Outer Hebrides Teenagers: Life Out Here

Nov 20, 2016 by

Life in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, also known as the Western Isles,  is both harsh and beautiful. Outer Hebrides teenagers learn early on that their island life is unique.

Steeped in Celtic and Viking culture, the Outer Hebrides has lost population over the years.  Villages run the gamut from tiny to small, with typical teenage nightlife and adventures far away on the Mainland.

So, what makes an Outer Hebrides teenager, born and raised on the islands, want to stay?

French photographer Laetitia Vancon set out to answer this question about life in the Outer Hebrides.  She came away with some compelling images and a deeper understanding of what island life is all about.

Click the link below for the full story.

FRENCH Photographer Laetitia Vancon tries to find out how isles’ youngsters reach their decision to stay at home to seek a new life on the mainland.

Source: Island life on Outer Hebrides captured in snapper’s candid peek at ordinary lives on Scotland’s fringe – Daily Record

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Virtual Glen Coe, Autumn Snow

Nov 19, 2016 by

 If you can’t get to Scotland this week, try virtual Glen Coe instead.

This new video takes a virtual tour of this stunning Highland wonderland:

THIS incredible video footage allows viewers to take a journey through virtual Glen Coe from the comfort of their own home. Filmed earlier this month, the five minute clip was shared on YouTube by Sky View Video.The company specialise in 360 degree videos from the ground and also from the air using drones.This was their first time … Continued

Source: VIDEO: Journey through Glen Coe captured on 360 degree camera – Sunday Post

 

 

virtualglencoewinter2016

2016: Autumn meets winter, looking into Glen Etive and the Glencoe Visitor Centre–Image via National Trust for Scotland Mountain Path Team

Another beautiful photo of snowy Glen Coe, November, 2016:

virtual glen coe

The road to Glen Etive, a snow covered Stob Dearg. Image via National Trust for Scotland Mountain Path Team

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To learn more about Glen Coe’s history, geology and conservation click HERE.

The link will take you to the National Trust for Scotland’s info page for Glen Coe, perhaps the most famous of all Scottish glens.

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Caernarfon Weeping Window : A WWI Tribute

Nov 3, 2016 by

Caernarfon Castle in Wales has recently opened a poignant tribute to the many Welsh soldiers who died in World War I: The Weeping Window.

 

Caernarfon Weeping Window

    Caernarfon Weeping Window poppies display–Image via LonelyPlanet

The Caernarfon Castle exhibit, entitled “Weeping Window”, is made up of more than 6000 red ceramic poppies.

  The poppies were first exhibited at the Tower of London in 2014, as part of the ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ memorial.

That display had over 880,000 hand made poppies, which marked every British and colonial death in the 1914-1918 conflict.

 

Artist Paul Cummins assembled the sculpture and said it had taken nearly six days to install. 

Designer Tom Piper said:

“We have got over 5,000 poppies here, representing probably a fraction of the Royal Welch Fusiliers who died in the First World War.”

Caernarfon Weeping Window

Cascading red poppies of the Caernarfon Weeping Window– Image via WalesOnline

Piper also said it was purely chance that the exhibit ended up looking like a red dragon’s claw.  The red dragon, of course, is a renowned national symbol of Wales.

 

Caernarfon Weeping Window

Observers have noted that the Caernarfon Weeping Window display looks like a dragon’s foot Image via Daily Post

Speaking to the Daily Post, Mr Cummins said:

“It wasn’t planned. What happened was on the last day, when they were planting the last ones, it was a bit of a rush, and there archaeological things on the site that meant we were not allowed to spike in certain places.

“You can only go down a few inches in certain places, so we had to go round those places. It’s just fate.”

Here’s a time lapse video of the installation of the Caernarfon Weeping Window:

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Ceramic poppies used in Caernarfon Weeping Window exhibit

        Ceramic poppies used in Caernarfon Weeping Window exhibit Image

The exhibit is free to the public, but tickets are limited (get them online at Caernarfon’s website here) and demand has been high.

