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Issue 79 - What I Love About Scotland

Scotland Magazine Issue 79
February 2015


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 Aunt Grace, my mother’s sister, was the member of my family who had a love for Scotland as I was growing up, although she had never been there. She knew the words to all the songs, had the old song records, and the travel books.

We have a great great grandmother, Mary McEacheran, whose family came to Prince Edward Island in the late 1700s from the Isle of Sky. Aunt Grace had copies of her correspondence which I got to read. She was so very proud of our Scottish heritage and she made us all feel the same way.

One day, my Dad mentioned to me that he and his father and grandfather had all belonged to the New York St. Andrew's Society.

When I finished law school and started to practice law in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I joined the Milwaukee St. Andrew's Society. In 1976, some friends told me about The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in North Carolina, and so I took the family down there to see what it was all about.

It was a revelation. On that first visit, I met Dr. Herb MacNeil, one of the founders of the Council of Scottish Clans and Assoc.( COSCA). I also met Ellis MacDonald, Nestor MacDonald, and The Rev. Dougald MacLean, all three from the Scottish Heritage Society, USA (SHUSA). I joined Scottish Heritage, and COSCA immediately and subsequently became the Council's Midwest Commissioner and eventually its President as well a Board member for SHUSA.

Subsequently, I met Miss Duncan MacDonald at one of her Caledonian Foundation Seminars in Sarasota, Florida. I joined up, later becoming its President, and it was through those seminars in Sarasota that we formed The Scottish Coalition, made up of the six principal national Scottish organisations in North America.

Thereafter, the Scottish Coalition, Senator Trent Lott’s office, and Miss Duncan MacDonald were the driving forces behind convincing the US Senate and House of Representatives to pass the legislation to create Tartan Day in the US. I also became an Emeritus President and Trustee in the Coalition.

So what exactly is it that I love about Scotland?

I love the diversity of things that can be done in such a short time. Conceivably, an American could arrive in Scotland on a Sunday, close a business deal on Monday morning, be camping at a beautiful site in the Highlands that night, climb Ben Nevis on Tuesday and that same night stay in a magnificent castle on a landed estate, sit in a comfortable leather chair next to a warm fire in a beautiful book-lined study enjoying a glass of the best single malt before a formal dinner or Highland ball wearing full Highland evening attire.

You could then be up early on Wednesday to shoot a stag, a pheasant, and catch a salmon. Then set off to visit an ancestor’s grave in an ancient Highland churchyard, play a round of golf on Thursday morning, go for a short sail in the afternoon on Loch Lomond or Loch Ness, and that same evening discuss Scotland’s independence in a local pub trying to understand whether the fellow you are talking to is speaking Glaswegian or Gaelic.

Then back to Edinburgh on Friday to enjoy a ballet or opera or Military Tattoo that night and return to the USA on Saturday, just in time for the annual Tartan Day parade in New York City.

Having done this, you can still be back at your home on Sunday in time to go to church and watch the Green Bay Packer’s football team beat the Chicago Bears in the afternoon.

That evening, you can show the photos of your trip to the family, have a good night's rest and be back in your grey, bare-walled workplace in front of your computer screen on Monday morning, feeling that you have not only have been part of the landed gentry of Scotland but rubbed shoulders with the likes of people you have known all of your life.
Author biography Robert McWilliam, is President Emeritus of COSCA (Council of Scottish Clan Associations, USA).

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