Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Show Your Colors


        It's tartan day in the US, a recognition of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320, a Scots pledge to freedom and independence and the model for the US Declaration of Independence.    

"For me fight not for glory nor riches nor honors, but for Freedom alone which no good man gives up except with his life"

        The Declaration of Arbroath asserted Scotland's independence and warrior spirit.
        "As long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule."
        On this Tartan Day, the strong Ukrainian people come to mind.

        The independent, reformer, outspoken, warrior line runs through my clan's bloodline from its Gaelic/Celtic origins. In 1296 Ancestors were originators of the first set of laws governing boundaries and defense. They spent generations fighting for liberty, law, rights and fairness. 

        Generations of Cochrun Cochrane Cochran men have been Admirals. One is listed as one of the 10 Heroes of Scotland, Admiral Thomas Cochrane, member of Parliament, Naval innovator, and later a peer, Lord Cochrane, the Earl of Dundonald. 

        Despite honors and position he remained a pain in the side of the powerful. A radical, reformer, and innovator he is the inspiration for C.S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower and Patrick O'Brian's Jack Aubrey, from which the Film Master and Commander was made. 


        A rebel, he was a brilliant strategist and was awarded honors by the Brazilian, Chilean and Greek Navies as well as the Royal Navy. He was buried with honors in Westminster.

        Despite coming from a line of distinguished military and naval officers, the clan was tied to ancestral lands near Glasgow and were hard workers. Thomas, like many of his cousins and some of his 6 siblings enlisted in the navy as teens.

        Since the August-September 2019 visit to the homeland, I've been sitting on the Clan story, but thought this Tartan Day was an opportunity to share it. None of us are getting any younger.

        We found the family pile near Renfrew and Paisley, where much of the family centered. Some stayed, some left for the US in a couple of waves, the 1690 and early to mid 1700's. 
        Cochrane land was in Abbey Parish and split in the early 1500's between Easter and Wester. The family castle, small and inelegant was built in the 1580's. It was surrounded by  coal pits in the 1730'sBy the late1700's it was owned by a Renfrew family who sold it to the Johnstones.  It was build onto and then wrecked a few times over the years.

        In the 1940's it was part of an Army Camp. It fell into disrepair, was turned into a community center, and eventually it became a personal residence again and sits in the middle of a housing village.
        The entrance was not part of the original building but was considered old enough to be historic. 

        I wasn't sure what to expect. At the train station we hired a taxi and I started to give the driver the GPS coordinates, he looked at me quizzically and said, "Ya mean Cochrun Castle? I know right where it is, not far from here."

        Given Scottish weather, I suspect the old pile has taken some updating to remain inhabitable, though I thought for a 440 year old home it's looking pretty good. 
        I figured my dad, was probably smiling because near by was...

        Back in the day when I was frequently wearing my Tux I sported the colors with cummerbund and bow tie

        Well worn, because there was a time when we were frequently at Gala's, dinners, and such. I still have my tux but that seems like another and even more gentle time.

        I'm happy that my blood runs with as much Scots and Irish as it does. Thinkers, fighters, independent souls, lovers of life, believers in human dignity, speakers of the heart.

            There is a wretchedness afoot. It is good to remember those who pioneered declarations of independence, boundaries, who gave no brief to those who did not deserve it, despite rank or threat. 
        On a day when I sport my Tartan, my admiration and my prayers go to the brave souls of Ukraine, to the journalists, the medical volunteers. 
        It's time for the world to deal with the atrocities and to punish the masterminds and agents of evil acting on his behalf. 

        Be well.  See you down the trail.

1 comment:

  1. On my mother's Franklin (middle English for freeland owner) side, my grandfather was Robert Bruce, his father was William Wallace. The were shipped off to Northern Ireland, came to the colonies pre-1720. They settled in CT and didn't become hillbillys. Good post, you have to meet my friend Andy McClure. Andy and his wife have gone to several McClure Clan gatherings.