Staff at the castle say the Caernarfon Weeping Window drew almost 40,000 visitors in just two weeks.

The stunning exhibit will remain on display until November 20, 2016.

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Traditional Scottish Tablet

Oct 31, 2016 by

Oh, Scottish tablet! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

I’m waxing poetic about one of my favorite Scottish comfort foods: Scottish tablet.

Scottish tablet

                                                         Scottish tablet

It’s the grainy cousin of fudge and consists ALMOST ENTIRELY of sugar!

 

 

Scots Tablet differs from fudge in that it has a brittle, grainy texture, where fudge is much softer. Well-made tablet is a medium-hard confection, not as soft as fudge, but not as hard as hard candy.

Easy to make and easy to adapt with additions, like whisky, vanilla and/or nuts.

 

scottish tablet whisky

Click HERE for a tablet recipe with whisky

Eat tablet in wee pieces and the food guilt blues won’t hit you quite so hard. 😉

You can buy traditional tablet online or at the local Tesco, but WHY?! It’s simple to whip up a batch in less than an hour, and homemade always tastes better.

 

Lee's Scottish Tablet Bar

     Lee’s Scottish Tablet Bar

 

 

Here’s a good video that explains how to make this traditional Scottish treat with just 3 ingredients:

Remember: Homemade Scottish tablet makes a terrific

Christmas gift, hint hint.

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Celtic Halloween Samhain

Oct 31, 2016 by

Have a Happy CELTIC Halloween!

Here are few memes and videos to get you into the spirit this Samhain eve.  Just be careful which spirits you let in the door on Celtic Halloween!

 

Celtic Halloween

Celtic Halloween, when the veil between worlds grows thin…

Celtic halloween witch

Beware the Celtic witch!

 

A history of Halloween in Ireland:

 

 

Make way for zombies from Wales! Welsh band Peasant’s King just released a tribute to the ultimate Halloween video, Michael Jackson’s Thriller–that  Danny has a dang good voice for a zombie:

 

 

 

Castle Ghosts of Ireland, an excellent BBC video, explores the bewitching castles of the Emerald Isle:

More castle ghosts for Celtic Halloween, rising out of Scotland’s bloody history:

Wales has its share of haunted castles, too:

For the ancient Celts, Samhain (sunset on October 31 through sunset on November 1) was a night when then the wall between our world and the Other World thinned, allowing their ancestors to walk among their descendants.

The thinning of the veil also allowed the fairies and fae to walk in the mortal world, though, so people took precautions to protect themselves. Guizing, or wearing masks to hide your identity, was one way to avoid the fairies.   Lighting bonfires, dancing, offering sacrifices from the harvest, all were ancient Celtic customs that have evolved over the centuries into the night we modern Celts now call Halloween.

As Loreena McKennitt sings, tonight is for fun, but also for remembering our Celtic past:

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Culloden Jacobites Not Primitive Savages

Aug 4, 2016 by

Murray Pittock of the University of Glasgow has uncovered evidence he believes shows the Culloden Jacobites were far more professional in their formation and weaponry than has been portrayed in history books.

‘Seldom has the adage that history is written by the victors been more accurate or appropriate than in the case of Culloden.

‘For two centuries after the battle, British historiography framed Jacobitism as primitive because of the threat it posed, and the function the defeat of that threat had in a national narrative of foundational reconciliation and the development of the British Empire.

‘It is no coincidence that this approach has begun to founder since 1970, as the imperial state which grew to maturity in part as a consequence of the defeat of the Jacobite threat has itself taken on more fragmentary, modern and multicultural modes of existence.’

The Battle of Culloden: Culloden Jacobites

The Battle of Culloden: A historian claims Culloden Jacobites were framed in British history as ill-equipped because of the threat they posed – and the function the defeat played in a narrative of the British Empire’s development.

