Bonds of friendship, a matter of trust

Ok, this has nothing to with Outlander, or any of my other usual topics. I am still very upset about something that happened today and I feel a need to address the issue. The issue is friendship, the bonds of trust we forge and how something so seemingly insignificant as a casual conversation can do so much to damage that bond. It is also about how friendship and that bond of  trust remain in the heart for a lifetime even after you part company and walk your separate paths of life. This is dedicated to one such friend of mine. Hopefully she will feel my spirit touch her heart, will think of me, remember me fondly and know within her own heart that I would never consciously do anything to cause her pain or heart ache.


On Friendship
 Kahlil Gibran

Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.

When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the “nay” in your own mind, nor do you withhold the “ay.”
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.

And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.




 In this age of social media and connections, as difficult as it might be for some to comprehend, there are still a great number of people out there who value their privacy, in fact guard it zealously. They have made a choice for what ever reason, and please understand that yes, they most likely do have a good reason! They have made a choice not to be a part of social media and or be connected to anyone or everyone that they might have known for some brief period of their life. That is their right and their choice, so we should respect that choice. Just because we can find someone that we lost contact with years ago, does that mean that we should immediately pick up the phone, call them out of the blue for no other reason than to say, “Hey, I just thought of you and did a search of your personal information so I could say Hi, Remember me?”

When you put it in that context, would it not feel just a bit un-nerving to be on the receiving end of such a call?  I can certainly understand the feeling of people fondly remembering some part of their past and wondering about those people we may have known back then, but in reality they may not have the same fond memories of that time as you and as I said, there is most likely a good reason they have chosen to cut the ties and not remain connected to all the people from their past.

Please give this some thought and remember it the next time you wonder with intense curiosity what Joe from kindergarten, Mary from middle school, John from high school, Jane from college is doing now. The next time you think to yourself, “Hey I should find them and see how they’re doing now?” If you can not find them openly and easily on any number of social media spaces, there may be a Damn good reason you can’t and they probably aren’t as extremely curious about you?


Earlier today, I chatted briefly with a friend online and he casually asked, “Hey do you ever hear from Sue?” Sue being a mutual friend of ours from the past. At one time, Sue and I were good friends, the best of friends… surviving together in a difficult atmosphere of the military at the time. After our time in the military, we remained in contact for a few years but eventually became busy with our own personal lives and grew apart. It happens, in fact it happens quite often. My friend  Sue did not have especially fond memories of her time in the military and made a choice to get on with her life without constant reminders of that time. I understood that, and still do understand it completely. Some of my memories of that time are not so great either and I would prefer not to relive all of them!  In light of that, we often put distance between ourselves and those more painful periods of our  lives, even if that distance means that we no longer need the emotional support and connection of some of those who helped us get through it. We all have separate paths and journies to take in life and that means that sometimes we will make the decision, either consciously or unconsciously to part from a friendship. It in no way means that we do not value that friendship, those memories, it simply means that we have moved on along our path and should hold the memory of that one time friendship as dear when we’re apart as we did when we were together? We walked a path together when we needed to, when we needed each other the most… Sometimes if we’re lucky, we continue to walk that path together, but many times we don’t.  We grow apart, we become different people than we were at that time in our lives and maybe, just maybe we don’t need that close physical emotional connection any longer? Maybe there is something or someone that we need, or they need along the next part of the path that is more important to our journey in life? So, there are times when we need to leave it at that, appreciate and be grateful for part they once played in our life and leave it be? If the fates that be bring us together again for some reason other than just curiosity, then we can rejoice in the reunion and enjoy more time together, if not- we should be happy with what time we had.

I bring this all up because today I made a mistake and  I feel much guilt about it even though it was not I who did the act. As I mentioned, this friend asked the casual question about Sue and then I responded to his curiosity and gave him additional information which he then used to satisfy his casual wondering and curiosity. He chose to search for her, find her phone number, pick up the phone and make one of those above calls of “Hey, Remember me?”  Her immediate response was to hang up the phone on him… which I can not say as I blame her for in the least!  I would probably have done the exact same thing. He was not a close friend of hers back then, merely a co-worker. He knew little of her personal life and struggles during that time and there was no ongoing connection or reason for him to have any concern or interest in her life. So, he was merely curious about her and what did he think they would have to talk about after all of these years? during part of our conversation, I mentioned to him that I would get back to him later tonight on this subject when I had more time to talk to him about it. He chose not to wait for my added input or information and instead decided on a whim to call her out of the blue. Now, I feel much remorse and empathy for this friend who’s privacy was in a way violated. I feel in a way partially responsible for it and feel like I have broken one of those basic rules of friendship… trust. In any relationship, whether it is a current one or one such as ours, a long distant past one, there is that matter of trust in each other?

My heart is hurting for this woman, this friend, who has taken such measures over the years to guard her privacy and her life from the unwanted intrusions into her past and her personal life. The saddest part of all of this is now, should I try to contact her out so much more than idle curiosity, she will most likely hang up on me as well thinking that in some way I gave him the information with which to interfere in her life. And, she would be correct in that assumption, even if I did not do it on purpose or intentionally. That long standing trust between friends has now been broken or at least well frayed and who is to say whether it can ever be repaired?  Even though we have not spoken to each other in many years, I could immediately feel some sort of heart wrenching reaction from her, knowing her as well as I did… When he told me of what he had done and signed it with an lol, I felt her startled, puzzled and then quick Irish tempered ire flare as she disconnected from him. That he could so casually laugh at her reaction and not take it seriously is the most upsetting of all to me. He, who so casually thought only of his own mild curiosity for that moment has now seriously fractured the bond of trust between himself and me as well as the much closer one I held with Sue.  I have voiced  my thoughts on this to him and now wonder if he will realize how much damage he has done to those unspoken yet all so important bonds of trust between friends. I wonder, sitting here in the middle of the night with a heavy heart and spirit whether I can forgive him for it should he realize or care and try to apologize?  Yes, I can most likely forgive his ignorance and his lack of thought… but, I will not be able to forget it and it will remain a wedge, a severely broken thread in our friendship.

