Happy Scottish Easter!

Apr 5, 2015 by

Happy Scottish Easter!

The Highland Easter coos from the Isle of Skye are here to wish you A’ Chàisg sona, Easter greetings in Gàidhlig.

Happy Scottish easter in Gailidgh

Happy Scottish Easter from the Highland Easter Coos! Original Image via Bing



Madainn Th’air Eirigh (Morning has Broken), a Scottish Hymn for your Easter Sunday:

The words of this beautiful hymn were penned by Eleanor Farjeon in 1931, using a traditional Scottish Highlands melody known as “Bunessan“–the link takes you to a lovely harp version of the tune.  Although Morning Has Broken was made enormously popular by Cat Stevens in 1972, he did not write it. In fact, the hymn was published in 1931 in the hymnal “Songs of Praise”, and also published as a poem called “A Morning Song (for the First Day of Spring)” in a children’s poetry book published by Oxford University Press in 1957.

Happy scottish easter

The small village of Bunessan, on the Isle of Mull. Image by denisbin via Flickr

Bunessan is a small village on the Isle of Mull. Mary M. Macdonald (1789–1872), who lived in the nearby crofting community of Ardtun and who spoke only Gaelic, wrote her hymn “Leanabh an Aigh” to a traditional melody. When the words were later translated into English, the melody was named after the village by the translator, Lachlan Macbean. A monument to Mary Macdonald can be seen near the village, on the road towards Craignure, just after the Knockan crossroads. The ruins of the house she lived in are also nearby.

Sometime before 1927, Alexander Fraser heard the melody in the Scottish Highlands and wrote it down so that it came to the attention of Percy Dearmer, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Martin Shaw. In turn, these editors of the hymnbook “Songs of Praise” requested Eleanor Farjeon to write a further hymn text to the tune.

Gàidhlig lyrics:

Madainn th’ air èirigh mar a’ chiad mhadainn,
Lòn-dubh ag èigheach mar a’ chiad eun.
Taing airson ceòlraidh is solas na maidne;
Taing son gach aon nì thig bho ar Dia.

Milis an ùr-fhras deàrrsadh sna speuran,
Mar an drùchd cùbhraidh air an fheur ùr;,
Taing airson mìlseachd dealtachd a’ ghàrraidh,
‘G èirigh mar spìosraidh far an tèid Thu.

Solas na grèine, solas na maidne,
‘S leam-sa gach solas bho thoiseach an t-saoghail;
Seinnibh le aoibhneas, molaibh gach madainn;
Dia ag ath-ghintinn gach latha as ùr..

English lyrics:

Morning has broken like the first morning,
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird.
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning,
Praise for them springing fresh from the Word.

Sweet the rains new fall sunlit from Heaven,
Like the first dewfall on the first grass.
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden,
Sprung in completeness where His feet pass.

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning,
Born of the one light Eden saw play.
Praise with elation! Praise every morning
God’s re-creation of the new day.

A’ Chàisg sona!

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Celtic Motivation For 2015

Jan 6, 2015 by

Need a bit of Celtic motivation for 2015?

We all make resolutions in January, but most of us–myself included– fail to follow through. This year, focus on your CELTIC MOTIVATION instead.  Set a goal for yourself that revolves around your Celtic heritage.

For example, choose a Celtic country that you’d like to visit, then take steps, even baby steps, that will get you closer to that country.


Celtic Motivation: The beautiful Isle of Skye in Scotland

Part of my Celtic motivation this year is to get back to Scotland. My family has ties to Clan Robertson, whose clan territory was in the historic earldom of Atholl, in Highland Perthshire,  including Loch Rannoch  and the wild, boggy Rannoch Moor.  I want to walk some of those ancient clan areas, to just BE there.

And then, merry of soul, I’ll go over the sea to Skye….

To quote the great Scottish bard, Rabbie Burns, however

“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley…”

from  To A Mouse, by Robert Burns

It may be that I won’t have the funds to travel to Scotland this year, or family and/or work issues may arise and prevent me from going to Scotland this year, or it may be that my new German Shepherd puppy just isn’t ready this year to be left alone for a month.

Doesn’t matter, so long as I keep taking those baby steps toward my Celtic motivation: I WILL get to Scotland soon.


Celtic Motivation: The neolithic stone circle of Orkney, the Ring of Brodgar. Image copyright Colin Smith


After all, the Ring of Brodgar wasn’t laid out in a day, and neither is the Celtic trip of a lifetime.

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Outlander Christmas List

Dec 11, 2014 by

In the spirit of simplicity, I cut waaay back on my Outlander Christmas list this year. 

