Wednesday 31 August 2022

Diana Gabaldon at Edinburgh book festival 2022


Diana Gabaldon in Edinburgh

     NEW BOOK – Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone

(we must tell the bees if something important is happening.) 

 About rebuilding the house on the ridge – with a third floor as a refuge.  She said this book is like a snake – she only knows where it is going a third of the way through. To  preserve what they love, and loop through the woods and time, always back to the Ridge. About “Loyalty”


She spoke of  keeping the Gaelic culture alive. 

For her first two books she was getting Gaelic from a dictionary. Ian Taylor got in touch with her and did translations. They were afraid Gaelic would be a dead language in ten years – “It would not be because we didn’t try.” She said, and Gabaldon was quite emotional over this. 


She has been in recent times one of the most significant people for Scotland’s soft power on the world stage.  She hopes there has been a Gaelic culture revival.

 (She would certainly enjoy Niteworks, who perform with beautiful Gaelic singers, I highly recommend.)


She is now writing book ten, and perhaps the last in this long running saga. While the first books were set in Scotland , the more recent seasons have been set in America, on the Mackenzie Ridge. In this way she has melded her own unusual roots – Mexican and English - with the important contributions  the Scots made in the early years of  European settlements in America before the wars of Independence. .


Her books are on the Number One best sellers list.

 As a child she read Disney comics and later thought, I could write better stories – so she wrote to the magazine editor. – Her first comic book was Scrooge McDuck.

G spoke of her writing process - ‘who is this character and what do they want.” The people are real for me she said. She enjoys the research process too and walking on battlefields, which are very spiritual. The research plus what appeals to me. 


After the fact storylines and shaping. She references her earlier books with delicate engineering, picking up the threads and little bits of the pattern.


130K book sales of her first edition. – and she has managed to stay ahead of the TV show. 

She is now writing on a prequel, of Brianna and Allan, Jamie’s parents and the Jacobites. 


She worked in research Arizona state university. 

Gabaldon studied Zoology, marine biology, and a PHD in behavioral ecology. Later she wrote

software reviews and technical articles for computer publications, as well as popular-science articles and Disney comics. She was a professor with an expertise in scientific computation at ASU for 12 years before leaving to write full-time.


And yes the Kilt inspiration!  

Season 6 Outlander

Sandy Bells folk nights 2022


Fun #folk nights at #SandyBells, Forrest road #Edinburgh still buzzing, after decades of some of the best folk #musicians and the likes of folklorist and #poet Hamish Henderson.

Celtic harp, clàrsach, guitar, fiddle, mandolin, 


The Celtic harp is a triangular frame harp traditional to the Celtic nations of northwest Europe. It is known as cláirseach in Irishclàrsach in Scottish Gaelictelenn in Breton and telyn in Welsh


In Ireland and Scotland, it was a wire-strung instrument requiring great skill and long practice to play, and was associated with the Gaelic ruling class. It appears on Irish and British coins, the coat of arms of the Republic of IrelandMontserrat, the United Kingdom and Canada as well as the flag of Montserrat.

Fintan OToole The known Unknowns, Edinburgh book festival 2022


Fintan OToole discussed his new book at the Edinburgh International Book festival – #edbookfest

We Don’t Know Ourselves, on Ireland from 1958, on Irish emigration at this time 50s and 60s when 3 in 5 would leave;


The need for change and the need to stay the same. He talked of the Seeds of change.


“In order for things to stay the same things must change.”

The knowing and not knowing…

O’Toole is one of the most creative and challenging commentators on current affairs today and he writes for the Irish Times. I highly recommend his book on Brexit Heroic Failure.


He discussed Ireland’s hundred years of independence since 1920 – and the Partition of Ireland into the more developed north and underdeveloped south. East Germany and Ireland lost most populations with young people leaving for better lives.

Sometimes we must gamble for transformation and economic change. 

He said that avoidance can be creative as we avoid reality. A surreal story.


Fintan spoke of the deeply rooted power structure of the church and state in Ireland. Catholicism and Nationalism, both were martyrs for Ireland, Ireland has now moved on. Back in the fifties the Troubles all seemed unreal and the IRA a joke. The peace story and dirty violence.


He spoke of the Drug crisis in Ireland, and the story of the Dunn brothers and the industrial schools. Fintan was the first in his family to go to university, and he spoke of class and access. The vicious repression and of how the state ignores reality. The Heroin epidemic, no one knew what it was.


The Church power melted away so fast. He joked that so many women in Ireland had menstrual problems – and used the Pill to help their menstrual cycle! The safety value was emigration. He spoke of the Irish absurdity, and hypocrisy. 


In the late 90s there emerged the Celtic Tiger, with its highly educated workforce. There was the foreign direct investment, the American base n Europe, Pharma, the European massive headquarters and different narratives, Nobody knows what the Irish GDP is  - the mystery of money! 

People came back, and they wanted change, Great writers came back. 

Questions – a United Ireland?

He said that Brexit day changed everything! They had had two generations of boredom – but Brexit raised all these existential questions. 


A survey found many would vote for a reunited Ireland.

But when asked, “Would you change anything? No.” - Irish double-ness in all its diversity!

UK breaks up at pace, and people aren’t really ready for it.  And different voices and diversity, 


“Not two becomes one, become stronger, and Unite in friendship and unity.” 

The genius of the Good Friday agreement is that “I can be both Irish and British, and you can choose.”  that people can be Irish and British, British or British and Irish. 


Claim of Right


Is the principle that recognises that the people of Scotland have the sovereign right to determine the form of government best suited to their needs. First set out by the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320. Before this Scotland had been governed by a succession 113  kings. Scotland was founded by Fergus Mor in the  5th century, followed 9th century by the union of the Picts and Scots under Kenneth I. 

In 2018 there was the case of McCormack vs the Lord Advocate  - “The principles of unlimited sovereignty of parliament is a distinct English principle has no counterpoint in Scottish constitutional law. This was later endorsed by the UK parliament. 


Scotland’s Claim of Right is not based on conquest, but under a Treaty under International Law, and two acts of parliament, that ratified and implemented the treaty. 

These measures can be rescinded as circumstances changed, if their conclusions no longer prevail, and the disadvantages that arise from the present political structure. The present Scottish government and parliament are competent to renegotiate a withdrawal from the treaty. 


At present Scotland is a country but not independent, within the framework/political union UK, yet retains strong national identity and sovereign rights. 

The UN international Bill of Human Rights, as a fundamental human right and binding on the UK on the right of self determination, which determines that -

All people have the right to self-determination., . by virtue of the right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”


In culture, Scotland’s distinctive music, dance, literature, architecture and uniquely preserves the Celtic culture.


I wonder that some in England wanted a Brexit, to bring the UK closer back together. They forgot about Scotland’s long standing historic ties to Europe, which has left many Scots feeling bereft to loose their place in Europe. But also the small indy nations in Europe are out performing. 


None of these claims are anti- Britain. The opposite – Yessers believe a more successful Scotland will make the UK stronger. As a family of nations rather than warring tribes.  #¥esScots



Wednesday 10 August 2022

Olivia Newton John at Celtic Connections

So sad to hear of the death of Olivia Newton John - who performed at Celtic Connections 2017 and was such a joyous performer. Along with singer songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman. Olivia is best known for her Sandy role in the Grease musical.  A bright star. A sad loss.