Scotland a Nation by Alice Claire MacDonell

It’s been a while since I last posted on here, but I just wanted to share a short film made by Janet Baker about my 3x great aunt Alice Claire Macdonell (of Keppoch). She was a poet, Bardess to the Clan MacDonald Society, self-proclaimed Chiefteness of the Keppoch clan and contributor to the Celtic revival movement. Her poem Scotland at Nation was a plea for Home Rule for Scotland and the eliminating of the constant use if the word ‘English’ for ‘British’ which she felt threatened and entirely swamped the Scots existence as a nation. This formed part of her involvement in a movement seeking historic truth in the teaching of Scottish history in Scottish schools.

I am hugely grateful to Janet for putting this short film together. Alice is buried in Hove North Cemetry not far from where I now live in grave where the headstone has no epitaph. From what I understood she would have liked to have been buried in the ancestral graveyard at Cille Choreil, where I think her mother and possibly her father are both butired. Not sure that would be possible now and if I was more flush I would try and get an inscription for her headstone, but maybe that’s a fund that could be put together with help from Keppoch and other branches of Clan Donald. In the meantime, I have included her poem Scotland at Nation below:

Scotland A Nation

O, Scotland, Scotland, awaken!From a sleep that seems like death-Ere the red gold of the strangerShall stifle the Nation’s breath;What the foeman’s steel could neverAccomplish in days of old;Gold threatens to do, to our country’s shame,When the right of her birth is sold.Her name-as a province of EnglandIn other lands is known;Her soldiers, her battles, as English claimed,And her independence flown.

O, Scotland, Scotland, a Nation?-And you to stand idly by,The sons of the heroes of FreedomWho preferred for that cause to die!On Bannockburn, Flodden, Drummossie,Would God that we’d all died too-Ere Scotland lived to be fettered,To her tongue and traditions untrue;Ere she learned to bow in submission,And take the scant crumbs thrown;Content, that the fruits of her labourGo, as laurels for England’s crown.

Are you less of men than the Norsemen,Who, fretting ‘neath alien thrall,Have cast their chains, and as FreemenStand up to that toast with “Skaal!” ?Are you less than the sons of Bulgar,Who won as a Nation to be,Than the down-trodden Turk whose sabre,Was flashed in the cause of the free ?O Scotland, Scotland, awaken !-For the grief on our land lies wet,And we cry on the sons of the GaeldomEre the sun of their glory is set.

O, Scotland, Scotland, a Nation!-To be ruled by our Scotsmen then,With the Tartan sheen on the shapely limbs,Of her son’s rebirth as-men.The Gaelic tongue, and the auld braid Scots,As brothers together linked,The curling smoke from the Highland homes,Where the stranger’s guineas clinked;And the strong red deer that hurled the ClansDown to the shores of the sea,By strong men pushed to their forests again,And our lovely land be free !- The stranger’s tongue, and the stranger’s garb,We’ll forever and ever disown,When Scotland stands as a Nation-With an army and fleet of her own.

Alice C. MacDonell of Keppoch
Grave for Alice Claire MacDonell at Hove North Cemetry that is in much need of an epitaph

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