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North Carolina

The Legacy of the Scots-Irish: Historical Migration to Cultural Inspiration

Program No. 20141RJ
Learn how the Scots-Irish helped shape our nation as you explore their contributions to Appalachian culture, Civil War history and the drafting of the Declaration of Independence.

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Select your type of room
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Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Apr 14 - Apr 19, 2024
Starting at
849
Apr 28 - May 3, 2024
Starting at
849
Filling Fast!
Sep 8 - Sep 13, 2024
Starting at
849
Nov 3 - Nov 8, 2024
Starting at
849
Dec 1 - Dec 6, 2024
Starting at
1,149
Itinerary Note

This week includes a visit to the Biltmore Estate for dinner and a Candlelight Evening experience. Come treat yourself to something special!

Mar 2 - Mar 7, 2025
Starting at
999
Apr 6 - Apr 11, 2025
Starting at
999
May 11 - May 16, 2025
Starting at
999
Sep 28 - Oct 3, 2025
Starting at
999
Oct 26 - Oct 31, 2025
Starting at
999
Nov 9 - Nov 14, 2025
Starting at
999
Nov 30 - Dec 5, 2025
Starting at
1,299
Itinerary Note

This week includes a visit to the Biltmore Estate for dinner and a Candlelight Evening experience. Come treat yourself to something special!

DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Apr 14 - Apr 19, 2024
Starting at
1,059
Apr 28 - May 3, 2024
Starting at
1,059
Filling Fast!
Sep 8 - Sep 13, 2024
Starting at
1,059
Nov 3 - Nov 8, 2024
Starting at
1,059
Dec 1 - Dec 6, 2024
Starting at
1,359
Itinerary Note

This week includes a visit to the Biltmore Estate for dinner and a Candlelight Evening experience. Come treat yourself to something special!

Mar 2 - Mar 7, 2025
Starting at
1,219
Apr 6 - Apr 11, 2025
Starting at
1,219
May 11 - May 16, 2025
Starting at
1,219
Sep 28 - Oct 3, 2025
Starting at
1,219
Oct 26 - Oct 31, 2025
Starting at
1,219
Nov 9 - Nov 14, 2025
Starting at
1,219
Nov 30 - Dec 5, 2025
Starting at
1,519
Itinerary Note

This week includes a visit to the Biltmore Estate for dinner and a Candlelight Evening experience. Come treat yourself to something special!

At a Glance

From the 17th Century to the present, the saga of Scots-Irish history and culture is one of our nation’s most fascinating stories. Trace the path of the Scots-Irish and discover why many settled in the Southern Appalachian region, where they adapted to conquer adversities, tame the wilderness and became great inventors and explorers. Discover cultural traditions from the old country that found fertile ground in Appalachia, and see how music, story and dance flourished and took on new life in the isolation of mountain life.
Activity Level
Easy Going
All facilities are in one building, with approximately 300 yards walking required; a few stairs. Outside areas are mountainous, with inclines and uneven terrain.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Get a new perspective on the music, crafts and history of Southern Appalachia during field trips to the Mountain Gateway Museum and Heritage Center and the Folk Art Center.
  • Visit the Oak and Grist Distillery and learn about their history and process. We'll visit the tasting room too!
  • Learn about the Scots who were instrumental in the drafting of the Declaration of Independence and about the 21 men of Gallic descent who signed it.

General Notes

The Retreat Difference: This unique, often basic and no-frills experience at a Road Scholar Retreat includes opportunities for early morning exercise, interaction with the local community for insight into local life, an authentic farm-to-table or locally sourced meal, a live performance or event, and a value-priced single room. Opportunities are available for traveling companions to attend a different program at Montreat during the same week. Due to the nature of this program, listening devices will be unavailable.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Sam Hobson
A native of Black Mountain, N.C., Sam Hobson is a retired Presbyterian Church pastor. He is a trainer for facilitators of Healthy Congregations workshops and is a bridge builder for conflict management, and is working to write training manuals for leaders in the church. He is also a homebrewer!

