Yes Scotland : Proclaiming For Freedom

Sep 3, 2014 by

The historic drive for Scottish independence, led by Yes Scotland, is coming down to the final days as the September 18th referendum draws closer. 

The anti-freedom groups, mostly composed of non-Scottish residents, have had no trouble commanding attention from the mainstream press or in raising funds.  In fact,  Better Together, (BT) the notorious cabal behind the negative side, has been forced to say no to more cash from the deep pockets funding their alarmist ads.

Yes Scotland has a groundswell of popular support inside Scotland, amongst Scottish citizens.  Happily, they also got a big financial boost this week from the popular Scottish band, The Proclaimers.    Twin brothers Charlie and Craig Reid, the band members, donated £10,000 to Yes Scotland, saying  that the cause of Scottish independence was ” a matter of principle” for them.


The Proclaimers, best known for their song I’m gonna Be (500 miles), have long been pro Scottish independence. Yes Scotland supporters recently began a campaign to have Cap In Hand, The Proclaimers’ 1988 anthem to Scottish freedom, top the musical downloads charts.  Well,  Yes Scotland supporters got a big YES from Amazon yesterday: Cap In Hand moved to Number One on the Amazon singles chart.

Click HERE to hear Cap in Hand with the lyrics and HERE to purchase the single for 99 cents and show support for Yes Scotland.


Yes Scotland supporter

You’re Scottish, not British: Say Yes, Scotland   image: THE


A recent poll shows a surge of support for independence, good news for Yes Scotland.  After all the scaremongering by the no side and British politicians, that is a huge accomplishment.  Hopefully, it’s also a sign of good things to come for Scotland on September 18th.

In the interest of fairness, I must admit I’m ABSOLUTELY, COMPLETELY in favor of independence for Scotland–have been for years.  I’m an American and don’t get to cast a vote, but my Scottish ancestors would cast me out of the clan if I opposed it.

I will ALWAYS say YES, Scotland.


And, just because I like to stir things up– click HERE to see funny Twitter responses to BT’s patronizing ad aimed at Scottish women.

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National Tartan Day: Celebrating America’s Scottish Heritage

Apr 5, 2014 by

National Tartan Day is celebrated on April 6th in the United States to honor the many ways Scottish immigrants have contributed to the creation and growth of America.   In 2008, President George W. Bush signed a Presidential Proclamation designating the 6th of April, the date on which the Declaration of Arbroath was signed in 1320, as a day to celebrate Scottish heritage, and Tartan Day events have been steadily increasing ever since.   Although the celebrations are not as widespread or well-attended as Saint Patrick’s Day festivities, large National Tartan Day parades and events are held annually in New York City, St Charles, Missouri, Washington, D.C. and many other cities.

Can’t make it to one of those cities?

Show pride in your Scottish heritage and have your own cèilidh– break out your kilt,  bagpipe music and whisky and invite your friends and family over to rock the tartan!





There is some evidence that the ancient Celts wove cloth that looks like what we now think of as tartan, but the use of tartan as an identifying pattern for Scottish clans is a more recent invention.  In the late 16th century,   some historical sources refer to various types of checkered or patterned cloth among the Scottish clans.  By the 18th century, the tartan had become so closely associated with the Highland clans that the British Crown passed the Dress Act of 1746, banning the wearing of tartan, as a means of crushing the rebellious Highlanders and the Jacobite cause.  The Act was repealed in 1782, but by then tartan had become a part of the Scottish national identity and a symbol of Scottish freedom  for all Scots, not just Highlanders.




Not sure about the difference between tartan and plaid?   It’s a question I get asked frequently, especially in connection with clan ancestry research.
Tartan is a pattern on cloth consisting of criss-crossed horizontal and vertical bands in multiple colors, called breacan in Scots Gaelic. In weaving, the warp (the lengthwise yarns) and the weft (the transverse threads which are pulled through the warp yarns) are woven at right angles to each other, creating a distinctive pattern of squares and lines known as a sett.   There are setts for all kinds of things, such as the Scottish clans, several US states, and big companies like Harley Davidson– there’s even a Hello Kitty sett!

Plaid is not the same thing as tartan, although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably in the US.   The word plaid comes from the Scots Gaelic word plaide, meaning blanket, and originally referred to a piece of cloth used as a blanket or as a belted plaid, the original form of a kilt.  In Scotland today, if you ask for a plaid, you’ll likely be shown a piece of tartan designed to be slung over one shoulder or used as a blanket or throw for your bed.

The Grand Marshall at this years NYC Tartan Day parade is Howie Nicholsby, owner of world-famous 21st Century Kilts in Edinburgh and handsome Scotsman. Here’s a video from Howie about the kilt and its history:



Of course, it’s not  Tartan Day without a few Americans in kilts, right?!



Kennedy tartan

Kennedy tartan






US Navy tartan on left and US Army tartan on right, courtesy of Sportkilt

US Navy tartan on left and US Marine tartan on right, courtesy of Sportkilt



 Have a great National Tartan Day!

Sources and Links:

The Scottish Register of Tartans

This is the first place to look when researching your clan tartan.The Scottish Register of Tartans was established by an act of the Scottish Parliament in 2008, to protect, promote and preserve tartan. The Register is a database of tartan designs, maintained by the National Records of Scotland.

Scottish Tartans Authority-has a large database of info on tartans and clans

Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America,  by James Webb (2005)–great book!

