Where to Search in Ireland
The old remains of Dunseverick Castle in County Antrim.
If you are Scotch-Irish, chances are that your people came from Northern Ireland, or Ulster, when Antrim became part of the Earldom of Ulster. Before that, it was inhabited by a Celtic people, called the Darini. It was during the 16th century that the British attempted to colonize the region, and that was when manyScots settled in and around Antrim. The Spanish began sending their trading vessels and in 1588, twenty-four wrecks of the Spanish Armada were found along the coast of Antrim. It is estimated that some 1300 lives were lost.
This beautiful land is divided into sixteen baronies.
Island Magee is known as the home of witchcraft. It was during the Irish Rebellion of 1641 that Protestants were declared witches and massacred and by 1689 Antrim was the center of Protestant resistance against the rule of James II, a Catholic. Things were so unpleasant for the Protestants, that by the early 1700s, the residents of Antrim were migrating to the American colonies. Generally speaking, they were able to sell their possessions to pay for passage.
As you can observe on this map, Belfast was the common port city used to transport passengers and merchandise abroad. The typical voyage could take from 6 to 10 weeks.
If you have Scotch-Irish ancestors, county Antrim is a good beginning point. Unfortunately, because of the civil strife and wars in Northern Ireland, it is virtually impossible to locate any old records to speak of. I found the following research tools on FamilySearch.org
1623-1866 - Ireland, Diocesan and Prerogative Marriage License Bonds Indexes.
1701 - Ireland. Catholic Qualification and Convent Rolls 1701-1845.
A good many vessels landed in Philadelphia and Charleston, South Carolina. It is noteworthy that there were pioneer trails out of Philadelphia into South Carolina, so they could have landed in Philadelphia and taken the trail into South Carolina, or, landed in one of the oldest port cities in America where the records survived, viz; Charleston. I have found some of the oldest Irish settlements in the South Carolina counties of Laurens, Abbeville, and Chester. The reason migrants went there is to join earlier groups of Irish settlers. The language was rather sharp, and this was a convenience. The German emigrants did the same thing.
The earliest known settlement of Scotch-Irish in North Carolina was in 1729, along the Cape Fear River. Should this location be found, there might be some old slate tombstones that could provide more clues.
Don’t forget to search for clues written in books about congregations that migrated in whole groups to America.