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Dr. Kemp Mabry

MacGregors travel to Scotland

    Dear Dr. Mabry,
    You asked me to write “a page” on our visits to Scotland....
    The first time Paul and I went to Scotland was in 1970 when he was a lieutenant in the Army stationed in Germany. We had a couple of week’s leave and spent it traveling through England and Scotland. Our destination in Scotland was Edinburgh. It’s such a beautiful old town, with its castle built into the rock on a high hill above it. There is Prince’s Street which has lovely shops and restaurants along one side and a beautiful city park on the other side. Edinburgh Castle, which was begun about 1000 AD, was a highlight for us. It’s everything a castle should be. There is so much history there. We learned a lot about Mary Queen of Scots and saw the small room where she gave birth to James VI of Scotland who was also James I of England.
    Edinburgh Castle is home to the Honours of Scotland, which are the crown jewels, breathtaking to behold. They were used in the coronation of King James. There one can see the scepter and sword of state and the Stone of Scone.
    From the castle we walked down the Royal Mile, a cobblestone street lined on both sides with shops, pub restaurants, fine old houses and buildings with interesting architecture. St. Giles Kirk is magnificent with its stained glass windows and it remains an active church with regular worship services throughout the day. The walk ends at Holyroodhouse Palace, which is one of Queen Elizabeth’s official royal residences. It has a throne room.
    We happened to visit in August, which is the month Edinburgh hosts their International Arts Festival. There are cultural events of every description, concerts, plays, ballets, operas, art shows, as well as all sorts of street performers, mimes, bagpipers, jugglers, you name it! Simultaneously there is the Fringe Festival, where it seems that anybody who has a desire to perform and who can find a stage, a room, or even a street corner can just have free rein. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing a couple of plays, a poetry reading and hearing lots of interesting music.
    Paul and I agree that the most impressive event at the International Arts Festival would have to be the Military Tattoo, which performs nightly on the esplanade of the castle. The castle is floodlit and also has huge torches lighting the walls. It’s quite an impressive background for the precision marching regiments of bagpipe bands. It’s an evening of all sorts of music and dancing and entertainment, but the sound of the bagpipes in the light of that medieval castle has remained with us over the years.
    On later visits to Scotland Paul and I have visited “MacGregor” country around Callendar, Loch Katrine and other highland glens that were once held by the clan. We traced some of Rob Roy MacGregor’s past, visiting his birth place at Glengyle, his burial site at Balquidder Kirk and the museum in Callendar, which focuses on Rob Roy and the MacGregors.
    We have been fortunate to return to Scotland three times since then. Through our Clan Gregor Society we’ve made contact with several individuals in Scotland who we now consider friends.
    At the top of the glen, Alistair took us to one of Rob Roy’s favorite “watering holes”, The Drovers’ Inn. There we sat by a fire in that 1600s pub, with kilted waiters listening to Alistair spin stories of the past. We thought the pub probably hadn’t changed much in the last 400 years.
    We will miss the Kirkin’ of the Tartans today at First Presbyterian Church. — Beverly MacGregor

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