THE VALLEY ULSTERMAN:
A CHAPTER OF VIRGINIA HISTORY...continued

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In the North of Ireland is the province of Ulster. It is a part of Ireland, geographically; but it is a Scottish country in the character of its people. Between it and the west coast of Scotland roll the deep waters of the North Irish Sea; and over those waters and into this North Province came from time to time, after the protestant Reformation, the Scotchmen of the West,--praying men and protestants and covenanters, who settling the country, built towns and villages, established trades and manufactures, enclosed fields and raised farmhouses; and yet kept themselves separate and apart from their Irish neighbors in marriage, in custom, and in religion,--remaining unto this day praying men and protestants and covenanters as of old.

So individual and so characteristic of them have been this segregation of themselves and this preservation of their national and racial peculiarities, that these appear as conspicuous traits even in their personal appearance; and a distinguished Scotch Irish divine, who came from the North of Ireland after our civil war to minister to a great church in New York City, stated recently that a gathering of Valley people, which he addressed in the county of Rockbridge, reminded him more than any he had ever seen, of his own congregation in the little town of Newry, in County Tyrone, Ulster. They were men of large courage and of simple faith, these early Ulstermen,--so afraid of God, says the historian of them, that this fear left in their hearts no room for fear of mortal man. Their fixity of purpose, once determined, is aptly if fancifully illustrated in the mythic story which is told of the device of the Ulster Coat of Arms, a device known to all Scotch-Irishmen as "The Bloody Hand of Ulster:"--

In the uncertain and shadowy years, so runs the legendary tale, an expedition of Scotch adventurers set forth for Ireland. In order to shorten the perilous voyage, the leader declared that whoever first touched the shore should be lord of the territory reached. O'Niel, ancestor of the princes of Ulster, vowed that he would carry off the prize; and every stroke of his oar seemed to promise success. But there were other hardy and muscular contestants; and to his intense chagrin, just as they neared the shore another boat shot past his own. A moment more, and the O'Niels would never be the powerful princes of this Irish land that the ambitious soldier craved to make them. So he bent with a larger energy than before to his oars; yet in spite of all his efforts, he could not drive his boat with greater speed through the billows. He was almost exhausted. Though the arm of the soldier, however, was wearied, his brain was active and his purpose resolute! The thought flashed through his mind that he would be victor yet.

With feverish haste he grasped his sword, and just as his competitors were raising a shout of derisive triumph, a brawny bleeding hand went whirling over their heads, spattering them with drops fresh from O'Niel's bold heart; and before the boat keel of the astonished mariners could scrape the gravelly beach, there on the green turf of Erin, far beyond the reach of the tide, it lay. The hand of the O'Niel had first touched the Irish shore, and the province was declared to belong to him and his. Thence forward "Lamb dearg Eirin," the red hand of Erin, was the device of the province of Ulster.

Like all such fabulous stories, the legend is not without its meaning; and in the French and Indian Wars, and upon the march with Arnold to Quebec, and at Saratoga and the Cowpens and Guilford, and on many another hard fought battle field of the Revolution, the Scotch-Irish riflemen of the Valley of Virginia justified in the eyes of history their right to claim as theirs the device of the Bloody Hand.

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