Thursday, August 30, 2012
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
My picture I took on my trip. I did not go onto the Island.
Isle of "Cairn na Burgh Mòr" (means Cairnburgh More) is a tiny Island in the northern Treshnish Isles of Scotland in the Inner Hebrides. The island's location is north of Ulva, south of Coll and off the west coast of the Isle of Mull. I sailed right past the Island in 2006 on my journey with the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust. The captain of my ship told me that historically and locally this is the place where the Vikings buried their loot and treasures that they stole from the Isle of Iona (Iona Abbey) and elsewhere during the 700s, 800s, 900s AD. The captain also told me that no one has ever found any treasures on the island however this is where it is suppose to be. Maybe one day someone will find treasure!
The island just by looking at it, you can tell it is very hard just to get on the island, it is totally surrounded by high cliffs! You might need some serious rock climbing training. The island is home to the ruins of Cairnburgh Castle and its chapel. There is also a well on the island. The Cairnburgh Castle's fortifications straddle both Cairn na Burgh Mor and its sister island Cairn na Burgh Beag. There is also a guard house on the smaller island of Beag. The castle on the Island may have began as a Viking fortress named "Kiarnaborg" as locally and historically this is where they held their loot and treasure. It was recorded as being one of the castles belonging to the Kingdom of Isles and Man under King Somerled in The Saga of Haakon Haakonarson. It was later recorded as property of the MacDougalls of Lorne, later the
MacDonalds owned it, then later it was owned by MacLeans of Duart. When the MacLeans rebelled in 1504, King James IV (1473 - 1513) besieged the castle. In the 1650's Oliver Cromwell's army took the fortress. Government troops during the Jacobite Rebellions were housed on this island's castle in the 1700s. This island now is nothing but a bird colony, it is home to thousands of birds but it has a long history very few know about. Today very few if anyone visits the island.
Monday, August 1, 2011
In August 2006, I traveled to the Isle of Ulva off the west coast of the Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides as a volunteer with the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust. When we explored it at night, the hills were covered by a heavy cloud of mist which made the island really mysterious. This is one of many islands in the Hebrides I've visited but it really was neat! When I visited, the island had one visible old cottage on the island as you can see in one of the pictures. Also while walking on the island, I fell into a mini hole which I thought was sturdy ground. ha ha The Vikings were one of the first to find this island, they named it ‘Ullfur’ which is their word for ‘Wolf Island.' Originally there were a lot of people living here, in 1837 there were 604 people living on the island working for the kelp industry. Currently, there are only around 16 people living on the island. Ulva was home to the
MacQuarrie clan. During the Jacobite era, a man from Ulva carried a banner back from Culloden, he carried it wrapped around his body and swam home across the sound.
Major-General Lachlan Macquarie of the British Army who served as the Governor of New South Wales and is known as the "The Father of Australia" was born on this island.
For more info on Ulva:
Monday, April 13, 2009
It was a stormy night on the Minch, the sea was not level, and it was spraying up against the side of the ferry crossing from the Isle of Skye to Lewis. Although terrible winds pounded the boat; the passengers were all singing songs and drinking, including Angus MacDonald and his younger brother, Grant, who had planned a summer camping trip on the Isle of Lewis. All the passengers seemed unaware that the angry sea was about to engulf the ferry.
The storm picked up and tossed the boat from side to side. All of a sudden, the boat flipped on its side in the storm, the passengers falling off the deck into the ferocious sea. Down below the decks, Angus MacDonald and his brother, Grant, started running, desperately trying to get to the top deck where the crew was loading people into lifeboats. Grant and Angus finally got up the stairs to the top deck, breaking down the door in the process. Angus and Grant soon found out all the lifeboats were taken, they were scared and shivering in the cold storm on a ship about to sink. Angus and Grant quickly secured their life jackets and were forced to jump into the sea, as the ferry boat sank fast into the vast Minch. That was it, the boat was gone and the few lifeboats around were battling high seas and a storm that kept getting stronger and stronger.
Trying to stay in the same place was difficult for Angus and Grant. They were holding onto each other to keep from separating in the stormy sea conditions. Soon they were far away from the lifeboats, cold and wet. The brothers were soon on their own in the stormy sea. Angus and Grant began to think this was the end, and they were growing tired as the night progressed. While scanning the water for any sign of land or other survivors, Angus found a wooden part of the ship floating nearby. He decided to climb on top of it, as did Grant, and try and wait out the storm. The storm was calming down now, and Grant and Angus soon fell fast asleep on the wooden board.
