'Dare the boist'rous main': the role of the Belfast Newsletter in the process of emigration from Ulster to North America 1760-1800

Stephen Royle, C. Ni Laoire

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Before the mass migrations from Ireland in the nineteenth century, earlier waves of migration in the eighteenth century saw significant numbers of people leave Ireland, predominantly from Ulster, to settle in North America. This article, using as its principal data source the Belfast News Letter ( BNL), its letters, advertisements and reports, focuses firstly on reconstructing the late eighteenth-century migration process and voyage, highlighting the barriers represented by the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to the challenges of the sea, there were problems with the ships, the ever-present danger of disease and also threats from other vessels, from privateers to press gangs. The voyage was recognized as a ‘universal dread’, and the risks taken to ‘dare the boist’rous main’ were perhaps not minimized in the pages of the BNL, whose editorial stance was antipathetic to the migration for the potential harm it caused to Ulster by removing so many of its industrious young. The second part of this article goes on to consider the newspaper’s and others’ vested interests in the emigration process, demonstrates how these were manifested in the press and sets the coverage of this very significant early emigration flow within the context of contemporary religious and colonial discourses at a period of very lively transatlantic interactions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)56-73
    Number of pages18
    JournalCanadian Geographer
    Volume50 (1)
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


    Cite this