It's your Electric Scotland newsletter meaning
the weekend is nearly here :-)
You can view what's new this week on Electric Scotland at
I was away from Sunday through to Wednesday this week so didn't have much
time to answer emails or do work on the site so Thursday was the first
chance I had to get caught up.
I had a good visit to my local Chatham Highland Games on the Saturday and
met the clans MacKenzie, Wallace, Rattray, MacKintosh and Elliot.
Carole Rattray Nickels kindly provided a wee article about Clan Tents for
which see below.
This week we've also just started a new book, The Brahan Seer, and thanks
for Alan MacKenzie for doing this for us.
I was sad to hear this week of the death of Tom Weir and I thought I'd
include Peter Wright's tribute to him from this weeks Flag in the Wind...
Born: 29 December 1914 in Springburn, Glasgow
Died: 6 July 2006 in West Dunbartonshire, aged 91
Tom Weir was small of stature but his death last week, aged 91, cast an
enormous shadow across his beloved Scotland. He was held in the highest
regard by all his fellow Scots. His books, monthly articles for more than 50
years in the Scots magazine and his programmes on Scottish Television
ensured that the byornar Springburn-born climber, environmentalist, author,
broadcaster and Nationalist was known to every Scottish household. Scottish
National Party Leader Alex Salmond MP well summed up the Nation’s feeling of
“He will be sadly missed throughout Scotland not only by country lovers but
all Scots. My thoughts are with his family at this time.”
Tom Weir was the first-ever recipient of the Oliver Brown Award, presented
annually by the Scots Independent, in 1983. I had the honour of being one of
the three judges on that occasion, along with SI Editor Colin Bell and
Professor Gavin Kennedy. All afternoon, over a refreshment or two, we
debated the merits of the strong list of nominations for the initial award
but always came back to the same name – Tom Weir. He set the bench-mark for
the high standard of all those who followed in his footsteps as Oliver
He was an inspiration to us all. He loved all aspects of our country, but
particularly the hills, glens, lochs and wildlife of Scotland. Through his
writing, television programmes, slide-shows and talks, he passed that love
for and delight in Scotland to his fellows. He would finish his talks with a
plea for an Independent Scotland in order to protect the future of the
scenes he had shown and described.
He was the best of Scots and represented all that is good in our Nation. He
spread enlightenment and joy wherever he went and will live on in our
In further tribute to Tom Weir we repeat his conservation with Dr Jenny
Taggart which was published in the Scots Independent last year (February
Tom Weir, broadcaster, mountaineer and conservationist in conversation with
A few days after his ninetieth birthday ceilidh I have the pleasure to meet
the diminutive Tom Weir, resplendent in his trade mark woolly bunnet,
fair-isle jumper and nicky-tams. He is sprightly and energetic, keen for
conversation and eager to enjoy birthday cake and tea made by his wife,
His earliest recollection is of his grandmother who would give him a penny
to sing ‘Rowan Tree’. “I can still sing it today” he laughs. He remembers as
a child wanting to climb - anything, anywhere. His mother loved mountains
and together the pair would escape Glasgow. A short bus journey would take
them from their home in Springburn to the Campsite Hills, a place that is
still a favourite of Tom’s today. A commemorative cairn now marks the start
of ‘Weir’s Walk’ from Clachan of Campsie through the hills. From his
earliest days, he also remembers wanting to be a writer. Here he was helped
by another member of his strongly matriarchal family. His elder, and equally
weel-kent sister, Mollie, taught him to touch-type, charging him two
shillings and sixpence a lesson. “It was money well spent”, he says.
I ask about his experience as a Battery Officer in the Royal Artillery in
the Second World War. “I was in action in Italy. They don’t let you off, you
know. We were called out anytime, day or night. One time the men had really
suffered. We were supposed to have an inspection each day, and I said to the
men ‘never mind that, you’ve done your bit’. I was back to a private again
by the next day because I didn’t get it right. One thing I will never
forget, I was in the cinema in Germany and there was an explosion and the
whole screen blew right out covering everyone with debris. We fought our way
out again. There was the time too when I was in a top bunk and another chap
was on the lower. We were bombed and the bomb went straight through the two
bunks between us.”