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Sam Hobson
Sam Hobson View biography
A native of Black Mountain, N.C., Sam Hobson is a retired Presbyterian Church pastor. He is a trainer for facilitators of Healthy Congregations workshops and is a bridge builder for conflict management, and is working to write training manuals for leaders in the church. He is also a homebrewer!
Profile Image of Anne Lough
Anne Lough View biography
Anne Lough is an internationally known traditional musician who performs and teaches at schools, workshops and festivals throughout the country, in the British Isles, Ireland and Belgium. She holds a bachelor’s in music education from Murray State University in Kentucky and a master’s from Western Carolina University. Anne is particularly respected for her artistic, sensitive style of playing and skill as an instructor and arranger. She has produced many books of dulcimer arrangements and her music can be heard on several recordings.
Profile Image of Righton McCallum
Righton McCallum View biography
Righton McCallum is a retired English teacher and research librarian. She has taught the local history and research course at Blue Ridge Community College in Hendersonville, N.C. Righton authored the folklore chapter of the textbook “North Carolina Research: Genealogy and Local History” and has also written two books of her own Carolina-inspired poetry, “The Montreat Gate” and “Beside the Lake.” She and her husband have two sons, three granddaughters, and one grandson; they are all owned by a tabby cat.
Profile Image of Tracy Bailey
Tracy Bailey View biography
Tracy has been on the program staff of Montreat Conference Center since 1986. She began working with Elderhostel programs in 1989, and in 1997 assumed the additional role of on-site coordinator. A native of the area, she graduated from Asheville-Buncombe Technical College in 1981. Her favorite hobbies are hiking, pottery and reading. Tracy married Sam in 2007, and added three daughters to her family. In addition to her own grown children, she and Sam have been foster parents since 2010. They have four grandchildren.
Profile Image of Lee Knight
Lee Knight View biography
Lee Knight is a folk singer, story teller and Road Scholar instructor of over 40 years. Raised in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, he performs at concerts, workshops, festivals, and schools. Lee shares his knowledge of the natural world as well as music and stories of the Southern Appalachian mountains. He has collected and shares Cherokee legends and plays the Cherokee flute and rattle, as well as the Native American drum. He also plays the five-string banjo, guitars, and the Appalachian dulcimer.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
From Philadelphia To The South, The Great Wagon Road: How Scotch- Irish And Germanics Settled the Uplands.
by Rouse, Parke, Jr.
Good, overall review.
Ireland, A Novel
by Delaney, Frank
Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia
by Fiona Ritchie / Doug Orr
From the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries, a steady stream of Scots migrated to Ulster and eventually onward across the Atlantic to resettle in the United States. Many of these Scots-Irish immigrants made their way into the mountains of the southern Appalachian region. They brought with them a wealth of traditional ballads and tunes from the British Isles and Ireland, a carrying stream that merged with sounds and songs of English, German, Welsh, African American, French, and Cherokee origin. Their enduring legacy of music flows today from Appalachia back to Ireland and Scotland and around the globe. Ritchie and Orr guide readers on a musical voyage across oceans, linking people and songs through centuries of adaptation and change. Enriched by the insights of key contributors to the living tradition on both sides of the Atlantic, accompanying this abundantly illustrated volume is an online Spotify playlist featuring over 20 songs by musicians profiled in the book, including Dolly Parton, Dougie MacLean, Cara Dillon, John Doyle, Pete Seeger, Sheila Kay Adams, Jean Ritchie, Doc Watson, David Holt, Anais Mitchell, Al Petteway, and more.
The United States of Appalachia: How Southern Mountaineers Brought Independence, Culture, and Enlightenment to America
by Biggers, Jeff
Apples on the Flood: The Southern Mountain Experience
by Cunningham, Rodger
academically oriented
The Scotch-Irish: A Social History
by Leyburn, James
the best of the best!
various others
by Kennedy, Billy
The Scots-Irish in Pennsylvania and Kentucky (1998); Faith and Freedom: The Scots-Irish In America (1999); Heroes of the Scots-Irish In America (2000); The Making of America: How the Scots-Irish Shaped a Nation (2001); Women of the Frontier (2004); & Our Most Priceless Heritage: The Lasting Legacy of the Scots-Irish in America (2005).
The Scottish Invention of America, Democracy & Human Rights: The History of Liberty and Freedom from the Ancient Celts to the New Millennium.
by Klieforth, Alexander Leslie & Munro, Robert John
Academically oriented, but excellent resource.
Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America.
by Webb, James.
Biography of one family and how it fits into history.
Tories: Fighting for the King in America's First Civil War
by Allen, Thomas B.
The Scottish Settlers of America: The 17th and 18th Centuries.
by Millett, Stephen M.
Not strictly Southern Appalachians.
The Scots-Irish in the Carolinas
by Kennedy, Billy
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6 days
5 nights
15 meals
5 B 5 L 5 D
DAY
1
check-in (arrival), getting settled, dinner, and orientation
Montreat, NC
D
Assembly Inn

