Scotland was from Irish 'Dál Riata'
Some historians refer to Fergus Mór Mac Eirc, a 5th century king of Dál Riata and descendant of Irish kings, as the first king of Scotland. Most experts though refer to the ninth century Cináed mac Ailpín (anglicised as Kenneth MacAlpin) son of Alpin king of Dal Riata, as the first King of the Scots as well as the King of the Picts (Alba). This amalgamation of the kingdoms of the Scots and of the Picts (Alba) may have occurred as a reaction against the onslaughts by Viking raiders who devastated these territories from the late 8th century onwards.

Coronation Stone of Scottish Kings came from Ireland
Lia Fáil in Coronation Chair
The Stone of Scone (Gaelic = An Lia Fàil = Stone of Destiny) is a block of red sandstone that was used for centuries in the coronation of the Kings of Scotland and later of the Kings of England and Great Britain.
According to legend it was the (or part of) coronation stone of the ancient High Kings of Ireland who lived at Tara in county Meath which was taken by Fergus Mac Erc a 5th century king of Dál Riata to Argyll where he was crowned.
In 1296 the Stone was seized by Edward 1 of England and taken to Westminster Abbey where it was fitted into a wooden chair and on which  subsequent English sovereigns have been crowned. It was used for the coronation of the present Queen Elizabeth 11 in 1953.

Scottish Kings were buried at an Irish Monastery(Iona)
Kenneth MacAlpin was the first of 48 kings of Scotland to be buried on the island of Iona located in the Inner Hebrides.
Over the centuries Irish and Viking kings were also laid to rest there. This tradition as an insular mausoleum for Scottish leaders was revived in 1994 when John Smith leader of the British Labour Party was buried in Iona.
The reason for this sacredness owes its origins to the Irish monk Columba (Colm Cille – the dove of the church) who settled on the island in 563 with a group of twelve companions after being exiled from Ireland.  There he found a monastery which became a focal point for the spread of Christianity throughout the land of the Picts and the Anglo-Saxons (Northumbria). It acted as the mother house for a network of monasteries across Great Britain and Ireland. Iona’s fame as a centre for spiritual and learning was known throughout western Christendom.

Legendary Irish macho Warrior helped make Scottish Women famous for their fighting skills
Cú Chulainn, the greatest of Irish mythology warriors, learnt his weaponry and martial arts skills from the famed female teacher Scáthach who lived in the fortress of Dun Scáthach  (fort of the shadows) on the Isle of Skye off the north-west of Scotland.
After their military training was near completed, Scáthach then upskilled her young male protégés in the art of lovemaking!
According to legend, Aífe (or Aoife,) a rival female warrior launched an attack on Scáthach’s fort.  As her champion, Cuchulainn took her on in single combat.  Aife though shattered his sword and just before she delivered the killing blow, he cried out that her horses and chariot (her most treasured possessions) were falling over a cliff. Temporarily distracted by this ploy, she was overpowered and imprisoned by Cuchulainn. The story goes that he spared her life on condition that she ceased hostilities against Scáthach and spent a night of passion with him. She duly obliged.

Loch Ness Monster- First written account came from an Irishman
 In his ‘Life of Columba’ the 7th century Irish-born Saint Adomnán and abbot of Iona gave the first written account  of the Loch Ness Monster. Whilst undertaking missionary work in the land of the Picts, Columba and his companions came across a group of local people burying a man who had been attacked by a water monster while swimming in Lock Ness.  He ordered one of his followers to swim across the lake. The creature appeared and went after the swimmer. Columba raised his hand, made the sign of the cross and called out, "You will go no further, and won't touch the man; go back at once." At once the monster fled.

