Scotswoman of the Year

Really, I should be pretty good at being Scottish. After all my mother was Scotswoman of the Year 1978 and you’d think the competition for top Scotswoman would be pretty fierce in Scotland.

But my mother never taught me the basics of Scottish dancing, how to rustle up a succulent haggis or a nice creamy bowl of Cullen Skink to feed the family, or which kilt best matched my eyes. She never set my siblings and I straight on any of those things, not because she is vehemently unpatriotic or because she is unconcerned about our nationalistic development, but for the simple reason that she didn’t know how.

My Scotswoman of the Year mother—and almost every single ancestor right back as far as can be traced on that side—is Irish. Born, bred and still blessed with a Tipperary accent—even after 40 years in Glasgow, the paltry wee snippets of Gaelic I got my mum to teach me were Irish, the language she did most of her schooling through. The dance steps she showed me beside the fire in the playroom were ones she’d learned in Dublin. The recipes she shared were for Irish soda bread, not stovies or cranachan.

So my mum’s snatching the silver rose bowl of Scottish womanhood really was quite a coup. Just think how good she is at being Irish if she was able to master Scottishness to a winning level in her first 14 years in Glasgow.

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