As I sit here, I think too of my friend Sue. Yes, even after all the years apart, the distance between our lives and our paths, I still call her friend because she will forever be that in my heart. There is a well filled space in my heart with memories of her. Her wild and ever untamed black curly hair that matched her equally wild at times temper and her joy. Her smile that could light up a room and a raucous laugh to go with it, her eyes that showed every emotion that she tried so hard at times to hide… her zest for life and fun but her turbulent heartbreak and tears at the pains of the rollercoaster that we were riding at the time.

I have tears in my eyes right now thinking of you my friend, and I all can think to say is this… our favorite theme song of those years together.  I miss you dearly, but I understand that life goes on with or without each other. May this thought reach out and touch you somewhere, somehow, and may you remember and know that it’s from me to you!


Outlander: Sassenach, Ode to Claire

Every once in a while you hear something that moves you so much that you feel a need to share it with others. Many of us Outlander fans feel this way about the Outlander experience? We are so moved and inspired by the timeless and unending story that herself, Diana Gabaldon has created. It touches us in many ways and it makes us want to share the experience and the legend with the world around us. What I find so interesting about all of it too, is that it gives many of us the courage, and the confidence to step out of that fantasy world and explore our own world more in a variety of ways from learning more about history, other cultures and countries, to experiencing life in ways we might never have thought of before. Her fantasy story of Claire, the Sassenach, traveling through the Stones and time to experience and embrace a new life is one that many of us can relate to on so many different levels. I look at those Stones as a metaphor for facing our own fears, taking a leap of faith at times, closing our eyes and going through to a whole new world.

There are so many fans out there who have used the books as their inspiration to create in order to share the legendary experience that Outlander has become. From blogs filled with writing and artwork, to crafters of beautiful and meaningful representations of the rich history presented throughout the books, to fun and whimsical creations. Recently I was so touched by a piece of music that I felt I had to help the artist share it with others! Like many of us, this talented artist was just trying to share her thoughts with us, and I don’t think she had any idea of what a really wonderful thing she had accomplished in just a short time.  She posted her video clip on our facebook group and many of there were so touched by it that we wanted her to share it somewhere so it could be shared by more people.

She has finally posted it on youtube for us! Here is the video, Ode to Claire by Belinda Apps!

Outlander 2014



What I found so truly amazing about this video is the fact that Belinda wrote the song, sang it, and put together the video montage in just a few short hours! Belinda is not a professional singer, has had no formal voice training or writing courses. As she puts it, she is a novice at all of it, including the Outlander experience and obsession. Where some have been true fans and fanatics for as long as Diana has been writing them- over twenty years, Belinda admits to being somewhat of a new comer to it. “I’ve been obsessed with Outlander for almost two years now, so I am a novice really. When you think about how long some people have been on the Outlander Train I’m still in the back carriage, I haven’t made it to First Class yet!”

Another thing I found so moving about this video and Belinda’s voice is the fact that her voice and the song so quickly immersed me in a feeling of the eastern U.S. mountain folk music which includes the area where Claire and Jamie eventually settled on Fraser’s Ridge. I could easily imagine this song being written back then by one who knew them and their legendary love story, such as Roger…imagine it being sung by those so close to them and being passed down through generations as most folk songs are. Belinda has captured that all so uniquely and so well without ever having been near that place or being that familiar with Early American Folk music. Belinda has never been to the U.S.  “I’m from Australia and, no I’ve never been to Eastern Us or anywhere else overseas! 🙂  I didn’t do it intentionally but I don’t mind that I sound like I come from the US mountains at all, some of the best music in the world came/comes from places like that!”


When I asked Belinda about other hobbies, she shared, “I love art too and paint and draw whenever I can. And I’ve now added amateur writer to the list!  I’ve been working on my very first attempt to write a book for a few months now and I think its going ok. Only time will tell I guess!”

Here is another sample of her writing!


Outlander Rap, Lol!
There was a hot scot and his name was Jamie,
Claire was his Sassenach, his leading lady.
She fell through the stones and became his wife,
And now they live together in his crazy life.

Brown curly hair and eyes like whisky,
(If you don’t like my rap, please don’t diss me!)
Claire was a beauty, Jamie couldna resist,
 Fell head over heels with the verra first kiss!

Sexy blue eyes and hair of red,
Now Jamie is the hottie sleepin’ in Claire’s bed!
Now I know what your thinkin, lucky lady, lucky gent?
But they were whisky bound and ‘Jackie’ hell bent!

Yes Black Jack Randall tried to make their life hell,
But their love for each other was like a magic spell.
No matter what he did, no matter what he tried,
He couldn’t break the spell they were wrapped inside!

Then the sad day came when they had to part,
Twas  for her  own safety,  Jamie broke  Claire’s  heart.
Yes he sent her back through to save her life,
Back to the future – and to be Frank’s wife.

Now Claire’s hubby Frank, back in 1945,
Had no idea that his wife was still alive!
When she came back it was quite a shock,
To find the baby bump hidden under her frock!

