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Immigration & Emigration

Northern Irish diaspora is widespread as a result of the immigration and emigration witnessed down the years. Throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries people arrived and departed the region – creating the diverse society we share today. When visiting Northern Ireland you can explore these links to people and place right across the region.

You can learn more from the Emigration Database of the Centre for Migration Studies at the Ulster American Folk Park .  This database can also be assessed in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI)  and online at Documenting Ireland: Parliament, People and Migration,  A virtual archive of documents and sources relating to the history of Ireland and its migration experience  from the 18th to the late 20th centuries.

Immigration-Emigration Timeline

  • 1606: Hamilton & Montgomery settlement of County Down, a natural settlement of Scottish immigrants due to the close proximity of Counties Antrim and Down to Scotland.
  • 1607: Jamestown (Virginia) established by Scots and Ulster Scots emigrating to the New World
  • 1607: Flight of the Earls to Europe
  • 1608: King James I granted Bushmills, County Antrim the first licence to distil whiskey in the British Isles. The term whiskey itself distinguishes the Scottish and the Irish: in Scotland it is ‘whisky’, in Ireland, ‘whiskey’.
  • 1610: Plantation of Ulster starts
  • 1718: Large scale migration of Ulster-Scots to America
  • 1845: The Great Famine in Ulster led to a huge number emigrating to America


Did You Know?

Ancestry Links

Public Record Office of Northern Ireland