This is my attempt to describe my wonderful adventure in Scotland. Much love, honor, respect and sorrow I will try to translate in his dream come true…. oh, my bonnie green Alba!
My kin and kith; I will start my story with much praise to the MacDougall-McCallum Heritage Foundation. With their help of the grant received, I was able to fulfill a dream. I sincerely doubt that without the Grant I would probably be unable to ever travel to the homeland. I am very grateful to the board for this gift, thank you, oh, thank you … my tears still flow like a burn…. thank you!
Scotland, I can hear you calling. Homeland, in my soul you’re calling And answered from St. Paul, Minnesota to Glasgow. My heart was a pounding, forget sleep! From Glasgow to Oban I took the train. It was a fantastic way of sightseeing the beautiful highlands. Quite comfy I might add. Received a great welcome from Mrs.Catherine Gillies, wonderful lass, smart as a tack, yet very down to earth. Catherine helped me with my activities during my stay. Plenty of wonderful things to do and also time to relax and enjoy Lorn and the Isles.
First on my agenda was some service at Gylen Castle on the Isle of Kerrera. This stronghold will simply knock your socks clean off. What an absolutely beautiful structure that our ancestors built. Glorious! I cleaned the interior of the castle and restained the visitor’s gate with the helpful guidance of Mr. Martin Hadlington, wonderful chap. Its location is breathtaking…. don’t take my word for it, go and see and behold its majesty! I also was able to do some survey work at the Port a’ Charron settlement on the Isle of Lismore. Seeing the settlement and being able to walk amongst the ruins will leave you speechless. Voices called as the highland softly spoke within me, so come here for yourselves. This place might of been where your ancestors came from!
One of the things1got to do, with a lot of pride and honor, was to go to Kilbride Cemetery. This is the place were our beloved Chiefs and loved ones are laid to rest. My knees were a shaking and I dropped to my knees and paid homage. I was on hallowed ground. With much love and respect I was honored with caretaking of the gravestones and clearing vegetation away. What a place of peace. It will leave an impression on you for life.
I got a chance to visit Dunollie Castle and Dunollie House, but Madam Morag MacDougall of MacDougall was away on personal business. I was able to tour the house with the guidance of Mrs. Janice Kincaid and view all the fine paintings and antiques. A jaw dropping experience, wow! I went on my own to Dunollie Castle which is a short walk from the House. There I beheld our Clan seat! I thought of my Chiefs, I thought of my people and I was awed. I paid homage as the tears flowed and I was not ashamed. The pride welled within and I stood tall and looked across the bay to Kerrera, Mull and Lismore, pounded my chest and cried “Buaidh no bas”. I beg of you, my Clan folk, go see the pride of your ancestors and be amazed!
I saved the best for last, and that was the time I spent on the Isle of Lismore. There is something special for me about Lismore, some connection that I cannot explain, but did it ever feel so right. I was able to do some survey work there and I got to stay around the Heritage Center. Talk about a wonder, this place is absolutely a “must see”! You walk in it and automatically you feel the love and care that went into the place, like a set of arms embracing. The museum there is grand and you find yourself lost in time, entranced with the people of yesteryear. There is a gift shop with extraordinary things and great books to dive into and also a wonderful cafe that has the best “boot YOU in the bum” coffee I’ve ever tasted! Don’t forget to check out the crofter’s house next to the museum and take a good look at the etched glass … marvelous!
I was able to do some fantastic sightseeing thanks to Mr. Mike Robertson. Mike took the time to show me Dunstaffnage Castle, Ardchattan Priory, the Appin territory, the mouth of Glencoe and Kilmartin. Thank you Mike, it meant alot to me and I will never forget your kindness. Also Archie MacColl, who gave me the grand tour of Lismore. Blessing to you and Ina, my friends.
The most important thing to me was the people. The kindness and that Highland hospitality!
The kindness, that great Highland hospitality…and that fantastic food! My God, I thought I went straight to Heaven! Catherine, Ned, Sue, Janice, Gordon, Alison, Chelsea, Liam, Clare, Roddy, Archie, Ina, Mike, Elaine and kids, Martin, David, Stephen and all the wonderful people of Scotland. It was you that made this journey, this dream come alive for me. I love you all, so much! You are very special to me and I am very fond of you alllllll! Thanks for taking this yank under your wings…you are simply the best and I WILL come home again!
“BUAIDH NO BAS”
FOREVER IN YOUR SERVICE
Thomas John King (MacDougall-MacThomas)
“Scotland, she shall rise again”!