|Lamlash on Arran|
Arran is one of those places that gets into the soul and calls you back now and then. We saw a warning to visitors about being careful we didn't catch 'Arranitis' and now I know what it means! Although it's a relatively small island, it is so diverse with its rugged mountains, lush green hills and glens, and a delightful coastline of sandy beaches, quiet coves and interesting birdlife. It is also a haven for yachts and water sports, yet it is nearly always peaceful, allowing visitors to release the cares and concerns of normal life. With its own whisky distillery and the famous 'Arran Gold' (a type of liqueur), fresh dairy ice cream, some of the best cheese in Scotland and definitely some of the most delicious chocolate, most gifts are edible or drinkable!
The plaque at Lamlash commemorates the hundreds of Arran Scots who left the island during the clearances between 1829 and 1840. The first '86 souls' left Lamlash on April 25th 1829, on the brig Caledonia and arrived in Quebec City in the June. Over the years, hundreds more left the island and settled in New Brunswick as pioneers in the Restigouche-Bay Chaleur District. The very poignant line at the bottom of the plaque is translated from the gaelic to read: "Yet still the blood is strong, the heart is highland."
On our travels in Canada, we've often remarked about how Scottish some of the areas are and how the people celebrate their Scottishness more than we do sometimes. Now I understand why it is so important, even though many of those Scots had such a positive and lasting influence on their new country. Who would have thought that a romantic weekend celebration on our Scottish island of Arran would lead me to think of our close connections across the Atlantic to Canada. And for a writer, it proves that inspiration and romance is everywhere!