When Angus woke up in the morning, he quickly noticed that he was no longer at sea; he was on a sandy beach. As he slowly blinked his eyes open in the morning to the sunlight, he noticed four figures looking down at him who quickly ran away, giggling, as he got up on his feet. The four figures who looked like children disappeared from his view. He then kicked Grant, “Wake up!” and Grant awoke. Angus and Grant saw no debris on the beach from the boat, nothing, just some sea shells and seaweed. Angus and Grant were a little scared and unsure of where they had ended up.
Angus started walking around on the beach and saw some sheep grazing in the distance. He noticed there were no people in sight, other than those children that he had seen when he woke up. He saw many mountains right near the beach, and clouds and mist covering the heather hills. This was a beautiful majestic place he had never before seen. He began walking toward the sheep, and out of the corner of his eye he saw a castle. An eerie looking castle sat atop one of the hills with mist surrounding its towers. It was a beautiful castle. “Come on Grant”, Angus said, “let’s explore this place”. Grant said not a word and started walking with Angus.
The two brothers continued walking toward the castle to check it out. As they grew closer and closer toward the castle gates; they heard sweet lovely music coming from inside the castle. The sweet music drew them closer and closer until they were finally at the castle gates. At the wood and iron castle gates, the two brothers suddenly saw the four children who were looking at them on the beach earlier in the day. One of the children said, “Come on in,” and one of the girls took Grant by the arm and immediately started dancing with him in the middle of the dance floor inside the castle. Angus went over to grab a pot of whiskey, and as he drank and drank, he noticed that all the people on the dance floor and in the room of this castle were small, strange looking people with pointy ears and noses. He suddenly realized that he must be in the fairy world. He looked down at his whiskey, which was sparkling with fairy dust. He then put the pot of whiskey down, and went over to Grant who was dancing on the castle floor with a fairy girl. “Grant, we’re in the fairy world, let’s get out of here,” Angus said. Grant replied back “I’ve hardly finished one reel with this lovely lady” although it had been hours since they entered the castle. Angus quickly realized Grant was under a fairy spell so he left him alone for awhile, and left the castle.
Angus walked unsteadily down the road toward the water. He could not walk a straight line. After walking for a while, he saw a ferry terminal and boat in the distance. Since he had no money on him or anything to barter with, he snuck onto the ship, unsure where it was headed. On the boat, he asks a passenger where the boat was headed. The man replied that the boat was headed for the Isle of Skye. Angus was in luck and finally going home!
Upon arriving on the Isle of Skye, Angus starts walking home. He runs up the front steps of his home and flings open the front door. He was so happy to see his parents after his ordeal. Angus tells his parents about the terrible storm on the Minch and his efforts to stay alive. His parents were overjoyed to see him, they thought he had perished. Angus’s mother told him that the news reports indicated that all the passengers had been lost to the sea. Angus’s father suddenly said, “Where is Grant?” Angus told his parents that Grant had also survived the ferry’s sinking and the rough waters, and washed up on the sandy beach with him. He related that they had both gone to explore a castle and ended up there drinking and dancing. Angus suddenly remembered that he had left Grant dancing and that he had just walked out of the castle! How could he have done such a thing? He had never left his younger brother like that before. His parents were amazed at his lack of judgment and started to scold him. Angus protested that he had not been himself, that something seemed to overpower him at the time and had even erased his memory of the event until just now. They all realized that they had to return to that remote island to get Grant back with them. The next day, Angus tried to buy a ferry ticket to go back to the island, but the ferry captain said there was no ferry service until spring. Winter had fallen early upon Skye and the surrounding isles in Scotland with heavy snow and winds. Angus went back home and told his parents who could do nothing but pray that Grant was doing alright on the island.
In the early spring, Angus MacDonald boarded a ferry with his ticket to go to the remote island to get his brother, Grant. After a long ferry ride through calm seas, Angus finally arrived at the remote island and started walking toward the castle. Walking up to the castle, he heard that sweet, lovely music again, and the children were also there and said, “Come on in” and so he did. He walked onto the dance floor and into the fairy world. He walked across the room and immediately spotted his brother who was dancing in the exact same place and with the same girl. Angus asked his brother, “Do you know how long you’ve been on the dance floor?” Grant replied “Oh, only a few minutes, I haven’t finished one reel yet.” Angus replied, “You have been dancing for nine months! You are under a fairy spell!” Enough was enough. Angus grabbed Grant and hauled him out of the room, dragging him out of the castle. The fairy spell on Grant was broken. “Where am I?” Grant said. “Don’t worry; I’ll get you home,” said Angus. Angus looked back on the castle and, to his amazement, saw nothing but a ruin of a castle. The music had faded and the lights had gone, it was now nothing but a memory. Angus and Grant took the ferry back to the Isle of Skye and never returned to the fairy land or the island.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
While I was on a cruise in Alaska this summer, my dad and I were outside our cabin on our balcony when all of a sudden my dad spotted a helicopter coming from the back of the ship. The helicopter very quickly approached our side of the ship and then hovered right next to our balcony. The noise from the aircraft became too loud to talk over. There were 3-4 men inside the helicopter. We waved at them. One of the men in the back of the helicopter took out a regular digital camera and appeared to take our picture! Very odd! Thats when I started taking lots of pictures of them. And then they hovered a little more and then took off. We never did find out why they appeared in the middle of Prince William Sound, Alaska next to our Holland America cruise ship. Here are some pics of the Coast Guard Helicopter next to our ship on Aug. 2, 2008. You can see just how close to the ship they were!