The Jacobite army has long been depicted as poorly-led, ill-disciplined, claymore-wielding Highland savages. No surprise then that they were routed by British redcoats deploying muskets and cannon fire.

But did the victors deliberately miscast the Culloden Jacobites as savages?

 

In this brief video, Professor Pittock explains his theory:

 

Source: Bonny Prince Charlie’s vanquished troops were NOT an army of Highland savages | Daily Mail Online

 

Click HERE to pre-order Dr. Pittock’s new book, Great Battles: Culloden on Amazon.

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OUTLANDER RETURNS

Apr 9, 2016 by

Outlander returns tonight–are ye ready?

Outlander returns to Starz

Season Two has Claire and Jamie Fraser journeying to Paris. They will engage in a desperate game of espionage and diplomacy in order to stop the 1745 Jacobite Rising.

Their goal is change history and save the Scottish Highlands from the brutal changes Claire knows will be imposed after the Scottish loss at Culloden.

One thing I need to clarify:  Outlander returns tonight, but not always to Scotland.

Unlike the first season, season two is not filmed mostly in Scotland. The exterior scenes and Paris scenes are filmed in Prague( a bee-you-tiful city), other spots in Europe, and even the south of England.  The scenery will still be spectacular, just not the beauty of Scotland.


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Scottish Proverbs

Jan 31, 2016 by

Scottish Proverbs

Scottish proverbs often seem simplistic at first glance.

Behind the humble words, however, lies a wealth of wisdom and Celtic “can-do” attitude.

Here are a few of my favorite Gaelic Scottish proverbs:

Scottish proverbs

 

In other words, whatever is worth having will take effort to obtain.

There are many examples of how this Scottish proverb applies in life:

finding your soul mate, providing for yourself and your family, achieving Scotland’s freedom from English rule, to name just a few.

Scottish proverbs in Gaelic

This Scottish proverb speaks to the need to always be prepared

Invasion from England and Vikings was a constant threat to Scots for many hundreds of years.  Putting aside the sword for the plough could spell disaster for the clan. Generations later, the wisdom behind the words still rings true, and not just in military situations.

Scottish proverbs for love and romance

This Gaelic phrase is the Scottish proverb equivalent of saying that the course of true love never runs smooth

The illustration is from a 1906 childrens’ book of English history.  It depicts the sad parting of Flora MacDonald and Bonnie Prince Charlie, as he was fleeing the English after Culloden. The romance between Flora and Charles has been greatly embellished over time, and may never have happened at all.

Actual partings of loved ones, however, was a harsh reality for many Scottish Highlanders and Islanders over the centuries.  Whether their men left in search of jobs to earn desperately needed money, or were forcibly removed to an English prison, Scottish women knew well the heartache of separation.

For a fictionalized version of romantic Scottish misery, check out Outlander, the book, by Diana Gabaldon, or the cable series Outlander, based on Gabaldon’s books.

Of course, we all know that this Scottish proverb holds true in the modern world.  As the first proverb above implies, however, sometimes the reward is worth the risk.

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Glasgow: Nat Geo Traveler’s Top 20

Nov 23, 2015 by

Glasgow hasn’t always been a top destination spot for tourists, who hear all about the city’s crime rate, and its gritty, industrial exterior.

Well, forget that outdated description of Glasgow: it’s Scotland’s hottest city, according to National Geographic!

Above: Glasgow’s SSE Hydro Arena, second busiest event venue in the world

Nat Geo’s features editor, Amy Alipio, is an enthusiastic supporter of Scotland’s largest city:

“Glasgow landed on our list for 2016 because it’s one of the most exciting cities in the world right now. 

“Its art scene is just too hot to ignore. Case in point: the Turner Prize is in Scotland for the first time, and the exhibit culminates at Glasgow’s Tramway gallery in January. 

“But fans the world over know that it’s the city’s unrivalled music scene that really embodies Glasgow’s energy and swagger.”