He came back to Glasgow after the war, and began work as a surveyor. But he
was soon able to support himself by his writing, and in1950 took part in the
first post-war Himalayan expedition. In 1952, he was one of the first to
explore the mountains of Nepal and Katmandu. Some of his most difficult
ascents were there. He also climbed in Greenland above the Arctic Circle, in
Morocco, Iran, Syria and Kurdistan, as well as in Scotland. He says he likes
the challenge of the climb and the achievement of reaching the summit.
Despite being one of Scotland’s foremost mountaineers, he was never a
Munro-bagger. He has been to the top of most Munros, but preferred to climb
only those he liked best, enjoying the whole experience of the sky, the
lochs, trees, birds, flowers, animals – the spiritual as well as the
physical. For example, the tiny 142-metre Duncryne, known locally where he
lives in Gartocharn as ‘The Dumpling’, has been important always to him. “I
used to climb Duncryne every day, sometimes even at midnight.” I ask him if
this is his favourite place in Scotland. “No”, he replies, “That honour goes
to Glen Lyon. It is a beautiful place. I call it ‘the three Ls’: the
loveliest, the longest and the loneliest. I like to walk there because of
He believes climbing should be safer today than fifty years ago because of
better clothing and equipment. But this has had the contrary effect that
climbers may now extend themselves beyond their ability to prove how good
they are. Consequently, they can be in greater danger. He says, “For me, it
was never what I did, but what I saw, that was important”. Tom was injured
only once in his life, rock climbing on Ben A’an in the Trossachs. Recalling
the incident, he said, “It is a difficult climb. We were just starting and I
hadn’t got the feel of the mountain. I missed a vital hold and fell forty
feet. I nearly lost my life, but it was my own fault. I was climbing without
a belay. I never did that again”.
Tom Weir has been given many awards. He has received the Scots Independent
Oliver Award in 1983 for advancing the cause of Scotland’s self-respect. He
has an MBE. He was awarded STV’s personality of the year in 1978 for Weir’s
Way, a programme that introduced the Scottish countryside to many Scots
whose lives had given them no prior knowledge or experience of it. He is
most proud of The John Muir Trust Award given him in 2000. The award,
proudly displayed in his home, is inscribed “Presented to Tom Weir in
recognition of his contribution to the wider understanding of the value of
Scotland’s wild places”. The John Muir Award is not given annually, and has
only been given twice in the twenty-one years of the organisation’s
existence in this country. Tom was the first recipient. All of their married
life he and Rhona have lived on the shores of Loch Lomond. Concerned that
the area should be protected, Tom campaigned to see the setting up of the
National Park. He is proud that this has come to pass and believes that the
Park is necessary for management of the land, the flora and the fauna. He
also campaigned to safeguard the Cairngorms and Glen Nevis.
I ask Tom if he believes in Scottish Independence. He replies “Scotland
could easily do it. It has everything. There is no reason why we can’t look
after ourselves. I believe we should, but I have never been actively
involved in politics”.
“Do you believe in God?” I ask. He is sure of his answer: “No. Everyone has
one life. That’s all it is. No spirit looks after you beyond death. I was
lucky not to have been killed in the war. I was lucky not to have been
killed on Ben A’an. I don’t believe the world will be in existence in
another one hundred years. Man is outliving himself. The atomic bombs
dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima were terrible. Now climate change is
destroying the world. I have lived long enough to see the difference from
when I was young. Life was more free then.”
What is the secret of a long life, I wonder? “Good health, good friends, and
enough money to live at your own level. Always be doing something you enjoy
doing. Good and happy memories”. Has Tom Weir, legend in his own lifetime,
enjoyed his life? “I enjoy it still. Every morning I wake up and there is
something else to do”.
The secret of long life is always be doing something you enjoy.
We have another article about him at
ABOUT THE STORIES
Some of the stories in here are just parts of a larger story so do check out
the site for the full versions. You can always find the link in our "What's
New" section at the link at the top of this newsletter and pick up poems and
stories sent into us during the week from Donna, Margo, Stan, John and
Micro Button Advertisers
Here is what Ronnie Simpson has to say about his "All Celtic Music Store"...
For over 30 years Lismor Recordings has been the principal Scottish music
label supplying Scottish Shops all around the World. For folks not near
enough to a ‘local store’ Lismor also operated a global mail-order service.
