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 Childhood Memories to Last a Lifetime

by Hillary

During the summer of my fourth and fifth grade school year, my family decided to take a three week trip to Scotland.

My grampa is originally from Scotland.  He was born in his house called "The Cross" in the village of Earlsferry, which is where the Firth of Forth meets the North Sea.  Earlsferry is in the County of Fife.   My Grampa lived in Scotland until he was 28 at which time he was invited by an American visitor to Scotland to come and live in the United States of America. 

My grampa felt it was important that I should know about my heritage and where he was born and where my roots are.  The best way to show me this was by having me come to his village in Scotland and visit many of the places where he went during his childhood. 

One of the places that we visited was the Old Presbyterian Church at St. Monans, which is the second oldest church in Scotland.  The church is built right on the edge of the sea where waves in the wintertime crash against its sea wall.  All of my ancestors for many hundreds of years were born in St. Monans, and were fishers of the North Sea.  We walked the entire churchyard where the graves of the local people are and found many of my Reekie forebears on the headstones.  Some of the stones were so old and weather worn that the names could just barely be read.

While we stayed at Earlsferry we walked many miles visiting my Grampa's old haunts.  Some of these were the Elie Lady's Tower, the Elie Lighthouse, the harbor where he kept his boat when he lived there, and the ruin of the ancient chapel that was built on the edge of sea.  The marking on a gable of the chapel has the date 1093 carved into the stonework. 

Nearby is an area of cliffs.  By means of chains as handholds we traversed the length of the cliffs.  On the way we came to several caves the first of which is called Macduff's Cave (this is the reason we chose to name our dog Macduff).  It was here that Macduff the Earl of Fife hid while he was being pursued by MacBeth.  To make his escape local villagers of Earlsferry rowed him in a small boat to the south side of the Firth of Forth, hence the name of the village Earlsferry

Another place we visited was Ruby Bay.  When my mom was a teenager she went to school in England for a year.  While in England, during a vacation period, she went to Earlsferry.  One of her favorite places was Ruby Bay, near the Lady's Tower where she spent many hours collecting Rubies.  She has a gold ring that is set with rubies found here that she treasures greatly.

While staying in Earlsferry we also visited all of the east coast fishing villages, and the famous town of St. Andrews, which is recognized as being the place where the game of golf was originally started.  Also in St. Andrews we visited the ruins of the cathedral and the castle that has a bottle dungeon.  It was there that people who were out of favor were lowered down to the bottom of the dungeon  where they died a slow death. 

All in all my visit to Scotland was a great experience.  It helped me to understand my forbears and my Scottish heritage. 

My grampa is now an octogenarian.  Just this year he started a personal web site in which he shares his childhood memories.  His website is called Scottish Heritage.  While visiting there, look at his Hillary's Castle Page.

Note:  Hillary was 14 years old and a sophomore in high school when she wrote this in April 2006 as part of a school autobiography project.   See Hillary now.