This two-hour public television documentary will combine narrative and music performance to recount the little-known but vital role of the people known as the “Scotch-Irish" or "Scots-Irish" in shaping our country’s democratic traditions, values and conflicts, with the same proletarian spirit reflected in their music.
Who were the people who made up fully one-quarter of the European population in America by 1776, but whose identity nearly vanished in the sweep of history? Were these individuals valiant patriots who turned the tide of the American Revolution and blazed the trails across the frontiers? Were they hot-tempered, lawless, rustic religious zealots who battled and displaced native peoples on both sides of the Atlantic? Or were they learned yeomen who infused a new nation with democracy, religion and education? Or all of the above?
More Detail: https://americeltic.net/scots-irish
Our film will be an objective history based on solid scholarship. Moreover, it will confound conventional wisdom by underscoring the common bonds between Irish Catholics and Protestants in Ireland and in the United States, rather than dwelling on just the differences that have sometimes divided them.
The traditions, values and conflicts characterizing American democracy today owe much to the influence of immigrants from Ulster and their descendants. They played important roles in winning the Revolutionary War, laying down the founding principles enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, and spreading Madisonian-Jeffersonian democracy. They embraced and helped solidify middle-class American ideals of individualism, expansionism, and forms of populism that could be either liberal and egalitarian or nativist and racist.
Although ours is at heart an American story, we will devote significant attention to the history of this group’s forebears in Scotland and Ireland in order to provide context. The people who came to be known as the Scotch-Irish or Scots-Irish shared a world view informed both by the democratic principles of the Presbyterian Church and the Scottish Enlightenment and by a work and warrior ethic honed for centuries in Scotland and Ulster.
The film’s epic storyline will span from St. Patrick’s Ireland to present-day America. It will interweave the narrative with musical performances -- mostly traditional ballads and some instrumental pieces -- that illustrate and emotionally reflect the stories told in the narrative. Some of the musical selections will be archival, but most will be performed by an ensemble organized for the project. We will choose songs and tunes that came from the times and events that they recount. As the late Irish traditional singer and song collector Frank Harte wrote, “Those in power write the history, while those who suffer write the songs.”