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Issue 76 - What I Love About Scotland

Scotland Magazine Issue 76
August 2014

 

This article is 3 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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What I Love About Scotland

A series in which well known individuals based around the world express their thoughts about the Scotland they know well

My re-connection with Scotland was a long and lonely line of discovery, but now knowing and understanding all I have found has made it a wonderful journey. I remained blissfully unaware of any connection to Scotland for well into fifty years of my life. I believed I had Irish ancestry. It took a trip to the UK in 1989 with an English friend to start the beginning of an incredible change.

My friend had relatives in Ipswich and needed time to spend with her family, so to entertain myself I took a coach trip to Scotland with a coachload of American tourists. All had Scottish connections and I who had none was left to ponder my ancestral past as it was not a topic of conversation ventured into at home.

What happened as we entered into the Highlands was a very personal and internal reaction which I could not explain to either myself or to my fellow companions on the coach. Stopping for a photo-shoot at Glencoe, to my embarassment I burst into tears. On my return home, the underlying thought of something missing within me returned and although both parents were dead, I located a maiden aunt hoping to gain some ancestral connections into someone, somewhere.

It appeared that although I had never been told, I was adopted by a Liverpool Irish couple who migrated from the UK to Australia.

That was it. I was Irish! I then discovered that I was born to Jean Cameron who gave the name of the father as Crawford Andrew Macdonald-Ross. Wait a minute! Those are Scottish names, and somehow who I was started to make sense. Glencoe had overwhelmed me until that moment, I had found me.

I no longer had a question to ask. I knew who I was and where my ancestors’ remains could be found. I was there, entering the Great Glen into the Highland Clan Lands of both Cameron and Macdonald. I was being reminded that this once had been home.

Scotland in the 1800s was a place of displaced Highland families: the Caledonian Canal was completed and Lochaber was over stocked with young, landless Camerons who became willing to leave their families and set sail for the Antipodes, to a new country of which they had no knowledge, nor understanding.

These were my pioneering ancestors, the beneficiaries of the Highland Immigration Scheme created by the Reverend Dunmore Lang to balance the Irish Catholic Convicts with a strong Presbyterian presence. They selected the young, the finest and strongest. The oldest were left behind. I was aware of all the achievements Scottish migration had given Australia. I just did not know my connection into the mix.

From then on I was obsessed. I needed to know who these people were, why they had migrated here, how they survived, and how to make sure Australia would never forget the gift they had given to this country.

I joined the Scottish Australian Heritage Council as Publicity Officer, then Assistant Secretary, Secretary, Vice President and then President. I returned to Scotland twice yearly between 2001 and 2009, and time spent at the National Library of Scotland led me into interesting, unexpected areas.

From this point onwards, my research left Clan Cameron to focus upon Barrisdale. How did this young man, a powerful cadet in Clan Donald, become the exiled Jacobite traitor imprisonned by Charles Edward Stuart when he landed in France?

The primary source material required to prove his innocence and undermine the previously written history can onlybe found in my book
Jacobite Traitor? co-authored with Alasdair Roberts and published in 2013 by The 1745 Battle Trust, Prestoungrange.