Thursday, May 1, 1997

Journal entry, May Day. Beltaine



5/1            May Day. Beltaine. Odd to think I walked over the bones of Campbell of Glendyon—responsible for the massacre of Glencoe—in Brugge last summer with my cousin Dave. History lives beneath the shadows of our feet. I read about Scotland because of Neil, but have given up hope of consummating the relationship I was so sure would happen. All the false signals. But my dreams are rarely wrong. What goes here? I’m tired of waiting for the dance to begin. He hasn’t time for me, this fickle Scotsman who is to return home to Johnstone within the month. I’m disappointed, I thought he had more integrity. Did I read him wrong?

I read about the highland sheep shed their winter crop for the wool mills of Flanders. The unwinding of the thread that began in the highlands to Philip of Spain and the death of Charles V that set the turmoil of boundaries, nationhood and religion into action. The Jacobites. Bonnie Prince Charlie. The blood-soaked fields. 

It’s been nearly 25 yeas since I saw the fields of  Colloden Mór. One summer I stood in front of the statue of Willem of Orange in Leiden. This was the man my ancestral country still sheds blood over. The Orange Men. Dutch Willem (King Billy) became defacto king of Scotland. I read about the other William—Wallace, Braveheart. What has it to do with my life—other than my first boyfriend was a direct descendent of Robert the Bruce, and carried his name, plus Hamilton to the end of the 20th century. 

Neil was very nearly born beneath Wallace’s statue in Paisley. And Neil’s family from Tyrone were clansmen to my own family. I awoke singing “Come Back Paddy Reilly to Balley James Duff,” only to realize my grandfather was born near Baille Sheámus Dubh, at the crossroads of Moyne, our farm: Fiora. 

Philip of Spain sent a relation (my uncle’s namesake), John Alexander Reilly to build a fortress in Cuba. Many of my family married back into their own Irish clans: Walsh, Reilly, Sullivan. And into Irish and Scottish clans here in San Francisco: Ward, McCarthy, O’Neill, Driscoll, Dinsmore. A distant cousin of mine, Maureen O’Neill, could pass for Neil’s sister. I like the ring of that name.