Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Celtic Kin

Posted July 18, 2007

In the 1980’s WRAL sent me to Scotland to chronicle North Carolina's rich Celtic heritage. A young piper went along. We followed Bill Caudill as he traced his family roots to the Isle of Skye and played in the Highland Games at Aberdeen where the Leslie family got its start. It was a marvelous trip and it generated a series of stories we titled "Tar Heel Tartans."

This past weekend I ran into Bill Caudill at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. Bill is now Director of the Scottish Heritage Center and Instructor of the College Pipe Band at St. Andrews College.  I plan to email Bill this morning and tell him about our latest slideshow.

My heart is still pounding after watching WRAL Multimedia Producer Nathan Clendenin’s stirring assessment of the 2007 games at Grandfather Mountain this past weekend. I am so pumped I plan to go out and rent “Braveheart” for the 100th time.

Each year I get the pleasure of helping emcee the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. What an honor to watch these colorful and exciting games featuring burly hurlers of steel and stone, haunting strains of pipers, graceful dancers, tireless border collies and kilted runners. The games are jam packed with activities designed to keep the ancient Scottish traditions alive. They also showcase artists creating new and vibrant traditions cut from the Celtic cloth of their ancestors.

Close your eyes for a moment. Let your imagination transport you to a misty glen. Listen to the rush of the river and then the roar of the crowd as the Highland Games begin. Relish the rugged lifestyle of the romantic Scots in this thrilling multimedia presentation.


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  • Question Jul 19, 2007

    If you ever make it to the Isle of Skye, I thoroughly recommend the Viewfield House in Portree. Great location for exploring the island and a great old house (~200 years). It was a McDonald's manor home. Isle of Skye is not convenient to get to, but it is well worth the trouble!

  • Celt Jul 19, 2007

    If you are going to Iona, I am going with!!

  • Uncle Paul Jul 18, 2007

    I grew up in Red Springs, NC, a really little town in the eastern part of the state near Lumberton. They have the Highland Games at Flora MacDonald School there each year, we always loved going!

  • 1Moms_View Jul 18, 2007

    Part of my family also came from the Isle of Skye. Someday, I hope to visit there and tour the area while researching my ancestors. My ancestors were Currie, McDonald, McIntosh, and McIver. The McIver line came from Isle of Skye.

  • bleslie Jul 18, 2007

    Here are my favorite places in Scotland: Isle of Skye, Glencoe which is more beautiful in the rain than sun, Edinburgh (ed-in-boro), Aberdeen, Inverness and Culloden. Next trip I want to go to Iona.

  • The Queen Jul 18, 2007

    Oh,How I wish to visit the Isle of Skye where my ancestors are from. Clan Donald Lords of the Isles.

  • Question Jul 18, 2007

    We just returned from the highlands of Scotland, taking in Edinburgh and the Isle of Skye (my dad's roots) along the way. What extraordinary beauty! I can see why our Scottish ancestors felt at home in the NC mountains.

  • officersmom Jul 18, 2007

    Interesting story! You gotta love Bill Leslie....what a talented gentleman!

  • Legswilson Jul 18, 2007

    Hi Bill... I agree that it's a great slideshow! I'm Scotch-Irish and proud of my heritage. If you look really hard, you can probably find "Braveheart" on TV this weekend and save yourself a few bucks. My husband watches it every week or so!

  • Em Jul 18, 2007

    I love your notes on the Highland Games. I plan to attend next year as I am very proud of my Scotish ancestory. You cause me to want to learn more.
    Emma Campbell




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Bill Leslie