September 2019         Title    Past Issues

In this Issue:

  September Event   Dancers Compete in Las Vegas
  President's Letter   August 2019 Gathering Report
  MCPB in Scotland   Snippets from Scotland
  Scotland's Hidden Gems   Coming Events - Valley & Nearby
  Research Your Scottish Ancestry   A Word from our Advertisers  

Brews & Bagpipes - Saturday, September 21

This month we have been invited to spend an afternoon at the Scottish-themed Lochiel Bar in East Mesa. Society members have gathered there before, at the invitation of owner Ian Cameron, to sample his excellent craft beers.

Ian Cameron

The Brews & Bagpipes event takes place on Saturday 21 September at 2 PM. As the name suggests, we will be accompanied by some of our piping colleagues to give the place even more of a Scottish flavor than usual.

Lochiel Brewing is located at 7143 East Southern Avenue, Mesa, south of the intersection of Southern and Clearview Avenues.

In October we will be taking a trip out west for our very popular annual Scotstoberfest event at Haus Murphy’s in Glendale. The event will take place on 10 October

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President's Letter
David McBee, President

Well, we were looking to do another Pub crawl in the valley in September but the reality of the heat index sapped us.  Instead of crawling in the heat, we are going to have our monthly meeting at Lochiel Brewing on the 21st at 2:00pm.  There will be Scottish style offerings as well as a pipe band.  Come and enjoy each other’s company.

The Prescott Games are in September this year on the 28th but I will be at a wedding in Maryland.  Make a good showing for us up there in the high valley.
Our Scotstoberfest will be at Haus Murphy in Glendale on 10/10 which has proven to be a well-attended outing with good food and lots of smiles.  This will also be our annual report to membership.

The next cycle of events will be starting soon.  Games planning, Scotstoberfest, St Andrews dinner, Christmas at the castle, Burns dinner…..  Pitch in, let’s have some fun. And how can you pitch in?

Several vacancies still exist for positions both on the CSA board, and for the annual Scottish Games, due to be held in March next year. Obviously with Games planning already under way, it is becoming more imperative than ever that people come forward to fill them.

We are still without a treasurer; a social convener or conveners to organize regular events; a Games area chair for the Clans section; and an area chair for the Pipe Band competitions.

David McBee

Anyone interested in filling these positions should contact me at

or Don Finch at



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Mesa Caledonian Pipe Band in Scotland

The Mesa Caledonian Pipe Band have recently returned to Scotland after an unforgettable trip to Scotland. Band secretary Cailey Jones has kindly thanked the Caledonian Society and all supporters who made the journey a reality and taken time to share the experience.

“The band arrived at Edinburgh on 19 June. Our accommodations were located only steps from the Royal Mile, the historic street that links Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace. We spent the next few days rehearsing in the park next to the Palace, at the foot of Arthur’s Seat. Our afternoons were spent exploring the city and learning about the history and culture that we represent.

On Saturday, 22 June, we traveled to Lochore, a village in Fife, for the Lochore Pipe Band Contest. We were the only American band there and were gifted a set of music books from the locals. The next day we took a walk to Princes Street Gardens for the Edinburgh Pipe Band Championships. It was an experience to be able to look up and see Edinburgh Castle looming on the hill above.

MCPB at Inverness

After a week of rehearsals, we traveled to the Highlands on 28 June. Our first stop was Culloden Battlefield, to support our mission of educating our band members and supporters about Scottish history. Next we settled into our hotel at Aviemore and had our final rehearsal before the European Pipe Band Championships at Inverness. That night our Drum Major, Kevin Conquest, represented the band at a reception hosted by Helen Carmichael, the Lord Provost of Inverness, who was excited that we had traveled so far to attend an event in her city. The following day the band competed in the championships. As soon as we finished our set, a familiar face came out of the crowd and congratulated us on our performance: it was the United States Attorney General, William Barr. Mr. Barr, an accomplished piper, was delighted to hear us play, as we were the only American band at the event.

The next day we traveled to Stirling and performed for a special nighttime event at Stirling Castle. We had previously met up with our friend Tanya MacDonald, a member of the Caledonian Society of Arizona. She is studying at the university in Edinburgh, and luckily, she had a break in her studies so we could bring her along with us to see our concert in Stirling. She can attest to the beauty of the castle at night, and the unforgettable sound of the pipes and drums echoing off the centuries-old stones. It was the best possible ending to our trip.