At Culloden Jamie died, or so Claire thought,
But he lived after all coz he bravely fought.
20 years passed by and then Claire came back,
She was older and wiser- still had a good rack!

In the meantime Jamie’s life had changed a lot,
Claire didn’t care- he was still a smoking hot Scot!
So they went to America, yeah that’s what they did,
Then they claimed a piece of land and they called it Frasers Ridge!

Then along came Bree and Roger Mac,
They came through the stones and then they went back!
Now Rogers gone and Bree’s still there,
And Jemmy’s been taken, and she don’t know where!

And Jamie’s nephew Ian, well he met himself a Quaker,
She dressed real plain but she’s still a heartbreaker,
With his Indian tatt’s and a dog named Rollo,
I Guess Ian’s had enough of ridin’ solo!

There’s Lord John Grey, he’s a little bit queer,
Got the hots for Jamie and tried to keep him near,
But Jamie’s into Claire, won’t be buggered again,
Coz he’s been there before, you see, Black Jack was also into men!

Right about now you’re thinking ‘what the hell!?’
What’s gunna happen next? With Diana you can never tell!
Well it all a mystery and we’ll wait impatiently,
To see what happens when we get to MOBY!

Belinda Apps

I hope you enjoy Belinda’s creativity and talent as much as I do! Thank you so much Belinda for allowing me to share this with everyone! I think you were a Bard and a story teller in some past life and Diana has brought it back to your memory and your heart!


Just a very quick post to share this link to Bear McCreary’s fantastic blog and his in depth explanation of what went into his creation of the Skye Boat song for Starz Outlander!

The song is available on I tunes and you can purchase it here:

<br /><a href=”; target=”_blank”>Outlander Main Title Theme (Skye Boat Song…</a> <i>by <a href=”; target=”_blank”>aury_88</a></I>


Skyeboat song

Musical inspiration

Tonight’s music brought to you by….

Van Morrison

Avalon of the heart



Loreena McKennitt – The Bonny Swans


Loreena Mckennitt – The Mists of Avalon


And, while you’re listening, you could check out Melusina’s story here if you haven’t read it yet!



From the Creator: Today’s Music inspiration!

Fields of Gold

Morag of Dunvegan – Gibson Fireside Pipes

Andre Rieu – Scotland The Brave – Amazing Grace

Albannach – The Fire and Thunder of Scotland

This reminds me of Brennie’s destiny to be a story teller, a singer of songs and a keeper of history!
Battle of Culloden Moor

From the Creator: History of Dunvegan Castle


dunvegan3While I am working on the fictional representation of Dunvegan Castle, I thought you might like to know some of the real history of this Castle! It is one the greatest and most renowned Hebridean strongholds, and the only one which has been continuously owned and (with the exception of the eighty years after the Potato Famine of the last century) occupied by the same family, during a period now reaching back over a span of very nearly 8 centuries.

Architecturally it is a structure of high importance, containing work of at least ten building periods. Its history, and that of the famous Clan whose Chiefs have ruled from their castled Rock during all these many generations, is rich with drama and packed with colourful interest. When you visit the castle you will see a fortress built for defense on a Rock in the sea.

The castle is situated on an upstanding mass of partly columnar basalt approximately 30 feet in height arising from the shores of Loch Dunvegan. Around it originally the sea ebbed and flowed. Now after centuries of natural deposits of silt, and assisted by the modern needs of supplying an entrance from the land, the sea has receded from that side of the Castle. The top of the Rock is more-or-less level and forms a roughly oval platform indented on the North-west sector, the long access lying North-west and South-east. This platform measures about 175 feet in length and 110 feet in it’s greatest breadth. The Rock descends all round fairly vertically to the short scree slopes that blanket its base, except in the indent on it’s North-western quarter, where there is a kind of ‘slack’ in the cliff, up which a doubly-curved flight of rough stone steps mounts to the Sea-gate. Before the opening of the first landward door in 1748, this was the only entrance to the Castle, and very likely from remotest times there has been an access to the summit of the Rock at this point.



Another important feature which gave Dunvegan Castle and those within its great strength, was the existence of a fresh water well. With this priceless resource added to the impregnability of its position, Dunvegan Castle presented a forbidding obstacle to the enemies of the Chiefs of MacLeod. Today the Castle has a unified design with Victorian dummy pepper-pots and defensive battlements running the whole length of the roof line. This ‘romantic restoration’ was carried out by the 25th Chief between 1840 and 1850 to the plans of Robert Brown of Edinburgh at a total cost of £8,000. Underneath this outer skin however there remains a series of complete buildings, each of a different date.

This is why Dunvegan Castle is regarded and held in such high esteem as one of the most important historic castles in Scotland. As it represents an unbroken line of occupancy over 850 years and throughout this time the building has evolved naturally as the requirement and usage of each generation has manifested itself in the castle changing architecturally to meet those requirements.

The early 16th century saw the building of the Fairy Tower, whose name is connected to the revered MacLeod relic, the Fairie Flag. Some legends claim that it was given to one of the first MacLeods by his faerie wife, some say it was captured from the Saracens during the crusades (though the material is silk dating to 4th to 7th centuries). The Flag is supposed to grant MacLeods victory in battle every time is unfurled, but can only be used three times, with one use now left after the battles of Glendale (1490) and Trumpan (1580).

The 17th century witnessed the construction of the Rory Mor’s House (1623) and further additions in the second half of the century.

