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Scottish Connection


The western Highlands of Scotland and Ulster have shared a common background. The best example of this was the ancient territory of Dalriada in North Antrim. The name Dalriada derives from the word Dal, meaning descendants, and Riada, the nickname of a chieftain called Cairbre Righfada (Riada) Cairbre the long-armed. The name Dalriada is still used, but chiefly in its contracted form of the Route. A descendant of Cairbre Righfada called Fergus crossed over to the sister island and founded the kingdom of Argyle or Scottish Dalriada. The invading Gaels brought with them the Gaelic language, and gave their name (for in early times the Irish were called Scots) to Scotland. The descendants of this Fergus became kings of Scottish DaIriada, and ultimately of the united kingdom of the Picts and Scots in the days of King Kenneth MacAlpin.

East - West Axis

This connection through the Kingdom of Dalriada had created a bound between the O'Cathains and many western Scottish Clans. This bound was further increased with a large number of Scottish mercenaries after the thirteenth century namely gallowglass families settling in Ulster and O'Cathain lands around Coleraine. English observers often commented that in times of war, the O'Cathain forces were supplemented by Scots from across the water. For Gaelic Ulster's cultural and economic frontier had long operated on an east-west, rather than a north-south, axis towards the Pale.

Evidence from 14th century AngloNorman Sources, such as 'Norman de Burgos' say "Edward II in prosecuting the war which his father left unfinished against the Scots, before the battle of Bannockburn, wrote over to ireland to the clans of the O'Cathains, O'Neills and other Ulster Clans. Which of them obeyed the royal mandate I know not, but I am certain that the O'Cathains and some others were found on the side of Bruce and of Scotland"

The relation continues with many of the sons of the MacDonalds Lord of the Isles being educated at the famous school at Dungiven Priory and one of them Augus Oge MacDonald, who met and married Finvola O'Cathain known as the "Gem of the Roe" a daughter of Dermot O'Cathain who died in 1428.The wedding party that departed for this celebrated Gaelic marriage included 24 sons of O'Cathain Chiefs who married daughters of the MacDonalds.

The relationship between the O'Cathains and their Scottish brethen was not always amiable. For it had been arranged that when Finvola died her remains should be brought back and buried in the Priory at Dungiven. When she died the MacDonalds wanted her to rest on the Isles and prevented the news of her death reaching Dungiven, but tradition says that Granie Roe, the Banshee of the O'Cathains who "bed" is on BenBraddagh raised "the mournful tidings of death in the O'Cathain family. The O'Cathains with swords in hand sailed to Scotland and brought back Finvola for burial at the Prioy at Dungiven.

Finvola, the Gem of the Roe

In the land of O'Cahan where the dark mountains rise,
O'er their rugged tops where the dusty cloud flies,
Deep sunk in that valley a fair rose did grow
And they called her Finvola, the gem of the Roe,
And they called her Finvola, the gem of the Roe.
From the fair isle of Scotland appeared in my view,
A lad clad in tartan as plain as it's true,
With the star on his breast and unslung was his bow
And he sighted for Finvola, the gem of the Roe,
And he sighted for Finvola, the gem of the Roe.
No more up the mountain our maidens shall hie
Where wind the cold cheek that bedims the blue eye,
In silent affection our sorrow will flow
Since gone is Finvola, the gem of the Roe,
Since gone is Finvola, the gem of the Roe.

The Legend of the Stone of Destiny

Tradition has quite erroneously identified the Scottish Coronation Stone with the Lia Fail-or Stone of Destiny of the Oir-Righ Eireann at Tara in Ireland, on which the High-Kings of Eire were inaugurated. The story is that Fergus conveyed the stone to Scotland. It was built into the wall of Dunstaffnage Castle, whence it was removed by King Kenneth, in A.D. 850. to the Church of Scone. The Irish Lia Fail was, however, at Tara centuries subsequent to the settlement of King Fergus in Dalriadia, and the Dalriad kings were inaugurated on the stone with the footmark at Dunadd; so the foregoing story is quite untenable. W. F. Skene, Historiographer-Royal, pointed out that the stone appears to be a natural stone from the neighbourhood of either Scone rock itself, or possibly from Dunstaffnage. Modern scientific geological investigation confirms that not only is the stone Scottish, but that it was "quarried somewhere not far from the ancient seat of the Pictish monarchy at Scone." It is a block of "Lower Old Red Sandstone age from Scotland," but "the very coarse Old Red Sandstone, on which Dunstaffnage Castle stands, is quite dissimilar from the Stone of Scone."

We are thus now able to affirm that the Stone of Destiny is a native Scottish stone, from the neighbourhood of Scone itself, and necessarily the sacred inaugural seat of the Pictish monarchy of ancient Alba - the seat of the indigenous line of Caledonian chiefs who ruled in Caledonia long ere the Dalriad kings set foot in Scotland - and that our British sovereigns enthroned on this sacred piece of rock are thus the representatives of an indigenous line of Caledonian high-chiefs, emerging from the very dawn of our national history.

LOn this Stone of Destiny all the Scottish kings were crowned until 1296, when the English king, Edward I, brought it, along with other Scottish spoils, to London. In Westminster Abbey King Edward I dedicated the stone to Edward the Confessor, and offered it at the altar of that saint. Since that time the Stone has remained in Westminster Abbey in the Coronation Chair, upon which all the British monarchs are crowned.

A suggestion in the Press (February 1951) that the stone might not be the original seems untenable. Those concerned lived into the Bruce's reign, and it is inconceivable that steps would have been taken in 1328 to recover a bogus stone, or not to denounce it as such if it had been. At Scone the stone evidently lay in a different type of seat from that at Westminster.

An old prophecy says with regard to the Stone of Destiny that, wherever it be found, there a king of Scottish blood shall reign. This prophecy has been fulfilled, for our present queen occupies the throne of Great Britain and Ireland in virtue of her descent from King James VI of Scotland and I of England. Thus it "dreed its weird" in a manner the English had not dreamed of !.

The following is the oracular verse regarding the Stone of Destiny, "Cinnidh Scuit saor am fine, Far am faighear an Lia-Fail, Mur breug am faistine; Dlighe flaitheas do ghabhail." (" The race of the free Scots shall flourish, if this prediction is not false; wherever the Stone of Destiny is found, they shall prevail by the right of Heaven.") and the Latin inscription formerly on the stone is said to have been: Ni fallat fatam, Scoti, quocunque locatum, Invenient lapidem, regnare tenentur ibidem. Unless the Fates are faithless found and Sooth be said in vain, Where'er this stone shall come to rest, a Scottish king shall reign.

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