Wally Dugs

Here are different versions of Wally Dugs:




(**Note: I had hoped my mom would send me a picture or two of our own at home by the fireplace, but she told me over the phone that she has no idea how to save and send a picture to me over the Internet after uploading it from her digital camera. My Gran is also away in Scotland right now, so she can’t take any pictures of her googly-eyed Wally Dugs and might not know how to send them to me either. My Papa, who is stil at home, might not even know how to use a digital camera anway.)

Wally Dugs, or “Staffordshire” Dogs, are currently made by Wemyss out of China but used to be made by Bo’ness Pottery in the 19th and 20th centuries. According to its web site, “Wally” means in the Scottish dialect “made out of china.” As I said in class, they typically sit on or near the fireplace and are almost always in pairs.

My mom received her Wally Dugs from my grandmother’s friend after she passed away. My mom thinks she bought them off of Ebay and are quite old.

My grandmother sent me an email from Scotland this morning. She believes  her Wally Dugs are 100 years old, belonged to my great-aunt Betty’s grandmother and were passed down the family. After my great-aunt Betty’s brother passed away, she was going to throw them out, but my grandmother saved them:

“They looked terrible as they were badly in need of a bath wich I gave them as soon as I got themhome to America. We call them Tully and Buddy because we got them inTullibody. Marilyn [my gran’s friend who had passed away] paid $250 on the internet for hers .Mine cost zero. When I was little almost everyone had a set on the fireplace.By the way Aunt Betty is now 87 so I guess the dogs are a good.”

When I am home for Easter, I will try to capture our Wally Dugs on camera to share with you all!

Mudiad Ysgolion Meithrin

While researching a potential post about Celtic nursery rhymes, I came across a mention of the Mudiad Ysgolion Meithrin, or the “Nursery School Movement” in Wales. A combination of day care and language immersion, the voluntary program was founded in 1971 and has various locations throughout the country. According to its web site, Mudiad Ysgolion Meithrin offers various programs that teach young children, either from birth or 2 years of age, the Welsh language through fun games and interactions. Programs vary by age. I did get the following facts from Wikipedia, but I believe the impact it has had on the language: Over 14,000 children participated in the Nursery in 2,000. As more children participated up until the year 2000, my best guess is that the current number is much higher.

This endeavor is all about making language-learning fun and seems to hold an admirable view on keeping the Welsh language alive, starting with the little ones. The web site itself contains fun yet simple interactive games (such as counting —after about twenty times picking out kites in the bright outdoors, I can now count to three in Welsh!—and links to another web site that has partnered with Mudiad Ysgolion Meithrin to sell colorful books and other learning tools in Welsh. The mascots are a boy named Martyn and his friend Dafydd y Ddafad (Dafydd the Sheep) and include a whole host of supporting characters. Here is the newest addition:


Parents can even benefit from this program, too. Different courses have been developed to include them in the discourse surrounding Welsh and the family. For example, “Pwy Faga Blant?” or, “Who’d Have Children?” includes:

* the importance of play
* how to promote positive behaviour
* the effects of accepting new family circumstances
* general health problems.

This is an admirable effort to keep the language a mainstay in the home and beyond. Children are bi-lingual in a fun yet engaging setting early on and, because of the courses geared toward adults, can have conversation with their parents, too. An article  on the “Worlds of Difference” web site called the Welsh revival said the language is “shaping up to be one of the world’s most impressive linguistic success stories.” It also said that the Nursery School Movement has given its students “a strong foundation in the national language—graduates also do better in English.” Which makes sense—the more languages you know, the better you become at structure and grammar. I am not sure what sort of programs are available for children beyond nursery school age to maintain the language, but  Mudiad Ysgolion Meithrin is still an ambitious and exciting start.

Here is a video from the web site. No one will probably be able to understand anything that is being said, but it is still interesting to listen to!


*PS I tried to actually embed the Youtube video into this post, but after twenty minutes of fiddling with the entry Youtube htmls and watching a couple tutorials, it didn’t work for me. Can anyone help?