New wings were added to the castle in the late 18th century, housing barracks of the Black Watch led by the 17th Chief, followed by the bridge over the moat leading to the current main entrance on the landward side. The first half of the 19th century saw a major restoration in the spirit of Scottish Romantic Revival, with ”picturesque” turrets, crenellated battlements and similar features added to the outer shell of the castle. However, the clan system was already close to dismantling by then, following the changes after the Jacobite risings, and the financial effort of the restoration work, combined with the cost of dealing with the Potato Famine in the mid-19th century (many of the Highland Scottish landowners and clan chiefs, unlike the Irish absentee landlords, made active effort to ease the impact of the famine on their tenants) forced the impoverished 25th Chief to migrate to London to seek office employment.

The MacLeods returned to Dunvegan in 1929 in the person of the 27th Chief, now an old man.

Significant parts of the castle were restored and rebuilt ten years later after a major fire ravaged the building. The castle was first open to the public in 1933 by the 27th Chief and since then, despite its remote location, has grown to be one of Scotland’s premier tourist attractions welcoming tens of thousands of visitors a year.

remnants of the Fairy Flag of Dunvegan

remnants of the Fairy Flag of Dunvegan

The Fairy Flag

Legends, however fantastic or far-fetched they may appear to be, are rarely without some trace of historical fact. When a relic survives to tell its own story, that at least is one fact it is impossible to ignore. The precious Fairy Flag of Dunvegan, the most treasured possession of the Clan, is just such a relic …The traditional tales about its origin, some of them very old indeed, have two themes – Fairies and Crusaders. Fairy stories are difficult to relate to fact; they often occur as a substitute for forgotten truth. The connection with the Crusades can, however, be linked to the only definite information available as to the origin of the Fairy Flag – the fabric, thought once to have been dyed yellow, is silk from the Middle East (Syria or Rhodes); experts have dated it between the 4th and 7th centuries A.D., in other words, at least 400 years before the First Crusade. So was it the robe of an early christian saint? Or the war banner of Harold Hardrada, King of Norway, killed in 1066, or did it emerge mysteriously from some grassy knoll in Skye? The Legends are all we have to guide us to the answer.

The Flag is supposed to grant MacLeods victory in battle every time is unfurled, but can only be used three times, with one use now left after the battles of Glendale (1490) and Trumpan (1580).

Dunvegan Cup

Another Dunvegan relic with unknown origins...Dunvegan cup

Another Dunvegan relic with unknown origins…Dunvegan cup


Tapestry depiction of the ceremonial cup

Tapestry depiction of the ceremonial cup

The Dunvegan Cup is a wooden ceremonial cup, decorated with silver plates, which dates to 1493. It was created at the request of Caitríona, wife of John Maguire, lord of Fermanagh. The cup is an heirloom of the Macleods of Dunvegan, and is held at their seat of Dunvegan Castle.  There are several traditions attributed to the cup, describing how the Macleods obtained it. However, it is thought more likely that the cup passed into the possession of the clan sometime in the 16th or 17th centuries.

The Dunvegan Cup is a wooden ceremonial cup, made of wood and elaborately decorated with silver. It is square shaped at the top and rounded at the bottom, and stands on four legs. Sir Walter Scott examined the cup and, in 1815 in The Lord of the Isles, gave its measurements as: 10.5 inches (27 cm) in height on the outside, 9.75 inches (24.8 cm) in depth in the inside, 4.5 inches (11 cm) the extreme breadth over the mouth.  In around the 1850s, Alexander Nesbitt gave similar measurements, and added that it was 5.5 inches (14 cm) at the broadest point of the cup, which is somewhat below the middle.

The cup is constructed mostly of wood. Scott thought it was possibly oak, and later Nesbitt considered it to be either yew or alder. The cup is covered with mountings of silver, wrought in filigree and decorated with niello and gilding. The mouth of the cup has a rim of solid silver-gilt, 2 inches (5.1 cm) in depth. On the outside of the rim is an engraved inscription in black lettering in two lines. The spaces between the letters are hatched with fine lines, which intersect diagonally. The angels of the rim have strips ornamented with niello. The inside of the rim is plain by comparison; except for the letter I.H.S. repeated on all four sides. Each side of the cup has its own designs of triangles and circles. R.C. MacLeod considered these to be representations of the Trinity and Eternity. Ian Finlay described the circled, six-pointed stars as not unlike those on the outer-side of the Domnach Airgid, which is held in the National Museum of Ireland. Empty sockets on the outside of the cup are thought to have once held stones, or glass. Several somewhat smaller sockets hold beads of coral. The silver legs are in the form of human legs; and are ornamented with a twisted wire which runs down the front. The feet have shoes, which are covered in niello, the legs being gilt. Everywhere except the rim, the silver is very thin, and in consequence has suffered a great deal of damage over the years. The cup has been classified as a mether, a communal drinking cup used at ceremonial events, as it is square-shaped at the top and rounded at the bottom.

According to F.T. MacLeod, the first published accounts of the cup were made by Sir Walter Scott, and Sir Daniel Wilson in the early 19th centuries. F.T. MacLeod noted that it is singular that three earlier visitors to Dunvegan Castle—Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, and Thomas Pennant—made no mention of having seen the cup. Scott mentioned the cup within the explanatory note on the following lines, in The Lord of the Isles.

“Fill me the mighty cup!” he said,
“Erst own’d by the royal Somerled:
Fill it, till on the studded brim
In burning gold and bubbles swim,
And every gem of varried shine
Glow doubly bright in rosy wine!

—Sir Walter Scott, The Lord of the Isles

In about 1913, Fred T. MacLeod stated that he could find no reference to the cup in the Dunvegan records. He continued, that Macleod tradition was that it came into the possession of the Macleods through the fairies, of which there are one or two legends.

