January 2021     Title   Past Issues

In this Issue:

  Burns Night on Zoom   The Stone of Destiny
  Games Announcement   Whisky Stories
  Membership Drive   Snippets from Scotland
  Scotland's Hidden Gems   Our Clan Representatives
  Research Your Scottish Ancestry   A Word from our Advertisers

Society News

Next Gathering on Zoom - Burns Night January 23

Burns statue in New York CityDespite the ongoing pandemic putting paid to our hopes of hosting a Burns Supper this year, we will instead be having a Zoom Burns Night on Saturday 23 January - just two days before the Scottish Bard's birthday.

The details are being finalized but there will definitely be poetry, music and possibly a little bit of speechifying to honor the great man, born in Ayrshire in 1759.

Although he died at the young age of 37, he wrote hundreds of songs and poems and his work has had a considerable influence worldwide.

The title of the John Steinbeck novel "Of Mice and Men" is taken from a line in the Burns poem "To a Mouse"

And the JD Salinger classic "Catcher in the Rye" was inspired by the Burns song "Comin' Through the Rye".

Sam Houston, one of the founding fathers of modern-day Texas, kept a book of Burns works with him at all times, and he described one poem, "Epistle to a Young Friend", as his "lost polestar that guided him through life".

Burns left a mark on America's cultural life as he did on that of Scotland, and it is only right that we celebrate the great man this month. More details will be posted on the Society Facebook page and website.

Phoenix Scottish Games Announcement

After exhausting all the possibilities, the Society's Board members felt they had no option but to cancel the 2021 Scottish Games, held annually in March. Here is the detailed statement from the Board.

"With sadness we must announce the cancellation of the 2021 Phoenix Scottish Games, which were scheduled for March 6-7. Unfortunately - but understandably - the City of Phoenix cannot commit to our use of Steele Indian School Park in March. Even now, there are extensive requirements just to file a pre-application for any events of over 50 attendees. If such pre-application were to be granted, all normal permits and licenses would still be required; and under normal lead times, event and liquor permits would have been started by September.

The Society has investigated alternate sites, dates and scope for a Games event, but all options are faced with the same COVID related uncertainty and potential restrictions. Our athletes, dancers, musicians, performers and vendors are suffering from the lack of opportunity to participate and compete - just as the entire Scottish community misses the communal celebration of our heritage.

The Caledonian Society of Arizona is fortunate that our 2020 Games took place. Only one later event took place in Spring or Summer in all of North America, just a week after our Games. Very few small events - perhaps 5 or 6 - did take place in the closing months of 2020, with varying success. Many organizations like ours are now facing a second year without their signature event. However we are positioned to "stay in business" and plan even beyond 2021. Our March 5-6, 2022 date is reserved with the Park.

Your Society will continue to explore options for virtual or in-person events in 2021. Please follow us on our Facebook page and at our web site - arizona.scot. If you are not currently a paid member of the Society, your added support will help preserve our mission to represent the Scottish community." In Kinship,

Caledonian Society of Arizona Board of Directors.

Membership Drive

The recently launched membership drive has seen several new members joining the Society. They will be made to feel very welcome and here's hoping things ease a little during the year for us all to meet up in person.

The drive is still very much alive. Anyone who signs up will receive a free book and t-shirt. Details of how to join can be found on the Membership Page and Facebook page.

Scotland's Hidden Gems - The Crinan Canal
Iain Lundy, Editor

Crinan CanalIt is known as 'Britain's most Beautiful Shortcut' and a quick look at Google Maps will tell you why.

The construction of the Crinan Canal on Scotland's west coast cut 85 miles off the journey time for vessels travelling from the Clyde to the Inner Hebridean islands. Instead, the boats were able to pass through the nine-mile stretch of canal, complete with lock gates, to the Sound of Jura, in a relatively short time.

The canal, which was opened in 1801, was partly funded by estates that had been forfeited after supporting Bonnie Prince Charlie during the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion.

Crinan Canal Queen Victoria wrote in her journal that she sailed through the canal "in a most magnificently decorated barge drawn by three horses ridden by postilions dressed in scarlet".

The heyday of the canal saw a steady stream of commercial traffic and leisure craft flowing from the towns of Ardrishaig and Lochgilphead to the Argyll port village of Crinan.

For a spell in the 20th century, the viability of the waterway was in question, but it has enjoyed a renaissance with the upsurge of interest in canals and the Scottish countryside in general.

