r2vyln3rdioj14u-rld0ska where mountains meet the sea: March 2017

Wounded Dancer

The earth as holy ground

The dancer holds her breath
homo-would-be-wise walks the earth
boots up and strides the earth
which now lies inert
the dancer hurt.

In throes of anti-matter we
participate in misery
while fragments of freedom
emerge from cracked ground

Out of death and dereliction -
anti-death and resurrection
the dancer unbound
as we throw off our platform soles
to tread on sacred ground

Which feeds but is not consumed
burning does not burn
speaking does not denounce
providing does not denude
withers but does not perish -
like rock like grass like air like water
like ideas like love like us, us
creatures made of stars for Earth,
planetarians for this planet
world without end amen.

Tessa Ransford


Dis is a lempit shall

dis is a mussel shall,

dis is a cockle shall,

dis is a wylk.

But dis shall here

All gie him ta dee

a shall laek dis'n

if you can listen

hadds da soond o da sea.



Hear da hush o da waves.

Child of the Gael

And now the time has come
When we must be on the run, my love and I,
We will travel far from here.
And all the days that we
Sat a'neath the rowan tree, my love and I,
We will never be here again;

Wherever we go, my love
Forever you'll know, my love
We will prevail, my love
The child of the gael, my love;

It's always been a crofter's life for me,
I'll always be my father's son,
Yet in a far away land we will be,
A highland name on the run... we're on the run;

So let us leave before
The soldiers come around and break the door,
Let us all be far away,
And we will become pilgrims
Where our children will help
Create a new nation again;

Wherever we go, my love
Forever you'll know, my love
We will prevail, my love
The child of the gael, my love;

A new world waiting for us yonder rising sun,
You can be proud to become...
A highland name on the run

Wherever we go, my love
Forever you'll know, my love
We will prevail, my love
The child of the gael, my love;

As I awoke one morn, I heard a voice beyond the dawn...

Steve McDonald

Children of the Gael
immigration and emigration
UCC Émigré
Scottish Centre for Diaspora Studies

It Was A' For Our Rightfu' King

It was a' for our rightfu' king
We left  fair Scotland's strand;
It was a' for our rightfu' king
We e'er saw Irish land, my dear,
We e'er saw Irish land.

Now a' is done that men can do,
And a' is done in vain:
My Love and Native Land fareweel,
For I maun cross the main, my dear,
For I maun cross the main.

He turn'd him right and round about,
Upon the Irish shore,
And gae his bridle-reins a shake,
With, Adieu for evermore, my dear,
And Adieu for evermore.

The soger frae the wars returns,
The sailor frae the main;
But I hae parted frae my Love,
Never to meet again, my dear,
Never to meet again.

When day is gane, and night is come,
And a' folk bound to sleep;
I think on him that's far awa,
The lee-land night, and weep, my dear,
The lee-lang night, and weep.

to our family and friends across the sea, a Happy St Patrick's Day!

more about this Robert Burns song
Songs of Separation

My Ireland

Visit of Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland, to the Scottish Parliament
Address to Seanad Éireann by Nicola Sturgeon MSP, First Minister of Scotland

Connecting Cultures

I am talking in our lingua franca.
Tell me, do you drive on the left or right?
Is your football team the Botswana Zebras
Or Indomitable Lions of Cameroon?
Can you take me to Junkanoo
And is there mangrove forest?
Is it true that a lightweight business suit
Is the appropriate city-garb and shaking hands
The usual form of greeting?
Are there frigate birds? Diamonds? Uranium?
What is the climate? Is there a typical hurricane season
Or a wind of change?
How many miles of coastline in your country?
Is the currency the Kenyan shilling or the
Brunei dollar -- or is it also the word for rain or a blessing?
Do you speak the lingua franca?

Communication can mean correspondence,
Or a connecting passage or channel, can mean
A means of imparting and receiving information such as
Speech, digital media, Facebook, the press and cinema.
Communications can mean means of transporting, especially
Troops or supplies.