F.T. MacLeod stated that it is impossible to determine exactly when the cup passed into the hands of the Macleods of Dunvegan. However, he thought it likely that the cup entered into the possession of the clan in the 16th or 17th centuries. During this era several Macleod chiefs took part in warring in Ireland. He considered it likely that the cup may have been a prize of war, or a gift for services. Later, R.C. MacLeod stated that a Lady O’Neill claimed in 1925 letter, that an O’Neill tradition told how the cup passed into the hands of the Macleods. The tradition runs that one of their chiefs was a close friend of a Macleod chief. When this O’Neill chief visited his friend at Dunvegan he took with him the cup and gave it to Macleod as a present.

Historically, during the 1590s, a Macleod chief lent support to certain Irish forces rebelling against those supporting Elizabeth I in Ireland. In the summer of 1594, Dòmhnall Gorm Mòr MacDhòmhnaill (chief of the Macdonalds of Sleat) and Ruairidh Mòr MacLeòid (chief of the Macleods of Harris and Dunvegan) both sailed for Ulster at the head of 500 men each. Their force was intended to support Aodh Ruadh Ó Domhnaill who was besieging Enniskillen Castle. After landing at Loch Foyle, the Hebridean chieftains were entertained by Ó Domhnaill for three days and three nights. MacDhòmhnaill then returned to the Hebrides and left his men behind in Ireland, however, MacLeòid stayed and was present at the fall of Enniskillen Castle in October 1594. He was still in Ireland the next year at the head of 600 Hebrideans, alongside Ó Domhnaill at the siege of MacCostello’s Castle, in County Mayo.[10] In light of Ruairidh Mòr’s participation in activities in Ireland at the end of the 16th century, R.C. MacLeod concluded that the cup passed into the hands of the Macleods through the O’Neill chieftain Shane Ó Neill; and that the two chieftains were the friends mentioned in the traditional tale related by Lady O’Neill in 1925


In 1927, R.C. MacLeod gave two abridged versions of traditions said to be attributed to the Dunvegan Cup, although it was R.C. MacLeod’s opinion that these traditions were un-historical.  The traditions are supposed to relate events which took place during the tenure of Malcolm, the third chief of Clan Macleod, who lived about 1296–1370.

“ In the time of Malcolm, the third Chief, the lands of Luskintyre were possessed by two brothers who were at mortal feud with one another. Their cattle were herded in common, in charge of a man named Lurran Casinreach or swift-footed. This man’s mother had nursed one of the brothers — she was considered a witch, and lived with her son in a small cottage near her foster-son’s house. Lurran folded the cows every night in Buaille Rossinish, where during the harvest season it was customary to have them watched. On the first night of the season it was Lurran’s turn to watch, and as the place was considered to be a resort of fairies, Lurran’s mother took the precaution to charm all her foster-son’s cows, as well as her son Lurran on whom she uttered a spell, proof against the devil himself. About midnight Lurran saw the Bruthach (or mound) open, and an immense concourse of people issue from it. They proceeded towards the fold where they began to converse and examine the cattle. They found the cows of one brother all charmed, but those of the other not so fortunate. Of the latter they immediately killed two of the best and fattest and carried away the carcases, leaving the hides filled with froth and slime, resembling bad carrion. In the morning the two cows were found dead, and conjectured to have been killed by lightning. The same thing however occurred for several nights — the cows of the same brother always being selected. Watch was set but none possessed the power of seeing the fairies, while Lurran kept what he had seen a secret from all but his mother. When it again came to Lurran’s turn to watch he saw the same thing happen, but this time he joined the crowd and entered the Bruthach unobserved, and found himself in a spacious hall where was prepared a feast of which all partook. Lurran took care to get a place next the door. After the feast wine was handed round in a beautiful cup, out of which each one drank and then handed it to his neighbour. At last it came to Lurran’s turn, who, pitching out the contents, made a dash for the door and escaped, carrying the cup with him, before the company were aware of what he was about. He was hotly pursued but succeeded in reaching his mother’s hut, which she immediately charmed so as to prevent the ingress of any spirits, good or bad. Lurran, however, was eventually killed by the fairies for stealing their cup, which his mother then gave to her foster-son, Neil Glundubh. Neil was soon after murdered by his brother, who seized the cup with other property.
When the Chief heard of this outrage he had the murderer arrested and put to death at Rowdell. The cup was then taken to Dunvegan, and there it has ever since remained.”

The second story also mentions the two brothers, but differs in all other details. It relates how the chief held a great banquet at Rowdell in Harris.

“ … the son of one of these same brothers having been insulted at a feast by Magnus, (the Chief’s fifth son) rose from the table to leave the room, muttering threats of vengeance. Magnus sprang up and opposed his exit, on which the offended vassal drew his dirk and stabbed Magnus to the heart. A rush was made by the assembled vassals to seize the murderer, who succeeded in escaping to the top of a rock, which is still shown, where he was brought to bay. He had twelve arrows in his quiver and with each of these he killed one of the Chief’s followers. He was then captured and flayed alive; his kindred were outlawed or put to death and all their property confiscated to the Chief who in this way became possessed of the cup”





Clan Motto: Hold Fast

Clan Motto: Hold Fast

Clan Macleod and Motto
The motto of Clan MacLeod is “Hold Fast”, and throughout the centuries their Chiefs have endeavoured to do so. On the MacLeod crest is emblazoned a bull’s head, with the motto “HOLD FAST” This originates from Malcolm the third chief (1296-1370) who while returning from a clandestine visit to the wife of Fraser of Glenelg, was confronted by a mad bull in Glenelg. Armed only with a ‘Dirk’ he slew the beast. As a souvenir of his prowess he retained one of the Bull’s Horns. This horn is on display in the castle today. It is a great clan treasure, indeed to this day, each male heir has to prove his manhood by successfully draining this horn filled with Claret. So Malcolm’s exploit in Glenelg is far from forgotten.