Hard-working Irish spider inspire Robert the Bruce
Robert the Bruce and the spider. Illustration from Picture Lives of the Great Heroes (Thomas Nelson, c 1880).
At a low time of his life when the struggle for Scottish freedom against the powerful forces of the English Norman king seemed all but lost, after being defeated for the seventh time in battle, realizing that his brother was murdered and his family imprisoned in England, Robert the Bruce fled to Rathlin Island off the coast of Antrim during the winter of 1306-1307.
The legend goes that whilst hiding out in a cave, he observed a little spider spinning a web, trying to make a connection from one section of the cave's roof to another. Each time the spider failed, it began again until it finally succeeded. Bruce was so inspired and reinvigorated by this that he returned to Scotland to renew the war against the Normans which culminated in his great victory at Bannockburn and independence for Scotland.

Gaelic Irish fought with the Scots at Bannockburn

Gaelic clansmen from northern Ireland fought with the Scots at the decisive Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. Opposing them in the army of Edward 11 were their enemies in Ireland, namely the Anglo-Normans led by Walter de Burgh, 1st Earl of Ulster, whose daughter Elizabeth was actually married to Bruce.
Robert and his only living brother Edward (the three other brothers had been executed by the English) envisioned a great Celtic alliance of Scots, Irish and the Welsh against the Norman-English.  They also wanted to curtail the supply of food and men to the Norman armies of northern England bordering Scotland. So in May 1315, Edward landed with a Scottish army near Larne.  Some historians speculate that Edward had lived in Ulster previously, fostered as a child to one of the Ulster clans, possibly the O’Neills. Proclaimed High King of Ireland, securing the support of many of the Gaelic clans he initially won a series of resounding victories against the Anglo-Normans. But the Irish campaign coincided with a European wide famine that made it almost impossible to keep armies in the field and it ended in failure in 1318 at the Battle of Faughart when Edward was killed.

Irish troops & funds for Rebellion of 1746 & Bonnie Prince Charlie
In 1688 Prince William of Orange and his wife Mary Stuart were declared co-regents of England, Scotland and Ireland by the Westminster Parliament after deposing James II who had converted to Catholicism. Many Scot and Irish Gaels on Catholicism took the side of the James and his Stuart family against their Anglican Protestant opponents. They were known as Jacobeans (after the Latin for James).
The largest Jacobean revolt began in 1745 with the landing of Bonnie Prince Charlie (grandson of James 11) in Scotland.  The ships that brought the prince and his followers to the country were provided by Irish exiles based in France. Military aid for the rebels was secured by Irishman Lord Charles O’Brien, Viscount Clare, commander of the Irish Brigade in the army of King Louis XV and later Marshal of France. 
300 volunteers from the Lally, Dillon and Ruth regiments of the Irish Brigade arrived in Scotland along with 500 soldiers of the French 'Royal Scots' regiment. Hundreds more Irish troops were onboard ships bound for Scotland but, intercepted by the English fleet, they were unable to get to their destination. Later elements of an Irish cavalry unit the Fitzjames' Horse got through from France to join the rebels.
Of the Prince’s famous inner council known as the Seven Men of Moidart, four were Irish.
All these Irishmen were eager to defeat the English King George (of the German Hanoverian dynasty) and in so doing hoped to liberate their homeland from the British Protestant colonists. 
Whilst the Stuart army primarily comprised Highland irregulars, it was the professional presence of the Irish (Picquets) and Royal Scots soldiery that played a large part in the Jacobeans initially securing a string of victories and advancing as far as Derby in the English midlands.
At the battle of Culloden Moor it was the Irish regular troops who bravely covered the Highlanders retreat and prevented a full scale massacre.

Irish Maid disguise saved Bonnie Prince Charlie
Bonnie Prince Charlie was on the run for months hiding out in the Scottish highlands and islands. Helped by his two faithful Irish officers Felix O'Neil and John O'Sullivan.  he eventually made it to the Isle of Skye disguised as the Irish maid (Betty Burke) of Flora McDonald from where he boarded a frigate L'Heureux back to exile in France.