Poor Santa gets stressed out when he gets a big, greedy Outlander Christmas list, so I have requested just ONE item. 

Yes, I am that selfless.*

All I want for Christmas is James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser.  Honestly, my attention span is short these days,

and April 2015 is too long to wait to catch a glimpse of our Scottish hero. What’s a poor Outlander fan to do?


Hmmm…maybe I need a bit more.  Can I add Dougal Mackenzie to my Outlander Christmas list, Santa?

That’s just TWO things.


MyOutlanderChristmas ListisJamieFraser

My Outlander Christmas list is the essence of simplicity: Jamie Fraser.


*And I am not, Elf boy.

Pretty sure about that.

OK, more like “cautiously optimistic.”


If you’ve been suffering from the effects of Droughtlander, too, click HERE and HERE to see a couple of the new trailers for the second half of Season One.

I know, it’s like getting a fun size Snickers when you want/need the original, full size candy bar.  We’ll all just have to hang tough through this bleak midwinter.

May I suggest taking up a hobby, like, oh, I don’t know–whisky tasting?

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Nathan Cirillo, Canada’s National Hero

Oct 23, 2014 by

Yesterday in Ottawa, Canadian soldier Nathan Cirillo of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada was killed while standing watch at the National War Memorial.

Cpl Nathan Cirillo (left side of photo) age 24, was armed with a ceremonial rifle that had no bullets. He was shot at point blank range by a Muslim convert, who was later killed at the Canadian Parliament building in a gun battle with police. This chilling attack follows on the heels of another attack just a few day earlier, when a soldier was run over and killed by a Muslim extremist from Quebec, Canada.

Nathan-cirillo-killed by Islam-convrt

Corporal Nathan Cirillo (on LEFT) was killed today at Canada’s National War Memorial

Cpl Cirillo was a member of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, a reserve unit of the Canadian army. Created in 1903 by Canadians of Scottish descent, particularly the Sons of Scotland and the Hamilton St. Andrews Society, the regiment took part in both WWI and WWII. Part of the unit’s dress attire has always included kilt and bonnet similar to that worn by the the original A and S Highlanders of the British Military.

nathan-cirillo=with btourisy a few days before /cirillo was killed, Image by Meganen

Nathan Cirillo poses with tourist in front of Canada’s National War Museum, just a few days before being fatally shot by a Muslim convert. Photo by Megan Underwood.

Many people have posted social media pictures of Cpl Cirillo dressed in his full kilt regalia. He was a handsome young man who readily posed with tourists to the War Memorial. A Facebook paged has been created in his honor–click HERE to visit the page.


Nathan Cirillo and friend in full dress kilt uniform

My heart goes out to his family and friends, and to our Canadian neighbors. When one member of the clan falls, we all grieve, though we may be miles and countries away. I am so sorry this brave man’s life ended so young and in such a senseless way.

As the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada motto says “Albainn gu brath–Scotland Forever”!

This Scottish American is proud to stand with you.


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The Glenfinnan Monument And The Unknown Highlander

Oct 20, 2014 by

The Glenfinnan Monument stands on the shore of Loch Shiel in the Scottish Highlands, near the town of Lochaber.

This 60 foot tall stone tower was erected in 1815 to honor Prince Charles Edward Stuart and his arrival at Glenfinnan (Gleann Fhionghain) in 1745.  It was in this remote Highland spot that Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his royal standard and began a war that would ultimately destroy a way of life for the Highland clans.


The Glenfinnan Monument on the shore of Loch Shiel. Image by Bernard Blanc


On August 19, 1745, Charles Edward Stuart, grandson of exiled Stuart King,  James II of England, journeyed from France to Eriskay in the Western Isles of Scotland. His intent was to lead an army of French, Irish and Scottish soldiers into battle against the English, and place himself on the throne of Scotland and England.   Bonnie Prince Charlie, or The Young Pretender, as he is often called, traveled to the Scottish mainland in a small rowing boat, coming ashore at Loch nan Uamh, just west of Glenfinnan.   On arrival, he was met by a small number of MacDonald clansmen, but within several days more MacDonalds, Camerons, Macfies and MacDonnells arrived to join Charlie’s cause.
Once enough clan support arrived, Prince Charlie climbed the hill near Glenfinnan and raised his royal standard, announcing his claim to the Scottish and the English thrones in the name of his father James Stuart, known as the Old Pretender.



