Save the Date: 40th Annual Scottish Sunday - May 19, 2013

posted Feb 4, 2013, 1:56 PM by Brian Mitchell

The 40th Annual Scottish Sunday will be held at the First Presbyterian Church of New Canaan, May 19th 2013. 
The service will commence at 10:00am, led by the Mt Kisco Scottish Pipes & Drums, closely followed by Presentation of the Colors and Kirkin O' the Tartans (by the children).  A Ceilidh on the church lawn will follow the service and includes tea, coffee, homemade shortbread, Highland dancing, Gaelic Songs, Songs of Scotland and further performances by Mt Kisco Scottish Pipes & Drums.

The Big Debate - Choosing Scotland's Future

posted Jul 8, 2012, 12:09 PM by Brian Mitchell   [ updated Jul 8, 2012, 12:10 PM ]

A BBC debate hosted by Isabel Fraser and guests as a studio audience debates about Scotland's constitutional future. 

39th Annual Scottish Sunday: May 20th 2012 - First Presbyterian Church of New Canaan

posted Mar 7, 2012, 1:01 PM by Brian Mitchell   [ updated Apr 27, 2012, 11:17 AM ]

The 39th Annual Scottish Sunday will be held at the First Presbyterian Church of New Canaan, May 20th 2012. 
The service will commence at 10:00am, led by the Mt Kisco Scottish Pipes & Drums, closely followed by Presentation of the Colors and Kirkin O' the Tartans (by the children).  A Ceilidh on the church lawn will follow the service and includes tea, coffee, homemade shortbread, Highland dancing, Gaelic Songs, Songs of Scotland and further performances by Mt Kisco Scottish Pipes & Drums.

Excellent web resources about Scotland from Learning & Teaching Scotland

posted Feb 2, 2012, 7:52 AM by Brian Mitchell

Education ScotlandLearning & Teaching Scotland has developed an excellent series of subsites covering Scotlands history, songs and stories. They have also documented the history of the Scots and how migration to Canada and Australia affected the development of these countries. These are all a must read.

Robert Burns: The Peoples Poet - A BBC Documentary

posted Jan 20, 2012, 7:35 PM by Brian Mitchell

Produced and broadcast in the old motherland by the BBC, writer Andrew O'Hagan asks what made Robert Burns one of the world's favourite poets, as Scotland celebrates the 250th anniversary of the birth of one of its most famous sons. He travels through the landscape of modern Scotland in a poetic journey to the places that inspired Burns and to discover the story of his wild and dramatic life.

The History of Scotland - Series I & II: A BBC Documentary

posted Jan 20, 2012, 7:34 PM by Brian Mitchell

Ten thought-provoking episodes bring a fresh perspective to Scotland’s past and challenges many o the perceived notions of Scottish history. With stunning, BAFTA winning cinematography and mesmerizing narrative the series tells of battles and allegiances, political intrigue and religious conflict. The series reveals the fascinating struggles, power brokers, incidents and characters across the years from William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and Sir Walter Scott to the Highland-Lowland rivalry, the Covenanters, the Daren disaster and the tobacco lords. Using the very latest in historical research A History of Scotland is a sweeping and insightful chronicle of an often turbulent, but continuingly fascinating nation.
Watch on YouTube:
Or purchase the DVD set on Amazon

The Scottish Highlands

posted Jan 20, 2012, 6:57 PM by Brian Mitchell

Thumbnail Taggart star John Michie journeys through the Highlands, tracing the history of the townships and examining the legacy of the Highland Clearances in which thousands of Highlanders were forced off the land to make way for more profitable livestock. Watch the 6 part series on YouTube.

Castles of Scotland

posted Jan 20, 2012, 6:49 PM by Brian Mitchell

Thumbnail Castles of Scotland, narrated by Alexander Morton, explores the history behind some of Scotland's most well-known castles. These remarkable buildings that dominate Scotland's landscape reveal tales of treachery, romance, war and peace.  Watch the 6 part series on YouTube.