Source: Glasgow named in National Geographic Traveler’s top 20 list for 2016

Kelvingrove art center in Glasgow

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum exhibit in Glasgow. Source: Damien Entwistle on Flickr

 

Here’s a video that gives you a wee look at this vibrant Scottish city:

Ready to take a tour? Click on the links below for great Glasgow guidebooks:

Glasgow Scotland 55 Secrets – The Locals Travel Guide For Your Trip to Glasgow

Glasgow Travel Guide 2015: Shops, Restaurants, Attractions and Nightlife

Insight Guides: Great Breaks Glasgow (Insight Great Breaks)

On The Trail of Outlander Glasgow Day Trip

Glasgow A Photographic Glimpse (Places To Visit Book 4)

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Jacobite Mansion Up For Sale

Oct 26, 2015 by

The recent listing of an 18th century Jacobite mansion presents a rare opportunity for Scottish history buffs.  If you have a yen to restore a secluded ruin that was a major center of the 1715 Jacobite rebellion, and 150,000 pounds to spend, Grange House may be the fixer upper of your dreams.

 

 

“Grange House East Neuk, Fife, now stands as a secluded historic ruin – looking out across a local golf course and the Firth of Forth.

But 300 years ago the first Jacobite rebellion of 1715 was planned by royal usurper James Malcolm within its walls.

Malcolm built the home in 1708 – and used it as the base for a bloody attempt to replace King George I of Britain with the exiled monarch James VIII and III.

The rebellion failed – and the house was burnt into ruins in the years since – but now any history buff with £150,000 to spare can buy the historic ruins to return them to their former glory.”

Source: For sale: a fixer upper where a plot to overthrow the crown was hatched | Deadline News

 

The land on which Grange House sits was used by local nuns, between the 13th and 16th centuries, as a farm to grow food for the poor. James Malcolm purchased the land in 1708, building himself a grand–and heavily fortified– manor house.

“Fortified with a large surrounding wall on a high vantage point – and with a hidden secret chamber – it is now widely accepted that the house was built as a military base for his cause.

And it was within the walls of the house that the Jacobite rebellion of 1715 was planned to seize Scotland back from George I. The rebellion officially began in August of 1715 – when the banner of James was raised in Aberdeenshire.

By October the 20,000 Jacobites had taken all of Scotland north of the Firth of Forth – but after an indecisive and bloody battle at Sheriffmuir the rebellion lost its momentum and floundered.

After the rebellion many Jacobites were taken prisoner, tried for treason and sentenced to death, and Malcolm was forced to forfeit his possessions and his home to the crown.”

Source: For sale: a fixer upper where a plot to overthrow the crown was hatched | Deadline News

Restoration of the Jacobite mansion will require adherence to a strict set of regulations set by local authorities. Materials will have to be historically accurate and match the existing ruins of Grange house.

The rewards, however, are potentially great: a beautiful, historic piece of Scotland with a view of the Firth of Forth and enough stories to pass down for generations to come.

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Victorian Welsh Women

Oct 21, 2015 by

Victorian Welsh women of the working class led hard lives and were rarely photographed.

The following photos, however,  show the beauty and character unique to those 19th century  ladies of Wales.

Such a lovely young woman–notice the wide variety of patterns in her garments, including plaid. She is wearing what we have come to know as the traditional dress or costume of Welsh women.  It has its origins in the rural farms of  Wales, where visitors to the country in the early 1700’s took note of the farm wives’ distinctive attire.   In contrast, women along the border with England and in prosperous towns wore English fashions.

The white cap she wears under her hat is known as a mob cap, a linen or cotton head cover with goffered (an ornamental frill made by pleating and pressing fabric ) fabric around the face.  Some  Welsh caps had long lappets which hung down the front below shoulder level.