Charles Edward Stuart, by Allan Ramsay, painted in Edinburgh in 1745

The Jacobite cause–and the way of life of the Highland clans– would end in defeat and tragedy just eight months later, at Culloden. The Prince fled after the defeat at Culloden, and was vigorously pursued by the Duke of Cumberland.   After being hidden by loyal supporters, Charles boarded a French frigate on the shores of Loch nan Uamh, close to where he had landed and raised his standard the previous year. He would never set foot on Scottish soil again.  The Prince’s Cairn (Càrn Prionnsa) now marks the spot  where Charles left Scotland, never to return.



The Prince’s Cairn marks the spot where Bonnie Prince Charlie left Scotland, never to return. Image by Colin Smith


  The Glenfinnan Monument was erected in 1815 as a tribute to the Jacobite clansmen who fought and died in the cause of Prince Charles Edward Stuart.   A wealthy descendant of a Jacobite paid for the monument and it was designed by famed Scottish architect James Gillespie Graham. The Glenfinnan Monument now is in the care of the National Trust for Scotland.


You might think the figure atop the monument is Prince Charles Edward Stuart, but you’d be wrong.

 The statue is that of an unknown Scottish Highlander in full kilt, an enduring memorial to the tragic results of the Rising of 1745.

This clever video gives you a bird’s eye view of beautiful Loch Shiel and the Glenfinnan Monument:

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Surviving the Outlander Drought

Oct 14, 2014 by

 The season of the Outlander drought is now upon us. 

The first 8 episodes of Starz’ Outlander have come and gone and Outlander’s second half is a tantalizing goody bag we can’t open until April 15, 2015.  What’s an Outlander fan to do? 


If you are a fan of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books, you already know –generally–what will happen in Episodes 9-16.  Executive producer Ron Moore has shown he’s not afraid to stray from the sacred text of Diana’s book.  Can we all say “wedding ring debacle“?

If you haven’t read the books yet, however, waiting for the second half of Outlander may be even more frustrating for you.  Your cinematic Outlander world is still nascent, showing thrilling promise, but, suddenly you’re cut off from all contact with the mother world.



The Outlander drought: what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. As Claire well knows.


 Wandering in the desert may be good for the soul; it’s hell on an Outlander fan, though. 

If you’ve got Jones on the jukebox and Jamie on your mind, here’s a few suggestions to whet your appetite during the Outlander drought.



The Outlander drought: desperate measures for desperate times.


Admittedly, for many fans, the worst part of the Outlander drought is the lack of Jamie Fraser, played so well by hunky Scotsman, Sam Heughan.   In fact, Sam’s medieval muscle was just featured in the October 2014 issue of Muscle & Fitness magazine.   So, I say use the Outlander drought downtime to enjoy the myriad of Jamie Fraser/ Sam Heughan pictures on the net.

Try to avoid licking the screen, though.

Why not watch some of the many fan-created videos on YouTube while you wait for the Outlander drought to end?

The Outlander fandom is creative, devoted and TALENTED!



Tashopolis’ above video is the segue to my next suggestion for surviving the Outlander drought:


Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling books are what gave birth to the world of Scottish history, brave Highlanders and romantic, time traveling adventure we know as Outlander.   As I’ve said many times before, Outlander is NOT just a romance novel for women–not that’s there anything wrong with that.  Romance is by far the bestselling genre in fiction, and has been wrongly tagged by some in the so called media elite as lonely-women-with-cats/middle-aged-moms-with-issues pulp unworthy of the “modern”, intelligent female.

Uhm, yeah—NO.

These eight (with a ninth on track) hefty tomes, most over 500 pages, have serious historical cred for men AND women intrigued by Scottish history and-SPOILER ALERT-18th century American history.   Bloody battles like Culloden, as well as 18th century weaponry, culture and daily life (not romantic topics) are all carefully detailed within the Outlander book series.

Keeping in mind that the novels are historical fiction, I think they do a damn fine job on the history side, too.  Gabaldon accurately and movingly (hence the millions of fans) tells the story of the 1745 Jacobite uprising and its devastating aftermath in the Scottish Highlands, a tragedy that echoes down the generations to many Americans whose ancestors fled their native land to escape the brutal reprisals imposed by the British.

My last, but by no means least, recommendation for surviving the Outlander drought is to go to Scotland.

  You may not have time or the means to get to Scotland before Outlander returns in April 2015, but you can start planning your trip.

Notice that I’m not saying you should consider going to Scotland or that you should think about taking a trip to Scotland.   I’m saying you MUST go to Scotland.  Make it happen– start saving your pennies,  win the lottery, find your own circle of standing stones–do whatever it takes to get yourself on a plane to one of the most beautiful countries in the world.



