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Subject: Re: Aglophobia vs. Celtic Nationalism
From: Ellen Sinatra <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:CELTIC-L - The Celtic Culture List.
Date:Sun, 25 Sep 1994 16:54:00 PDT
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JDowling said:
>      The Celts got those lands you speak of the same way you and I got to
> North America:  Some people they were associated with by ancestry stole it
> at swordpoint.
                 etc.
 
I think I remember a discussion similar to this one about a year ago, so
if I repeat myself to those of you who have been around awhile, please
accept my apologies.
 
On the plane to Scotland this last July, I sat next to a Scottish lady
who told me she had gone back to the village where her mother grew up, to
find the old landmarks.  She said she could not find even one Scottish
family in the village, and the only Scottish people left were in the
cemetery.  She was Truly sad about this...
 
...and then there were more stories of English people who had bought houses
and the land around them and then separated themselves and their land
from the community.  Everyone was Very aware of white settlers and
the erosion of the culture that is resulting from this exodus from
the south of England to the beautiful lands in the north.
 
However, let me emphasize that my Gaelic friends were welcoming.  They
see these as "people" - not as "English" or "outsiders." They also know
them as different from them and hope the life in their community will
not be hurt by incomers who don't care about the culture they've moved into.
 
On the other hand -- what is a Gael, anyway?  The Gaels are not generic -
they're not the same as the English people.  Really not!  They have a
language all their own -- a language full of adjectives, or special
references to their own stories...  They have lived a spartan life of
survival that their friends down south can't even imagine.  There wasn't
even indoor plumbing on the Isle of Skye until the l960s.  I wonder if
JDowling can imagine that!  Electricity came in before that -- the l950s.
They are a name/based culture.  A person's identity includes the name of
their father and his father, etc.  They feel connected to their history...
(We sure don't here in Los Angeles.)  They didn't really move around much
after they arrived in the Hebrides - that is, until they were forced out.
That situation is still true today.  Those who are leaving are primarily
those who are leaving for jobs.
And they have their own traditions -- Very strong song and story traditions,
some of which are still part of their lives, and many of which are being
revived.
 
I am still not clear of the difference between a Celt and a Gael .. but
the Gaels I know in Scotland sure do know who they are.  In fact, I am
certain that the sense of cultural identity is primary for all of them.
My own experience with them is to know them as unique people...  Again,
I'm repeating myself -- I know them as quiet, unassertive, and strong
people, who continue to keep a sense of humor in their lives of family,
work and song.  They are not linked together with the outside world --
not yet, anyway.
 
Sorry this is sounding like private musings on a Sunday afternoon.  I
feel very strongly for these people and their culture.  Their specialness
continues to give me a kind of courage to know myself as also unique in
this world.  It is difficult for me to understand why anyone would wish
to diffuse this cultural heritage with all its richness and character...
... or wish to ignore the diffusion that is quite obviously taking place
in the Gaidhealtachd.
 
Beannachd leat,
Ellen Sinatra

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