Slàinte maith, h-uile latha, na chi ‘snach
(Good health everyday, whether I see you or not!)
Dear Clan Munro,
I have just returned to my office
after spending a couple of days in a chilly and snow-swept Edinburgh. I was
there for a one day conference looking at Scottish identity.
During the speakers’ talk and the workshops that followed, considerable attention was given to the need for authenticity when describing or promoting Scottish traditional culture. The trouble with a word like ‘authenticity’ is that it is open to interpretation. Does it mean that only Scots or someone with Scottish ancestry can authentically engage in Scottish arts, music and crafts? The general response was no (thankfully, in my view) – that the world has become much too diverse and ethnically integrated to even hint at bloodline legitimacy when it comes to culture.
There was also considerable discussion about the ‘Celtic Crescent’ which historically linked Galicia and Asturias in northern Spain, northern Portugal, Brittany in France, Cornwall in England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. Evidence of Celtic tribes has also been found as far east as Switzerland and Austria. Indeed, Valdis Muktupavels, a musicology professor from the University of Latvia acted as final keynote speaker at the event.
It’s clear in my mind that our Scottishness is something to shared and encouraged. I think it’s great that Burns Nights take place in communities all over the world – even in the Middle East. As far as authenticity is concerned, as long as someone is engaging in the genuine warmth of Gaelic culture then does it matter if they are from Timbuktu or Tobermory? Tartan is worn proudly in Indian Regiments and that’s hardly surprising, given the strong ties that exist between the sub-continent and Scotland.
The Scots will be looking closely at what it means to be Scottish over the coming months as preparations go ahead for a second independence referendum. Anecdotally, I’ve always found Scotland to be much more internationally focused than its cousins to the south. A post-Brexit vote, if it comes to it, may well have a different outcome than the referendum in 2014. Time will tell...
Keep your eyes and ears open for Scottish Highland Games and Clan Reunions that may be happening on your doorstep. The skirl of the pipes when heard for real never fails to cause goose bumps on me. And I hope you have a chance to regale in your ‘authentic’ Scottishness soon.
Have a cracking spring everyone and I look forward to catching up with you in summer’s happy warmth.
© The Clan Munro Association of Canada