Commonwealth means
A free association of independent member nations bound by
Friendship, loyalty, the desire for
Democracy, equality, freedom and peace.
Remembering how hard fellow feeling is to summon
When Wealth is what we do not have in Common,
May every individual
And all the peoples in each nation
Work and hope and
Strive for true communication --
Only by a shift and sharing is there any chance
For the Welfare of all our people and Good Governance.

Such words can sound like flagged-up slogans, true.
What we merely say says nothing --
All that matters is what we do.

Liz Lochhead

Commonwealth Day

Eyes Fixed

Eyes fixed open, to the wind
Eyes wide open

Watch my mind start to go
Darkened eyes darkening soul
Lost my grip come unstuck
A sinking ship I'm out of luck

Eyes fixed open, to the wind
Eyes wide open

Lose the place start to rock
Fear shuts me in and I can't talk
Grasp the thread I unfurl
Into a ball I curl up and lie

Eyes fixed open, to the wind
Eyes wide open

Their voices pierced the stifled air
Feel the glow know they're there
Scrambling back from the brink
Save me from the quicksand, the sinkhole in my mind

Head fixed open, let them in
With arms wide open

Mike Vass

sung by Mairi Campbell

A Portrait of Ga

The Scale of Things

There’s a whole country at the foot of the stone
If you care to look
These are the stones we have instead of trees
In the north.
Our trees all got lost,
Blown over or cut down
Long long ago, and some of them lie there still in the
      peat moss
Or fossilized in limestone.
At the shady foot of trees
Certain things grow,
But at the foot of stone grow the sun-loving
      wind–resisting short plants
With very small bright flowers
And compact, precise leaves.
The wind whips the tight stems into a vibration,
But they don’t break.
The full light of the sun reaches right down to the
And reflects obliquely and sideways in among and
      under the snug leaves,
And settles on the stone too,
Makes a glow there,
A sufficient warmth and clarified light.
The stunning frequencies seem to get absorbed
And if you stare closely at the stone
It’s a calm light, not too blue,
Precisely indicating its variegated surface.
The great stone stands,
On a different scale, in a way, from the minute plants
      at its base.
A proliferating green lichen
Grows on it
As well as round golden coin-patches of another
      common lichen,
And only in the earth right up to the very stone but
      not on it
Grow the crisp grass
And all the tiny plants and flowers
Which, together interlaced and inter-related,
Make the fine springing turf which people and animals
      walk on.

film and poem by Margaret Tait in honour of International Women's Day


James Robert Sinclair was born in 1930 in the ben (the 'good') end of the croft house at Clavel in the South Mainland of Shetland. The only child of Gibby and Mima Sinclair, he has lived there all his life, and since they died, on his own.
A familiar sight in his blue boiler suit and yellow wellies, James Robert has always been on the go, in all weathers: feeding his sheep, checking on them, moving them on.
As he grew older the crofthouse fell into disrepair. Following a stay in hospital, James Robert heeded the concerns of friends and social services and reluctantly moved to sheltered housing in the nearby village of Bigton.
Yet, as warm and dry as his new home may be, James Robert longs for Clavel. So with the help of neighbours and friends, James Robert continues to go to Clavel and look after his sheep. 
Shona Main was brought up in Bigton and James Robert is at the side of the road of many of her childhood memories. With the aim of documenting this man, his way of life and those who make it possible, she and her camera followed James Robert around for a 'sheep' year, from lambing to wintertime.
Originally a writer, Shona Main began experimenting with film in 2011. This is her first solo project.

The music was written and performed by Bigton musicians Alice Mullay, a music therapist, and Jonathan Ritch, a sound engineer. The song Dagalien was sung by men from Bigton who have known James Robert all their lives.

in search of ancestors

more information can be found in the Who Do You Think You Are links in the sidebar.