November 2013

In this Issue:

 St. Andrew's Day  Coming Events
 The Language of Scotland  November Celebrations
 Who Am I?  Society Officers
 Know the Clans  Veteran's Day RAF Memorial

St. Andrew's Day

At our November Membership Meeting we will be celebrating St. Andrew's Day which is November 30. On that day Scots all over the world honor Andrew, the brother of Peter, who is the patron saint of Scotland. In these modern days, it plays a similar role as St. Patrick's Day for the Irish—it is a day for celebrating Scottish culture.

According to tradition, St. Andrew conducted missionary work around the Black Sea and was martyred in perhaps 60 or 70 AD by crucifixion in Greece on an "X" shaped cross. Like many important saints, Andrew was not left in his tomb to rest in peace. His remains were supposedly taken to Constantinople in the 4th century and a few of his bones were taken by St. Rule to Scotland before they made it to Constantinople. These relics were held in St. Andrew's Chapel.

In 1160 the chapel was replaced by St. Andrew's Cathedral which became an important medieval pilgrimage destination. Today much of the cathedral is in ruins, but "St. Rule's Tower" is one of the buildings that remains. St. Andrew's relics were probably destroyed during the Scottish Reformation, but a plaque among the ruins of the cathedral shows modern visitors where the relics were kept.

One of the earliest times St. Andrew was recognized as the patron saint of Scotland was at the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320. Signed by Robert the Bruce and other Scottish noblemen, the Declaration asserted Scotland's independence from England. However, St. Andrew became the patron saint of Scotland much earlier, in 832, when his "X" shaped cross became the flag of Scotland. (See story in the August issue of the Desert Highlander.)

St. Andrew has been Scotland's patron saint and his cross has been our flag for perhaps 1,000 years. While his flag is universally used, the man and his day have been somewhat neglected.

The Language of Scotland

The number of people who speak Scottish Gaelic today is numbered at less than 100,000—some say about 80,000.  The main concentration of Gaelic speakers is to be found in the Hebrides (the islands of Lewis, Harris, Uist, Skye, etc.) off the west coast of Scotland.  There, Gaelic is the everyday language of the people.  Gaelic speakers are also found on the mainland, particularly in parts of Invernesshire, Argyllshire and western Perthshire.

Gaelic is as difficult a language as Irish Gaelic, a close cousin and Welsh, a distant ancestor.   In Gaelic (pronounced gaal-ak) the predicate comes before the subject and the adjective comes after the noun.  The indefinite article (a or the) does not exist.  This is a language that was spoken long before it was written.  Many of the letters in written Gaelic are never heard (silent) and letters heard are nowhere to be found in the writing.

It should be understood that the syntax, idiom, and vocabulary of Gaelic bear little relation to English.  Unlike the Latin based romance languages such as Spanish and French where many words and sounds are quite similar to English, Gaelic tends to be quite distinct.  One of the most commonly cited differences between Gaelic and English is the English verb "to have".  There is no specific verb meaning "have" in the Gaelic.  If one desires to say in Gaelic "I have a dog", he would say "Tha cu agam" which literally means "There is a dog at me".  It should also be noted that Gaelic is a verb-centered language and the verb generally comes at the beginning of the sentence.  Thus, "tha" is the present tense of the verb "to be" (is, are) and comes at the front of a simple sentence.   

Gaelic has been spoken in parts of Scotland since about the 4th century.  It and the name of Scotland came from the "Scoti" who came across the sea from eastern Ulster in Ireland and established their kingdom and language throughout the area now known as Scotland.  For several centuries Scottish and Irish Gaelic were virtually the same.  A majority of place names bear a Gaelic origin and few Scots today are without either a surnames or forename of Gaelic origin.

Gaelic has been thought to be a dying tongue without any modern significance.  As mentioned earlier, there are only about 80,000 native Gaelic speakers in Scotland today.  The minuscule size of the present Gaelic community, when contrasted with the situation a hundred years ago when there were approximately a quarter of a million Gaelic speakers in Scotland, might cause one to think that the language is dying.  However, the last twenty-five years have witnessed a halt of this decline and now shows some encouraging growth points.  There has been a rekindled interest in Gaelic.  Government support and funding has resulted in the reintroduction of Gaelic in primary classes in the Glasgow and Inverness schools.

Despite past decades of neglect, the language has survived and there is now a revived interest and a renewed spirit.  It is hoped that future generations will remain true to the language and habits of their ancestors.  Suas leis a' Ghaidhlig  (Up with the Gaelic).     

