24 November 2008

Celtophile Monday

Welcome back to Celtophile Monday! All sources credited. :)

I'd like to start off with a fun fact: Margaret Tudor, daughter of King Henry VII, was born on Nov. 29, my birthday. She later married King James IV of Scotland in the "Union of the Thistle and the Rose". It was due to her bloodline that King James VI of Scotland was able to inherit the crown of England in 1603. (Graphic from the UK National Archives)

European Fishing Quotas called "Draconian"
Scottish Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead has described as "draconian" proposals by the European Commission which would stop fishermen catching whiting, cod and haddock on the west coast of Scotland aimed at allowing fish stocks to recover. If the European Commission are following their usual tactics, the proposal is a "worst case scenario" which may well be ameliorated during negotiations. Everyone accepts, however, that the white fish stocks off the west coast of Scotland are in a dire state. But the proposals by European civil servants could have severe consequences on the important langoustine catch. Scottish fishermen are also trying to persuade the European Commission to abandon the practice of dumping thousands of tonnes of bycatch cod back into the North Sea. (rampantscotland.com)

National Trust Takes Over Burns Cottage
Further steps have been taken towards the creation of the £21m Burns Birthplace Museum - a more fitting building dedicated to Robert Burns, Scotland's national poet. The National Trust for Scotland has taken over the Burns Cottage (seen here), where the poet was born, the nearby Burns Monument (built in the early 19th century), and the Tam o'Shanter Experience in Alloway, along with surrounding land owned by South Ayrshire Council. In addition to the buildings, the Trust has also taken over a large collection of manuscripts, letters and other historical documents written by, or about, Burns and previously owned by the Burns Monument Trust. The collection includes more than 5000 artefacts, including more than 300 manuscripts written by Burns, including Tam O'Shanter, Holy Willie's Prayer and Scots Wa Hae. Work on the Burns Birthplace Museum has already started and is due to be completed by 2010 - though £4 million of funding has still to be found. The building was originally to have been completed to coincide with the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns next year. (rampantscotland.com)

New Forest for National Park
A grant from the National Lottery of nearly £1 million will help to create a new forest in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Billed as the largest native broadleaf woodland in Scotland it will cover an area equivalent to the city of Glasgow. It will transform an area centered on Loch Katrine, into a forest landscape. (Carolan's Note: Will it get rid of the midges? LOL) (rampantscotland.com)

Scottish Car of the Year - a FORD!
Car sales may be well down on last year as a result of the financial problems in the economy, but that doesn't stop the automotive journalists voting for the best cars available in the showrooms. Last year Ford took the title of "Scottish Car of the Year" with their Mondeo saloon and they have scooped the award again this year with the compact Fiesta. Ford introduced a new version of the already popular Fiesta and the journalists were most impressed, despite the high calibre of competing models. (rampantscotland.com)

Waxwings Invade Edinburgh
Every few years - when food is short or the weather is harsh in Siberia and northern Scandinavia - flocks of the lovely Waxwing bird will fly south, with some reaching the UK. That seems to be happening this year and ornithologists and amateur bird watchers have spotted several hundred in the Edinburgh area. There is the hope that this could be a "Waxwing Year" when thousands of these birds come to our shores. Waxwings are characterised by soft silky plumage and unique red tips to some of the wing feathers. These tips look like sealing wax, and give the group its name. They feed on fruit and berries in the winter - and the large crop of rowan (mountain ash), cotoneaster and other berries here this year will be just to their liking. The flocks move across the country, finding and feasting on such food, before moving on. They will return to northern latitudes in the spring. (rampantscotland.com)

Nessie Turns 75
Although reports of a monster in Loch Ness go back to the days of St Columba's biography in 565AD, the fame of the Loch Ness Monster took off 75 years ago when a series of photographs of a creature swimming in the loch were published in the press. A picture by Hugh Grey on 12 November 1933 is credited with being the first photographic evidence when it was printed in the Scottish Daily Record under the headline "Monster photograph of the mysterious Loch Ness object". There have been suggestions that it was actually a Labrador with a stick in its mouth (!) or a double negative. Nobody is certain, however. Another picture the following year was ultimately proved to be a fake - even though it is still frequently used to illustrate articles on the subject - see illustration. Despite (or because of) the advent of digital cameras everywhere, recent photos of Nessie have been thin on the ground in recent years, despite some major scientific projects to track it down. But that doesn't stop folk looking - just in case.... (rampantscotland.com)