The  most distinctive feature of traditional Welsh women’s attire is the hat, with its broad, stiff, flat brim and tall crown.  There were two main shapes of crown: those with drum shaped crowns were worn in north-west Wales and those with slightly tapering crowns were found in the rest of Wales. They were probably originally made of felt ( the hat in this photo appears to be felt) ,  but most surviving examples are of silk plush on a stiffened buckram base. A third type of hat, known as the cockle hat, was worn in the Swansea area.

First of two photos of a pair of women, identified as Sioned and Cadi.

  Here, they are dressed in their work clothes, old garments that once were new and fresh…

…like the dresses that Sioned and Cadi wear in this companion photo, also dated 1875.  The colors are dark, but the details–polka dots, velvet trim and ruffles–reveal the feminine side of these Victorian Welsh ladies.

Another woman dressed in traditional costume, this time standing beside a large spinning wheel. Note that her drum-shaped crown is much taller than the hat in the first photo.

 

There is a long tradition of knitting in Wales; in the 17th-19th centuries, farm women spent many hours creating woolen scarves and shawls to sell to the English and other visitors.  It provided a much-needed additional source of income for poor farm families.

 

A captivating photo of a young Victorian girl in Wales, posing with her large dog.  Her clothing is indicative of a prosperous upbringing, far different from Welsh farm women.

Beautiful hair!  Even in black and white , this woman’s long braided hair has a rich sheen.

A scene you will often find when viewing vintage photos of Victorian Welsh women: ladies having tea.  The large frills on the cap on the right are lovely, but I imagine they would seriously impair your peripheral vision.

An earlier Victorian photo showing a hand-woven shawl with long fringe, an accessory used by most Welsh farm women. The shawl could be used to cover a nursing baby, carry food or kindling, or as head cover in inclement weather.

 

A grouping of older Victorian Welsh women in traditional clothing with various hat styles.  Note that some of the mob caps have been dyed black, a mourning custom of the Victorian era. 

I love the little lady on the right–she’s barely taller than the seated women!

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Irish Men Sexiest

Aug 13, 2015 by

In a recent poll, a majority of women questioned by MissTravel.com voted Irish men sexiest–mostly because of those sexy Irish accents.

The dulcet tones of Irish actors such as Jamie Dornan (below), star of Fifty Shades of Grey and Colin O’Donoghue, Captain Hook in NBC’s Once Upon A Time,  have created a new generation of Irish accent fans.

I wonder how many of those women have traveled to Ireland to hear the real deal?

  For those who deem Irish men sexiest, a visit to the Emerald Isle is a pilgrimage not to be missed. Go on– it’ll be grand!

Irish men ranked first in a new survey of the world’s sexiest nationalities. Irish women did not fare as well.

Source: Congratulations, Irish men – you’ve been voted sexiest in the world – IrishCentral.com

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Irish Gaelic Disliked By Facebook

Aug 10, 2015 by

Recent studies show that Irish people are the biggest Facebook users among English-speaking users.

  No surprise there, I say–the Irish are highly social, friendly people. In fact, that’s a trait shared by many people from the Celtic nations and those who have ancestry from a Celtic nation. For us Celts, there’s no such thing as a short story.

IRISH people use Facebook more often than people in any other country in the English-speaking world, new figures suggest.

Source: Irish are the biggest Facebook users in English-speaking world – Independent.ie

Even so, Facebook isn’t feeling the love from all their Irish users.

Irish Gaelic disliked by Facebook

Irish people are big users of Facebook–so long as they don’t try to use their Irish Gaelic names.

It seems that Facebook doesn’t like Irish GAELIC names, only the anglicized versions of those names. Scottish Gaelic names appear to be similarly treated by Facebook. A recent court ruling, however, ensures Germans can use any name (real or fictional, German or not) they want on the social media behemoth’s pages.

What?! Has Facebook never heard of Éirí Amach na Cásca–oh, excuse me, “the Easter Rising” of 1916?  Irish men and women fought and died in part for the right to speak and be recognized IN THEIR NATIVE IRISH GAELIC LANGUAGE.

You should know this Facebook, because your European headquarters are in…wait for it…IRELAND.

