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Celebration of Scottish Heritage

On July 11, 2015, Bobbi and I once again had the pleasure of attending the Highland Games at Grandfather Mountain, NC. Hailed as one of the largest Scottish Highland Games, it has been held annually in MacRae Meadows for the past 60 years. The four-day festival of music, food, spirited athletic competition and unbridled family pride is a celebration of our Scottish heritage and an annual event that we try never to miss. This year, we were fortunate to share copies of “Reunion” with two long-time stalwarts of the event - games announcer and WRAL anchor, Bill Leslie, and the director of music and worship, Flora MacDonald Gammon. Both were exceedingly gracious and had nice things to say about the book. Steve and Jessica Russell of Clan Mackay were kind enough to promote the book in the family tent, handing out brochures and business cards for us.

Our Scottish heritage is an inseparable part of our families’ identity. As a “Harris,” my wife is a sept of Clan Campbell from Inveraray in the county of Argyll, in western Scotland. The McCoys hail from the Scottish highlands, the Mackay Clan and trace their heritage back ten generations to the early 1600s. My ancestor, John McCoy received a land grant and settled in Maryland in about 1732 after a brief tenure in Ireland. His grandson, William fought in the American Revolutionary War. Following the war, William received a grant of land for his efforts and relocated his family Eastern Kentucky, the region my family has called home for seven generations.

In 2010, Bobbi and I were married in a celtic ceremony atop Morrow Mountain in NC and we then had a two-week honeymoon in Scotland. I was the first McCoy in my family line to visit Scotland in more than 275 years. After days of visiting Edinburgh, Stirling and Loch Ness, Bobbi and I made the drive to the northern-most coast of Scotland. There, high on a hillside overlooking the North Sea near the village of Tongue, I was able to visit Caisteal Bharraich (“Castle Varrich”). It is the ancient seat of the Mackay clan chief. Standing there in the ruins, I was reminded of the way that I felt when I first set foot in Pike County, Kentucky. Like the hills of Eastern Kentucky, the Scotland highlands are an integral part of my family history, a rich heritage that I proudly claim as my own.

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