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Friday, 20 November 2009

The Highland Games, Isle of Skye, Scotland - Page 2

Written by Lily Iona MacKenzie
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The Isle of Skye has always felt like home for me, though I’ve never lived there and have visited only twice.A first-generation Canadian, I grew up listening to my mother and uncle tell stories about their early days in and around its small capital, Portree. 

Due to his love for language, words came easily to Douglas. With his rolling “r’s”,and lilting cadences, he spoke with wit, humor, and a lovely irreverence.

 

The Highland Games, Isle of Skye, August Scottish games, travel Scotland, travel Portree, travel Isle of Skye, Braeside Cottage, Lily Iona MacKenzieOur family has lived on Skye for six generations. Douglas left the island when he attended university in Edinburgh, but he couldn’t bear to be away.He returned to work at his father’s bakery, eventually taking over the business and supplementing it with a café called The Granary

 

During my 1985 visit to Skye, it was misty nearly every day.Douglas was right when told me it never actually rains on Skye: it only mists. There is a vague indefinite, intangible quality to the mist on Skye. I’ve always loved the way mist softens the edges of things.

 

The first evening, Douglas escorted me to the harbor.As we walked through the city, I was reminded that Norman Newton, an author who has written extensively on Skye, wrote: “history permeates the entire island in the form of castles, prehistoric forts and ancient burial cairns. There is a pervasive awareness of the past and most local people will have stories of clan battles, Danish princesses and folk heroes, because Skye has been a battleground for thousands of years, a place where different peoples mixed and often clashed, before settling down to live in harmony”.*

 

The Highland Games, Isle of Skye, August Scottish games, travel Scotland, travel Portree, travel Isle of Skye, Braeside Cottage, Lily Iona MacKenzieWhen Mum and I left Scotland tremendous sadness came over me.Waving goodbye from the bus, I felt the mysterious bonds of a family and a place I hardly knew pulling at me. I was leaving the only place that had ever felt like home.

 

On my next trip to Scotland, my husband and I couldn’t wait for the games to begin.We quickly dressed and walked the few blocks to The Lump.We found a patch of grass where we could park ourselves, the area above the womb-like amphitheater giving an expansive view of the activities below.In one corner, girls dressed in traditional kilts, white blouses, and weskits, and a few boys who were also competing, flew over the crossed swords at their feet.

 

Growing up, I remember Mum doing these dances at the slightest provocation, leaping and landing softly, a couple of old broomsticks standing in as swords.I also remember reading that the brave warriors would sword dance in front of a fire before battle.

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Last modified on Thursday, 22 August 2013

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