19th & 20th Century Irish Emigration provided workers for Scottish industry
From www.educationscotland.gov.uk
As a result of the industrial revolution to Britain which lead to a huge growth in new towns, cities and factories and a surge in seaborne trade to all corners of the world, there was a huge demand for cheap labour to harvest the crops; build the canals, harbours and railways network; extract coal from mines and staff the textile industries.
Because of its geographical proximity and cultural similarities, Scotland was an obvious destination for destitute Irish seeking paid work.
From the early 19th century, thousands of Irish undertook temporary seasonal work in Scottish farms picking potatoes and other crops. In the summer of 1841, 57,651 Irish labourers, crossed to England and Scotland to work on the harvest. These men travelling back and forth every year were a feature of life in rural Donegal and other Ulster counties up until the late 1950s. But as a result of the Great Famine, there was from the 1840s an exodus of Irish leaving for Scotland and elsewhere in Britain who were looking to settle permanently.  They primarily settled in the industrial areas of the west of Scotland especially Glasgow, as well as in Dundee, in the mining communities of the Lothians and in Airdrie, Coatbridge and Motherwell.
Between 1841 and 1851 the Irish population of Scotland increased by 90% giving a total Irish-born population in the year of 207,367, or 7.2%, out of a total of 2,888,742.  It was estimated that in 1851, somewhere between a half to three-quarters of all dock-labourers and two-thirds of miners in Great Britain were Irish. In the same year Irish women constituted 44.3% of female textile workers in Greenock.  Because Scotland was largely a Protestant country at this time and the majority of the Irish immigrants were Catholics, racism and sectarianism was on the increase. This was reinforced by the arrival of skilled Protestant textile workers from eastern Ulster who brought with them their anti-Catholic of the Orange Order. Discrimination and hostility against the Irish increased. They were looked on as stealing the jobs of the indigenous working classes, bringing in disease and followers of a superstitious religion.

In Dumfriesshire and Galloway there are plenty of Irishmen ready to take the bread out of the mouths of our own poor. An Irishman who lives in a hovel, feeds on potatoes and neither clothes or educates his children, can always work for less than a Scot. There are too many people who employ only the cheapest workers and do not think of the consequences.
The Dumfries Courier, 1845.

The immigration of such a number of people from the lowest class and with no education will have a bad effect on the population. So far, living among the Scots does not seem to have improved the Irish, but the native Scots who live among the Irish have got worse. It is difficult to imagine the effect the Irish immigrants will have upon the morals and habits of the Scottish people." 
Report from the Scottish Census of 1871 on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish-Scots
(Note: Thanks to Irish Genealogy Toolkit and the educationscotland.gov.uk website for statistics and facts included in the above paragraph).

So from the mid-19th century, Irish expat religious and community leaders began to put in place programmes and policies designed to improve the lives of the people living in the predominantly poor Irish urban neighbourhoods. 

Glasgow Celtic was founded by Irish emigrants
Celtic Football Club, the most famous club in the history of Scottish soccer, was founded in 1887 by Brother Walfrid of the Catholic Marist order with the purpose of alleviating poverty amongst the Irish immigrant population of the east end of Glasgow by raising money for the charity he had established,
the Poor Children's Dinner Table. The name 'Celtic', the logo of the Celtic Cross and its green and white colours all testify to the club's strong Irish and Scottish roots. Walfrid, whose original name was Andrew Kerins, was born on May 18th 1840 in the village of Ballymote in county Sligo.
In 1892, the club moved to a new location at a disused brickyard at Janefield Street, just 200 yards from the old site.  The first turf, which had been transported from county Donegal was laid by the famous Irish republican leader Michael Davitt and planted with shamrocks, the symbol of Ireland.
Today in the year 2014 one can witness on a match day in Celtic Park hundreds of Irish tricolour flags held aloof by supporters dressed in green still proudly singing traditional Irish rebel songs. 

