Scotland: A Few of My Favorite Things

Photo by Ami Rich

Photo by Ami Rich

Welcome to March one of my favorite months of the year as Spring begins to take over the long cold winter months. Not that I don’t like the cold weather, I actually love it, but I also love the fresh green grass, the budding of trees and blooming of flowers. I love listening to the early morning songs of birds as the sun rises. And I love St. Patrick’s Day. 🙂

That holiday has pretty much been a big deal in our household since hubs and I started dating. That is a blog post for another day. March 17th is the one day out of the year where everyone is Irish. Whether they have Irish blood running through their veins or not. For our family, the month of March is a time to celebrate a big part of our heritage, both Irish and Scottish.

The Cliffs of Moher as seen looking south from the beach just north of the main tourist lookout where O'Brien's Tower is located.

The Cliffs of Moher as seen looking south from the beach just north of the main tourist lookout where O’Brien’s Tower is located.

No, we don’t wear kilts and play the bagpipes, but we celebrate anyway, usually by attending the parade even in rain and snow, although we prefer warmer days, but again, that is a blog post for another day.

My great great great grandmother on my mom’s side left the shores of Donegal, Ireland in 1848 for the American dream. She was six at the time. For years I’ve wanted to go to that place and stand where she stood.

The McDuffies on my dad’s side have been here since before the revolution, just like the McGuires. My great great grandfather immigrated from Scotland sometime in the 1840s. Much of my dad’s side has roots in Ireland and Scotland. Hubs’ maternal side has deep roots in the form of McGhghy from near the Isle of Skye in Scotland as well as roots along the borders of England and Scotland (Johnsons).

Photo by Nilfanion wikimedia file

Photo by Nilfanion wikimedia file

There is something about those two countries that call to me, that give me a deep sense of longing. Perhaps it’s the need to walk where my ancestors walked, to see the lush green valleys filled with heather, the ragged cliffs and mountainous terrains. Perhaps it’s to breathe deep the moist laden air and listen to the cattle lowing and the sheep baaing.

Ben Nevis by Thincat wikimedia file

Ben Nevis by Thincat wikimedia file

All right, let’s get real, y’all know why I have a that deep longing don’t ya? No, it’s not to mingle with lilting brogues at the local pubs, although that would be right up there at the top of my list, ahh, just to listen to their tales…. And yes, I want to stand on the edge of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, I want to climb Ben Nevis in Scotland, row a bow from the mainland to the Isle of Skye. Most of all, I want to explore the castles and hear the tales of old past down through the ages.

It would take several months to blog on the various landmarks across these two countries,  and I still don’t think we’d cover it all. So, I’ll share a few of my favorite places in Scotland.

Mercat Cross Edinburgh

Photo by Kim Traynorwikimedia file

Photo by Kim Traynor
wikimedia file

The second story I ever wrote was inspired by Clan MacGregor . The clan embarrassed Clan Colquhoun by defeating them with less than half the men at the battle of Glen Fruin. One story goes that Colquhoun, knowing King James VI’s queasy stomach, had the women of his clan parade their husband’s bloodied shirts, shirts according to myth that were dipped in lamb’s blood, in front of their king. After embarrassingly losing the contents of his stomach in front of the council, King James VI ordered a proclamation against the MacGregor clan in 1603 stating they must renounce their name or be killed. In 1604, their laird Alistair MacGregor, along with many of his clansman were executed at Mercat Cross in Edinburgh, It was the beginning of what was supposed to be the annihilation of the MacGregor Clan.

Photo belongs to Dunvegancastle wikimedia file

Photo belongs to Dunvegancastle wikimedia file


This castle perches on the Isle of Skye. There are a lot of myths revolving around this clan. My favorite is the Fairy Flag.  The tales of this mysterious scrap of silk are interesting. You can find more information here.

Mistress Stone, Ruival, Hirta,St Kilda. |Source={{geograph|229531|Bob Jones}} |Date=22 August 2006 |Author=Bob Jones |Permission= |other_versions= }} St Kilda, Scotland

Mistress Stone, Ruival, Hirta,St Kilda. |Source=geograph|229531|Bob Jones Date=22 August 2006 |Author=Bob Jones |Permission= |other_versions=  St Kilda, Scotland

Mistress Stone

Mistress Stone is a rock formation on St. Kilda an isle not to far from the Isle of Skye. The McLeods, at one time, owned this tiny island but once the few human inhabitants left he sold it to Lord Dumfries. Now, St. Kilda is a nature reserve. You can find more about St. Kilda’s wildlife here.

I wrote a short story a few years ago about a fictional Laird McLeod and a young maiden who was guardian of the Mistress. Of course, there was a bit of Fairy Flag involved too.

Castle Stalker

Photo by Norrie Adamson

Photo by Norrie Adamson

No, it’s not what you think. Stalker actually means falconer. I love this place just for it’s unique setting and what Scottish romance writer wouldn’t want to set a story here?

Just think, a maiden held captive. The self-imposed isolation of a brooding laird. The loch alone signifies a great obstacle.

Now for one of my absolute favorites and probably one of the most well known castles in Scotland: Eilean Donan

"Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0"

“Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0”

Isn’t she beautiful? You may follow this link to discover more about this majestic castle set in the Western Highlands.

Now for a bit o’ Ireland. A few weeks ago someone shared this blog post on Facebook 10 of The Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Ireland. Aye, they are beautiful places to be sure.

Looking back at the photos you may see that most are surrounded by water. Maybe that is why these places are a few of my favorites, but I don’t think that is it. When I was a child I dreamed of lost treasures hidden beneath the earth. I loved old maps and I still do. I’ve always loved learning about other cultures and I love things steeped in history. Scotland and Ireland are well steeped in history.

Today’s prompt:

Choose one of the photos above and create a short beginning scene, no more than two paragraphs–three or four sentences each, historical or contemporary it does not matter. This should introduce us to your character, set the tone and setting.

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