Tartans of Scotland

New York Tartan Week

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Scotland’s Equine Art Kelpies Coming to New York

Mar 6, 2014 by

As part of the festivities leading up to National Tartan Day on April 6, 2014, Bryant Park in New York City is hosting two large scale replicas of Scotland’s stunning sculptural tribute to heavy horses, The Kelpies.  The largest equine sculpture in the world, The Kelpies are the creation of Glasgow-born artist, Andy Scott, and are located in Falkirk, Scotland, near the Forth and Clyde Canal, as part of the area’s Helix Project, a large, public green space development. The scale replicas, known as The Maquettes, will be on display in NYC’s Bryant Park from March 19-April 22, 2014 and are expected to attract more than  250,000 people a day.

The name of the equine sculpture was chosen by Scottish canals to reflect the eponymous mythological water horses that could change shape on land and possessed the strength and endurance of ten horses, qualities that are analogous with the transformational change and endurance of Scotland’s inland waterways. The Kelpies also represent the lineage of the heavy horse of Scottish industry and economy, pulling the wagons, ploughs, barges and coalships that shaped the geographical layout of the Falkirk area.


Andy Scott used the idea of the water horse from Scottish myth as inspiration for his work, but he also wanted to reflect the important contributions that real horses have made throughout Scotland’s history:

During the conceptual stages, I visualised the Kelpies as monuments to the horse and a paean to the lost industries of the Falkirk area and of Scotland…
The original concept of mythical water horses was a valid starting point for the artistic development of the structures, but from the original sketches of 2006 I deliberately styled the sculptures as heavy horses.
In early proposal documents I referred to Clydesdales, Shires and Percherons, of the fabled equus magnus of the northern countries.
I wrote of working horses. Of their role in the progress of modern society, as the powerhouses of the early industrial revolution, the tractors of early agriculture and, of course, the first source of locomotion for barges on the Forth & Clyde canal, which The Kelpies will soon inhabit….

I see The Kelpies as a personification of local and national equine history, of the lost industries of Scotland. I also envisage them as a symbol of modern Scotland – proud and majestic, of the people and the land. They are the culmination of cutting edge technology and hand crafted artisanship, created by our country’s leading experts through international partnerships.

They will elevate Falkirk and Grangemouth to national and international prominence and foster a sense of pride and ownership. As a canal structure they will partner the iconic Falkirk Wheel, and echo its grandeur. They will stand testament to the achievements of the past, a tribute to artisanship and engineering and a proud declaration of intent for the future of Scotland.

~Sculptor Andy Scott on the artistic purpose and intent of The Kelpies, The Helix Project Website,



For more information about the Maquettes display and New York’s Tartan Week activities, please click  on any of the following links:

American Scottish Foundation

NYC Tartan Week

The Helix Project

Andy Scott, artist

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For Freedom: The Declaration of Arbroath and Scotland In 2014

Mar 2, 2014 by

“…for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.”

The Declaration of Arbroath, 1320

Should Scotland be an independent country?  On September 18, 2014, the Scottish people will have an opportunity to answer that seemingly simple, but actually profound, question.  Scotland will hold a major referendum that day to decide whether it should leave the United Kingdom and go it alone as sovereign nation.  Whether or not the Yes campaign succeeds–and I admit I’m strongly pro-independence— it won’t be the first time that Scotland has formally declared its desire to exist as a free, self-governing country.

The  Declaration of Arbroath is a declaration of Scottish independence in the form of a letter that was submitted to Pope John XXII, dated 6 April 1320, intended to confirm Scotland’s status as an independent, sovereign state and defending Scotland’s right to use military action when unjustly attacked.  Thought to have been written in the Arbroath Abbey by Bernard of Kilwinning, then Chancellor of Scotland and Abbot of Arbroath, with the help of King Robert, the letter was one of three written at the same time (one written by Robert the Bruce, seeking to have his excommunication by the Pope for murdering John Comyn lifted), and is the only one known to still exist.

The Declaration was taken to the papal court at Avignon, where it was looked upon favorably by the Pope; the Bruce’s excommunication, however, was not officially lifted until 1328.
The original letter was lost, and the National Archives of Scotland in Edinburgh has the only surviving copy.





To read the English translation of the Declaration of Arbroath, click HERE.

To read more about the Yes Campaign and the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, click HERE ; for the latest comments from Sean Connery, a strong supporter of the Yes campaign, click HERE.


Sources and more info:


National Archives of Scotland

The Scottish History Society

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Ava Gardner: Sassy Celtic Lassie

Jan 21, 2014 by

Beautiful Ava Gardner, a queen amongst the royalty of vintage Hollywood, was born in North Carolina into a poor farming family. She was truly a Wild Eyed Southern Celtic lass, with green eyes, non-stop curves and a bawdy wit. She had both Irish and Scots-Irish heritage from her mother and father.


A few of my favorite quotes from Ava Gardner:

When I lose my temper, honey, you can’t find it any place.


Although no one believes me, I have always been a country girl and still have a country girl’s values.


I wish to live until 150 years old but the day I die, I wish it to be with a cigarette in one hand and a glass of whiskey in the other.


Oscar Wilde would have loved Ava Gardner.

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The Mark Of The Scots

Nov 2, 2013 by

The Mark of the Scot

The Mark of the Scot

For that is the mark of the Scots of all classes:
that he stands in an attitude towards the past unthinkable to Englishmen,
and remembers and cherishes the
memory of his forebears, good or bad;
and there burns alive in him
a sense of identity with the dead
even to the twentieth generation.

Robert Louis Stevenson

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