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Robert Burns, sometimes referred to as the national bard of Scotland, was born January 25, 1759 in the town of Alloway, South Ayrshire, Scotland. He was a prolific writer who composed over 600 poems and songs. Robert Burns was important to Scotland because he renewed a sense of nationalism and pride in the country and immortalized Scottish history and culture through his works.
Robert Burns was born into a poor tenant farming family in the lowlands of south-west Scotland. His father, William Burness (1721-1784) was a tenant farmer from Kincardineshire, Scotland, and his mother, Agnes Broun (1732-1820) was from Ayrshire.
Although the Burns family was poor he received 3 years of formal schooling, tutoring, and by the time of manhood he had achieved knowledge of English, French and Latin.
From an early age, Burns read and was influenced by the many works of notable writers such as Homer and Shakespeare.
In addition to being an intellectual, Burns also was renowned for his charm and wit, especially with women. In 1786, after numerous love affairs including a relationship with Elizabeth Paton with whom he had his first child, he fell in love with Jean Armour who became pregnant with twins. He wanted to marry Jean Armour but could not obtain her father's permission. After publishing a volume of his poems called Kilmarnock in 1786 to raise money to emigrate to the West Indies, he had unexpected success with his poetry and instead decided to move to Edinburgh. As a result of his fame and publishing success, Jean Armour's family granted permission for them to marry in 1788.
Robert Burns wrote about subjects from his everyday life, including poems about love, nature and Scottish history, and culture. He wrote his poems and songs in English, but also in the Scottish dialect which helped keep the Scottish dialect alive in an age when it was going into disuse. He romanticized aspects of Scotland through his writings and created a renewed sense of national pride in Scotland. The Scots had lost some of their national identity and pride as a result of the 1707 Union with England and the failed Jacobite rising of 1746. (Note that he always supported the Jacobite's even though he was born in the age after the Battle of Culloden and was a lowlander through and through)
Burns's poem, Farewell to the Highlands, is about the emotions of the people who left the Highlands of Scotland during the Highland Clearances in the 18th century. The Highland Clearances was a violent period where tenant farmers were forced to leave their land and emigrate to North America and other countries. The poem, written in 1789, is included as one of Burns's texts in Robert Burns: Selected Poems, edited by Carol McGuirk, and reads as follows:
Farewell to the Highlands
My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here;
My heart's in the Highlands a chasing the deer;
A chasing the wild deer, and following the roe,
My hearts in the Highlands wherever I go.
Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the north,
The birth place of Valour, the country of Worth,
Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,
The hills of the Highlands for ever I love.
Farewell to the mountains high cover'd with snow;
Farewell to the straths and green vallies below;
Farewell to the forests and wild hanging woods;
Farewell to the torrents and loud pouring floods.
My hearts in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart's in the Highlands, a chasing the deer;
Chasing the wild deer, and following the roe,
My heart's in the Highlands, wherever I go.
The poem is quite popular among Robert Burns's works. The poem is set to the slow and sad tune of The Musket Salute which reinforces the strong emotions of the poem. Burns shows his style in the poem by repeating comparable words to increase the emphasis for example, the roe and wild deer; wander and rove; straths and green vallies; forests and wild hanging woods; and torrents and floods. Burns's use of very descriptive words also helps the reader to visualize the landscape, the action, and the person's longing. This poem is very typical of Burns's work because it speaks about nature's beauty and the very strong emotions that people have for home.
Robert Burns had a short life dying at age 37 in 1796. He achieved international literary fame although not financial success during his lifetime. He continued to be revered by Scots as a great poet. In 1844 at a Burns Festival in Scotland around 80,000 were in attendance. His poetry immortalized Scottish history and culture for the Scots. Today, Robert Burns is considered to be one of the world's greatest poets because anyone can relate to most of his poems from any walk of life.