Activity note: Inn check-in from 3:00 p.m. Remember to bring your name-tag (sent previously)

Afternoon: Please note: This week includes a visit to the Biltmore Estate for dinner and a Candlelight Evening experience. Come treat yourself to something special! You will share the Inn this week with another Road Scholar programs (Yoga, program 22381) Assembly Inn check-in 3:00-5:30 p.m. Pull up to the Assembly Inn porch to unload, then park your vehicle in any designated spot close to the Inn or by the lake and check in. Program Registration. After you check in and have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing the up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes, other important information, and to confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Feel free to relax in your room, meet and enjoy fellowship with other participants in the beautiful lobby, or stretch your legs with a walk around the campus before dinner.

Dinner: Dinner will be served from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Assembly Inn Dining Room

Evening: Orientation: 7:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will also meet the instructor. This is a Road Scholar Retreats program. Programming at Retreat locations includes opportunities for light morning exercise, interaction with members of the local community, a farm-to-table meal, and evening entertainment. Sleeping and dining facilities are in one building, with approximately 300 yards walking required. On some evenings, there will be entertainment such as a concert, dance, or storyteller followed by opportunities for fellowship in the lobby of the Inn. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. We’ll finish up around 8:00 p.m. with some “get to know you” activities and then have refreshments and fellowship in the lobby. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Who are the Celts? Celtic Christianity, Influence on America
Montreat, NC
B,L,D
Assembly Inn

Activity note: coffee in lobby around 6:30; join us 7:30 - 7:45 for early morning stretches with Martha Nelson; you can decide about walking in afternoon

Breakfast: Breakfast 7:30 - 8:30 a.m. is served in the Assembly Inn Dining Room

Morning: With Lee Knight, let's take a look at the Appalachian geography and talk about why this area was so appealing to the Scots-Irish who migrated here. Who are the Celts? Our instructor will present the background of Celtic origins and the lasting impact of their culture and traditions on the Scots who would become Scots-Irish. We’ll discuss the resistance of the Celts to Roman occupation and the evolution of Scotland as a country. Our mid-morning refreshment will be in the lobby. Afterward, we'll return to the classroom for our presentation on the Scots-Irish Influence on America with Righton McCallum. Because of their Presbyterian religion and heritage, the Scots-Irish were literate in a land of otherwise undereducated settlers. No matter how destitute a family on arrival, if they were industrious, they prospered in some endeavor. We'll explore their contributions!

Lunch: 12:30 - 1:30 p.m., lunch is served in the Assembly Inn Dining Room

Afternoon: (Lee Knight) With St. Patrick and the coming of Christianity to Ireland and Scotland, begin to understand the influence of Celtic Christianity and the monastic movement on the future development and philosophy of the Scottish kirk. Following class, there will be an opportunity to explore the Montreat campus with a local resident. Come learn a little history, see some sites, and hear some stories (we'll leave you to decide which ones are true).

