March 2022     Title   Past Issues

In this Issue:

  Scottish Games   Scottish Song Project
  Meet the Members   Favorite Songs
  Famous Events   Snippets from Scotland

Phoenix Scottish Games

After two long years, the 2022 Scottish Games are upon us. Thousands are expected to flock to watch pipers, dancers, and heavy athletes compete in the traditional Games events, and to take in the music, the tartan-clad clan tents, and all the Scottish traditions which this weekend’s event has to offer.

It is the biggest date in the Caledonian Society of Arizona’s calendar and there are major changes this year. After several years in Phoenix, the event has moved to Gilbert Regional Park, on the south-west corner of Higley and Queen Creek Roads.

The Games has also been extended to include a brand-new Friday night event. The Twilight Tattoo, starting at 7pm on Friday 4 March, promises to be a spectacular and outstanding event to open the weekend of festivities. (gates open at 5pm). The ‘cast list’ includes a host of pipers and drummers, as well as some favorite local Celtic musicians such as The Noble McCoys and Traveler.

On Saturday and Sunday, there will be non-stop competition including musicians, athletes and dancers. More than 30 clans will be represented at the clan tents section; there will be a Clydesdale Horse exhibit; the popular British Car Show; a genealogy tent staffed by professional genealogists; non-stop music from bands including the Wicked Tinkers at the main stage; a host of Scottish-related vendors; and plenty good food and drink available.

As well as our local Games Chieftain, James McBain from Tucson, 22nd Chief of the Clan McBean, the Games will be honored by the presence of Wilkins Urquhart, 28th Chief of the Clan Urquhart.

For the first time in the history of the Phoenix dancing competitions, there will be five dancers who have flown from Scotland specially to compete. The dancers are from different parts of Scotland and organizers are delighted and looking forward to welcoming them.

Dancing organizer Janet Grant said, ““The Committee is looking forward to offering a warm welcome to these dancers and to all the dancers participating in the competitions.”

Tickets may be purchased on-line - for speedy entry to the event, or at the gate.

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You can still volunteer in many areas of the event. All volunteer offers will be gratefully accepted. To check what how you can help and sign-up, visit Volunteer at the Games

Find the full Games information at

We look forward to seeing you all at the Games and to making it an event to remember.

Meet New Members

Chuck Marks

Halò a charaidean agus fàilte! My name is Chuck Marks and I live with my wife Mary Kay in Gilbert, AZ. We are enjoying our first time as empty nesters as our youngest is away at college. Well, I am. My wife hasn’t hit me in the head with a frying pan yet, but her aim is improving!

IChuck Marks work as a regional sales manager for a data collection and visualization company, primarily supporting the manufacturing industries. Pre-Covid, I would spend about 6-8 weeks a year in Mexico visiting customers in addition to the Western US. I have been in the Quality Control/ Metrology industry for 25 years.

My loving bride is in her final year as the attendance clerk at the elementary school our youngest two attended. She loves cooking and putting puzzles together, if you visit you will see several that have been framed and hung as artwork in the house and my office. I enjoy some leathercraft and smoking/BBQ brisket and ribs and tweaking my homemade sauce and green salsa recipes

My interest in Scottish heritage started back in 1998 when I went to the Estes Park, Colorado, Highland Games with a good friend and proud Ferguson.

Family lore has the Hall family on my maternal grandmother’s side traveling from Scotland via County Antrim and then eventually into central and Western North Carolina. For a number of reasons, I did not follow up on my heritage until COVID hit.

With a lock down on travel imposed by my company, I started my research over again with an Ancestry DNA test. When some Scottish connections came back, I went in full bore (as is my occasional reaction). Join Arizona Caledonian Society…Check. Start learning Scots Gaelic on Duolingo…Check. Lose 20 pounds and buy a kilt…Check. Unfortunately, I found those 20 pounds again.

I am looking forward to volunteering at the upcoming Scottish Games and Highland Festival and meeting more of you in person. I am also looking forward to working on additional genealogy research and getting my wife to look more into her family roots.

Famous Events - Discovery of Penicillin
Iain Lundy, Editor

It happened this month

March 11, 1955, saw the death of the Scotsman who – by pure chance – discovered penicillin. He left behind an incredible legacy as one of the most famous scientists of all time.

Alexander FlemingIn his cluttered research laboratory, bacteriologist Alexander Fleming made an accidental discovery that was to transform the world of modern medicines. He was clearing his sink of a pile of petri-dishes in which he had been growing bacteria and checking each one before discarding it.

The contents of one dish caught his eye. Common fungal mould, like that found on stale bread, had grown and appeared to be killing off the harmful bacteria inside, staphylococcus aureus.

Fleming conducted a series of tests on the fungus, penicillium notatum, and successfully isolated the antibiotic substance which he called penicillin.

“One sometimes finds what one is not looking for,” remarked Fleming in typically understated fashion. What the Scottish scientist had found in September 1928 proved to be the greatest breakthrough in the treatment of infection the world had witnessed. British and American drug companies mass-produced penicillin and it was hailed as a medical miracle during World War Two when it saved millions of lives.

