Friday, May 23, 2014

Where is Brigadoon?

To the surprise of many, the mystical…or I should say mythical…village of Brigadoon is not actually located in the Scottish Highlands...nor anywhere else.  My guess is that the sound of “Brigadoon” fit the artistic touch for Lerner & Lowe’s 1947 musical better than the “Brig o’ Spean”, or the Brig o’ Dornie”.  “Brigadoon” just sounds a wee bit more mystical for the stage play musical production.  Actually Brig o’ Doon means…Bridge over the River Doon. 

Recently we visited the Brig o’ Doon.  The River Doon winds its way through south Ayrshire in the lowlands of Scotland and empties into the Firth of Clyde just south of Ayr near a small village named Alloway

This is the Brig o' Doon.
The River Doon looking up river from the bridge

Looking down river

Alloway is the birth place of Robert Burns (1759 – 1796), who is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland and is celebrated worldwide.

Burns' Cottage
The garden at Burns' Cottage

Robert Burns

We visited the Burns’ Cottage which is near the Brig o’ Doon.  The bridge is used as the setting for the final verse of Burns' poem Tam o' Shanter. In this last scene Tam is on horseback and is being chased by Nannie the witch. He is just able to escape her by crossing the bridge (over a running stream) narrowly avoiding her attack as she is only able to grab the horse's tail which comes away in her hands. - "The carlin caught her by the rump and left puir Meg wi' scarce a stump."

Where puir (poor) Meg lost her tail

On this same outing we also visited the Culzean (pronounced Cul-lane) Castle.  This castle was never a defensive castle, but rather it was built as a show piece summer home for the Kennedy family.  (Not related to JFK)  The Kennedys hired a famous Scottish architect to design a home for his estate.  It was begun in the 18th century and had revisions and additions for about 100 years. The castle was built in stages between 1777 and 1792. It incorporates a large drum tower with a circular saloon inside (which overlooks the sea), a grand oval staircase and a suite of well-appointed apartments. 

This is the clock tower as one enters the castle  grounds

A view of the Ayrshire coast and the clock tower
In 1945, the Kennedy family gave the castle and its grounds to the National Trust for Scotland (thus avoiding inheritance taxes and ongoing maintenance costs). In doing so, they stipulated that the apartment at the top of the castle be given to General of the Army - Dwight D. Eisenhower in recognition of his role as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during the Second World War. The General first visited Culzean Castle in 1946 and stayed there four times, including once while President of the United States. An Eisenhower exhibition occupies one of the rooms, with mementoes of his lifetime.  The top floor of the castle is now a hotel and the room rent is $650 per night.

A dinning room inside the Castle
The ceiling of the dinning room

Castle exterior


The spring flowers around the castle were still in bloom.  In about a month the grounds will be filled with summer flowers and so beautiful

The garden around the Castle


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