This self-same service has now evolved into “The All Celtic Music Store”,
carrying on the tradition started by Lismor at their wee shop in Shawlands,
on Glasgow’s south side.
The shop may have gone but the people and principles are still
alive-and-well. The target is to have available in-stock EVERY current CD
from ALL of the artists from both Scotland & Ireland – ready to ship
IMMEDIATELY. So, east-coast is just a few days away. Even Oz is done in less
than a week. West-coast is between us, your postman & you (we guess 7-10
days). The UK & Europe is just days.
We have ALL of the SONGS, ALL of the TUNES and ALL of the artists from way
way back to tomorrow’s talent TODAY.
So, really, it’s the only one-stop you need to make for all Scottish & Irish
Hey, and DVDs and stuff from Cape Breton in Canada, Brittany in France,
Asturia & Galicia in Spain and stuff from all over the place that has strong
hints of Celtic traditional - so we have stuff from Oz, USA, New Zealand
and, even, England.
So check out their site and if you are a retailer have a chat about how to
get wholesale prices. Their site is at
THE FLAG IN THE WIND
This weeks edition is by Ian Goldie where as promised in his last issue he
promised "to devote one article in each of my monthly sessions to arguments
in favour of independence". I thought I'd include these here as they come
out and here is the first...
Bear with me if you feel you’ve heard it all before – lots of folk have not!
Two of the most compelling arguments for independence are as follows.
History seems to be on the side of independence movements. And the
independence of nations is both natural and normal.
Does anyone doubt that the Scots think of themselves as a nation?
Throughout history, many – especially smaller - nations have been forcibly
united with or dominated by larger nations. But almost always, the smaller
nations have ended up by struggling for and eventually winning their
For the past eight hundred years or so this struggle has been going on.
Remember Switzerland’s William Tell fighting off the domination of Austria
in the 1290s.
Scotland about the same time was fighting off English domination under
Edwards 1 and 2.
In the late sixteenth century the Dutch won their freedom from Spain.
And in 1640 Portugal too won the fight against Spanish rule.
Two hundred and thirty years ago we saw the United States win its freedom
from the British – one of history’s greatest triumphs for freedom, and one
that all independence movements can still learn from. Within fifty years
Spain and Portugal’s South American colonies too had gained their
In the last hundred years we have seen freedom being won in Europe (not to
mention the rest of the world) by the following, among many others:
Norway (1905, from Sweden)
Finland (1917, from Russia)
Estonia (1918, from Russia)
Latvia (1918, from Russia)
Lithuania (1918, from Russia)
Hungary (1918, from Austria)
Poland (1918, from Austria/Germany/Russia)
Ireland (1922, from Britain)
Iceland (1944, from Denmark)
Estonia (1990, from USSR)
Latvia (1990, from USSR)
Lithuania (1990, from USSR)
Croatia (1991, from USSR)
Moldova (1991, from USSR)
Slovenia (1991, from Yugoslavia)
Slovakia (1993, from the Czech Republic)
Montenegro (2006, from Serbia)
None of these countries is remotely interested in retreating under the wing
of their former rulers.
Some of them, especially in Northern Europe, have been outstandingly
successful. Others have not yet had the time to prove themselves. But I am
quite sure that, with self-government and democratic systems, they will make
progress they have never known before.
Does anyone really think now that, for instance, Holland or Norway or
Ireland would ever have been the successes they are under Spanish, Swedish
or British rule?
Does anyone really think that the former USSR Baltic states would have been
better off under the old system?
Personally. I am as certain as I can be, that unless Scotland gains its
independence, then within fifty years the Baltic nations, so far behind us
today, will have left us standing.
The development of European history has shown that the old argument for
colonialisation – “Aren’t we all getting together in the modern world?” - is
unsustainable. The old empires – Portuguese, Spanish, Ottoman, French,
British, Austrian, Communist – are almost all dead and gone.
Yes, we’ll get together with other countries, if we want to, as equal
members in a looser and confederal union, but not as part of a union imposed
against our will.
You can read this weeks issue, see the pictures and listen to the Scots
You can see Margo's new index page at
Margo usually manages to add a children's story each day so do check our
"What's New" page.
This week saw the start of the 10th book of the Rolphin's Orb series and
here is how the first chapter starts...
“Where are we?” Callum looked around. “All I see are mountains; tall
mountains with snow on top. We’re not back in Nepal, are we?”