Locks on the Crinan Canal

Nowadays a few fishing vessels still use the scenic shortcut but most of the vessels on the canal are yachts and other leisure craft. If you enjoy a walk it is a bracing 18 miles to Crinan and back.

There are a couple of hotel and café 'refreshment stops' along the way, and it is an excellent way to spend a day away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Research Your Scottish Ancestry

Robert WilbanksUpcoming Genealogy Events 2021

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

Even though you may not have Arizona ancestry, local genealogy societies across the state are a great place to network, learning from others, and attend meetings, and learn from great presenters on a variety of topics. With the beginning of a new year, I again share with you the annual listing of upcoming genealogy learning and networking events for 2021, with links for further information. Here you will find a small variety of highly significant genealogy conferences and seminars coming up in the next few months hosted by various Arizona genealogy societies.

Don't hesitate to take the time to attend and learn more. An exciting change this year is that many events are provided live online, and some are even completely free. Here is some information about a few genealogy groups around Arizona, as well as links to a few events coming soon.

The West Valley Genealogical Society (azwvgs.org) is the largest genealogy society in Arizona and operates its own genealogy library with over 4000 square feet of books and more, plus access to a wide variety of subscription-based genealogy databases. In addition to their monthly meetings, the Library provides a number of "How-to" genealogy classes on a variety of topics. Their annual all day seminar will be virtual this year on February 20, 2021 featuring Angie Bush presenting "Usage of DNA Tools to Expand Your Family Story" (azwvgs.org/education/seminar).

The annual seminar of the Southern Arizona Genealogy Society, south of Tucson in Green Valley, Arizona, (azsags.org) will be on Saturday, February 13, 2021, titled "Sharpen Your Genealogy Detective Skills" featuring Lisa Louise Cooke. Lisa is the producer and host of the "The Genealogy Gems Podcast", and the YouTube show "Elevenses with Lisa". A Friday Workshop is also included.

The Family History Society of Arizona (fhsa.org) has about seven chapters around the valley that each meet a different day of the month. They also have a Virtual Chapter that meets monthly. You could theoretically attend all eight meetings monthly. Their 2021 annual meeting will be March 27, virtual and completely Free. It will feature five presenters with five topics.

A significant non-Arizona event is RootsTech 2021 (rootstech.org), one of the largest annual genealogy events which provides an extensive learning conference combing technology with genealogy, while celebrating connections with your family and your heritage. This year, the 4-day event will be February 25 to 27, 2021, entirely virtual and Free. Go to the website today to register for this international event.

There are many other Arizona genealogy groups, historical and heritage societies that you can find through the Arizona Genealogical Advisory Board (AzGAB) (azgab.com), promoting genealogy and history by addressing the educational needs and interests of Arizona's genealogical community through cooperation by the various groups and individuals. They have an impressive calendar of genealogy events around Arizona, and around the United States.

A key AzGAB event, coming March 20, 2021, is the first annual Arizona Genealogy Day, co-hosted with the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records. This Free Virtual event will have big name speakers and multiple topics. Watch for a flyer and registration information to coming out in early January at azgab.com

The website ConferenceKeeper (conferencekeeper.org) is a site solely dedicated to listing live, and now virtual, genealogy meetings, seminars, and conferences all around the world. They have a master chronological listings page, as well as pages by locations. There is even a page that lists all virtual events by specific date.

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.

The Stone of Destiny

News that the Stone of Destiny, one of most iconic cultural objects in Scottish history, is to be put on permanent display in Perth, it's original "home", has been greeted with joy and enthusiasm by everyone involved with the nation's heritage.

Stone of Destiny
Photo: Historic Environment Scotland

The Stone was used to crown the monarchs of Scotland and has had a colorful history, especially when it was stolen from Westminster Abbey in London by four Scottish students in 1950.

The local Perth paper, The Courier, reported the news with the headline, "This is Perth's Time".

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Whisky Stories
by Iain Lundy

A couple of Scottish whisky related stories caught our eye in the past couple of weeks. One was an exciting, positive development. The other, well let's just say a revelation from the country's criminal classes.

Plans have just been revealed of how a brand-new Edinburgh visitor attraction, called Johnnie Walker Princes Street, will look. Next time you're in the Scottish capital, you should be able to relax in a bar or rooftop veranda at the centre and gaze over the city while enjoying a dram or two.

The BBC report, complete with images, makes it look like a welcome and exciting addition to the Edinburgh whisky scene.