Dinner: 5:30 - 6:30 p.m. Dinner will be served in the Assembly Inn Dining Room

Evening: Evening program will be a Christmas Stories and Songs program. Games/cards and tv available in the lobby for fellowship.

DAY
3
Reformation, Influence on America, Life in the lowlands
Montreat, NC
B,L,D
Assembly Inn

Activity note: coffee in lobby around 6:30; join us 7:30 - 7:45 for early morning stretches with Martha Nelson; boarding vans for field trip (travel time 40 minutes r/t); walking during field trips

Breakfast: 7:30 - 8:30 a.m. breakfast is served in the Assembly Inn Dining Room

Morning: (Lee Knight) Kingdoms, kings and intrigue prevail as the fierce Scottish independent spirit clashes with England. Learn about the arrival of the Reformation and the development of the Presbyterian church. Mid-morning, we'll have a refreshment break and then return to the classroom for more explorations on the Scots-Irish Influence on America with Righton McCallum. Did you know that the Declaration of Independence was drafted by Scots and signed by 21 men of Gallic descent?

Lunch: 12:30 - 1:30 lunch is served in the Assembly Inn Dining Room

Afternoon: Back in class with Lee Knight, we'll explore what was life like in the lowlands of Scotland in the 16th century. Learn what made the Plantation of Ulster possible and how life changed for the lowland Scots who migrated there. After class, the class will venture to Old Fort, NC (20 minutes) to visit the Mountain Gateway Museum. The Mountain Gateway Museum and Heritage Center offers a variety of educational and historical exhibits for public viewing. Some permanent exhibits include - Remedies From the Past: Folk Medicine in Western NC, Spinning and Weaving, Moonshining, A Time to Plant and a Time to Pluck, and there are two 19th Century cabins on the museum's grounds. Temporary exhibits are rotated in the museum in various times of the year. The Mountain Gateway Museum and Heritage Center promotes the understanding of regional history and culture and their relationship to the world at large, for the benefit of visitors and residents. Mountain Gateway Museum and Heritage Center encourages the preservation and understanding of local, state, and regional history for future generations.

Dinner: A candlelight dinner at the Biltmore Estate. We'll be at the Stable Cafe Loft for our Candlelight Dinner. We'll post a menu closer to the event. The Stable Cafe is located right next to the Biltmore House, so after dinner we'll walk over for our Candlelight Evening at Biltmore experience.

Evening: Following dinner, we'll enter the Biltmore House for our Candlelight tour. Biltmore House is beautiful in all seasons of the year, but the Candlelight experience is nothing short of magical. You'll see the house as the first guests of the Vanderbilts did when they first opened the home. Musicians and entertainers are on all different levels of the house. You'll go through at your own pace, and there are docents available for questions. we will board the vans by 9:45 p.m. (at the latest) for departure back to Montreat.

DAY
4
First Americans; Migration to America, free aft, Music
Montreat, NC
B,L,D
Assembly Inn

Activity note: coffee in lobby around 6:30; join us 7:30 - 7:45 for early morning stretches with Martha Nelson; field trip is 40 minutes (round trip) and we will stay about an hour.

Breakfast: 7:30 - 8:30 a.m. breakfast is served in the Assembly Inn Dining Room

Morning: Our early morning course with Lee Knight will talk about the first Americans; their culture, songs and stories. Mid-morning, we'll venture to the lobby for refreshments and fellowship. During our second class period this morning, with Lee, we'll begin looking at the Scots-Irish in North America and especially the southern Appalachians. Let’s learn about the importance of the Great Wagon Road and the Wilderness Road to the settlement of the Scots- Irish in the Southern Appalachians. Begin to appreciate the culture and traditions in a new land and the value of music in everyday life.