“No. We can’t go to the same place twice. We might be in Mongolia. We’re not
in Africa. It’s not cold like this there in spring. My guess is we’re in
Argentina and those are the Andes Mountains.” Fiona pointed to the tall
“Ah, the Andes. Of course,” Callum said.
“I think Fiona is right,” Jimmy said. “Where in Argentina? I looked at a map
and it’s a big country.”
Fiona closed her eyes. She saw the gem, tanzanite. She let her mind wander
and prodded people’s minds, no matter how distant. “We’re in a place called
Tierra del Fuego. We’re at the very southern tip of the island near Cape
Horn. It’s cold here all the time, but bearable when the sun is out. The
jewel is buried under a rock in the sand at the end of the world.” She
looked up at the sky.
“We’re at the end of the world? What does that mean?” Elspet looked around.
“It means we can’t go any farther south. We’re near Antarctica and the South
Pole, way down at the bottom of the planet Earth.” Callum told her before
“That is pretty cool, Callum. It’s freezing here. I can’t do much to make it
warmer, without disturbing the natural way of things, but I can keep the sun
shining and get rid of these clouds.” Fiona waved her hand and the gray
heavy hanging clouds dissipated, leaving a blue sky in their place. “There,
“That’s a matter of opinion,” Jimmy said, rubbing his arms. “It’s still
“What did you call this place, Fiona? Tarra del what?” Elspet blubbered out
“Not Tarra del what; Tierra del Fuego. Tierra. Fuego.” Once again Callum
answered, sounding out the words out slowly, as if Elspet was an infant.
“It’s a huge island. The top half of the island is owned by Chile and the
other half is owned by Argentina. We’re in the Argentinean half.” Callum
rambled on. “I learned about this place in my geography class. “They have
oil and natural gas and an assortment of wild animals. I don’t think there
will be a lot to sketch here, Elspet. Did you bring your camera?”
“I did bring it and lots of film. I’m sure there will be something to take
photos of. Look at those mountains. They’re rugged, but very distinct
looking. I like it here.” Elspet reached into her pack and picked up her
camera. “Does anyone want their photo taken with the Andes in the
“I’ve never used a camera before, Elspet. Do you mind teaching me how?”
Jimmy examined the object in Elspet’s hand.
“Of course. When we get our bearings and it’s time to relax, I’ll show you.
It’s simple. I learned how to take photographs when I was little.” Elspet
took a few shots and handed the camera to Jimmy. “I wish we had a digital
camera. You don’t have to put film in it. You just take the pictures and
then download them onto a computer. But, I don’t have a computer, so this
way is easier.”
“I don’t think Jimmy knows what a computer is,” Fiona said.
“I don’t, but I’m sure you’ll teach me all I need to know when you can,”
“By the way, Fiona, what in the world is tanzanite?” Callum scratched his
“It’s a beautiful deep blue colored jewel and comes from Tanzania, in
Africa. It’s a very rare gem and expensive.” Fiona turned and looked behind
her. “Let’s head into town. It is about a mile down the coast. I’ve picked
up thoughts coming from that direction.” She pointed to the east. “It’s not
much of a town, Ushuaia. In fact it’s the most southern city in the entire
world and probably less people live there than in Whitehorse in the Yukon,
but it does have places to eat.”
“Food? Let’s go. I’m not starving, but the cold is making me hungry. If I
remember correctly, Argentina is famous for its beef,” Callum said.
“This isn’t mainland Argentina. I doubt if they have cows here. I think they
have sheep. They probably eat fish. Look around you, Callum. All there is
around here is water, ocean water, cold ocean water, rough cold ocean
“Okay, I get it, Elspet. Fish it is then,” Callum said with a grin.
You can read the rest of this chapter at
http://www.electricscotland.com/kids/rolfins_orb/book10_chap1.htm and we
have added another 6 chapters already :-)
Now working on the R's which you can read at
Good accounts of Rattray, Renfrew and Renfrewshire.
The Scottish Nation
My thanks to Lora for transcribing these volumes for us.
We have now completed the B's and now make a start on the C's with Cadell
and Caithness and here is how the account of Caithness starts...