Dunvegan cup, Fairie Flag and rory mors horn

Dunvegan cup, Fairie Flag and rory mors horn

Although three individual Chiefs in the last seven generations have been comprehensively ruined by the apocalyptic difficulties caused by the unrelenting hostility from centralised government towards the Clan system practised behind the Highland line, they have remained faithful to the Rock. Dunvegan Castle is said to be the oldest inhabited castle in Northern Scotland, having been occupied by the Chiefs of MacLeod continuously, for over seven centuries and still today remaining the Ancestral home of the present chief, Hugh MacLeod of MacLeod, the 30th of the line, and his family.

So HOLD FAST  MacLeods  may you continue to live at Dunvegan Castle.

Clan Tartans:
This is possibly the most instantly recognisable Macleod tartan. It is known as MacLeod of Lewis, MacLeod dress, and even “Loud MacLeod”. It has no identifiable association with the Lewis Macleods though, and was originally associated with the Dunvegan family. The earliest published appearance of the tartan was in the Vestiarium Scoticum in 1842. The Vestiarium, composed and illustrated by the dubious ‘Sobieski Stuarts’, is the source for many of today’s “clan tartans”. The Vestiarium has also been proven to be a forgery and a Victorian hoax. The tartan was described by Sir Thomas Dick Lauder, in a letter to Sir Walter Scott in 1829: “MacLeod(of Dunvegan) has got a sketch of this splendid tartan, three black stryps upon ain yellow fylde”. It is thought that the Macleod chief was a good friend of the Sobieski Stuarts who gave him the sketch of the tartan years before they published their forgery.[31] One contemporary critic of the Vestiarium even likened the Macleod tartan to that of a horse blanket.[32] Today, the tartan is registered with the Scottish Tartans Authority and the Scottish Tartans World Register (both under #1272) with the symmetrical treadcount “K32Y4K32Y48R4” and with a color pallet of black 101010, freedom red C80000, and golden poppy D8B000.[33]

MacLeod tartan (Logan & Smibert).png This tartan is sometimes known as MacLeod hunting or MacLeod of Harris.[34] It was published in several early collections of tartan such as Logan’s The Scottish Gael (1831) and Smibert’s (1851). The tartan is derived from the Mackenzie tartan used by John Mackenzie in 1771, when he raised the regiment known as “Lord Macleod’s Highlanders”. The Mackenzies claimed to be heirs to the chiefship of the Macleods of Lewis, after the death of Roderick in 1595. The tartan was approved by Norman Magnus, 26th chief of Clan Macleod. It was adopted by the clan society in 1910.[35] Today, the tartan is registered with the Scottish Tartans Authority and the Scottish Tartans World Register (both under #1583) with the symmetrical treadcount “R6K4G30K20BL40K4Y8” and with a color pallet of black 101010, freedom red C80000, golden poppy E8C000, green 006818, and denim blue 1474B4.

1800s depiction of a Macleod Tartan

1800s depiction of a Macleod Tartan

Geneologies trace the origins of the McClures and the MacLeods to a thirteenth century fellow named Leod (1200-1283), the son of Olaf the Black, King of the Isle of Man, who in turn was the descendent of the eleventh century Norse King Harald Hardrada. Leod married Lady Macarailt, an heiress to Dunvegan, the birth of their two sons (Tormond and Torquil) marking the entry of the MacLeods into Dunvegan and the pages of history. Very simply, “Mac” is a Gaelic word meaning “son of” with Tormond fathering the MacLeods of Harris, and Torquil begetting the MacLeods of Lewis. (Incidentally, the McClure’s are the descendents of Tormond.)

The original MacLeods of Dunvegan oversaw the writing of a whole new chapter of Caledonian or Scottish history, totally unprecedented in scope. On page 3 of the official Dunvegan Castle book, the tale reverberates: “The reason for this immense cultural change lay in the political upheaval caused by the unexpected defeat of the powerful Norse King, Haakon, at the Battle of Largs in 1263 by the young King, Alexander III, of the comparatively young kingdom of Scotland. The defeat broke the direct hold of the Norse power on the Hebrides, and Clan MacLeod’s Gaelic period of recorded history began.”

Clan MacClure (McClure) is a sept of Clan MacLeod, which the family to all the privileges bestowed upon a MacLeod — including the right to wear the Clan Tartan. According to research, a number of MacLeods fled to Ireland during the sixteenth century, where the surname was changed from MacLeod to McClure.

Jacobite Rebellion and Relics
The Jacobite rising of 1745, often referred to as “The ‘Forty-Five”, was the attempt by Charles Edward Stuart to regain the British throne for the exiled House of Stuart, and recreate an absolute monarchy in the Kingdom of Great Britain[citation needed]. The rising occurred during the War of the Austrian Succession when most of the British Army was on the European continent. Charles Edward Stuart, commonly known as “Bonnie Prince Charlie” or “the Young Pretender,” sailed to Scotland and raised the Jacobite standard at Glenfinnan in the Scottish Highlands, where he was supported by a gathering of Highland clansmen. The march south began with an initial victory at Prestonpans near Edinburgh. The Jacobite army, now in bold spirits, marched onwards to Carlisle, over the border in England. When it reached Derby, some British divisions were recalled from the Continent and the Jacobite army retreated north to Inverness where the last battle on Scottish soil took place on a nearby moor at Culloden. The Battle of Culloden ended with the final defeat of the Jacobite cause, and with Charles Edward Stuart fleeing with a price on his head. His wanderings in the northwest Highlands and Islands of Scotland in the summer months of 1746, before finally sailing to permanent exile in France, have become an era of Scottish history that is steeped in romance.