Leaky Dunvegan Castle Gets Funding
Dunvegan Castle on Skye has been the MacLeod clan seat for 800 years. But as it was privately owned, the clan chief has struggled in recent years to find the finance to keep the building in a good state of repair. When the 29th clan chief, John MacLeod of MacLeod, controversially put the island's Cuillin mountains up for sale in 2000, it was so he could raise the money to stop the roof leaking. He claimed that he had to sleep with an umbrella above his bed due to water getting in. The mountain range was put on the market for £10 million, but no buyer came forward. He reluctantly agreed to transfer the mountains to public ownership and the castle to a charitable trust. An application for £25 million to the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore the castle and develop the visitor centre was turned down in 2006. Now, Historic Scotland has - at last - agreed a £594,188 grant for a three-year programme of works. The current chief, Hugh Magnus Macleod of MacLeod has expressed his gratitude to Historic Scotland and pointed out that Dunvegan, in addition to its historic significance, is a key driver of economic growth on the Isle of Skye, acting as a magnet for 100,000 visitors a year.

Akron, Ohio, St. Andrew's Day Event
The highly active Scottish American Society in Akron, Ohio, has organised their first St Andrew's Day dinner on Friday, 6th December at the Northwest Family Recreation Center, 1730 Shatto Avenue, Akron, Ohio. The modest cost includes dinner, dessert, beverages and entertainment. There will be pipers piping, a performance by the award winning Tigh na Creige Highland Dancers, a silent auction, lively music - and encouragement to participate. It will be a fun evening in true Scottish tradition. And, looking ahead, the society has already organised a Tartan Day dinner on 12 April 2009. For more details on both events, see Scottish American Society in Akron, Ohio.

Poetry Corner
With the 90th anniversary of the end of the First World War this week, at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month, here is a poem from that era by Joseph Johnston Lee (1876–-949). Lee was born in Dundee and worked as a journalist and sketch artist, publishing his first book of poems, Tales o’ Our Town, in 1910. During World War I, he served in the Black Watch regiment as a Sergeant, sending sketches and poems back home to Scotland, chronicling life in the trenches and as a prisoner of war. These were eventually collected in two books of poetry, "Ballads of Battle" and "Work-a-Day Warriors".

The Half-Hour's Furlough

I thought that a man went home last night
From the trench where the tired men lie,
And walked through the streets of his own old town—
And I thought that the man was I.

And I walked through the gates of that good old town
Which circles below the hill,
And laves its feet in the river fair
That floweth so full and still.

Gladly and gladly into my heart
Came the old street sounds and sights,
And pleasanter far than the Pleiades
Was the gleam of the old street lights.

Then I came to the glade where my mother was laid,
'Neath the cypress and the yew:
And she stood abune, and she said, "My son,
I am glad that your heart was true."

And I passed me over both hill and down,
By each well-remembered path,
While the blessed dawn, like the love o' God,
Stole over the sleeping Strath.

And from a thorn came the pipe of a thrush,
Like the first faint pipes of Peace:
It slid with healing into my heart,
And my sorrowing found surcease.

Then I awoke to the sound of guns,
And in my ears was the cry:
"The Second Relief will stand to arms!"
And I rose — for that man was I.

Nature Wales Blog
Lovely photos, wildlife notes, gardening tips!

Welsh Castles
Find out why Beaumaris Castle is different from other Edwardian Welsh castles.

Dinosaur Tracks in Skye and Wyoming are Linked
Footprints found on Skye and in Wyoming, in the US, were left by the same dinosaurs or a similar species, recently-published research has found. Click here.

Aaaand Just To Wind Things Up...
A piccie of Scottish actor Paul Telfer. Now I ask you - would you kick him out for eating haggis in your bed? LOL

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