The Name of Ireland

The world would be a much lesser place without the tremendous fighting spirit of the Scottish Highland clans.

From the desolate, sea-swept Hebridean Islands and the croft-scattered western coast, this surname has emerged as belonging to one of the great families whose tradition is romanticized by the skirl of the bagpipes, the brandished sword, the colourful kilt and the highland games.

Historical researchers, using some of the oldest manuscripts, including Clan genealogies, the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, the Ragman Rolls, the Inquisitio, the Black Book of the Exchequer, parish records etc., found the name Ireland in Sterlingshire where they were seated from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke william at Hastings in 1066 A.D.

Spelling variations of the name Ireland caused much confusion in research. These changes occurred for a variety of reasons. From time to time the surname was spelt Ireland, Ierland, and these changes in spelling occurred, sometimes even between father and son. It was not uncommon for a clansman to be born with one spelling, marry with another, and yet another appear on his headstone. Sometimes a different spelling indicated a religious or clan loyalty to a branch or chieftain. The Dalriadan race of the Hebrides was anciently descended from the early Irish Kings, specifically King Colla da Crioch, who was banished from Ireland in 327 A. D. along with 350 clan chiefs. Even now, there are Scottish highland clans who still call themselves the "Children of Colla". Dalriadan King Fergus Mor MacEarca defeated the Picts, their neighbours to the east, in 498AD. Kenneth MacAlpine, first King of Scotland, or Alba, or Caledonia, as it was known, was half Dalriadan, half Pict. The Highland Clans were a different breed. In early history many battles were fought with the Scottish King in Edinburgh. Bonnie Prince Charlie finally rallied their support for his claim to the throne which culminated in Culloden in 1745. The surname Ireland emerged as a Scottish Clan or family in their territory of Sterlingshire where they were recorded as a family of great antiquity seated with manor and estates in that shire. Robert Ireland rended homage to King Edward I of England on his brief conquest of Scotland in 1296. John Ireland was granted the barony of Murthly in Perthshire in 1336. They played important political and cultural roles in the development of Perth. The family also acquired lands in the barony of Wilton in the 15th century and later in the county of Roxborough. Many of the family were ecclesiastically orientated and Sir Andrew Ireland was Vicar of Turriff in 1489, and John Ireland was Vicar of Perth in 1524. They became clan orietated in 1454 when John Ireland" of that Ilk" was Chief of the Clan. After 1600 they moved south into Lancashire acquiring estates at Hutt and Hale where Sir John Ireland was scion of the family. They also branched to Owsden Hall in Suffolk. Notable amongst the clan from early times was Sir John Ireland of Hale.

For the next two or three centuries the surname Ireland played an important role in the highlands and in the affairs of Scotland. However, typical of the ancient conflict between highlanders and Edinburgh, many ancient highland clans have still not officially been recognized as clans by the Lord Lyon of Scotland.

Many clansmen of Highland families migrated from Scotland to Ireland during the 17th and 18th centuries. They were granted the lands of the native Catholic Irish. There is no evidence that the family name migrated to Ireland, but this does not preclude the possibility of their scattered migration to that country.

However to many, life in Ireland became a disillusionment. Conditions were little better than in their homeland. Poverty prevailed, and the religious conflicts remained, except that now they were in a strange land and without the support and kinship of the clan. The New World beckoned to the adventurous..

Clansmen sailed aboard the small sailing ships known as the "White Sails" which plied the stormy Atlantic, ships such as the Hector, the Rambler and the Dove, indenturing themselves for as long as ten years to pay for their passage. These ships were originally designed for 100 passengers, but frequently sailed with 400 to 500 people on board. Many ships arrived with only 60 to 70 % of their overcrowded passenger list, the rest dying at sea.

In North America, the Highlander settled Virginia, the Carolinas, Pictou, Nova Scotia and the Ottawa Valley. One of the first migrants which could be considered a kinsman of the name Ireland was Martha Ireland who settled in Boston in 1635, along with Mary, Samuel and Thomas; John Ireland settled in Virginia in 1640; William Ireland in New England in 1663.

The American War of Independence found many who were loyal to their new cause, others remaining loyal to the Crown trekked north to Canada and became known as the United Empire Loyalists.

Many prominent people enjoy the distinction of this name John Ireland, film Actor; Ronald Ireland Sheriff of the Borders; Frank Ireland, Town Clerk.

The most ancient grant of a coat of arms was: Red with 6 silver fleur de lis.

The crest was: A dove with an olive branch.

The ancient family motto for this distinguished family name was: "Amor et Pax"