Monday, 31 May 2010

The Uster Museum controversy (8)

One of the most obvious omissions in the Ulster Museum is the Hamilton & Montgomery settlement in east Down, which began in May 1606, the year before the Flight of the Earls and several years before the official Plantation of Ulster.  Thousands of Lowland Scottish families migrated to Ulster in the years that followed, providing the foundation for the later Plantation of Ulster.

Sir James Hamilton and Sir Hugh Montgomery were the 'founding fathers' of the Ulster-Scots and yet there is no mention of them.   Their settlement was 'the dawn of the Ulster-Scots' and yet it is omitted from the museum story.

In his book The Narrow Ground, the respected historian Dr A T Q Stewart said:
Hamilton & Montgomery... did not wrest a fertile, cultivated and prosperous region from Gaelic proprietors. They came instead to a country devastated by war and famine... they created the bridgehead through which the Scots were to come into Ulster for the rest of the century...
It is the eastern Scots plantation, old and new, which is the real Plantation of Ulster … When we try to establish a relationship between the Plantation of Ulster and the existence of Northern Ireland in the twentieth century, we must be aware of certain ambiguities and some imponderable factors. The distinctive Ulster-Scottish culture, isolated from the mainstream of Catholic and Gaelic culture would appear to have been created not by the specific and artificial plantation of the early seventeenth century, but by the continuous natural influx of Scottish settlers both before and after that episode ... Immigration from Scotland was fairly continuous for centuries before 1609, and was a fact of geography rather than a fact of history.
What explanation can there be for the omission of the Hamilton & Montgomery settlement?

Anyone seeking information on the Hamilton and Montgomery should visit which was researched and written by Mark Thomspon and Dr John McCavitt.


  1. The story of the Hamilton-Montgomery settlement and their role in the Plantation of Ulster is, indeed, fascinating. You don't have to be Ulster-Scots. It is of historical importance, to my mind, throughout the British Isles and further afield. For instance, many in North America are eager to learn more about their origins and roots.

    I'd certainly like to see an exhibition - even interactive - of this story: what Sir Hugh might have worn or looked like, his homes, their staff and deputies, where he lived, the planters he brought over etc.

  2. I don't think anyone can argue with the Ulster Scots representation in the Museum. What they issues with is creationism, a topic which you seem to be avoiding on your blog.

    Creationism receives adequate representation in churches and religious classrooms. It has no place in a museum, whose purpose is to represent history and science.

    Christian creationism is not a part of the history of N. Ireland any more than Nordic creationist myths, Indian creationist myths, Asian or African creation myths are. After all people from these cultrues are also part of N. Ireland's history and culture.

    The simple reason that creationism should not be represented in the museum is that it offers no evidence that can be evaluated independently. Indeed it offeres no evidence at all.

    In your quest for representation I don't hear you calling for the creation myths of all cultures of N. ireland to be represented in the museum but only that of your own faith. That is hhardly inclusive or representative. Will you also include the myths of the tooth fairy, easter bunny and santa to represent the countless children that believe in these things. After all you can't disprove their existence either.

    If a creationist display is to go on display please do include it under mythology and not alongside the science section. people who are serious about learning something scientific from the museum would only be disturbed by the raucous laughter taking place at the display of Adam hand feeding the T-Rex, or the Ark piled to the sky with two of each animal or indeed by the talking snake.

  3. Hi Nelson,

    I have read all your comments regarding this museums controversy.

    The problem is not Ulster Scots or the Orange Order featuring in any exhibits.

    Indeed the Ulster Scots are an unequivocal part of the cultural history of N.I.

    Similarly the Orange Order is arguably very important in telling the story of Northern

    Ireland and many of its peoples.

    Creationism however is a concept that is not only not based on evidence or fact but indeed

    Is in direct opposition to the absolute facts from several scientific disciplines (I’ll not list them here).

    Museums are for the home of facts, historical, political, cultural and scientific.

    Surely you can understand to allow religious concepts into a museum presented as factual

    information is inappropriate??



  4. The exhibition headed 'Evolution facts' might as well postulate 'Gravity facts' for the origins of the universe. There is no disharmony for the most current scientific theories on the singularity event whereby the universe and time itself came into being when set against the Genesis account in chapter 1, verses 1-6. Evolution doesn't come into it. It is the museum which needs to get real, even if it is incapable of inclusivity .

  5. Timothy - On an earlier post Mark Thompson recommended the North Down Museum in Bangor in relation to Hamilton and Montgomery. I know Mark is also involved in developing a tourism project, which includes Hamilton and Montgomery, for North Down and Ards councils. That is something to look forward to as it will undoubtedly be of a high quality.

  6. nayaran-nayaran - I welcome your comments in relation to the recognition and representation of the Orange Order and the Ulster-Scots within the Ulster Museum.
    You have no difficulty with a fair representation and that is all I want - unfortunately some others do have a problem with it.
    As regards the origin of the universe and the origin of life I will come to that shortly, when I have finished dealing with the other matters. My intention is to deal with each of the issues in a systematic way.

  7. Pensterx - I welcome your comment about the representation of the Ulster-Scots in the Ulster Museum. As regards the origin of the universe and the origin of life I will come to that shortly, when I have finished dealing with the other matters. My intention is to deal with each of the issues in a systematic way.


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