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E la barca va: The Prince & the Ballerina

Leggi in italiano

Flora MacDonald (1722 – 1790), was 24 when he met Charles Stuart. After the ruinous battle of Culloden (1746) the then twenty-six-year-old Bonnie Prince managed to escape and remain hidden for several months, protected by his loyalists, despite the British patrols and the price on his head!
Charles found many hiding places and support in the Hebrides but it was a dangerous game of hide-and-seek.


The prince had managed to get to the Island of Banbecula of the Outer Hebrides, but the surveillance was very tight and had no way to escape. And here comes the girl, Flora MacDonald.
The MacDonalds as loyal to the king and Presbyterian confession, but they were sympathizers of the Jacobite cause and so Flora who lived in Milton (South Uist island) went on visiting her friend, wife of the clan’s Lady Margareth of Clanranald , and she was presented to Charles Stuart.

In another version of the story the prince was hiding at the Loch Boisdale on the Isle of South Uist, hoping to meet Alexander MacDonald, who had recently been arrested. Warned that a patrol would inspect the area, Charles fled with two jacobites to hide in a small farm near Ormaclette where the meeting with Flora MacDonald had been arranged. The moment was immortalized in many paintings like this by Alexander Johnston.

Flora MacDonald's Introduction to Bonnie Prince Charlie di Alexander Johnston (1815-1891)
Flora MacDonald’s Introduction to Bonnie Prince Charlie di Alexander Johnston (1815-1891)

In the anecdotal version of the story, Flora devised a trick to take away Charlie from the island : on the pretext of visiting her mother (who lived in Armadale after remarried), she obtained the safe-conduct for herself and her two servants; under the name and clothes of the Irish maid Betty Burke, however, there was the Bonny Prince! (see more)


charlie e floraThe boat with four (or six) sailors to the oars left Benbecula on 27 June 1746 for the Isle of Skye in the Inner Hebrides. They arrived to Portée and on July 1st they left, the prince gave Flora a medallion with his portrait and the promise that they would meet one day


Among the Scottish dances is still commemorated the dance with which Flora performed in front of the Prince. It ‘a very graceful dance, inevitable in the program of Highland dance competitions: it is a courtship dance, in which girl shows all her skills while maintaining a proud attitude and composure.
It is performed with the Aboyne dress, dress prescribed for the dancers in the national Scottish dances, as disciplined by the dance commission in the Aboyne Highland Gathering of 1970 (with pleated skirt doll effect, in tartan or the much more vaporous white cloth) .
Melody is a strathspey, which is a slower reel, typical of Scotland often associated with commemorations and funerals.


Many other musical tributes were dedicated to the beautiful Flora. The melody of this reel appears with many titles, the first printed version is found in Robert Bremer “Collection of Scots Reels or Country Dances”, 1757 and also in Repository Complete of the Dance Music of Scotland by Niel Gow (Vol I). The reel is in two parts

Tonynara from “Sham Rock” – 1994

The Virginia Company


Rusty-NailTo repay the help given by Clan MacKinnon during the months when he had to hide from the English, Prince Stuart revealed to John MacKinnon the recipe for his secret elixir, a special drink created by his personal pharmacist. The MacKinnon clan accepted the custody of the recipe, until at the beginning of the ‘900, a descendant of the family decided that it was time to commercially exploit the recipe calling it “Drambuie”

4.5 cl Scotch whisky
2.5 cl Drambuie

Procedure: directly prepare an old fashioned glass with ice. Stir gently and garnish with a twist of lemon.

A double-scottish cocktali: Scotch Whiskey and Drambuie which is a liqueur whose recipe is a mix of whiskey, honey … secrets and legends. Even today the company is managed by the same family and keeps the contents of the recipe secret. (Taken from here)

At this point many will ask “But the Skye boat song, where did it end?” (here  is)


Pubblicato da Cattia Salto

Amministratore e folklorista di Terre Celtiche Blog

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