The site for all Scots, Scots descendants and Scotophiles, right across the world     

A light-hearted e-magazine with facts, figures, folklore, photographs; with lots of wee bits  of general info about Scotland - and some big bits. A site for folk to read, browse and, if you like - contribute to.


In WEE BITS, in The Mag., thre's an article on the correct colour of Blue for The Saltire WELCOME to Find it in Scotland. The site's navigation menu Main Headings are down the left-hand panel. Click on these to see what's in each one. Some sections have a LOT in them.
~ Happy Browsing ~

 Jist a wee thrissle I maun be, but diina' ye daur sit on me!~Scottish Literature ~ Jist a wee thrissle I maun be, but diina' ye daur sit on me! 

~ Covering the written word; Books, Essays, Short Stories, longer Stories, Poems and Poesy ~

"Nae man wha loves the lawland tongue but warsles wi' the thocht -   There are mair sangs that bide unsung nor a' that hae been wrocht." 

   ( from The Makar, by William Soutar )

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1. "The Italian Chapel"


           Philip Paris 

published September 2009, by Black and White Publishing, Edinburgh   


The Author writes:-

 My wife and I first entered the Italian chapel on Orkney in August 2005, with no idea that the visit would change our lives. We were on honeymoon. It was a beautiful day but there was no-one else around so we put our money in the box at the entrance and each picked up the little booklet that gives a brief history of the building.

We walked along the nave, reading the booklets and looking at the images on the walls until we met up again at the beautiful rood screen. By this time I had quite a moist eye. However, when I looked at Catherine, tears were streaming down her face. I thought, this is extraordinary. How can a Second World War Nissen hut, converted with scrap material, affect us to much that we are reduced to tears?

Before we had even left the building I had decided to find out as much as possible about the events surrounding the creation of the chapel. That quest set me on a journey the likes of which I doubt I will ever walk again. I tracked down elderly men who had been prisoners of war in Orkney. I spoke to the families of the key artists who built the chapel and the descendents of the men (British and Italian) who ran Camp 60 in which the chapel had been built. I sat by the bed and listened to the stories of 101 year old Alison Sutherland Graeme, whose father had owned the small island of Lamb Holm. They all had a part of the chapel’s untold story.

THE ALTAR WITHIN THE ITALIAN CHAPEL  I was forty-six in 2005, the year in which I had a complete ‘life change’, moving to the Highlands to be with Catherine. We had agreed that this should be the catalyst for me following a lifetime’s unfulfilled ambition to write, albeit in my spare time. There was still the day job to do, working in the printing industry. I arrived in Scotland with plenty of ideas but it seemed that the story of the chapel, which had never before been told in any depth, was calling to me to tell it.

I decided to write an historical fiction, but one that stuck closely to the actual events and timescale. At the start, I even tried to base characters only on real people who had been involved in the chapel’s existence, but whereas I could find out a great deal about some craftsmen, a few key artists disappeared after the war and nobody I contacted had ever heard of them again. As I didn’t want to make things up about individuals, I quickly realised that the novel would not work in this format, so I also created fictitious characters. However, even with these I attributed many incidents that are reported to have occurred at the time.

The research and writing went on for more than three years. Finding the truth became a passion and I followed every lead slavishly. This included writing to several dead people, although in fairness I didn’t know they were deceased when I wrote. Occasionally, I heard back from a widow or daughter. Gradually the jigsaw that was the chapel’s history was put together.

There were plenty of surprises along this incredible journey. The Italian who built the impressive rood screen died in 1980 but via his grandson ‘Pino’, I liaised with the blacksmith’s son Renato, who only speaks Italian. One day I received an excited email from Pino informing me that he had just learnt that while his grandfather had been in the Lamb Holm camp he had fallen in love with a local woman. Also, Pino’s cousin, born twenty-six years after his grandfather’s repatriation to Italy, is named after this Orcadian lady.

With this knowledge, which had previously been known only to the blacksmith’s son, daughter and granddaughter, Catherine and I discovered the token that he had left in the chapel for the woman he loved. That was a moment we will never forget.

THE AUTHOR, PHILIP PARIS, ALONGSIDE A TOWER OF COPIES OF THE ITALIAN CHAPELAnd so my debut novel was written. An Edinburgh company, Black & White Publishing, took on the project and The Italian Chapel was published in hardback in September 2009. A large print and audio version are planned (the recording, read by Aberdeen born actor David Rintoul, has already taken place). In the end, I had gathered a great deal of fascinating information about the chapel that was not suitable for a work of fiction and this is included in a non-fiction book, Orkney’s Italian Chapel: The True Story of an Icon, which will be published by Black & White in May 2010.

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There's an article about The Italian Chapel in The Mag, under the section Buildings of Scotland. Click on THIS LINK to go directly there.





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