CAITHNESS, earl of, in the peerage of Scotland, a title possessed since 1455
by the “lordly line of high St. Clair,” or Sinclair. It is, however, of very
great antiquity, and has been held by different families. It was one of the
titles of the ancient Vikingrs or sea kings. In Torfaeus’ History of the
Orcades, a work which he compiled from the ancient sagas and the Danish
records, mention is made of Dungaldus earl or jarl of Caithness so far back
as the year 875. In the ‘Islands Landnamabok,’ quoted in the ‘Collectanea de
Rebus Albanicis,’ it is stated that after Thorseein the red, sonof Audur the
wealthy, had, in conjunction with earl Sigurd the rich, “conquered Kateness
and Sudrland, Ross and Moray, and more than the half of Scotland, Thorstein
reigned as king over these districts until he was betrayed by the Scotch,
and slain in battle. Audur was in Kateness when she heard of her son
Thorstein’s death,” and flying to Orkney, she there gave away in marriage
Gros, the daughter of Thorstein the red, “to Dungadr, jarl of Kateness; and
his daughter Grelauga, by her marriage with Thorfinn, earl of Orkney,
brought the former district once more into the possession of these earls.”
This was sometime after the year 920. In the same century, one Liotus was
earl of Caithness and Orkney. He was probably a Norwegian, and had defeated
his brother Scullius in battle in a contest for the earldom.
In a charter of King David the First to the monastery of Dunfermline, in the
year 1129, one Macwilliam is designated earl of Caithness.
Harold earl of Caithness and Orkney, a powerful chieftain, was a good and
faithful subject of King William the Lion till 1196, when he broke out into
rebellion. The king marched an army into Caithness, on which the earl
submitted, but his sons, Roderick and Torphin, attacking the royal troops,
near Inverness, were defeated, and Roderick slain. The following year, the
earl, instigated by his wife, the daughter of Mached, again sappeared in
arms, and was encountered by the king’s forces, who defeated him and took
him prisoner. On being led fettered before the king, he ordered him to be
closely confined in a turret of Roxburgh castle, where he remained until the
king’s anger was pacified towards him, when he was dismissed on his humble
submission, his son, Torphin, having surrendered himself as a pledge for his
fidelity. On this occasion the southern division of Caithness, called
Sutherland, was taken from Harold [Chalmers’ Caledonia, page 633] and given
to Hugh Freskin , sheriff of Inverness, the progenitor of the earls of
Sutherland. Harold having again rebelled soon after, the king ordered
Torphin’s eyes to be put out, and his body otherwise mutilated, and he died
miserably in prison. The earl himself died in 1206. This Harold is said to
have murdered John bishop of Caithness.
In 1222, John earl of Caithness and Orkney possessed these earldoms, when
Adam bishop of Caithness, a rigorous exactor of tithes, was assaulted in his
episcopal palace at Halkirk, by the people of his diocese, and burnt to
death, a monk who attended him, named Serlo, being at the same time killed.
The descent of this Adam, says the Orkneyinga Saga, “nobody knew, for the
child had been found at the door of some church.” The men of Caithness
thought him rather hard in his episcopal government, and chiefly attributed
that to the monk Serlo. It was an ancient custom that the bishop should have
a spann of butter of twenty cows from every proprietor in Caithness. Bishop
Adam wanted to increase this impost, and have a spann, first of fifteen,
afterwards of twelve, and, these being successively granted, ultimately of
ten cows. The people complained to the earl of the bishop’s exactions, but
he declined to interfere in the dispute, on which, in a highly excited
state, they attacked the bishop’s residence. The bishop and his followers
were drinking in an upper apartment, and when the people came, the monk went
out to the door, and he was immediately hewn across the countenance and fell
dead into the room. The bishop then went out, intending to make peace with
the people, but seizing him they conveyed him to a smaller house than his
own, and set fire to it, when the unfortunate bishop was burnt to death. The
earl, as he had refused to interpose for the prevention of this deed, was
supposed to have connived at it, and he was, in consequence, deprived of his
estate by the king, Alexander the Second, but was afterwards permitted to
redeem it, on the payment of a large sum of money, and the giving up the
third part of the earldom. Earl John was murdered in his own house by his
servants in 1231, and his body was consumed to ashes by way of retaliation
for the slaughter of the bishop.
You can read the rest of this account at
You can read the other entries at
Got in an interesting article about this Scottish group...
Wood Group's history is quite short - less than 30 years, but meteoric!
