Belfast & Northern Ireland

On The Presidential Trail

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Most people know of the huge Irish Famine migration of the mid 1800s, but few are aware that the first attempted emigration from Ireland to the 'New World' was by Ulster-Scots. This group of people originally emigrated from Scotland to the north of Ireland to flee religious persecution.

The Founding Fathers of the Ulster-Scots were James Hamilton and Hugh Montgomery who settled in Counties Down and Antrim in 1606 followed by thousands of Lowland Presbyterian Scots. Three decades later the ship Eagle Wing sailed from Groomsport. Co. Down carrying 140 Ulster-Scots, only to be forced back by violent storms.

After that there was very little migration until May 1717 when the ship Friends Goodwill sailed from Larne, Co. Antrim bound for Boston. A bronze monument depicting a young family of emigrants stands in the town's Curran Park.

From these migrants there came a distinguished Ulster-Scots Presidential Roll of Honour including five consecutive Presidents of Ulster-Scots descent from 1885-1909. In more recent times lineage has been traced linking Nixon, Carter, Bush Snr., Clinton and Bush Jr with our northern shores. On President Clinton's historic visit to NI in Nov 1995 he declared, "I am proud to be of Ulster-Scots stock; I share these roots with millions and millions of Americans..."

Other prominent Americans of Ulster-Scots descent include Alamo legend Davy Crockett, writer Mark Twain, actor James Stewart and spine-chilling poet Edgar Allen Poe. Who would have thought such a tiny corner of Europe would have had such an influential role in the formation and development of the USA? Uncover our American roots and spend time exploring some of the following related attractions.

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Associated Venues

Arthur Cottage

Dreen, Cullybackey, Co. Anrtim c/o Ballymena TIC, The Braid, Ballymena Town Hall, Museum & Arts Centre, 1-19 Bridge St

President Grant's Ancestral Home

45 Dergenagh Rd, Dungannon c/o Killymaddy Tourist Information Centre, 190 Ballygawley Rd, Dungannon, Co. Tyrone
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