Monday, July 02, 2018

A Quick Trip to Scotland, Part V

We headed out by train for Inverness. The Firth of Forth from the Forth Rail Bridge:

Somewhere in Cairngorms National Park, I believe:

Inbhir Nis means the Mouth of the Ness. One of the tricks to getting the right pronunciation to many Scottish place name is recognizing that many of them are Anglicized versions of Gaelic phrases, and despite being squished together they are still pronounced like they are broken up. Thus 'Inverness' is pronounced like two words, Inver-Ness. Inverness, 'the Capital of the Highlands', is, as the name suggests, on the River Ness. It is famous for Inverness Castle:

There has been a castle on the location for a very long time, but the current picturesque sandstone castle was built in 1836 by the architect William Burn. It's currently government offices, so you can't go into most of it; I think they recently opened the North Tower to the public at certain times, but we didn't even look into that.

The famous Flora MacDonald statue in front, by Andrew Davidson, was erected in 1896. Flora MacDonald, of course, was the person who risked her life to help Bonnie Prince Charlie escape by dressing him up as a maidservant. She earned time in the Tower of London for that, but it was a short stint, and she was pardoned in the Act of Indemnity in 1747. Samuel Johnson met her in 1773 and was favorably impressed by her. (The best known account of the escape of the Prince is Boswell's, drawing on what MacDonald told Johnson and other sources available to him.) The statue has a quotation from Johnson, in fact. She and her husband, who were poor, went to North Carolina to try their fortunes, but the timing was not good; her husband fought for the British in the Revolution and was captured and held as a prisoner of war, while their farm was destroyed and they lost pretty much everything. They returned to Scotland in 1779.

From the castle we walked along the River Ness to the Ness Islands and back on the other side of the river. It was a splendid day.

The Faith, Hope, and Charity statue was also by Andrew Davidson, originally designed to decorate the top of a YMCA building.

A World War I memorial:

It's a very nice walk. The Highland Council is apparently working up a project to introduce more riverside art. Most of the proposals look rather awful, so we can all look forward to artists ruining yet more scenery. It's not usually possible for even the most resolute artists to be unrelentingly bad, so perhaps something good will come of it. The local community has apparently already nixed various attempts to force certain artworks on them, too, so who knows? Perhaps the unlikely will happen and local sensibility for what will actually work in the community will win out over people who like weird ideas that work only on paper.

Across the river from the castle to the northwest is St. Mary's. Our Lady of the Annunciation was the first Catholic church to be built after Catholic Emancipation, opening in 1837. St. Mary MacKillop, while born in Australia, came from an Inverness-shire family, so when she was fundraising for her schools, she went to a number of churches throughout Inverness-shire, including St. Mary's.

And that was a day.

to be continued

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