09 March 2009

Celtophile Monday

Welcome back after a bit of a break! All sources credited. Enjoy!

Harris votes for national park status
In an effort to stem the chronic depopulation of the island of Harris in the Western Isles, islanders have voted more than two to one in favour of asking the Scottish Government to designate their island as a national park. Having wrestled for ten years with plans to create Europe's largest coastal super quarry, the island now sees hope in conservation The aim is a park with "call-in" powers, similar to planning powers enjoyed by Loch Lomond and the Trossachs Park A recent study has concluded that a national park would create 100 jobs, increase tourism and give access to new funding while providing new opportunities to conserve the Gaelic culture, but not restricting crofting. The population has been in decline since 1921 and now stands at just 1,800. 35% are over the age of 60 and school rolls have fallen from 179 in 1998 to 117 in 2007. The proposal will now go to Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham who is likely to ask Scottish Natural Heritage to consult further.

Scot of the Year
Controversial entrepreneur Donald Trump was third in the annual "Scot of the Year" contest, which was announced on 25 January by London-based charity ScotsCare. But it was cyclist Chris Hoy who raced past everyone to win the honour. Hoy won three Olympic gold medals in Beijing in 2008, becoming Scotland's most successful Olympian, the first Briton to win three gold medals in a single Olympic games since1908, and the most successful Olympic male cyclist of all time. the controversial second generation Scot, Donald Trump beat tennis star Andy Murray into fourth place.

One Billion Trees
Environment Minister Michael Russell has warned that the planting of trees in Scotland will have to double if the country is to meet its target of 25% of the land covered by woodland by 2050. He says that new land will be turned over to forestry, particularly in the Highlands and Islands, and native, mixed and soft wood plantations will bring significant environmental benefits. The Scottish Government is introducing a controversial expansion strategy which involves the lease of 25% of Forestry Commission woodland to the private sector for up to 75 years. The Minister argues that this will generate £200 million to help pay for the ambitious plans to expand the national forest. At the beginning of the last century, woodland cover in Scotland had declined to below 5%.- one of the lowest in Europe. The creation of a state afforestation programme in 1919 with the founding of the Forestry Commission produced a steady increase in the woodland area, but mainly through the creation of huge coniferous plantations. Today, Scotland's woodland cover is about 17%.

Kelburn Castle Fire
Kelburn Castle, overlooks the Firth of Clyde close to Largs, and is considered to be the oldest castle in Scotland continuously inhabited by one family. But more than 700 years of history was put at risk earlier this week when a smouldering electrical fault quickly turned into a full-scale fire. Initially, The young Viscount Kelburn and his father, the 10th earl of Glasgow, fought the blaze But they were forced back by smoke and had to wait until the local fire brigade arrived on the scene. The blaze was fortunately contained to one part of the castle. Kelburn Country Centre will be open as usual next week but it may be a while before tours of the castle resume.

Curtains for President Obama
A Scottish company is working flat out to complete an urgent order for material for curtains in the White House in Washington. America's new First Lady is making changes there. The high quality fabric is not tartan, however, and "doesn't scream Scotland" according to the company.

New Footpath Proposed
The Member of the Scottish Parliament for Perth has launched a campaign to establish a "Pilgrim's Way" footpath which would run from Iona (where St Columba established his first church in Scotland in 563 ) across to St Andrews That's its cathedral pictured here), named after Scotland's patron saint. St Andrews was once a major medieval pilgrimage centre. It is hoped that the "Pilgrim's Way would attract long-distance walkers as well as those making the trip because of the religious connections.

