Dunvegan, Eilean Donan, & Kilts
02.05.2018 - 12.05.2018
"Why do Scotsmen wear kilts? Because the sound of a zipper scares the sheep." That is an often-told bad joke. The historical answer has to do with the rain, the rugged terrain, and wool. Every clan has its own plaid colors. Now the kilt is mostly ceremonial. And no, they do not wear anything under their tartans. Or so I am told.
If you are overwhelmed by all the Scottish castles and want to narrow down your visits, Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye is one of two to see (the other is Edinburgh, although I have not seen the Queen's favorite, Balmoral). Dunvegan has belonged to the Clan MacLeod for 800 years and is the oldest continually inhabited castle in Scotland. A good bit of the castle is open to the public and the views of Loch Dunvegan are beautiful, as are the grounds and the many gardens. Since I went in May, flowers were blooming. I guess all that Scottish rain is useful for something besides making whiskey. There are motor boats that will take you across to a small island opposite the castle where you can see seals, heron, and other sea birds.
For someone like me who can't trace her ancestors further than my grandparents, I am jealous of Scottish clans. The current owner of Dunvegan is the 30th !! Clan Chief of the MacLeod family. The idea that anyone can track their family that far back blows me away. One of the Clan's prized possessions is the 800 year old Fairy Flag. The tradition says that should the MacLeods be in peril in battle they can unfurl the Fairy Flag and they will be invincible. But the magic will only work three times, and it has been used twice in the past. Fingers crossed they don't ever need it again.
Also on the Isle of Skye, Eilean Donan Castle dates to the 13th century and stands on a small island. (Eilean means island.) Although it was completely destroyed at one point, a descendant of the MacRae Clan bought the island in 1911 and rebuilt the castle. Today it is a picturesque tourist attraction and can even be rented out for weddings. The castle has also been featured in many films including: Bonnie Prince Charlie starring David Niven (1948), Highlander (1986) and the more recent Made of Honor.