300 Years of Irish Migration

For centuries migration has dominated and shaped Ulster’s history. This applies to both immigration and emigration – people arriving and people departing. The seventeenth century witnessed the arrival of thousands of families from Britain. By the late 1600s families from Ulster were beginning to travel westwards to North America.

In the early 1700s the pace of emigration quickened and it is reckoned that as many as 250,000 people crossed the Atlantic from the province in the eighteenth century. Migration, on an even greater scale, continued throughout the 1800s and 1900s and now included destinations such as Australia and New Zealand. People from this province and their descendants have made an enormous impact on counties around the world.

On this trip you will visit many of the places that feature prominently in our migration story. These range from the ports of Belfast, Newry, Portrush and Derry to the Ulster-American Folk Park. We will also travel to Downpatrick and learn more about some of the earliest people to travel from Ulster to Australia. 2018 will mark the tercentenary of the 1718 migration to New England and places associated with this important exodus will be visited in the Bann Valley.

Delving even deeper into the past, we will visit Dungannon to learn about the 'Flight of the Earls' in 1607, when two of Ulster's leading lords left the island for Continental Europe, never to return. There will also be a tour of Barons Court, the magnificent seat of the Duke of Abercorn whose ancestors migrated from Scotland over 400 years ago.

The 1718 Migration

To download a booklet on the 1718 Migration please click here

Perhaps the most important single year in the story of the relationship between Ulster and America is 1718. It was not by any means the first migration of people from Ireland to America, but it is probably the first that was organised to bring groups of settlers from one definite catchment area, and importantly, these were people who wanted to continue to live together in the new land.

In  1718 several hundred people from the north of Ireland travelled on sailing ships to Boston in America, and thence to found towns and communities in America, at first in New Hampshire and Maine, and then onwards throughout the continent. In 2018, we in Ulster along with colleagues and distant relatives in New England have the opportunity to mark a very important but largely forgotten tercentenary.

While having special relevance to the areas most directly affected – the Bann and Foyle river valleys and adjoining districts in Ulster, along with New England in the United States – 1718 and the events of that year have importance for the island of Ireland and North America and the special relationship between the two.