I have attached a brief history but essentially Wood Group evolved from a
family fishing business in Aberdeen. Wood Group's founder, Sir Ian Wood, had
a vision of how Aberdeen in the 70s could learn from Houston and become a
major service centre for the newly discovered oil & gas in the North Sea.
Wood Group broke away from the family fishing business in the early 80s and
became a service company to the oil & gas and power industries, and is today
an international energy services company employing 16,000 people in 40
countries and a turnover of US$2.8bn.
As you know Scotland's engineers are world-renowned and many generations of
Scottish engineers have changed the face of our modern world. Wood Group is
helping to take Scottish expertise global and bring international expertise
back to the UK.
Wood Group is a people-business built on old fashioned values of good
service, hard work and robust business ethics but it's also dynamic and an
exciting place to work.
And you can read the history of the Wood Group at
Scottish Clan Displays at Highland Games
When I met Carole at the Chatham Highland Games I mentioned that it would be
good to get an article about Clan Tents and lo and behold when I got back
from Toronto there it was in my email inbox :-)
You can read this at
The Children of a Bitter Exodus
An article from The Weekend Scotsman printed on June 5, 1982 about the
emigrants from the Isle of Sky. I had to scan this in four parts and join it
together which, while not perfect, is I think readable. I might add that
this page came with a book I purchased entitled Skye Pioneers and "The
Island" by Malcolm A. MacQueen. There is no publishing date to the book but
an entry in the inside cover is dated Dec 31/29.
You can read the graphic copy of this page at
Rev John Thomson of Duddingston
Pastor and Painter (1907)
We have now completed this book which you can read at
Here is how the last chapter concluded...
We have said sufficient, we think, to justify our contention that Thomson
must be recognised as occupying the front rank among British masters of
landscape Art, and being undoubtedly one of the best which his country has
produced. You may call him the Scottish Claude or the Scottish Turner, or by
any other borrowed name you will, but he has individuality enough to stand
on his own merits, or to be criticised for his faults. These we have
attempted honestly to discover and point out. For him, as one has well said,
‘Art was a passion. The deep, tremulous emotions, ever ready when not held
down by a strong will to break forth in a cry, or break down in a flood of
tears, were the dowry of a truly poetic, essentially artistic nature. As he
looked out upon earth and sea and sky, all seemed to stir with the gleam of
God’s eye. Beauty was to him God’s handwriting — a wayside sacrament to be
welcomed in every fair face, every fair sky, every fair flower; to be drunk
in with all one’s eyes.’
The influence of such a man as Thomson cannot well die. His name may be
forgotten and his works in time may perish, but the ever-flowing,
ever-swelling stream of the nation’s culture must for ever be enriched by
the impetus his genius imparted to the Art ideas of his day and generation.
His teaching and example become in a measure imperishable, for they have
made their impress deeply on the Art life of the people. Even as Scott and
Burns have influenced our literature, so Thomson has been a moulder of the
Scottish School of Art. Such works as he has left us are a priceless legacy
which must not be lightly valued. Like great deeds, which cannot die—
‘They with the sun and moon renew their light,
For ever blessing those that look on them.’
Sweeter Than Elderberry Wine
By Donna Flood
Donna has now concluded this first volume with another 8 pages taking us to
Page 31 which you can read at
She also sent in a collection of pictures for her Nancy Fletcher gardening
The Prophecies of The Brahan Seer
By Alexander MacKenzie FSA Scot (1899)
Transcribed by Alan McKenzie for which many thanks
Have just made a start at this book with the first chapter and here it is
for you to read here...
The Brahan Seer and Second Sight.
BY ANDREW LANG
Mr. Mackay has asked me to make a few comments on Mr. Mackenzie’s
“Prophecies of the Brahan Seer,” and I do so for the sake of old times and
old ideas. Unlike Mr Mackenzie, I can unblushingly confess the belief that
there probably are occasional instances of second sight, that is, of
“premonitions.” I know too many examples among persons of my acquaintance,
mostly Lowlanders or English, to have any doubt about the matter. Hegel was
of the same opinion, and was not ashamed to include second sight in his vast
philosophic system. [“Philosophie der Gheistes,” werke vii. 179. Berlin,
1845.] As to the modus of second sight, “how it is done,” in fact, I have no
theory. If there is a psychical element in man, if there is something more
than a mechanical result of physical processes in nerve, brain, and blood,
then we cannot set any limit to the range of “knowledge super-normally
acquired.” “Time and space are only hallucinations,” as a philosopher has
audaciously remarked. They may be transcended by the spirit in man, et voilà
pourquoi votre fille est muette! This explanation, of course, is of the
vaguest, but I have no better to suggest.