Although the Macleod Chief at the time of the ’45 did not support Bonnie Prince Charlie, many of his Clan did do so. Visible from the castle on the other side of the Loch is Galtrigal, the home of the Prince’s pilot, Donald MacLeod of Galtrigal, the man who brought the Prince ‘Over the sea to Skye’ from Uist during the time when the Prince was a fugitive. At the time the Chief was one of the people searching to apprehend the Prince. Flora MacDonald, the Jacobite heroine, was
in the boat with the Prince, and equally being hunted by the MacLeod Chief. By one of those quirks of fate, some twenty or thirty years later, her daughter had married the Tutor to the young Chief of MacLeod, and was living in the Castle. The mother, on one of her return visits from America where she had emigrated, is believed to have stayed for two or three years in the Castle and left her personal Jacobite relics to her daughter.

Thus you will see in the castle still today her Stays, her Pin-Cushion with the names of those who suffered in the ’45, a Lock of the Prince’s Hair, a list of her children, and a small portrait of herself copied by the wife of the 24th Chief. Exhibited in the castle are also the Spectacles of Donald MacLeod of Galtrigal, the Prince’s boatman, and the Amen Glass which was given to Donald MacLeod by the Prince, inscribed with the words ‘To my faithful Palinurus’ alluding to the
boatman who conducts people across the Loch. Another interesting object with a fanciful engraving of the Prince is the
tooth of a sperm whale which can also be seen in the castle today.


MacCrimmon Pipers
The MacCrimmons (Gaelic: MacCruimein) were a Scottish family, pipers to the chiefs of Clan MacLeod for an unknown number of generations. The MacCrimmon kindred was centred at Borreraig near the Clan MacLeod seat at Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye. At Borreraig the MacCrimmons taught at one of the best known “piping colleges” in the Highlands of Scotland.

Over time many pieces of Pìobaireachd (also known as Ceòl Mòr: “Big music”) have been attributed to the MacCrimmons by popular tradition, yet the actual authorship of these cannot be verified. Popular lore has made the MacCrimmon pipers one of the most famous families of hereditary pipers along with the MacArthur (pipers to MacDonald of Sleat), MacGregor (pipers to Campbell of Glenlyon), Rankins (pipers to the MacLeans of Coll, Duart and Mull). The term hereditary is not a native Gaelic term, though in popular lore it has been used to imply an above average skill or special status. In the Scottish Highlands, and in Europe as a whole, until the Industrial Revolution most positions were inherited, “from the chief down to the humblest cotter”.

Since 1967, the MacCrimmon Memorial Piobaireachd Competition has taken place every year at Dunvegan Castle where players complete to win the ‘silver chanter’. Competitors only play tunes attributed to the legendary MacCrimmon family.

The origins of the MacCrimmons is debatable; even the genealogy of the pipers themselves is the subject of debate and speculation. In the 20th century the chiefs of Clan Macleod instated two MacCrimmons as hereditary pipers to the clan.

Depictions of Dunvegan Castle over the centuries:


Drwaing of Dunvegan around 1350

Drwaing of Dunvegan around 1350

Dunvegan about 1690

Dunvegan about 1690

Dunvegan in 18th century

Dunvegan in 18th century

Dunvegan Castle circa 1815

Dunvegan Castle circa 1815

Dunvegan, 1841

Dunvegan, 1841

This information was gathered from numerous sites!

Clan Macleod

Dunvegan Castle

Dunvegan Cup

Fairy Flag of Dunvegan

MacCrimmon Pipers

Additional Footnote to this history! I am including information recently found on Harald Hardrada, the ancestor listed in the genealogy for Dunvegan Castle and is a very important figure in the history of the Vikings history as well as the history of the Castle.

Harald_Hardrada_window_in_Kirkwall_Cathedral_geograph_2068881 Harald_Hardrada_saga_ancestry

Harald Sigurdsson (Old Norse: Haraldr Sigurðarson; c. 1015 – 25 September 1066), given the epithet Hardrada (harðráði, roughly translated as “stern counsel” or “hard ruler”) in the sagas, was King of Norway (as Harald III) from 1046 to 1066. In addition, he unsuccessfully claimed the Danish throne until 1064 and the English throne in 1066. Prior to becoming king, Harald had spent around fifteen years in exile as a mercenary and military commander in Kievan Rus’ and in the Byzantine Empire.

When he was fifteen years old, in 1030, Harald fought in the Battle of Stiklestad together with his half-brother Olaf Haraldsson (later Saint Olaf). Olaf sought to reclaim the Norwegian throne, which he had lost to the Danish king Cnut the Great two years prior. In the battle, Olaf and Harald were defeated by forces loyal to Cnut, and Harald was forced in exile to Kievan Rus’ (the sagas’ Garðaríki). He thereafter spent some time in the army of Grand Prince Yaroslav the Wise, eventually obtaining rank as a captain, until he moved on to Constantinople with his companions around 1034. In Constantinople, he soon rose to become the commander of the Byzantine Varangian Guard, and saw action on the Mediterranean Sea, in Asia Minor, Sicily, possibly in the Holy Land, Bulgaria and in Constantinople itself, where he became involved in the imperial dynastic disputes. Harald amassed considerable wealth during his time in the Byzantine Empire, which he shipped to Yaroslav in Kievan Rus’ for safekeeping. He finally left the Byzantines in 1042, and arrived back in Kievan Rus’ in order to prepare his campaign of reclaiming the Norwegian throne. Possibly to Harald’s knowledge, in his absence the Norwegian throne had been restored from the Danes to Olaf’s illegitimate son Magnus the Good.