Nothing short of seeing Scotland with your own eyes, your own heart, can truly convey the story of Outlander.

Scotland is the main character of both the books AND the television series, and unlike Jamie Fraser, it’s a character you can actually touch, explore, feel under your hands.   I can promise you this–once you go to Scotland,  you’ll find yourself caught up in a new,  yet ancient love story even more stirring than Outlander.

A bold statement maybe, but then again, I’ve been to Scotland.  I became part of the love story that is Scotland long before Jamie Fraser was even a twinkle in Diana’s eye.

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The Amazing Race Scotland

Oct 13, 2014 by

Did you watch Episode 3 of this season’s The Amazing Race  Scotland on CBS last Friday night, October 10th?  The competing teams wound up on the Shetland Islands for the first time in the show’s 25 seasons.

Even if you dislike reality shows, you may enjoy this episode of The Amazing Race Scotland, entitled Get Your Sheep Together

I found it amazingly funny (pun intended).

FYI:There are NO SPOILERS in this post–just a few observations, so you can enjoy the show at your leisure. You can see the entire episode online HERE.


Upon arrival in Shetland,  the teams’ first challenge was a detour, requiring them to choose to “pony up” or “light my fire.”  Teams who elected to pony up had to cut peat and transport it to the top of a hill via awww, so adorable Shetland ponies.  The ‘light my fire” task required teams to successfully make a Viking torch like the ones used in Shetland’s famous fire festival, Up Helly Aa, a celebration of the island’s Viking history.



I would have chosen to make the Viking torch–Up Helly Aa, Y’All!!–but quite a few teams choose to cut and haul the peat.

Why?   Because those teams incorrectly thought a) the small Shetland ponies are cute (yes) and b) they must be easy to handle (not just NO, but HELL, NO!).


Ask any horse person and they’ll tell you: never underestimate the stubbornness and quick temper of a pony. Shetland Pony-tude is not just a local legend.

The Viking task turned out to be no easy feat, either.  The Guizer Jarl oversaw the creation of a Viking torch, used to set ablaze a Viking longship, in miniature, down at the local harbor. The jarl, wearing a magnificent spotted cow hide coat (want, want, want) was very picky about the wrapping of the burlap layers, causing some teams to rethink their idea of going a-Viking.

Up Helly Aa has always been on my bucket list, but after seeing all the Nordic camaraderie in Episode 3,  I want to be a Viking guizer, not just a spectator!  Not gonna happen because I’m female, but it’s certainly worth a try.


The funniest challenge for The Amazing Race Scotland required all teams to herd a group of sheep down a hill and into a pen.

If that sounds easy, you are either a border collie or have never come face to face with a herd of sheep.

Sheep bounce, you know—like wooly balls of fluff on speed–and adhere to a mob mentality of “Panic! Panic! Everybody PANIC!” when faced with loud humans running around the field.  A few teams worked out Babe’s “Baa Ram Ewe” method of herding the sheep with gentle persuasion; other teams tried creative, but ridiculous methods to pen the sheep, who were unfazed by the visitors’ silly efforts.  I was embarrassed on behalf of humans every where after one team erected a wall of clothing to guide the sheep.  You’ll have to see it for yourself to truly understand the complete lack of common sense and engineering skills that were on display to the world.

On the other hand, I was snorting and laughing so hard at one point, my dog got worried and came over to give me comfort!


 After penning the sheep, the competitors for The Amazing Race Scotland were given a penannular brooch replica and told to go to the place were the brooch was “found.”  Most teams puzzled out this clue fairly quickly and raced off to be first at the Pit Stop, the final destination for this leg of the race.  As for the teams who had trouble with directions <cough, cough…men…cough>, well, let’s just say it pays to ask the RIGHT people for the RIGHT directions. Or maybe, don’t over-think the clue.  Or how about, go to the nearby museum or local history center and ask them for help because it’s their job to know a lot about the island.

As Episode 3 shows, sometimes staying in the game comes down to survival of the mentally, not physically, fittest.

The Celtic penannular brooch was based on an early Medieval one found in 1958 on St Ninian’s Isle, a small island linked to mainland Shetland by a sandy causeway.  Teams arriving at the Pit Stop on St Ninian’s were greeted by host Phil Keoghan and a dancing Puffin Man. Do you know the Puffin Man? He’s obviously not related to the Muffin Man, but seems to be a mascot for Shetland.

Strange, because puffins do live in the Shetland Islands, but they don’t dance.  At least, I think they don’t.

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