Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Memorial to the last Earl of Glencairn - and a little soul searching.

The way we Scots see our clan heritage is a bit different to the view from North America or 'down under'. Whilst sometimes we may consider that others go a little over the top, at other times I am in awe of their dedication and enthusiasm. Take for example, the memorial stone to the last Earl of Glencairn (died 1796), which I visited on Saturday.

When the Clan Cunningham Society of America discovered that the tombstone of Glencairn, the last chief of the Cunningham Family was missing from St Cuthberts Kirkyard, Edinburgh, they commissioned another one. Not just a tombstone but a granite memorial, the 'full achievement' of the arms of the Earl of Glencairn, carved in Colorado and dedicated on 25 November 2003.

"What", the Clan Cunningham Society of America might well ask, "have Scottish Cunninghams been doing these last 200 years to honour the last of their line of chiefs?" 'Not a lot' is the anwer. Challenging question. Perhaps, with our roots deep in the Scottish soil, we feel comfortable as part of 21st century Scotland and so have less urge to seek connections with our ancestors. The two need not be incompatible however. Happily I think that we Scots are now better at meeting the needs of those who come over here on a significant emotional journey. Clan Societies are becoming stronger and this year we will welcome 9,000 clansmen as part of The Gathering 2009.

There are also companies, such as my own Scottish Clans and Castles, which arrange personalised journeys to clan lands. I have felt quite emotional on several occasions when guiding visitors to the places where their ancestors lived, fought, feasted, died. I hate to sound like a politician, but it really was a privilege - and a prod that we Scots should relish what we have here on our doorstep.


Bud Simpson said...

A.C: "...and a prod that we Scots should relish what we have here on our doorstep."

Aye, especially considering that on any given day, we would give anything to be there.

We navigated the Highlands on our own the first time and I know we missed many wonderful things. You will definitely get a call from us before our next trip to Scotland.

Unknown said...

As a lover of my Cunningham roots and heritage, May I comment, that in reading many articles on famous descendants of the Cunningham clan, I have never seen mention of Glenn Cunningham, the great miler of the thirties. He was my Father, and often would tell us when we were small children, of our Scottish heritage. His motto was, Never Quit", fitting for our history.
Gene Cunningham