Scottish Historical Events
February 21 1952 - Identity cards, introduced at a wartime security measure, were abolished in Britain.
February 22 1371 - David II died at Edinburgh Castle.
February 23 1303 - Battle of Roslin in which a Scots army of 8,000, led by Sir Simon Fraser, Sinclair of Rosslyn and the Red Comyn, surprised an English army of 30,000 led by Sir John Seagrave and defeated them.
February 24 1923 - Steam train, the "Flying Scotsman" went into service with London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), on the London (King's Cross) to Edinburgh route.
February 24 1940 - Footballer Denis Law, who played for Manchester United and Scotland, born.
February 26 1672 - Philip van der Straten, a Fleming, was granted Scots naturalisation and set up a factory in Kelso, thus starting the Border woollen industry. February 27 1545 - Battle of Ancrum Moor in which Scottish forces, led by Earl of Douglas, defeated an English army twice their size.
February 28 1638 - Second National Covenant signed in Greyfriars Churchyard. March 1 1682 - The Advocate's Library (known as the National Library of Scotland since 1925) opened by its founder, Sir George Mackenzie, the Lord Advocate.
March 2 1316 - King Robert II born in Paisley.
March 3 1847 - Alexander Graham Bell born Edinburgh.
March 4 1890 - Forth Rail Bridge opened by Prince of Wales.
March 5 1323 - King David II born.
March 5 1929 - David Dunbar Buick, founder of the Buick Manufacturing Company which later became General Motors, died in Detroit. He was born in Arbroath in 1854.
March 6 1457 - King James II decreed in an Act of Parliament that there should be regular target practice and military parades and that "football and golf be utterly cried down and not used". This was the first time that the games had been mentioned in Scottish documents.
March 7 1744 - The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers founded. The oldest golf club in the world, it produced thirteen "Rules of Golf" for its first competition which was played for the "Silver Club". (The first winner of the trophy only just escaped beheading for becoming Bonnie Prince Charlie's personal surgeon during the Jacobite Uprising the following year. The club played on the 5 holes at Leith Links for nearly a century.

Whisky Galore - The Musical
When the SS Politician ran aground on the Hebridean island of Little Todday with fifty thousand cases of whisky aboard, it prompted novelist Compton Mackenzie to write "Whisky Galore" about the efforts of the local islanders to save the whisky from the sea - and from the local customs and excise officers The book was turned into a comedy for the cinema under the title "Whisky Galore" (Known as "Tight Little Island in North America). Now the Pitlochry Festival Theatre is to include a musical version in its summer programme. The show mixes Western Isles song with 1940s big-band numbers and is the first time that the 50-year-old Pitlochry Festival Theatre has staged a musical. The producers hope that the show might go to London or even Broadway. It was first performed at the 2006 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and received critical acclaim in a small church venue. The Pitlochry production will have a mock-up of the side of the ship on the stage. The stage version incorporates the book's references to the local religious divide, where Protestant and Catholic islanders differ on whether to salvage spirits from the ship on a Sunday. The film's marketing tagline was: "A Highland fling on a tight little island."

Tartan Day 2009
Once again, Tartan Day around 6 April is approaching, when Scottish culture is cerebrated in many parts of the world, in the United States in particular. Every year, I attempt to update the list of events associated with this on a dedicated Web page. If you know of any Tartan Day events in your part of the world, just drop a note of the details to Scottie@RampantScotland.com.

Scottish Limericks
There was a young lass from Dundee
Whose knowledge of French was "Oui, Oui"
When they asked "Parlez vous ? "
She replied "Same to you"
A fine bit of fast repartee.

There was a young lady from Harris
Whom nothing could ever embarrass
'Til the salts that she shook
In the bath that she took
Turned out to be Plaster of Paris...

Above items are from the RampantScotland.com newsletter.

Wales Web Cams
BBC Wales focuses its lenses on the wildlife, landscapes and castles of Wales. Click here!

Walk Back in Time
To really experience Wales, get out of the car and put your feet on the ground! Click here for a number of walking adventures that will take you back into Wales' rich history.

Scottish Blog of the Week
On This Day in Scottish History

A to Z of Scottish Music
Click here for an interesting compilation of the best of Scottish music today.

Thanks for visiting! Tune in next week for the annual St. Patrick's Day edition. :)

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