By an odd coincidence, two cases of second sight, of recent date, in the
experience of an educated lady, reached me yesterday at first hand, and, as
I pen these words another (knowledge of a death at a distance) comes to me
from a distinguished philologist. But he thinks he was ten minutes out in
his reckoning, which, allowing for difference of watches, is not much., A
fourth case is from a Royal Academician, an intimate friend. He and a lady,
also of my acquaintance, were being shewn over a beautiful new house by the
owner. My friend, in the owner’s bedroom, turned pale. The lady, when they
went out, asked him what ailed him. “I saw X---” (the owner of the house)
“lying dead in his bed.” X--- died within a month, which would be thought
fair work in the Highlands. An odder case occurred last year. On June 15, a
lady, well known to me, and in various fields of literature, told me that,
calling on another lady the day before, she had seen a vision of a man,
previously unknown to her, who thrust a knife into her friend’s left side. I
offered to bet £100 against fulfilment. In autumn my friend, again calling
at the same house, met the man of her vision on the doorsteps. Entering, she
found her friend dying, as her constitution did not rally after an operation
on her left side, performed by the man of the vision, who was a surgeon.
This is much in the Highland manner. Of the Seers here alluded to (and I
might add many other modern instances in my own knowledge), only one was
Celtic. For savage examples which illustrate the belief (though evidence
cannot, of course, be procured with exactness), I may be permitted to refer
to my “Making of Religion” (pp. 72-158). The kind of story is always the
same. And the legends of St. Columba, in Adamnan, are much on a par, in many
cases, with modern examples in The Proceedings of the Society for Physchical
Research. The uniformity of the reports argues the existence of some facts
at their base.
While I am credulous to this extent, I vastly prefer modern cases, at first
hand, and corroborated (as when I can swear that the lady told me of her
vision before its fulfilment), to the rumours of the Brahan Seer. We can
scarcely ever, except as to the deaf Seaforth, find any evidence that the
prophecies were recorded before the event. In many cases fulfilment could
only occur, either in the ancient fighting Clan society, or under its
revival, to which we cannot look with much confidence. The prophecies about
sheep one has no evidence to prove earlier than, say, 1770. As to the
burning of the Seer, if it really had clerical sanction, why are Kirk
Sessions’ Registers not brought forward as proof? Have they been examined
for this purpose? We are, in fact, dealing with poetical legend, not with
In one respect Kenneth is peculiar, among Highland Seers. He is a “Crystalgazer,”
whether his “gibber” (as Australian savages call divining stones) was blue,
or grey, or pearly, perforated or not. This use of stones, usually crystals,
or black stones, I have found among Australians, Tonkaways, Aztecs, Incas,
Samoyeds, Polynesians, Maoris, Greeks, Egyptians, in Fez: water, ink, or
blood being also employed to stare at. The whole topic is discussed in my
book already cited, with many modern examples. Now I do not elsewhere, know
more than one or two cases of this kind of divination in the Highlands. The
visions are usually spontaneous and uninvoked, except when the seer uses the
blade-bone of a sheep. In the interests of Folk Lore, or Psychology, or
both, people who have the opportunity should record cases of the use of
divining stones in the Highlands. It is even more desirable that the
statements of second-sighted men (they are common enough, to my personal
knowledge, in Sutherland, Lochaber, and Glencoe) should be taken down before
fulfilment. Unless this is done, the predictions, as matter of evidence, go
for nothing. We must try to discover the percentage of failures, before we
can say whether the successes are not due to chance coincidence, or to
misstatement, or to mere imposture. I have little or no doubt that the
Ferrintosh story (told in this book) is a misconception, based on the actual
calamity at Fearn, long after the Seer was dead. In fact, like Dr. Johnson,
I want more evidence. He was ready to believe, but unconvinced. I am rather
more credulous, but it would be very easy to upset my faith, and certainly
it cannot be buttressed by vague reports on the authority of tradition. It
may be urged that to inquire seriously into such things is to encourage
superstition. But if inquiry merely unearthed failure and imposture, even
superstition would be discouraged.