MCPB at Stirling Castle

Overall, the competition at all three of the contests was stiff. Young Scottish pipers and drummers train in public schools for years and develop into excellent musicians that regularly win championships. Being an American band and competing against these true Scots was an honor and a privilege. Though we did not take home a trophy at any of the events, we brought home something far more special. We gained great knowledge and appreciation of Scottish culture and history, and all our members came home with a renewed purpose and love for what we do. We are proud to be ambassadors of Scottish culture here in Arizona, and to carry the great arts of piping and drumming across continents and through generations.”

Scotland's Hidden Gems - Well of the Seven Heads
Iain Lundy

If you like your Scottish history gruesome – and who doesn’t – there is a plethora of bloody and spine-chilling tales to choose from. You’ll find monuments and statues that commemorate dreadful events. Can Scotland really have such a dastardly history?

Well of the Seven HeadsIf you stumble across an easily missed memorial beside the banks of Loch Oich in Inverness-shire, you’ll have your answer. Yes, it really can. The needle like monument beside the village of Invergarry is topped by a sculpture of seven severed heads, and a hand holding a dagger. The name evokes blood and gore – the Well of the Seven Heads.

It dates to an incident in 1663 involving members of the Macdonald clan, at the time the largest and arguably the most bloodthirsty in the Highlands. A fight had broken out at Insch Mansion, near Fort William, after which two prominent clan members lay dead, killed by their own.

The killers were well known, local men who had never got on with the clan chiefs. But locally they had many supporters. The Macdonald gentry were not popular, and the case was allowed to drift. It seemed the killers had got off Scot-free.

They had, however, reckoned without the tenacity of one leading clan member, Ian Lom, the Keppoch Bard. He was a kinsman of the dead men and was determined to obtain justice. After a long struggle he persuaded the Privy Council in Edinburgh to issue letters of ‘fire and blood’ against the killers. Ian and his brother Archibald were put in charge of 50 men. They raiding party caught the seven suspects, killed them, then decapitated them.

Well of the Seven Heads A jubilant Ian Lom then wrapped the seven heads in his plaid, tied them together with willow rods, and set out to present the gruesome proof to Lord McDonell at Invergarry Castle. ON the way, at the spot where the grim monument now stands, he stopped to wash off the blood in the waters of Loch Oich. The heads were then sent to Edinburgh where they were fixed to the gallows.

The monument stands on the side of the main A82 road. And, in case you’re in any doubt, the graves of the killers were exhumed many years later. Underneath the mound, beside the Glasgow to Fort William rail line, lay at least seven headless corpses. Ian Lom had got his bloody revenge after all.     Second image from:


Research Your Scottish Ancestry

Robert WilbanksGenealogy Societies: Expand Your Reach

by Robert M. Wilbanks IV, B.A.
Chief Genealogist & Historian, C.S.A.

I often mention directly or in passing, the importance of continuous learning and networking. I’ve also on occasion listed events happening throughout Arizona where you can learn with, and from, others thanks to genealogy societies.

With so much growing specialty knowledge related to genealogy research, genealogy societies are a great place to continuously learn more and stay current on research, and even technology, related to genealogy.

Genealogy Societies (or Clubs) are organizations with a wide variety of membership working together learning about, and preserving, genealogy research and resources. Many of these organizations will provide a generalized coverage of genealogy, while many others can be more focused based upon ethnicity, geography, nationality or even by family name.

The following are just a few of the key reasons to join a genealogy society:

Networking : Networking is a large part of genealogy. Through societies you can work with and learn from other more experienced genealogists. Discover members researching in the same geographical area, or family name, etc. as you. Work together to create mutual learning opportunities. Share your research and knowledge with others. Also, in far off societies, seek research help by the members who currently live in your ancestors’ locale.

Meetings, Seminars, More : Attend meetings with special guest speakers, and work together with other members to create mutual learning opportunities, including annual seminars or conferences. Bring speakers from across or out of state. Some societies host chats, and webinars. Through these events you can also expand your networking.

Journals & Publications : One of the best features of genealogy societies are their journals and other historical publications; especially from genealogy organizations in your ancestors’ home locale. These societies will search and publish records not readily available to others. Also, you can write about your research efforts and seek help from others, or submit an outline of your family history for publication in a history compilation by the society.

Resources : Some organizations have their own libraries for members, as well as specialized databases. Some will offer free or fee based research assistance in their locale. Some coordinate discounted research trips, tours and other activities.

