How I Became a “Scot-O-Maniac”

July 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

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My passion for Scottish history and culture began in my mid-thirties.  I was then working as a reporter and commentator for ABC Radio and TV in Los Angeles and was handed  the assignment of covering the International Gathering of the Clans which brought members of the Scottish Diaspora from all over the world to Edinburgh.   As I’ve mentioned previously in this blog, both my husband and I are of Scottish-American heritage (Here we are on a moor at the Lord Hamilton shooting estate in Glen Affric, the Scottish Highlands).  Between us are the family names of McCullough, McGann, McAlister, Alexander, Bell, Harris and Hunter in our family tree.

On that first journey for ABC to the land of my oh-so-distant ancestors, I remember marching into a vast stadium packed with Scottish hyphenates from around the globe and with a hundred pipers skirling.  I was at a dead run, trying to catch up with  former Mayor Lindsay of New York—decked out in his family tartan—to get an interview, and suddenly a shiver went down my spine.  “My family came to America from here!” I suddenly found myself thinking.  I felt a rush of tears flood my eyes and a tremendous sense of gratitude washed over me for my brave kin that had ventured across a treacherous ocean to the New World in the late eighteenth century.  From that moment on, I entered what my husband refers to as my on-going “Scot-O-Maniac Period!”

Soon after that life-changing experience, I began to dress my then five-year-old son in his first kilt and later persuaded my long-suffering husband to acquire one as well.  The next thing we knew, Tony and I had joined The MacLeod Scottish Country Dance Troupe and were skipping around strange rooms to Scottish ditties, entertaining at senior centers and nursing homes!

I even infected my friends who had links to a Scottish heritage.  Here is a photograph of dear friends who ultimately decided to have a full-on Highland wedding a number of years ago at the stunningly beautiful Castle Stuart, outside Inverness.  The wedding was on New Year’s Eve, so not only did we drink champagne to the happy couple and dance till dawn, we banged pots and pans at midnight to properly usher in the new year and greeted the first “good-looking, dark-haired man” with a wee dram o’ whiskey as he crossed the castle threshold! (A free book to the first five readers who identify the bride and/or groom. My son Jamie, myself, and my husband Tony are on the right).

All this genuine Scot-O-Mania has resulted,  of course, in my having now written two historical novels set is Scotland, Island of the Swans, and Wicked Company. So the rest of you have fair warning:  this ancestor hunting can be dangerous!

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