Gaeilge (Irish Gaelic) is the FIRST official language of the Republic of Ireland and the national language of Ireland.  In Northern Ireland–a completely different country, BTW, Facebook–English is the first language, but Irish Gaelic is frequently spoken and considered culturally significant.

I’ve been to Ireland many times and can say without hesitation that Irish Gaelic(Gaeilge) is spoken by many people in Ireland.

Irish Gaelic users need not apply to Facebook?

Irish Gaelic users need not apply to Facebook?

Why this so called “true identity” campaign by Facebook?  They claim the policy  “protects people’s privacy and safety by ensuring people know who they’re sharing and connecting with.”

How noble of Facebook, looking out for our best interests.

More cynical people, including me, see a different reason for this Facebook policy:

What the policy also does, of course, is give Facebook a far more reliable mine of information that can be sold to advertisers. While the company promises not to sell individual personal data, the policy cuts out much of the dross that would derive from multiple, disposable accounts.

Forbes, 07/29/2015, Emma Woollacot, contributor.

Petitions and negative press sometimes encourage FB to change their decisions.

  I wouldn’t hold my Irish Gaelic breath on this one, though.

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Londonderry Renaming

Aug 2, 2015 by

Londonderry is the second largest city in Northern Ireland and the fourth largest on the Emerald Isle as a whole.  The city council voted in 1984 to refer to itself as the Derry City council, and recently voted in favor of changing the city’s official name to Derry. 

Unionists (pro-British) are outraged, as you would expect, while nationalists (pro-Irish) are quite pleased. Although it’s official name has been Londonderry since 1613, it was originally named Derry, from the Irish Gaelic word daire or doire, meaning oak wood.  Many people–residents and non-residents, Catholics and protestants– commonly refer to their ancient walled city on the River Foyle as Derry.

 

Sinn Fein put forward the proposal for the change to Derry:

“The name Londonderry causes social and political problems, reminds victims of the atrocities that have been committed there, causes problems identifying the city and is against what the people of Derry wish.”

Previous attempts to change Londonderry’s name have failed. Maybe this is finally Derry’s time.

Londonderry in Northern ireland

Thousands of people have signed rival petitions as controversy over the proposed renaming of Londonderry to Derry grows.

Source: Should Londonderry be renamed Derry? Thousands sign petitions as battle heats up

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Irish Amateur Paul Dunne Ties Open Lead

Jul 19, 2015 by

He can’t collect the prize money, but Irish amateur golfer Paul Dunne from County Wicklow, Ireland still has high hopes of winning the 2015 Open at St. Andrew’s, Scotland.

Dunne is the first amateur to lead the open after 54 holes since 1927, when golf legend Bobby Jones did it, and then went on to win the Open. The last amateur to win the Open was also Bobby Jones, when he took home the prize in 1930.

Dunne is a graduate of the University of Alabama-Birmingham, where he played NCAA golf and was coached by fellow Irishman Allan Murrey, who is now Dunne’s caddy, on left in picture below.

Irish amateur

Irish amateur Paul Dunne’s driver head cover is the University of Alabama-Birmingham mascot, Blaze the Dragon. (Stuart Franklin/Getty Images) and Independent .IE

Is Dunne feeling pressure going into the last day? Not at all:

“I mean, I’m well capable of shooting the scores that I need to win if everyone else doesn’t play their best.

“Whether it happens or not, I can’t really control. I can just go out and try to play my game and see where it leaves me at the end of the day. Hopefully I play great again and post a good number.

“It’s surreal I’m leading The Open, but I can easily believe that I shot the three scores that I shot. If we were playing an amateur event here, I wouldn’t be too surprised by the scores I shot. It’s just lucky that it happens to be in the biggest event in the world!

“Hopefully I can do it again tomorrow, but whether I do or not, I’ll survive either way.”

Source: Waterford News and Star — Irish amateur Paul Dunne shares lead at The Open

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