Naturally, you should join societies from where your ancestors originated. But don’t discount joining a local organization where you currently live. If you now live in Arizona, but your ancestry does not come from Arizona, this shouldn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t join an Arizona Genealogy Society. Many members are from elsewhere, as well as their ancestry. In addition to learning about genealogy basics, you could potentially find others already familiar with the locale you are researching in, or even be familiar with the specific family you are researching. At the first genealogy society meeting I ever went to (in Arizona where I have no ancestry) I discovered 5 different distant cousins in the room, with genealogies from Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia where my ancestry was from.

To locate a genealogy society in the region of your ancestry, simply Google the county and state with the keyword ‘genealogy’ or ‘family history’. To locate family surname societies, just Google that surname with the same additional keywords.

This website of the Federation of Genealogical Societies can help you find any Genealogy Society in the U.S. and Canada:

The following link can help you locate Scottish societies more general and national in scope: Researching the Scottish counties specifically also will help you locate genealogy societies specifically for that county.

Genealogy Societies are a great benefit for new and extremely experienced family historians alike.

This is another of a series of articles in which I show you the basics of searching for your family history, discussing the use of family records, public records, and online resources nationally and internationally, etc. The previous articles are now available on the Genealogy Section of this website.   See “Genealogy” in the menu options at the top of the web page.

Society Supported Dancers Compete in Las Vegas
Don Finch

The Society was honored to provide scholarship money to support several local Highland Dancers at the ScotDance USA competition in Las Vegas in July. The event, the US Indoor Regional Championships, was organized by the Federation of United States Teachers and Adjudicators (FUSTA).

Two of the girls, Mallory Reich and Isabella Douglas, have written to express their gratitude to the Society for affording them the opportunity to showcase their dancing skills.

Mallory Reich

Mallory (above), the daughter of Kyle Reich and Elizabeth Grant, wrote,

“Dear CSA. Thank you so much for your donation.  I had a great time at USIR and placed in two out of the three dance competitions. Thank you again for your support.”

Isabella (right) wrote,

“Dear Caledonian Society, I wanted to thank you again for the scholarship money. With your donation I was able to compete at USIR in Las Vegas. I placed rather high in the nation getting a 5th and 8th out of about 20 other girls. I’m rather pleased with my placings and I just want you to know that it wasn’t possible without your donation. Thank you again.”


Isabella Douglas
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August Gathering Report

A small but happy band of CSA members last month gathered at the premises of our newest corporate member, the Caskwerks Distillery on University Drive, Tempe.

Caskwerks August 2019

It was a highly convivial evening, and those present enjoyed sampling the distillery’s unique products, including gins, vodkas, and Apple Pie Liqueur, all of which went down a treat.

We also had the pleasure of meeting the 2019 Arizona Colleen, Kayla Gray, who was about to set off to represent the state in Ireland.

Snippets from Scotland

CNN bannern

Last month we revealed that the remains of an old pub had been uncovered in Glencoe. Now archaeologists have stumbled over an ancient Viking drinking den while digging on one of the Shetland islands. We did like our drink, even back then.

MSN banner

A stained-glass window commissioned more than a century ago by Scottish industrialist Andrew Carnegie, who made his millions in Pittsburgh, has finally been installed in his hometown abbey.

BBC logo

Get ready for this. A team of scientists is about to reveal a ‘biological explanation’ for all the sightings that have ever been made of the Loch Ness Monster. Whatever happens, if Scotland ever gains independence, this creature will keep the tourist industry buoyant.

COMING EVENTS and Highland Games in Arizona and Nearby

September 21 Brews & Bagpipes
Lochiel Brewing, Tempe
September 28-29 Prescott Highland Games
Prescott AZ
October 10 ScotsToberfest
Haus Murphy, Glendale
November 1-3 Tucson Highland Games
Tucson AZ
November 23 Society St. Andrew's Day event
Irish Cultural Center, Phoenix
December 14 Christmas at the Castle
Irish Cultural Center, Phoenix
March 7-8, 2020 56th Annual Phoenix Scottish Games
Steele Indian School Park, Phoenix

Membership Reminder

Membership dues for 2019 are:
- - $30.00 single and $50.00 Family (at the same address)

It's easy - just jump to the Membership Page for information.

Society Gatherings
Membership gatherings are often held on the second Thursday of each month, many at the Irish Cultural Center, 1106 N. Central Ave., Phoenix - others around the Valley - usually beginning at 6:30 pm. Please check our website for further details.

A Word from our Advertisers

Kilt Rental USA

Len Wood
Bagpiper USB

Lois Wallace


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