Louise Gouge here, wearing the plaid and celebrating my Scottish heritage. Every year, my family participates in the Central Florida Scottish Highland Games. I always enjoy celebrating this branch of my ancestral connections who came to the shores of what is now the United States. This year our Games will take place at Central Winds Park, Winter Springs, Florida, on January 17 and 18. I’m excited about participating again. I’ll be in the Heritage Tent helping people locate their Scottish roots. These past few years, we’ve discovered wonderful databases to help us find any name that might remotely be Scottish.
I don’t have a great deal of personal information about my Scottish heritage except that my paternal grandmother’s maiden name was MacCaskill, and that whole branch of the family was extremely proud of their Scottish heritage. Like many Scottish surnames, this spelling of MacCaskill is just one of many, but most of them seem to refer to a “sept” of the Clan MacLeod of Lewis. (There’s also a MacLeod of Harris.) Historically in Scotland, a sept was a smaller clan (family) that attached itself to a greater clan for protection and shared resources. On the right you'll see the MacLeod of Lewis crest or shield.
But just being a smaller sept didn’t mean the MacCaskills were considered inferior. One William MacCaskill led the entire MacLeod clan against a fleet at Clanranald at Eynot. No doubt he was chosen to lead because the MacCaskills were skilled seamen and sailors. In the mid-nineteenth century, Angus MacAskill (note different spelling, but same family) grew to be 7 feet 9 inches tall. Naturally, he was called The Giant.
Below is a picture of the Clan MacLeod family seat at Dunvegan Castle (for over 800 years), the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Great Britain. Rather romantic looking, don’t you think?
(Mihael Grmek is the copyright holder of this image and grants permission to use it from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dunvegan_castle1.jpg . He does not endorse me or my blog post.)
Some years ago, my younger son became interested in his Scottish heritage, having married a lovely lassie whose father is from Scotland. (Her father has that charming accent and even plays bagpipes!) They were the first ones in our family to become involved with the Central Florida Scottish Highland Games, eventually pulling my husband and me into the fun.
Timothy and Heidi Gouge at the Central Florida Scottish Highland Games kickoff dinner.
Now we have the next generation joining us. Last year, our thirteen-year-old grandson entered the Games and placed second in his age group in the ax throwing contest. Way to go, Forest. I can’t wait to see how you do this year, now that you’re a year older and about six inches taller! I think that blond hair comes from your Viking ancestors!
In addition, for the past few years, the Central Florida Scottish Highland Games have been honored to have a Princess Merida lookalike (from Disney’s movie Brave) as our guest. Here’s Miss Caitlyn Boyd direct from Scotland posing with my granddaughters, Savannah and Emmy.
No doubt you remember that those Scots were a rowdy bunch and often fought amongst themselves, as well as fighting the English. But the annual Games are a wonderful way to celebrate all the best of Scottish culture without any of the crazy stuff that makes up every people group.
And yes, I love haggis, a unique Scottish culinary delight, which I suspect American Scots have adapted to our more tender appetites.
Do you have a Scottish connection? I’d love to hear about it.
On Saturday of this week, my upcoming release, Cowboy Seeks a Bride, will be featured right here on the Craftieladies blog. Please stop by again on Saturday and leave a comment to be entered in our drawing. U. S. residents only, please.