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One-hour documentary about the Plantation of...

15 December 2010

PLANTATION – THE TRUTH & THE LEGACY is now available to view at

The Plantation of Ulster, said to date to 1610, affected just about every aspect of life in the province. But how much do we really know about it, and how accurate are our ideas of what happened at that time? To mark Plantation’s 400th anniversary Evergreen Media was commissioned by UTV to produce a one hour documentary on the topic, visiting some of the most attractive sites and telling some of the unknown stories of this historic event.


We were delighted to have the support of the Ulster Scots Agency for this production and we would also like to give special thanks to Dr William Roulston of the Ulster Historical Foundation for all his help in scripting and filming this programme. A big thank you too to our presenter, Dr Emily Murray, Archaeological Fieldwork Director, of Queen's University, Belfast – and indeed to all who took part in the programme.  The team’s expertise was invaluable as we worked to come up with a accurate picture of what was going on in the lives of ordinary people at that time – both native Irish and Planters - and how they coped with the vast changes that were taking place.


Dr Emily Murray 


For example, we learned that saying the Ulster Plantation happened in 1610 isn’t strictly accurate. If fact it rolled out over many years and there were much earlier Scottish settlements (‘unofficial plantations’) in counties Antrim and Down that were every bit as ambitious as the official ones. For the programme we looked particularly at Dunluce, taken over by Randal McDonald, a Scottish settler from Islay. We saw how he had established a quite sophisticated town there, the extent of which has only recently been discovered by archaeologists. At St Cuthbert’s church, just across the road, we heard how Randal converted the existing chapel into a Protestant church to accommodate the needs of the new settlers, even though he, personally, never lost his own Catholic identity.


Other places we visited included Dungiven Priory which houses a really remarkable survival from Medieval times, in the shape of the tomb of the O’Cahan Lords, preserved by the incoming settler Sir Edward Doddington, in his now Protestant Church. Paul Logue, from the NI Environment Agency, took us through the layout of an official Plantation town at Eglinton, Co Londonderry, pointing out that although many people tend to think that it was all Protestants in the new towns and villages that was far from the truth. And there’s much more. We especially enjoyed being with the school pupils at Bellaghy Bawn as they learned about their past. But if you want to know the secrets of Tullahogue, St Nicholas’ Church in Carrickfergus, Newtownstewart, Derrywoon, St Columb’s Cathedral, and others, you’ll have to watch the programme!  


The programme will be transmitted at 11pm on Wednesday 15th December 2010 on UTV.

By Lesley Black, Producer

‘Plantation: The Truth and The Legacy’ is now available to view at


For further information Lesley Black can be contacted by emailing