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The Blood is Strong
It Is No Joy Without Clan Donald

The first episode traces the early story of the Gaelic Scots, a people who developed a separate language and culture in the West Highlands of Scotland, and tells of the events that drove so many from their homeland to seek a better way of life. The heart of Gaeldom is the Hebrides, a group of islands scattered off the north west coast of Scotland, where the standing stones of Callanish on the island of Lewis are relics of a civilization that existed before Greek and Roman times. But most Gaels trace their roots back to the 6th century invasion of Irish Celts who brought with them Christianity, art, poetry, music, and philosophy.

Subsequently the Vikins came and left their own legacy of seamanship, but they in turn were driven out by the great Gaelic chieftain, Somerled, a direct descendant of Downhal, the progenitor of Clan Donald. And it was under the MacDonald, the Lords of the Isles, that the golden age of Gaeldom was to flourish. The programme charts the collapse of the Lordship of the Isles, the break up of the clan system after the Battle of Culloden in 1746, the famine and the notorious Highland Clearances when landowners, including many clan chiefs evicted their tenants in favour of sheep.

In the 200 years between 1750 and 1950, it is estimated over a quarter of a million Gaels left their native land, many for the Americas and Australasia. But wherever they went, whatever they achieved, they never forgot their barren, beautiful homeland, and seven generations on in places as far apart as Winnipeg and Wellington the blood is still strong and the heart still highland. Tracie Serres, a young law student from Fort Worth, Texas, was just one of the half million overseas visitiors to the HIghlands last year. Like many who come in search of their roots, her Gaelic ancestry in tenuous. But for Tracie it was enough just to feel Highland. In this first programme many of the dramatic events in Highland history take on fresh meaning through the eyes of the young American on her first Hebridean journey.

Meet the powerful - and usually very private - people who own much of our country. Reporter David Miller goes in search of Scotland's landowners and asks whether it's fair that less than one per cent of Scots own over half of all Scotland's private land. As the government considers radical change, he asks whether big landowners really are the problem, and whether communities will end up owning more of the land they live on.

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