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The Other 70%


So is it Arran or Aran?  A-run or R-run?  Or none of the above?
By Judith Lloyd

Friends and I were having a discussion about the islands of Scotland the other day and someone mentioned the Island of Arran (pronouncing it R-ran).  We were immediately rebuked by the lone (born in Scotland, Scot) about how it could only be an American who would pronounce an A like an R.  He told us that the pronunciation was A-run.  So being suitably educated by said Scotsman we went about our business and lo and behold two days later while assisting in a booth at The International Festival a young Scots woman stopped by and started talking to us about her home on the Isle of Arran (pronouncing it R-un).  So now, as you would expect, I am thoroughly confused since I have been told two totally separate pronunciations by Ďthe expertsí.

Then just to add to the confusion I am looking for an Aran (I thought) cardigan for my granddaughter to match her brotherís pullover.  In searching the internet I had entered fishermenís weave and the search gave me sweaters from Aran and sweaters from Arran.  Now this was just mere hours after the above conversations about the pronunciation of Arran/Aran.  With my curiosity piqued I did some further investigation on these two places and discovered that they are two sets of islands.  The islands of Aran (and Iím not even going into attempting to decide how to pronounce that) is in Galway Bay, Ireland.  It is these islands that are famous for their sweaters.  The second set of islands (actually one island) is the Isle of Arran in the Firth of Clyde on the southwestern shore of Scotland.  There is actually a song called the Arran Boat Song, which is sometimes referred to as Queen Maryís Escape from Loch Leven Castle. (Shades of Skye Boat Song).   Since the Duke of Hamilton was Maryís guardian it would seem likely that if she was escaping from anywhere it would be to his stronghold, Brodick, on Arran.

It appears that the names Aran and Arran are interchangeable in many instances, which is further confusing.  If I want to find Aran sweaters I can just as easily type in Arran and get the same results.   I wonder what the Irish and the Scots think of that.  I didnít find anywhere that the Isle of Arran is noted for its sweaters, however.  It is however noted as the place of legend where Robert the Bruce hid in a cave after he was defeated by the Comyns and, having watched a spider spinning a web across the opening try several times to connect its silk from one side to the other before it succeeded, determined if a small spider could try so many times then so could he.

Our young Arran visitor said that her island was sometimes referred to as a mini Scotland since it had both highlands and lowlands within its borders.   The outer rim is the main tourist area with sandy beaches, golf courses, and even palm trees in the southern area (because of the influence of the Gulf Stream).  Hard to think of Scotland having palm trees.  The inner area is mountainous and abounds with wild animals.  On the eastern edge of Arran is Brodick Castle as I mentioned above.  This was once the home of the Dukes of Hamilton.   So it is easy to see why Arran is thought of as a miniature of Scotland though none of this decides the question of the islandís name pronunciation for possible future conversations.


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