How I Read Poetry, Including Montague’s “Herbert Street Revisited”

This is a response to Susanna’s post.
How do I read poetry?
Very slowly. Meticulously, even. With more devoted attention to each word and phrase. When I read a novel, my eyes move more swiftly across the page, for I am able to construct a moving story in my head as I go. Poetry calls for more careful attention to each line since meaning is not quite as self-evident. The images still emerge in my mind, but they do not run together as smoothly as those from prose. Instead, I have to dig them up from the soil of my mind and examine them to really capture and comprehend their meaning in relation to the text.
In my “Methods of Literary Study” class at Bryn Mawr, we read Mary Oliver’s A Poetry Handbook. While it mostly instructs how to write poetry (though she argues that good poets are “born, not made,” which I could write another blog post on in its entirety because I am not sure if I agree), it also includes a chapter called “Reading Poems.” I like this particular excerpt:
“In looking for poems and poets, don’t dwell on the boundaries of style, or time, or even of countries and cultures. Think of yourself rather as one member of a single, recognizable tribe. Expect to understand poems of other eras and other cultures. Expect to feel intimate with the distant voice. The differences you will find between then and now are interesting. They are not profound.”
This chapter primarily focuses on discovering good poems in order to develop better writing, for good poetry writing stems from understanding the craft and what has already been read. Still, this excerpt seems to say that one should be in conversation with poetry. It is something that one becomes familiar and comfortable with, even if it is hard to understand.
Take Montague’s “Herbert Street Revisited,” for example. It brings us into a conversation he has with his first wife, Madeline.  He and Nurse Mullen mourn what once was, both in Ireland (“her lost Mayo hills”) and in marriage. It works so well as a poem—the voices of Montague, his wife, the nurse, and even the land of Ireland (at least through Montague’s view) culminate and work together to produce questions of then and now. Readers see dimensions of the past and present in one poem and how they have affected each other.  I do “feel intimate with the distant voice,” as Oliver said would happen. Montague opens up about the failures of his first marriage, something so intimate and private, to the rest of the world through this poem. Yet he does it in such a way that readers do not feel as if they have invaded his life (through the inclusion of Nurse Mullen and the surroundings in Ireland, for example). I read this poem as an observer within the poem, close enough to feel what he feels and included in the conversation of the poem, somehow.

A Worthwhile Read

I went home this past weekend and went into my family’s spare bedroom to print something out. While waiting, I browsed the bookshelves and came across this gem: How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It, by Arthur Herman. I flipped through it, and while I have yet to finish one book for personal pleasure this semester (how sad), I brought it back with my in hopes that this just might be the first. I came across some interesting facts in the meantime that I thought I would share on the blog:

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  1. Page 4: The Scottish legal system used to have three options when the jury considered the culpability of a person charged for a crime in court: “guilty,” “not guilty,” and “not proven.” The last choice meant that the prosecution did not execute a persuasive argument even if the person being charged did indeed commit a crime.
  2. Page 98: After Scotland came under English rule, many Scots felt conflicted about their language and culture and how they could—or could not—be reconciled with those of England. Some of the Scottish began to refer to themselves as “North Britons” in an attempt to unite themselves with their southern neighbors—even though no one in England referred to themselves as “South Britons.”
  3. Page 104: Here Herman delves into the origins of the clan, or “clann” in Gaelic, which means children. The clan had a familial structure, with a chieftain at the head, as Professor McInerney discussed in class. Four or five generations composed a clan, of which there were over fifty in 1745. Those within a clan were not blood-related, however; they “were no more a family than is a Mafia ‘family,’” Herman humorously writes. (Maybe HBO should make a TV show about this…)
  4. Page 200: Rednecks did not originate as the Confederate-flag toting, muddin’-loving, truck-driving people we know today: it was a Scots border term for “Presbyterian” that became used when the Scottish settled in the southern parts of the United States.
  5. Page 294: The notion of a British empire originated from the mind of a Scot. Charles Pasley from Eskdalemuirin Dumfriesshire published An Essay on the Military Policy and Institutions of the British Empire in 1810. This work influenced Britain’s decision to spread its power around the world because, Herman wrote, “true national security rested on policy and power—especially military power,” including colonies.  
    1. *Fun fact within a fun fact: Charles Pasley translated the New Testament from Greek when he was eight years old.