Save the Date: St. Andrews Society 255th Anniversary Banquet - Friday, Nov 18th 2011

posted Oct 18, 2011, 2:27 PM by Brian Mitchell

The Saint Andrew's Society of the State of New York will hold their 255th Anniversary Banquet at the University Club in New York City on Friday November 18th 2011.  The honored speaker will be Alan G. Brydon, CEO of the Garnett Group.  Alan is also a musician, songwriter and member of the Scottish folk band "Scocha"
Reservations can be made through the St Andrew's Society office, Tel # (212) 223-4248 or e-mail:

Bid to put Sir Walter Scott back on literary pedestal

posted Oct 4, 2011, 8:10 AM by Brian Mitchell   [ updated Oct 4, 2011, 8:14 AM ]

HE’S the man Scotland forgot and this is his house: A big baronial pile in the Borders where Sir Walter Scott wrote his epic stories of tartan chivalry and romantic adventure and collected together the most extraordinary curios and historical artefacts – such as Rob Roy’s sword, a lock of Napoleon’s hair, and the crucifix Mary Queen of Scots held in her hands as she went to her execution.

But more than 200 years on from all of Scott’s success, wealth and fame, his reputation needs some work.
He’s no longer taught in schools, he’s no longer widely read and few people in Scotland recognise him any more. If they know him at all, it’s as the man on the banknotes or the man whose monument is on Edinburgh’s Princes Street.

Now a team of conservators and curators have started putting this right. After raising £11 million from the lottery, the Scottish Government and the public, a huge project has begun to restore Scott’s house, Abbotsford near Melrose, and conserve the collection piece by piece before putting it all back together again.

Work on the project has just got under way and will continue until 2013. Over the next few months, a team lead by Joanna Cook, the project conservator, will pack each object into boxes and crates before it is taken away to be cleaned and inspected by specialists.

I don’t think people get just how phenomenally popular he was in his day . . .
that he had a huge impact globally

In many cases, it will be the first time the objects have been moved since Scott lived in the house.

Jason Dyer, chief executive of the trust which looks after the house and its contents, says one of the aims of the restoration is to put Scott back on a map dominated by Burns.

Scott was phenomenally successful in his time, with massive print runs (his novel Waverley sold more in one year than Pride and Prejudice did in Jane Austen’s lifetime).

He is also feted in America and Russia, but is still poorly understood in his homeland.

“People know him as a literary figure, often quite vaguely,” says Mr Dyer. “I don’t think they get just how phenomenally popular he was in his day, particularly the fact he had a huge impact globally, and that is really what first encouraged people to come to Scotland as a tourist destination.”

For Mr Dyer, and curator Matthew Withey, Scott is actually a modern figure, even a radical one, whose ideas were far more aligned with those of his friend Burns than is traditionally thought. Mr Withey believes Scott’s popularity has withered because he’s traditionally seen as a Tory and a unionist.

“The idea of him as a unionist is true but he was also very much a spokesman for Scotland,” says Mr Dyer. “He was always really keen to convey to Scots they had a heritage equal to that south of the Border – everything he’s driving at is to show Scotland can be an equal partner.”

For Scots who don’t know any of this, a new visitors’ centre will tell the story. Work has already started on the building, which sits just across the garden from the house. The project will cost £11m – most of which came from the Heritage Lottery Fund, with £1m from the Scottish Government and around £2.7m raised from the public. Another £1.3m is needed to hit the target.

What we get for that, say the team at Abbotsford, is a culturally priceless collection which includes a clock that belonged to Marie Antoinette, artefacts from Waterloo and, most bizarrely, a piece of oatcake said to have been found on the battlefields of Culloden.

The house itself is important too, says Mr Dyer – it was the first Scottish house in the baronial style and also the first in Scotland to be fitted with gas. Scott was not only a great novelist, he was an innovator. If he were alive today, says Mr Withey, there would surely be solar panels on the roof.

If he were alive, what Scott would make of the state of his literary popularity is less certain. He is no longer on the school curriculum and is certainly not as widely read as he once was.

Mr Dyer admits getting into one of Scott’s novel can be tough. “He’s known as having a heavy literary style,” he says. “He himself always said ‘skip the first 100 pages and get to the story’ and those stories are fantastic.”

Hollywood certainly seems to agree. There have been numerous film versions of his stories, including Rob Roy starring Liam Neeson and there are reports of a new movie of Ivanhoe.

As far as the team at Abbotsford is concerned, that is nothing but good news because it could mean more visitors for them but, more importantly, it could be another step forward in their mission – to make Walter Scott a hero again.

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