Hibernian FC was founded by Irish emigrants
The club were founded in 1875 for the benefit of the Irish emigrants in Edinburgh by Cannon Edward Hannon and Michael Whelehan from Roscommon, who were members of the Catholic Youth Men`s Society. 
The name comes from the ancient Roman name for Ireland meaning the land of the winters.  The Irish heritage of Hibernian is still reflected, however, in its name, colours and badge (featuring an Irish harp).
The club were supporters of the Irish Home Rule party.  James Connolly, son of Irish immigrants, one of the founders of Irish republicanism and a leader of the 1916 Easter Rising against British rule in Ireland, was a fan of the club when he lived in the Cowgate district of Edinburgh which was known at the time as Little Ireland.

Dundee United was founded by Irish emigrants
Dundee United was founded by the Irish community in the industrial town of Dundee in 1909.

Up until 1923 the club was known as Dundee Hibernian and wore the traditional Irish colours of green and white.

Irish Mother's republicanism influenced George Galloway's anti-imperialism
George Galloway the former Socialist MP for Bradford and one of the leading lights of the left in Britain was "born in an attic in a slum tenement in the Irish quarter of Dundee, which is known as Tipperary  ("George Galloway: The political rebel with a cause). He has stated that his deep sense of anti-imperialism was inspired by his mother Sheila (née Reilly) who had Irish republicanism sympathies and educated him on the negative impact that British imperilaism had on the world.  

Irish republicanism inspired modern Scottish nationalism
During the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War, sympathizers in Scotland contributed huge amounts of monies as well as weapons to Sinn Féin and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) campaigning and fighting against British colonial hegemony in Ireland.  The IRA’s commander in Scotland, Séamus Reader, at the time is a great-uncle of the singer, Eddi Reader formerly of Fairground Attraction. Eddi was a prominent campaigner for Scottish independence during last year's referendum and actually took a St. Andrew's flag belonging to Seamus with her during her public campaigns.

James Connolly,  born in Cowgate the Irish district of Edinburgh to Irish immigrants from Monaghan, was one of the most influential socialist and republican leaders in Irish history. He founded the Irish Labour Party, co-founded the Irish Citizens' Army and was de-facto Commander in Chief of the 1916 Easter Rising against British rule.  He was executed by a British firing squad within days of the end of the rebellion.
The revival of Scottish nationalism in the early 20th century was heavily influenced by what was happening in Ireland, particularly Sinn Féin’s overwhelming victory in the December 1918 general election that was recognised as a key milestone in Irish history.

Author Patrick Witt, in his study “Connections across the North Channel: Ruaraidh Erskine and Irish Influence in Scottish Discontent, 1906-1920", outlines how Ruairidh Erskine (Ruairaidh Arascain) the founding father of militant Scottish republicanism was an admirer of Arthur Griffith and Padráig Pearse whom he had met and corresponded with on reviving Gaelic culture. He evenly appealed in 1920/1921 to the IRA to support a Scottish uprising. His request was turned down by IRA commander Michael Collins who felt such an military action would not succeed. But Ruairidh went on to help establish the Scots National League in 1921 which was the direct predecessor of the National Party of Scotland the first political party to campaign for Scottish self-determination that eventually metamorphosed into the Scottish National Party, which today forms the government and largest party at the parliament in Edinburgh.


Highly Influential 1995 film Braveheart was made in Ireland

Braveheart is a 1995 film directed by and starring Mel Gibson. 
Gibson portrays William Wallace a 13th-century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the First War of Scottish Independence against the English king, Edward 1.
The film is recognised as having played a significant role in generating popular interest in Scottish history across the world and in support within Scotland and amongst the Scottish Diaspora for national independence.
Much of the film was shot in Ireland, many of the leading actors were Irish and the opposing armies were made up of 1,600 Irish Army reservists.