And while we don't advocate crime, take a read at the amount of Glenfiddich 12-year-old single malt that was stolen from a trailer on the outskirts of Glasgow. But don't let it give you ideas.

Snippets from Scotland

Press and Journal logo

More than 100 old photographs of work more than a century ago to build the Fort William to Mallaig railway line - now known as the Harry Potter line - have been unearthed in the south of England.



If you haven't yet seen the Scottish Hogmanay drone display entitled 'Fare Thee Well' then check it out here. It's spectacular.


The Scotsman

A campaign has been launched to save the farmhouse in which Robert Burns is believed to have written Auld Lang Syne. The future of Ellisland Farm in Dumfriesshire is in jeopardy due to financial problems.


Our Clan Representatives

Instead of the clan tents section this month, we have something a bit different. When is a clan not a clan? In the case of the Curries, the answer is when it's a Learned Kindred.

The Curries were recognized as a "learned kindred of Bards", rather than a traditional clan with a formal Clan Chief. A Hereditary Bard was a member of a Clan Chief's court but not necessarily a clan member. Our family is considered separate from that host clan, but we do not have our own clan designation. We interact with a host clan but do not belong to them. We serve as the keepers of that clan's written history, deeds and genealogy through our literature, song, poems and music.

Chaplain to the Clan Currie Society, the Rev Dr David Currie, explains, "In contrast to clans such as Clan Donald and Clan Campbell, whose chiefs claimed direct allegiance among the bearers of the name within a region, particularly to fight under their leadership, learned kindred such as the Curries were more dispersed, without hereditary lands or a chief as such, or an obligation to fight together as a family."

Here CSA member Linda Currie McGuire explains the fascinating history.

Linda Currie McGuire - Clan Currie

It was in the summer of 1958 on a family reunion trip to Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, that I first fell in love with the Scottish Heritage in my grandmother's Currie family. My great aunt gave me my first lesson on how to properly dance the Highland Fling after spending an afternoon bringing in the shaggy and docile Highland cattle on my uncle's farm. Around the fire pit that night I learned that my grandmother's Currie ancestor was deported to the wilds of Cape Breton for reviving sheep. Not so sure this is a true story, but it was a good one. Many years later I found the Arizona Caledonian Society, and became a member after my first Highland Games experience. And that is how I found more of my extended Currie family both near and far.

My first Highland Games at Grandfather Mountain opened up a new world of family, community and a passion for my colorful heritage. I became obsessed with everything Currie and Scotland related. I was so excited to host my first clan tent at the 2018 Arizona Highland Games!

Clan Currie

But let us go back to the origins of our illustrious Family name.

It all began over half a millennium ago when successive generations of the Bardic Family MacMhuirich preserved by hand many of the earliest oral accounts of Scotland's history and principal clan genealogies. Clan MacMhuirich (anglicized to Currie) is recognized as having some of the most famous bards and storytellers of the Gaelic world. Through them, we are known today as a Bardic family.

MacMhuirich (pronounced MacVurich) bards served at the very highest levels of Irish and Scottish nobility for 700 years - most notably as arch poets to the all-powerful Lord of the Isles, as well as to the MacDonalds of Clanranald.

It was in the service of the MacDonalds that successive generations of MacMhuirich bards produced one of Gaelic Scotland's greatest literary treasures, The Red Book of Clanranald. This monumental work, which celebrates in verse the ancestral deeds of the Clan Donald from prehistoric times through the 17th century, is a literal masterpiece- legendary in every sense of the word.

The founding father of this great Bardic dynasty was Muiredach O'Daly and by the 12th century, the O'Daly line was well-established as bards. Their lineage, however, can be traced much further back- through the Royal Race of Ireland- to Conn of the Hundred Battles, 110th High King of Ireland in 177 AD.

Muiredach began his Bardic service not in Scotland, but in Ireland. How he wound up in Scotland is a legend in itself. It seems he was forced to flee Ireland after splitting someone's head in two with a battleaxe. That someone was Steward to the Chief of the powerful O'Donnell clan. And why had Muiredach sub-divided the steward's head? The steward had had the effrontery to ask Muiredach for rent. Perhaps my grandmother's story of sheep stealing is not so implausible!

Eventually the majority of MacMhuirichs-one of the earliest constituted clans of the Scottish Highlands- took on the name Currie and other related spellings such as Curry, Currier, and MacCurry.

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