I'll be adding more chapters which you will be able to read at
Celts, Scots, Ulstermen and American Pioneers - History, Heraldry and
Tradition by Capt. A. McGill (1910)
We're now up to Chapter 21 and so another 7 chapters add to this book. Here
is how Chapter 15 starts...
The boys were ripening into manhood and they were a strong, sturdy lot—each
one a worker— not a slouch among them. Arthur had four sons and four
daughters—Patrick, three Sons and two daughters. Arthur’s sons were Arthur,
Jr., Henry, John and Robert—and the sons of Patrick were John, William P.
and Charles D. The second generation in America was starting in with seven
healthy, wholesome, virile scions, giving fair promise to perpetuate the
In 1812, when the war with England occurred, Arthur, Jr., must have been
about 22 years old, Henry 20, John 18, and Robert 12. Of Patrick’s sons—John
was 17, William P. 16 and Charles D. 10 years old. Arthur, Jr., was probably
engaged in his mail route affairs, but was nevertheless at Erie when the
attack was threatened by the British fleet. Henry was there from the first
inception of the building of Perry’s fleet. John was already in Erie
learning his trade. These young men did not march with Captain Long’s
company of Penn’s Militia called out in the crisis of affairs, but they were
there long before Long was ordered out, putting in their best licks at
getting out timbers for the ships, building fortifications and defensive
works and doing whatever was to be done promptly and efficiently. Arthur,
the Pioneer, the father of these boys, was then quite old, but age did not
deter him from moving in a body to the threatened point. He was there with
all his teams, rolling, dragging, sliding and pulling great timbers from the
forest to the bay for building the war vessels. At his advanced years he was
not supposed to put his shoulder to the canthook as in former days, but his
experience and peculiar push were invaluable.
My father, John, was not permitted to take part in the campaign, whereat he
was very sad. Patrick made him stay at home and attend to the growing
responsibilities of a large farm, which were fast being transferred from the
old to the younger shoulders. He submitted with filial obedience, but a sore
Patrick, however, did not propose that his family should be unrepresented in
the stirring events of the hour, and having unlimited confidence in his own
valor, as proven in former wars - he took his old long-barreled rifle from
the hooks, picked his flints, filled the pouch and horn and boldly marched
for the scene of action.
They do say, that as he marched along through the dark defiles of the forest
he kept step with true military precision. The gloom of night was closing in
when he arrived in front of the battlements of the historic fortress of Fort
Le Boeuf. He was not unknown in the little hamlet of Waterford and was soon
surrounded by old cronies who patted him on the back and extolled his
patriotism. They brought water and bade him wash his dirty feet - oil with
which to anoint his blistered heels, and they gave him stimulants to make
his heart glad.
You can read the rest of this chapter at
You can read the other chapters at
A National Monument of Scottish Song
Edited and Arranged by John Greig, Mus. Doc. (Oxon.)
Have added the following songs...
The Lass O' Patie's Mill
Neil Gow's Fareweel to Whiskey
and you can read these in our current volume at
Added a wee article about a McIntosh Family in Canada at
Got sent in a wee article about a Scots family that moved to Vancouver at
John sent in more doggerels at
Kenneth Shaw also sent in more poems at
Banffshire Maritime Heritage Association Opening Friday 14th July and so if
you are in the area do visit them. I have posted up their flyer about this
at the foot of the page at
I also added the latest issue of the Clan MacIntyre newsletter as a .pdf
file which you can read at
St. James Priory, Toronto, Annual Report 2005
I thought you might be interested to see this annual report for the Knight
Templars in Toronto so have it up on the site as a .pdf file which you can
There has also been some interest in the Templar ‘schism’ and I got in some
history on this which you can read at
Kathleen has sent in some poems which you can read at
Here is one to read here...
Drifting on the lake
The waves lap against the side of the boat
Lulling me to sleep
Everything seems so peaceful
I hear the birds in the distance
The shore seems so far away
The warmth of the sun begins to fade
A loon calls eerily across the water
Reluctantly I head to shore
Almost unwilling to leave
But knowing I will return
I look back longingly
Then I go
And that's all for now and I hope you all have a great weekend :-)
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