Operation Blathánna - Reflowering the Forest - April 25th 2015

  Under the tutelage of flora enthusiast Padraig Keirns. Terryland Forest Park Conservation Volunteers & Conservation Volunteers Galway city during Spring and Autumn 2014 undertook a series of native wildflowers plantathons in the Terryland Forest Park, Ireland's largest community-initiated urban forest.
The aim of 'Operation Bláthanna' is to plant the wildflowers that will dramatically increase the biodiversity of this great natural resource.
Our first large scale flower planting for 2015 will take place on Saturday April 25th. 
Rendezvous: 10am in car park in front of Galway Bay FM.

The Terryland Forest Park area designated for the April event will be a woodland behind Riverside estate & Liosban business. will include Bluebells, Bugle, Cow Parsley, Crow Garlic, Ground Ivy, St. Patrick’s Cabbage, Pendulous Sedge, Sitchwort and Wood-rush.
There will also be a clearance of long grass and briers.

During June 2014, volunteers collected the seeds of Bluebells and Wild Garlic from mature forests in Galway and spread them across suitable areas of Terryland Forsest Park.
In September, hundreds of Primroses were planted in the forest.

Last year then represented the beginnings of a major biodiversity project to plant appropriate indigenous species in the meadows, woods and hedgerows of this unique urban natural heritage resource. The flowering of the forest with sanicle, foxglove, st. patrick's cabbage, cow parsley, raspberry, primrose, wild garlic, bluebells and many more indigenous varieties will dramatically increase its attractiveness to a wide variety of insects, birds and many other types of wildlife.

For further information, contact Brendan at speediecelt@gmail.com.

The 'Brownie' - the Camera that photographed the 20th century

Brownie B:c.1924-1931 model. Brownie Flash B: 1957-1959
Up until 1900, photography was a hobby for the rich or a profession for the very few.
Made out of brass and wood, cameras were expensive, bulky and very awkward to carry. Pictures were shot onto large plates of glass or metal with the people being photographed having to pose and stand still for what seemed like an eternity.

It was a small robust handheld cardboard box camera made by the US company Kodak that sold for one dollar in 1900 which revolutionized photography and made it available to the masses. 
Mary Brannelly with a Brownie camera, 1950, Belleville, Athenry, co. Galway, Ireland
Taken a photo was simplified.  All the user had to do was to point the camera in the right direction, use its small viewfinder to centre onto the subject matter and pull or click a protruding switch. The snapshot was born. The completed film could be taken out of its camera box and sent off for development and printing to chemists and other retail stores.

Kodak was a film making company. The inexpensive Brownie created a huge demand for their films by giving the people the means to take pictures again and again when the mood or opportunity suited.

Designed by Frank Brownell, the little portable Brownie allowed ordinary people all over the world for the first time to capture on film the everyday moments in their lives.  The family photo album soon followed. Even children became users such was its ease-of-use.  Produced by Kodak for over eight decades, the Brownie can be said to have captured more of the 20th century than any other kind of camera.

The most popular version of the Brownie was the No.2 Brownie. Introduced in 1902 it continued to be  manufactured in some form until the late 1950s.

Boycott Dunnes Stores & Support Workers Tomorrow (Thurs).

Staff in Dunnes have no security or hours or pay. They have to be available on call all week while never knowing how many hours or even what days they will be working. How can a person plan their lives, get a mortgage when they may only get 15hrs of work per week?
Dunnes refuse to recognise trade unions and to allow them to represent the workers. Their treatment and exploitation of workers brings back memories of William Martin Murphy and the 1913 Lockout.

The Moriarty Tribunal exposed how Ben Dunne used his friendship with politicians to secure lucrative contract and how he along with Denis O'Brien was instrumental in corrupting the Irish political system.

During the 1980s, Dunnes sacked workers who refused to handle goods from the apartheid regime of South Africa. I was proud then to stand on the picket line with the workers at the Dunnes Stores Henry Street branch. Today I support the workers again against a company that still treats their staff with contempt