Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Scottish in Me


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 . 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.

My favorite thing is to see my dear hubby in his dress kilt made of the United States Army tartan.

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.


  1. No Scottish connection.

    I'm German from my birth father's side.

    Irish and Blackfoot from my birth mother's.

  2. I feel like the Scottish festival should be held someplace colder and more foreboding! Wonderful pictures and a great family tradition :)

  3. Louise, that sounds so fun! I come from the family names Conley (which I suspect was O'Connelly or something like that along the way), McConnell and McKinney. So I share some Scottish/Irish heritage. I'd love to do more research sometime! We do have a book a McConnell relative wrote with some family history, which is really nice.

  4. Gwynly has Welsh heritage, but for many years we've attended the Scottish Games held in the greater Sacramento area. I love seeing the kilts, hearing the bagpipes and listening those who speak with a rich Scottish brogue.

  5. My daughter started highland dancing for her asthma. She loved it and never had an asthma attack while dancing. When she attended an event in Houston in April, all that wool around the contestants waists made several of the girls nearly passed out. I remember one woman say that's why the Indians of the area wore loose dresses or leggings(males).

  6. Thanks for your comments, ladies. I agree that a colder climate would be appropriate for the Games, and in fact, there are many such Games around the U. S. We just have so many Scots here in Central Florida that we have to celebrate our heritage close to home.

  7. Leann, I know many people are allergic to wool. The kilts my family wears are synthetic, so no problems with breathing, which really helps my husband.

  8. Fun post, Louise - - and great photos too (LOVE that castle!).

    My Daddy's family was Welsh, and supposedly there's some Scotch/Irish on my Mama's side. With all 3 of my kiddos having red hair, I figure we can claim some Scotch/Irish heritage somewhere along the line, LOL. ;)

    The games sound like a fun time - - Enjoy!
    Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo

  9. Hi, CatMom. I think the Scottish/Irish/Welch/Enclish influence was so widespread in America that few can escape having a drop or two in their veins. LOL!

  10. It's bedtime here on the East coast, so I'll say goodnight and thanks for stopping by!

  11. What a fun post! Thanks for sharing.

  12. Oh forgot to add my father's father was Irish born and my father's mother's parents were both from Finland.
    On my mom's side I've traced the family on both sides to the 1600's in New York and England. I love all the history and can get lost in it all.

  13. Louise, running a couple days behind, we have Scottish games here in Altamont (outside of Albany, NY) every Labor Day weekend. Love them. As for my Scotts heritage, obviously, my husband is Scottish (Gordon). His paternal grandfather came to WNY through Canada in the first decade of the 20th century. His paternal grandmother's parents came to Buffalo in the late 1800s. On my side of the family, the Lindsays (my mother's family) came to Amsterdam, NY, via Ireland in the mid-1800s and continued west as far as Niagara Falls. As far as anyone can tell, our Lindsays first appeared in Ireland in the mid-1700s after the Battle of Culloden. I love all things Scottish. One of my early pre-LI books is a Viking historical set in Scotland, with a Scots hero.


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