More than just St. Patrick’s Day

Historian Michael Scoggins, who works for the York County Culture and Heritage Museum, came to South Pointe in order to share the impacting Scotch-Irish culture and how it came to America.

America has granted March the Irish-American heritage month of the year, seeing how St. Patrick’s Day is March 17. It is true that the Scotch-Irish culture is the “hodgepodge” of most people in the Carolina Piedmont area, and specifically York County was one of the heaviest regions in South Carolina to be settled by Scotch-Irish culture.

Scoggins shared that in the late 18 hundreds and early 19 hundreds, the most profound and dominant ethnic group were the Scotch-Irish. It is noted within Scoggins presentation, that before immigrants from Scotland and Ireland descended to America, the rest of Europe (excluding Germany) was being conquered by Romans. But, when King Arthur of Britain took over in 500 A.D, some Celtic forces did compare to Roman cultures, including what type of armor they wore during war, having a cavalry in warfare, but kept Celtic art on their shields.

Scoggins also shared an interesting fact about who St. Patrick really was, that most people may not fully understand. In the later part of the fifth century, St. Patrick was captured from his homeland of Great Britain by Irish pirates. He then lived as a prisoner and slave in Ireland, but ended up representing a bishop to preach his own religion to the people of Ireland, which was Christianity.

“He essentially brought Celtic Christianity over to Ireland,” stated Scoggins.

St. Patrick also used the shamrock, otherwise known as a clover (which also symbolizes St. Patrick’s Day) to teach of his own religion. A three leaf clover is essentially one flower, but combined of three different leaves. St. Patrick preached that like in Christianity, you have the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Scoggins shared that, “Green became associated with St. Patrick’s Day because of the shamrock, along with the Celtic cross.”

It was between 1710-1790 when Scotch-Irish settlement begin to take place in America. Specifically along the Appalachian frontier, not near the coastline. This was to protect other settlements that had complications with other Native American tribes, and manipulated the “Irish scrappers” to essentially maintain a buffer.

When asked what was the biggest difference between Scotch and Irish culture, Scoggins answered, “Religion and language for sure. The Irish were primarily Catholics before St. Patrick started the Celtic Christianity and Scotland was mainly Protestant.”

Scoggins has worked as a historian for the  York County Culture and Heritage Museum for nearly 17 years, and has written and published 13 books since. Most of them relate to the history of York County, African-American involvement in the American Revolution and Scotch-Irish heritage in America.

Today's guest at South Pointe, Michael Scoggins, before his presentation.
Today’s guest at South Pointe, Michael Scoggins, before his presentation.

By Grayson Chappell, opinion editor