Lunch: 12:30 - 1:30 lunch is served in the Assembly Inn Dining Room

Afternoon: Immediately after lunch, we will board the vans for another field trip. This time to the Folk Art Center located in Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Since 1930, the Guild has exhibited the handmade crafts of the people of NC and the Southeast, and today is one of the strongest craft organizations in the country, representing just over 800 makers in 293 counties from 9 states. What started as a way to bring together the area’s creativity and arts while boosting income — during the Great Depression the Guild cultivated commerce for craftspeople in the Appalachian region — has become an iconic fixture of the craft revival movement. After the field trip, enjoy Free time. This period of time has been set aside for your personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Please note that the period scheduled for free time is subject to change depending on local circumstances and opportunities for independent exploration.

Dinner: 5:30 - 6:30 Farm to Table dinner.

Evening: From a Songcather's Notebook: Lee has collected songs from around the World. This evening we will do songs from the Southern Appalachians, Adirondacks, South Carolina Sea Islands, Great Britain, Central Asia, South America and Canada. All of the songs have great stories and many have choruses, so bring your voice.

DAY
5
Music, Stories, Christmas; Shaped Notes; Oak and Grist
Montreat, NC
B,L,D
Assembly Inn

Activity note: coffee in lobby around 6:30; join us 7:30 - 7:45 for early morning stretches with Martha Nelson; field trip is 30 minutes (round trip) staying about an hour at the Distillery

Breakfast: 7:30 - 8:30 a.m. breakfast

Morning: During the early morning course with Lee Knight, we’ll have fun with the lighter side of music, learning about play parties, courtship and the instruments of the Southern Appalachians. Let's talk about Christmas Celebrations and Customs! Our mid-morning break will be in the lobby and then we'll return to the classroom for "Scots-Irish Influence on America" with Righton McCallum.

Lunch: 12:30 - 1:30 lunch is served in the Assembly Inn Dining Room

Afternoon: Our afternoon course will explore the Cherokee removal, trail of tears, and Mountain Spirituals including the heritage and beautiful harmonies of the shaped note tradition. Following class with Lee, Sam Hobson joins us to talk about moonshine and other spirits. We will take a field trip (staggered departures) to the Oak and Grist Distilling Company where we will have a tour of the facility, learn about them, and have a tasting of some of the spirits they produce. As one of the Southeast’s few 100% grain-to-glass distilleries, Oak and Grist’s small-batch whiskey and gin capture the unique flavors of the region and celebrates Appalachian farmers, producers, and artisans. Crafted from locally grown and malted barley. Founded in 2015 to craft a regionally inspired Single Malt, Oak and Grist offers a new generation of 100% from scratch spirits informed by the traditions of Scotland and inspired by those of Appalachia. The same passion and curiosity our mentor Edwin brought to his storied career in Scotland, is evident in every small-batch of Oak and Grist’s spirits.

Dinner: 5:30 - 6:30 dinner is served in the Assembly Inn Dining Room

Evening: We’ll gather for a last evening together as a group (a concert or storyteller), followed by an opportunity for games/cards/TV in lobby for fellowship. Prepare for check-out and departure after lunch tomorrow, including requesting a box lunch if you have to leave before lunch on Friday.

DAY
6
Scots Irish Influence on America
Montreat, NC
B,L

Breakfast: 7:30 - 8:30 a.m. breakfast is served in the Assembly Inn Dining Room

Morning: Our last two classes, with Righton, will focus on "Scots-Irish Influence on America." We'll review some of our greatest inventors, our busiest explorers and most intriguing Cherokee chieftains. Our national debt to these courageous settlers is worthy of study! We'll have a refreshment break mid-morning, giving an opportunity to check out of your room (check required by 11 a.m.) Classes will finish up by 12:30 and then we'll have lunch and say our goodbyes.

Lunch: 12:30 - 1:30 lunch is served in the Assembly Inn Dining Room. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.