In 1046, Harald joined forces with Magnus’s rival in Denmark (Magnus had also become king of Denmark), the pretender Sweyn Estridsson, and started raiding the Danish coast. Magnus, unwilling to fight his uncle, agreed to share the kingship with Harald, since Harald in turn would share his wealth with him. The co-rule ended abruptly the next year as Magnus died, and Harald thus became the sole ruler of Norway. Domestically, Harald crushed all local and regional opposition, and outlined the territorial unification of Norway under a national governance. Harald’s reign was probably one of relative peace and stability, and he instituted a viable coin economy and foreign trade. Probably seeking to restore Cnut’s “North Sea Empire“, Harald also claimed the Danish throne, and spent nearly every year until 1064 raiding the Danish coast and fighting his former ally, Sweyn. Although the campaigns were successful, he was never able to conquer Denmark. Not long after renouncing his claim to Denmark, the former Earl of Northumbria, Tostig Godwinson, brother of the newly chosen English king Harold Godwinson, pledged his allegiance to Harald and invited him to claim the English throne. Harald went along and entered Northern England in September 1066, raided the coast and defeated English regional forces in the Battle of Fulford near York. Although initially successful, Harald was defeated and killed in an attack by Harold Godwinson’s forces in the Battle of Stamford Bridge.

Modern historians have often considered Harald’s death at Stamford Bridge, which brought an end to his invasion, as the end of the Viking Age. Harald is also commonly held to have been the last great Viking king, or even the last great Viking.  You can find more information about him and his role in history on my most recent post!



From the Creator

Ahhh Yes, I have been absent this week, but for such an excellent reason! I have just spent all week on the most incredible journey through time and through Scotland! My own writing was on hold while I immersed myself in this voyage. My only disappointment is that it’s over for the time being… at least until the next book in the series comes out!

One rather strange coincidence worth mentioning… because I am always fascinated with those odd coincidences and moments of Déjà vu? Before reading the last book in the series, The Water is Wide, I experienced a couple of those odd little moments. I randomly heard the song played twice?! The first time was at a music presentation for our residents at work. At the time, I did not think anything of it but was entranced with the song, which I could not remember ever hearing before. The next time I heard it was when I put an old video one evening for the residents to enjoy… An Evening with The Irish Tenors. Fortunately, my residents didn’t even complain when I rewound it and played the song a couple of times!

I was moved by the song, then quite happily surprised when I picked up the book and made the connection!

So, before I head off into my own fantasy realm, I leave you with some versions I’ve found of the song, the lyrics, and then my book review!

The Water is Wide
The water is wide, I cannot get oer
Neither have I wings to fly
Give me a boat that can carry two
And both shall row, my love and I

A ship there is and she sails the sea
She’s loaded deep as deep can be
But not so deep as the love I’m in
I know not if I sink or swim

I leaned my back against an oak
Thinking it was a trusty tree
But first it bent and then it broke
So did my love prove false to me

I reached my finger into some soft bush
Thinking the fairest flower to find
I pricked my finger to the bone
And left the fairest flower behind

Oh love be handsome and love be kind
Gay as a jewel when first it is new
But love grows old and waxes cold
And fades away like the morning dew

Must I go bound while you go free
Must I love a man who doesn’t love me
Must I be born with so little art
As to love a man who’ll break my heart

When cockle shells turn silver bells
Then will my love come back to me
When roses bloom in winter’s gloom
Then will my love return to me

The Water is Wide (Blue Bells Trilogy, #3)The Water is Wide by Laura Vosika
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have just finished traveling through time and Scotland with Shawn, Niall, Amy and Angus. It was an incredible journey and I have to say that I am a little sad that it’s over for now… at least until the next book in the series comes out. Yes, there were times when the trip was a little slow going. We got side tracked and delayed quite often having to stop and deal with Amy’s overwhelming and sometimes annoying bouts of guilt, betrayal and grief. I cut her some slack and decided that it was justified under her circumstances- having left Shawn in the tower after breaking up with him, being pregnant, realizing that he’s wandering around medieval Scotland totally unprepared.

I am including all three books together in this review because you really do need to read them all to get a clear picture and understanding of everything going on. When I read the first one, Blue Bells of Scotland, I interested and intrigued with the concept but not necessarily all that emotionally attached to some of the characters- such as Amy. With the second book, Minstrel Boy, I was able to understand and empathize with her more. Also, in the first book, Shawn was definitely struggling with some likeability issues for a lot of reader… yes, including me at times! By the third book, I am now so emotionally attached to all of them that I am somewhat disappointed in the ending and having to wait for the next book. I was really hoping for some little preview or hint of what comes next as there is another book coming.

There were a few parts that seemed confusing to me and I am hoping those niggling little questions left in my mind will get answered in future books. Knowing that there were books planned when I got to those somewhat confusing parts, I could only assume that they might be small clues or references to future story lines. Had I not been aware of the future installments coming, I would have been more frustrated and annoyed with these little bits that seemed to be left hanging in the air for us.

Over all, the three books are excellent and I can’t wait to continue this journey!