Veteran's Day RAF Memorial

There are members of the British Royal Air Force buried at the City of Mesa Cemetery. Approximately one-half of those buried there were from Scotland. The pilots died while training at Falcon Field in Mesa during World War II. Each year a special Memorial Ceremony is held on the Sunday preceding Veteran's Day to remember and honor them. The Caledonian Society will participate, as it has for many years, by laying a wreath. The Ceremony will be held on Sunday, November 10 at 10:30 am. It is a moving ceremony with bagpipes and a fly-over of vintage WWII planes

(Answer at the end of the Newletter)

Who Am I ?

I was born in 1791 in Pennsylvania.  My parents were Ulster Scot immigrants.  I studied law and was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives where I served for ten years.  Later I was elected to the Senate and then I became Secretary of State in President Polk's administration.  In 1856 I was elected as the 15th President of the United States.

(Answer at the end of the Newletter)

What's in a Name
By Ron Dempsey, FSA Scot

Clan MacNab of Bovain

Macnab was first used as a name during the reign of David I, around 1124.  Around this time, people tended to be known by their characteristics, like "James with the shaky hand," until the 17th century when surnames became more common.  The Macnabs were descendants of the younger son of Kenneth MacAlpine, Abbot of Strathfillan and Glendochart, and their name was derived from the Gaelic term "Macanaba" or "Son of the Abbot."

It was another 200 years, however, before the Macnabs of Bovain were truly established as a clan.  That happened in 1336, when Gilbert of Bovain, a direct descendant of the old Macnab chiefs, received a charter from King David II granting him the lands of Bothmachan, otherwise known as Bovain.  He is now regarded as the first chief of the clan

CLan Douglas

The Douglas clan played a very important role in Scottish history.  Like so many clans, it's origin is not clear.  One substantiated story is that the family descended from a Flemish Knight who was given land in the area and settled on the Douglas Water.  Douglas is Gaelic for black and gray or from the black water. 

The first documented mention of the name was William de Dufglas who was witness to a charter in 1175.  The Douglas family was firmly in the came of Wallace and then Bruce in the quest of freedom of subjugation by Edward I of England.  James Douglas was the bearer of Robert the Bruce's heart which was being carried to the Holy Land for burial.  While traveling through Castille, James was killed fighting the Moors.  The heart was recovered and brought back to Scotland where it was buried at Melrose Abbey. 

The Douglas clan had an attachment to the Scottish Royals when the second Earl married a Royal Steward princess.  Through several generations, the Douglas Earls married into the hierarchy of Scottish aristocracy.  By the time of James II, the power and control that the Douglas household had procured in Scotland was perceived to be a threat to the rest of the nation.  Two of the next Earls were assassinated and the line died out with the ninth earl.  This family was known as the Black Douglases. 

The Douglas progeny still impacted on Scottish affairs.  George Douglas was the first Earl of Angus, the first of the family that became known as the Red Douglas.  The fifth Earl of Angus, Archibald, was the great grandfather of the mother of Lord Darnley, who was married to Mary Queen of Scots.  This same Archibald became Chancellor of Scotland and was elevated to Marquess of Douglas in 1633.  The septs of clan Douglas are too numerous to be listed.   

Coming Events

November 1-3 Tuscon AZ Games
November 10 Veteran's Day RAF Memorial - Mesa City Cemetery
November 11 Veteran's Day (actual)
November 14 Membership Meeting - St. Andrew's Dinner
November 28 Happy Thanksgiving
November 30 St. Andrew's Day (actual)
December 12 Family Christmas Party
January 25 Robert Burns Supper

SOCIETY MEETING Regular membership meetings are held the second Thursday of each month at the Irish Cultural Center, 1106 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ. Beginning at 7 pm. Come join us or log on to

November Celebrations
If you would like your special date recognized in our monthly newsletter, we need to hear from you. Please let us know your correct birthday and anniversary information by email to and it will be included in our Celebration list.

November 2 Earl Singleton - Birthday
November 22 Roger & Diane Dawson - Anniversary
November 23 Gail Wylie - Birthday
November 26 Jackie Sinclair - Birthday

Who Am I ?

James Buchanan 

Caledonian Society Officers
President: Mark Clark
Past President: (2010 – 2012) Jean Latimer
1st Vice President, & Membership Chair Don Finch
Secretary: Thom Von Hapsburg
Treasurer: David McBee
Games Chair
Jason Temple
Trustee 1: Mark Pelletier
Trustee 2: Michelle Crownhart

Newsletter Editor:

Jo Ramsdell