“Enter the Haggis”

This morning, I began reading Robert Burns’ “To a Haggis” and remembered when I tried a bite of this Scottish delacacy. My parents, brother, great aunt and great uncle and I were at a restaurant near their house in Bieth. My dad ordered the haggis. The sheep’s stomach was wrapped in blood pudding (sausage cooked in blood until it congeals). The bite tasted like, well, sausage. I actually really enjoyed it and will most likely order it again.

Also while reading “To a Haggis,” I began to wonder about its subject’s history. An article that appeared in the January 5, 1986 edition of “The New York Times” said that its origins are unclear, but can be found in 14th century Scottish writings. The French call it “Puding de St. Andre,” the article said, and the word “haggis” might be French in origin.

I also found an interesting Wikipedia article about the “Burns supper,” which makes the lovely stuffed sheep’s stomach its centerpiece. Robert Burns day was January 25, but it is never too late to celebrate! A Burns supper involves a ceremony (with lots of whiskey) of events:

1. Host enters and makes a welcome speech.

2. Guests say grace, usually “The Selkirk Grace.”

3. Soup’s on.

4. Enter the haggis! Burns’ “To a Haggis” is recited.

5. Toast the haggis…with Scotch whiskey.

6. Short speech with a memory of Burns’ life.

7. Appreciate the host.

8. Toast to the  “lassies” i.e. all the ladies out there, from a man.

9. “Toast to the “laddies,” i.e. all the men out there, from a woman. Other toasts follow.

10. Another Burns poem read.

11. Closing remarks, and sing “Auld Lang Syne”

12. Everyone is drunk, happy, and full of Haggis.

**Also, “To a Haggis” in the Wikipedia article has more words translated than other versions I’ve seen, which might be helpful to the rest of the class!

Here is a haggis recipe from Alton Brown if you ever feel the urge to try making it yourself…in my opinion it is better not to know what goes in it, but at the same time the process of cooking it is neat.

To (and from) Scotland, with love

As I said on the first day of class, I wanted to take “Celtic Fringe” for a multitude of reasons. Besides the fact that I am lover of literature, I also am excited to explore my Celtic roots through the avenue of

My Gran and Papa (all decked out in his kilt!) at their 50th Anniversary Party this past October.

literature. My mom, uncle and grandparents emigrated to the U.S. from Scotland in 1967, and I grew up listening to the stories of their youth in Scotland. My grandparents’ Scottish brogue, thick as warm oatmeal, makes anything they say sound poetic, but I also enjoy listening to them sing Scottish melodies at large family gatherings.  (I also have some Irish in me from my dad’s side—with a surname of “Kennedy,” how could I not?)

"A Hee-land Coo"

I have been to Scotland twice—once when I was five, another time when I was thirteen. Both periods were fairly short for visiting family and experiencing the land—about two weeks a piece. Soon, I hope it is time for me to meet again the land of my heritage—a rainy climate, a place where my nearly-100-year-old Great-Gran still lives, among many other relatives, a country of reddish highland cows (or as my grandparents told me to pronounce them as “hee-land coos” when I was three), gorgeous scenery, impressive literature—and of course, amazing food. Fry’s Chocolate Orange Cream? Steak Pie? High tea? Empire Biscuits? Fish and Chips? Millionaire’s Shortbread? Yes please, to all of the above. (My Gran makes the best Empire Biscuits and Millionare’s Shortbread in the world, by the way!)


I hope to study abroad at the University of Edinburgh this fall. I recall walking the cobbled streets in Edinburgh during my second visit but would like to expand my experience there much beyond just that. I hope to use this blog as a starting point to my study abroad experience. I hope to make it a site of learning, not only about the culture in which I will be immersed but also compare it to the dates of the literature that we study in class. I would love to branch off into the other components of Celtic culture—i.e. Irish and Welsh—but Scotland will be my primary focus.