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Diaspora - 11 April 2019

Say Cheese!


While we are packing our home, there aren't a ton of choices for dinner.  We are trying very hard to work through the food we have in store.  You know... canned soup, mac 'n cheese, frozen pizza, and sandwiches.  So tonight, it was mandarin orange stir fry vegetables (no... not recommended) and a Havarti grilled cheese sandwich.  

I love cheese.  The family owned a cheese shop and I learned about Jarlsburg, Gruyere, Gorgonzola, Brie, Gloucester, Stilton and on and on.  But tonight it occured to me that I had never heard of a good Scottish cheese.  Surely they exist.

And it appears that indeed, they do exist.  

How about a great Red Anster?  Alisa Craig?  Criffel?  Dunsyre Blue?  Morangie Brie?  Cambus o'May?  Wow!  I had no idea.  Now when in Scotland next year, I have added testing all these cheeses to my bucket list.  



If you can stand reading all about this tempting cheese, then please follow this link to the same photo above, as well as a wonderful article about each of these varieties of cheese. 


In the meantime, I might actually see if any of this is available outside Scotland.  Wouldn't it be fun to try these?!



Diaspora - 7 April 2019



If you ask me what my heritage is, I will tell you my Great-Grandfather came from Switzerland.  Another Great-Grandfather came from Germany. But the rest of my family, like so many, has been here a very long time.  I am a loyal fan of the FtDna testing and results, but I decided to take advantage of a sale with Ancestry DNA to see how the results compared.  Afterall, I do a ton of research via  So I indulged.  Looking at my Ancestry DNA results, I was not surprised to see just how much of my heritage comes from England, Scotland and Ireland.  With names like Coppock, Hubbard, Duncan, MacGregor, Snodgrass (yes, it is true) and Linn why would I be surprised?  But now I find I am curious to know more about my Ulster-Scot relations.  I've done the typical research on the Ulster-Scots and yes, they came from Scotland and settled in that northern area of Ireland prior to coming to America.  But that really is all I know.  I just found a booklet that I've hung onto for some time now entited "Ulster-Scots and the Declaration of Independence."  Prepared by and distributed by the Ulster-Scots Agency, it is the start of a deeper dive for me.

The booklet states that "the 56 men from the 13 colonies who signed the Declaration were almost entirely of British famiy origin.  Thirty eight were firmly established as being of English extraction, eight Irish (at least five of whom had direct Ulster family connections), five Welsh, four pure Scottish and one Swedish."  "A forerunner to the American Declaration of Independence was the Mecklenburg Declaration, signed at Charlotte in North Carolina on May 20, 1775 by 27 leading citizens in the region, 18 of whom were of Ulster-Scots Presbyterian origin."

The Ulster-Scots Agency has a website at should you wish to do a little exploring yourself.  If you go to their link on history, they point out that the separation between Scotland and Ireland is but 13 miles.  No wonder travel between the two countries has been ongoing long before we can even imagine.  The history, of course, includes Robert the Bruce, a marriage with the Irish "Red Earl's" daughter, Elizabeth de Burgh, battles and much more.  So yes, if you visit our CMW tent at a Highland game and you insist you are Irish, Steve and I will always ask you "are you sure?"  No, the spelling of your last name is not indicative of whether or not your are Irish or Scottish.  Check your DNA, and I bet you'll find you are of Scottish descent.

It is also important to start my family research on this because CMW will be hosting a trip to Scotland and Ireland during the summer of 2020.  The trip will include visits to MacFarlane heritage sites.  I know some of the dates will be forthcoming very soon, but for now, I need to be ready before June 30th, 2020.  Steve and I are getting excited about our 3rd trip to Scotland.  We believe Steve's Robb family came from Aberdeen, and per our friend, John A. MacFarlane who lives in Aberdeen, he assures us there are tons of Robbs there.  We are aware of the rest of his family who are Ulster-Scots.  The Crocketts (Davy Crockett), Simmerwells (first missionaries to Kansas), are just a couple of his family names that are truly Ulster-Scots.  If you are looking for your own family names, the ulster-scot agency has a nice list of those who are famous Ulster-Scots (and they are not all Americans), so you might want to look for your own famiy name. Of course, those are just a start.  To learn more about the Ulster-Scots and the Ulster Plantations, try a visit to an Irish website: 1609 Plantation of Ulster.  

I've seen the photos from the last CMW trip to Ireland and Scotland, and I'm just so excited about the 2020 trip!

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Free image from Pixabay

Diaspora - 3 April 2019

The Ugly Duckling

There is a child's story about an ugly duckling.  Do you remember that one?  An old Hans Christian Andersen story, a mother duck hatches all her eggs.  Among them is a hatchling considered truly ugly by the other baby ducks and other farm animals.  It is different from the others. The ugly duckling is the focus of horrible verbal and physical abuse.  But in time, the little ugly duckling grows up to be more beautiful than all its siblings.  In fact, the ugly duckling is a full grown swan.  Of course, there is much to be learned from this story, but for now, let's just focus on swans because they are part of the MacFarlane history.


Black Swan

(free image from Pixaby)

 The majority of swans that you will find in Scotland are the typical white swan.  The Black swan is native to Australia, but according to wikipedia, the black swan is now in the UK.  Don't ask me how a black swan from Australia made it to Scotland, but let's just roll with it.  And THAT brings us to the MacFarlane connection.

 There was a story retold in Charles McKinnon's book Scottish Highlanders that a seer foretold of the demise of the MacFarlane chief line.  According to the story, when a black swan appeared among all the other MacFarlane white swans in Loch Lomond, the chief would lose everything.  The story goes on to tell us that a black swan did actually show up in 1785.  Then the 23rd clan chief sold all of Arrochar, the lands that had been in the possession of the MacFarlane line for 600 years.  He then emigrated to North America, and that was the end of the chiefly line.

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