Fleming was born in 1881 at Lochside, a farm near the small Ayrshire town of Darvel. Alec, as he was known, was one of eight children and at 14 he left Scotland to study at Regent Street Polytechnic in London. An unfulfilling office job with a shipping company followed before he won a scholarship to St Mary’s Hospital Medical School where he initially trained as a surgeon before switching his focus to bacteriology.

During World War One, Fleming served as a captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps, working in the laboratory of a battlefield hospital in France. He was mentioned in dispatches but his exposure to the horrific battlefield wounds which claimed the lives of thousands of soldiers strengthened his resolve to develop a powerful and useful antiseptic.

In the early 1920s, again by accident, he discovered lysozyme, known in medical circles as “the little brother of penicillin”. An enzyme occurring in bodily fluids, including tears, lysozyme has a natural antibacterial affect. Fleming had sneezed into a bacteria-laced petri-dish and noticed several days later that the bacteria had been destroyed by the mucus. But lysozyme was not effective against the stronger infectious agents and Fleming kept searching until his monumental discovery several years later.

Fleming was knighted in 1944 and, along with Florey and Chain, received the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1945. “Nature makes penicillin, I just found it,” he said at the time. He was married twice, had one son and served as Rector of Edinburgh University from 1951 to 1954. He continued to work at St Mary’s laboratory until his death from a heart attack on March 11, 1955. As a national hero, Fleming was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral, London.

Scottish Songs Program

An Arizona-based student has embarked on a project to collect and record every song and poem dealing with Scotland’s Jacobite Rebellions in 1715 and 1745, and the wider history and culture that surrounded them.

Andrew SimpsonAndrew Simpson, who is originally from rural Nebraska and now lives in Queen Creek has appealed to Caledonian Society members for any help they can offer.

He said, “The current aim of the project is to collect Jacobite songs from the contemporary period and into the later romanticization period and provide both the music score and a short history behind the subject and the song itself. If any members of the Caledonian Society have sheet music, lesser-known Jacobite songs, or histories of Jacobite songs, I would love to collect and record the material.”

Andrew’s family can trace its roots back to the Frasers of Lovat, and he has ancestors who lived in small farming villages such as Benholm and Catterline in Kincardineshire, on Scotland’s east coast.

He will be attending St Andrews University later this year to study for a Master of Letters Degree in Early Modern European History.

His interest in the Jacobite period began when he wrote a college paper on Viscount Dundee and has snowballed since then. He added, “While doing the research I stumbled across the song ‘Braes O’ Killiecrankie’ and was disappointed to learn how little there was in the realm of documentation about Jacobite folk music.

“After that I stumbled across The Corries and their work in traditional folk music and wanted to have a complete compilation of Jacobite folk music for my own use. It really intrigued me that so much of the Jacobite music that is loved by modern generations is a development out of Romanticism writers such as Robert Burns and James Hogg.”

He pointed to the Skye Boat Song which he described as ‘heavy romanticization of the event, less historical accuracy’.

The goal of the project is threefold. To provide a list of Jacobite music in order to understand the cultural significance of the sings; to provide the actual music with the lyrics; and to provide a brief historical introduction to the song.

Andrew, who plans to attend the Scottish Games at the weekend, can be reached on

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Favorite Songs

Sandra Macintyre has been a Society member for many years. Here she reveals her favorite Scottish song, and why.

Between 1940 and 1945, for safety during the bombings around the Glasgow shipyards, eight-month pregnant mothers were evacuated out of the city, including to Haddo House, the family seat of the Gordon Clan. The house was turned into a nursing home for the duration of the war. Approximately 1,000 babies were born there in the town of Methlick, Aberdeenshire. I was one of those babies.

Today the house is on the national register and open to the public. I have visited twice, one of the times returning with my mother to celebrate my 50th birthday. During that visit we met the nurse who delivered me. Because of this connection, “The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen” has always been a special song in our family.

The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen, mean home sweet home to me;
The Northern Lights of Aberdeen are what I long to see.
I’ve been a wanderer all of my life, and many a sight I’ve seen,
God speed the day when I’m on my way to my home in Aberdeen.

When I was a lass, a tiny wee lass, my mother said to me
Come see the Northern Lights my love, they’re bright as they can be.
She called them the heavenly dancers, merry dancers in the sky;
I’ll never forget that wonderful sight, they made the heavens bright.

I’ve wandered in many far-off lands and travelled many a mile.
I’ve missed the folks I’ve cherished most, the joy of a friendly smile.
It warms up the heart of a wanderer, the clasp of a welcoming hand;
To greet me when I return home to my native land.

Snippets from Scotland

Snippet from The Scotsman

The world-famous Macallan distillery in Scotland’s Speyside region has released it’s oldest single malt, distilled during World War Two.

Snippet from Largs and Millport News

Britain won its only two medals at the recent Winter Olympics in the curling events. But a Scottish doctor was instrumental in popularizing the sport in the 1800s

Snippet from The Press and Jouornal

The incredible wartime story of Scotland’s ‘Anthrax Island’ which was contaminated before being cleaned up by the mysterious Dark Harvest Commandos is to be made into a film.

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