Wednesday, November 10, 2010

From Scotland to Nova Scotia

Back in the 1800s, when the Highlands were being cleared of clans people in favor of sheep, many of the Highlanders and Islanders loaded up boats and headed for Nova Scotia, taking with them a chunk of the heart of Scotland. Some have said that Nova Scotia is more "Scottish" than Scotland. Having been to both, I would have to say no, BUT, Nova Scotia is definitely an equal to the Highlands and Islands, and perhaps superior in keeping alive the old music.

I've been to Scotland three times and covered most of it, if even just driving through. I've also been to Northern Ireland, where many Scots settled. This past summer my wife and I went to Nova Scotia. We visited the Gaelic College and the Celtic Music Interpretive Center.

We sat with Mami, the aunt of the great Cape Breton fiddler Natalie McMasters, at a 3 hour ceilidh or musical get-together. She told us many little stories about Cape Breton and about the McMasters legacy.

Many of the Clan Donald, my family's parent clan, moved to Nova Scotia and it is impossible not to see the name McDonald on businesses and buildings just about everywhere. Other familiar names from the Isles and Highlands are Rankin, McLeod, Mackintyre, and more - names that often wrapped around my own family's history, back in the day.

We also heard lots of great music and the Gaelic language being spoken on occasion. Like I said, a huge chunk of Scotland's heart was transported to Nova Scotia where it beats still, today.

1 comment:

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