Higgs Boson | Prince William | Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon | Mary Queen of Scots a Soccer Mom? | Shedding Light on the Dark Ages | The Stone of Scone | There's an App for That | A Dram in a Can | EU Funds Highlands and Islands | University of The Highlands & Islands | New Burns Museum | Desperate Fishwives! | Islay Leads the World in Energy | My Heart's in the Highlands | Ancient Chanter Comes Home | Whisky Galore with a Twist | A Free Genealogy Resource
The Scottish Government has launched a free iPhone app which contains the entire works of the Bard – over 550 poems and songs! Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop called the new app "a great platform" to promote Burns. She said: "Robert Burns is Scotland’s greatest cultural icon, recognized and celebrated all around the world. His legacy is of incalculable value to Scotland and the country’s image abroad." If you have an iPhone, free downloads are available - just in time to be a silent prompt for that Burns Night speech, and that awful moment when your mind goes blank over a poem you’d remembered your whole life! Return to Top
A Dram In A Can? Oh no! What's the world coming to? Scotch whisky connoisseurs are up in arms over "Sir Edwin’s tinned whisky"! It’s being sold in the Caribbean and in South America. But hold onto your kilt! You don't need to panic just yet! The company producing Sir Edwin’s, Scottish Spirits, is based in the Highlands. It's in Panama. And the CEO bears the well-known Scottish family name of Manish Panshal!
Somehow I don’t think the single malt business is about to disappear. Besides, a can of Sir Edwin’s holds only three shots - hardly enough for the serious drinker (unless some airline serves it on very short flights!) Return to Top
The Highlands and Islands are to receive £18m in EU cash aid from the European Regional Development Fund. These funds are to assist the area in tourism and renewable energy.
More than £1 million will go to a visitor center for the chambered tomb of Maeshowe on Orkney, and the Highlanders Museum Redevelopment Project near Inverness will get almost £1 million. The Highlanders Museum has been generously funded by actor Hugh Grant, who has raised money for it in honor of his grandfather Colonel James Murray Grant, who was a senior officer at a nearby artillery fort. This museum has a military flavor, and is dedicated to the Seaforth Highlanders, the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, and the Queen's Own Highlanders. Return to Top
This university is set to join other Scottish universities in the new year. It has met the standards required for institutions of advanced learning. The final decision will be made in the near future by the Privy Council of the Scottish government. UHI colleges are currently scattered throughout the Highlands and islands, in such places as: the Orkneys; Shetlands; Lews castle; Moray; Ostaig; Inverness, Perth; and Argyll. Return to Top
The museum contains 5000 artifacts from Burns' life, including manuscripts and personal items like a piece of Jean Armour's wedding dress. The museum is an attempt by the National Trust for Scotland to bring together other Burns' sites, including the Burns' National Park, the Burns' Monument, Alloway Auld Kirk, Burns' Cottage, and Auld Brig o'Doon. The NTS hopes to attract 80,000 visitors a year to learn more about the national bard. For more information, go to: Scotsman.com -Heritage & Culture. Return to Top
This new series is moving from radio to BBC II Scotland. You probably won't be able to watch it here yet (it takes a while for these wonderful Britcoms to reach here), but it sounds great. Characters like Jim and Jock, Mither and Faither, and Man's Man, fill this comedy sketch show set against the spectacular backdrop of North Eastern Scotland.
Mither and Faither's life looks like it should be idyllic. The kids have left home, they can afford good holidays and although now middle-aged they are still comfortably in love. Everything is fine, except for two annoying things - their friends Selma and Eddie. Jim and Jock are farmer and farm labourer respectively, both live in the "Brig O Doon" village of Meiklewartle where they have decided to set up a community television station, MTV Meiklewartle Television. They are assisted by the village wench / camera person Feel Moira (Mad Moria) so the pictures are a wee bit wobbly. If you can't watch it yet, try keeping up-to-date on Desperate Fishwives on www.facebook.com. Return to Top
You know about watching a politician's lips. How about watching his fingers? Scottish domination of British politics is a tradition (just look at the nine Prime Ministers who've served under Queen Elizabeth II: with MacMillan, Douglas-Home, Blair, Gordon Brown and now David Cameron), its only to be expected that the current Speaker of the House of Commons would be a Scot. Michael Martin, representing Glasgow North-East, is known to drift off during long debates. But what is he really doing? The answer has just come out. He's secretly playing his pipes! He confessed during a recent interview that he's practicing his fingering! "People ask me, isn't it the case that the debates are boring? How do you survive? I answer that if I have a pen and my fingers are moving, that's my way of switching off from what's being said." Return to Top
A priceless chanter from the 1600s is being returned to its native land after more than 200 years in exile. The chanter once belonged to the legendary Blind Piper of Gairloch, Iain Dall MacKay, who was born at Talladale on Loch Maree and trained as a piper on Skye. MacKay (1656-1754) was a true Gaelic bard. He was not only a piper, but he also accompanied his poetic songs on the harp. But it's his piobaireachd compositions that established his reputation as one of the greatest pipers who ever lived. His descendant, John Roy MacKay emigrated to Nova Scotia in 1805 and took the chanter with him.
The chanter remained there until St. Andrew's Day 2010, when the current owners (brothers Donald and Michael Sinclair, related to the MacKay family) decided it should be returned to its homeland. It is now on display at Glasgow's National Piping Centre. Dr Hugh Cheape, a former curator at National Museums Scotland and a student of bagpipe history, said: "To think that these timeless pieces of music were possibly composed and played on this very chanter will be awe-inspiring for fans of the tradition." Lady Oona Ivory, founder and vice-chairwoman of the National Piping Centre, added: "We are delighted that this donation is going to be housed in the National Piping Centre. It will enhance the exhibition, which already contains many interesting and wonderful artifacts that allow us to understand our rich piping heritage."
But not everyone is happy. Dr. John Gibson, a piping scholar in Cape Breton, believes the transfer breaks Canadian heritage law, which forbids the export of national treasures. He has taken legal advice to get it back. Return to Top
It wasn't washed ashore from a shipwreck, but it may have gone down the drain. The heavy snows last winter caused some of the Glenfiddich warehouse roofs to collapse, exposing the oak maturing casks. Imagine the horror, the sheer panic! It sounds a bit like "Whisky Galore" revisited. With temperatures at minus 19C, the workers at Glenfiddich had to leap into action and work round the clock to save the precious brew. Exposed casks were rescued, and the whiskey was moved to new casks (some made of American Oak). This rescue operation has resulted in a new single malt called "Snow Phoenix", which is dedicated to Scotland's Mountain Rescue - and available to the public at £49.99 a bottle. Return to Top
www.Scotlandspeople.gov.uk offers free surname searches from the government records dating back to 1513.
The web site www.AncestorsOnBoard.com offers passenger lists for voyages leaving Britain from 1890-1960 with images available to download, view, save and print.
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