Celtic Culture & heritage

Goldsworthy Gurney - Surgeon, chemist, architect & inventor, invented limelight

Goldsworthy Gurney

Goldsworthy Gurney was born at Treator near Padstow on 14 February 1793.

Goldsworthy went to Truro Grammar School.

After leaving school studied medicine with a Dr Avery at Wadebridge and took over the practice in 1813.

He married a farmer's daughter, Elizabeth Symons, from Launcells and settled in Wadebridge where he practiced as a surgeon.

In 1823 was awarded an Isis gold medal of the Royal Society of Arts for devising an oxy-hydrogen blowpipe (similar to a Bunsen burner).

In 1830, Gurney leased some land overlooking Summerleaze Beach at Bude and started construction of a new house to be built amongst the sand hills. The property rested on a concrete raft foundation, one of the earliest examples of this form.

Percy Lane Oliver - founder of the first voluntary blood donor panel

Percy Lane Oliver

A Cornishman, Richard Lower, conducted the world's first blood transfusion. It took another Cornishman to set up the blood transfusion service.

Percy Lane Oliver was born in St. Ives in 1878 has slipped into relative obscurity since his death in 1944, but his actions will continue to help save the lives of millions of people worldwide as his pioneering blood donation service went from humble beginnings to a global phenomenon.

As a teenager he won a Science and Art Scholarship. He did well in his exams but was rejected by the Medical Board and the aspiring doctor ended up working as an assistant librarian with Camberwell Borough Council in 1893.

In 1901 he was transferred to the Town Hall staff, where he remained until his retirement. In the years leading up to the First World War, Percy was a founder member for the Camberwell Division of the British Red Cross and became its Honorary Secretary in 1910.

During the war, he served in the Royal Naval Air Service, stationed at Crystal Palace, but his contribution to the local war effort was far greater. With the help of his wife, Percy set up and managed four refugee hostels in Camberwell for those fleeing persecution. In 1918 he was summoned to Buckingham Palace to be awarded an OBE by King George V for his charitable work.

But his greatest contribution was yet to come.

The Screaming Orphans – These Donegal Girls Are Celtic Rock Super Stars

The Screaming Orphans

The Screaming Orphans, the four Diver sisters who hail from Ireland’s County Donegal, have been performing together since the early 1990’s. The Diver sisters have built an international reputation that sees them touring throughout North America and Europe. In 2016 they will appear at Celtic festivals in the United States and have embarked on a 17 city tour in Germany billed the “Irish Heartbeat Tour”. The band then return to the States on May 26, 2016 to perform at the “Ireland 100: Celebrating a Century of Irish Arts and Culture”, a major festival highlighting Irish culture at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington.

The Diver sisters call Bundoran in Ireland’s County Donegal home.  Bundoran (Bun Dobhráin in Gaelic translating into “the foot of the little water”)  is on Irelands NorthWest coast near one of the few remaining Gaeltacht areas in Ireland and having spent their early years living here has contributed to the band’s musical style. The Screaming Orphans have been described as having a unique sound rooted in the Celtic tradition combined with the musical influences to which the ladies from Donegal have been exposed during their career.  Since their early days they have performed with Sinead O’Connor, Joni Mitchell, Peter Gabriel and the legendary Celtic band “The Chieftains” among others.

The Rise And Fall of Mary, Queen Of Scots

Mary Queen of Scots

Born in Linlithgow Palace on 7th December 1542, Mary Stuart was the daughter of James V of Scotland and Mary of Guise. James V (10 April 1512 – 14 December 1542) was the son of King James IV of Scotland and Queen Margaret Tudor, a daughter of Henry VII of England. Mary of  Guise was French and the eldest daughter of Claude of Lorraine the Duke of Guise. Six days after the birth of Mary Stuart her father died and she became Queen of Scotland. Her mother was chosen as regent to rule on her daughter’s behalf, and Mary was sent to France in 1548 where she lived as part of the French royal family.

In April 1558, Mary married the heir to the French throne Francis. In July 1559 Francis succeeded his father becoming King Francis II and Mary became Queen of France as well as of Scotland. This uniting of the French and Scottish crowns caused considerable concern to England.  In December 1560 Mary's husband Francis II died after a reign of just 17 months. Mary decided to return to Scotland at the age of 18, a Catholic monarch in what had become a nation where the Protestants were in the ascendancy and on 19th August 1561, she landed at Leith (Scottish Gaelic: Lite). Understanding the difficulty of her situation she took the advice of James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray (c. 1531 – 23 January 1570) who was her half-brother and William Maitland of Lethington. James Stuart had become a supporter of the Scottish Protestant Reformation and despite their religious differences, Moray became the chief advisor to his sister.

Cerris Morgan-Moyer – actress, international businesswoman

Cerris Morgan-Moyer

Cerris Morgan-Moyer was born on July 20, 1973 in Truro, Cornwall and is an actress, voice over artist, film producer and host. 

She grew up in a converted chapel a few feet from the sea on the north coast of Cornwall. Her playground was the beach, the cliffs and her imagination. Aged six, Cerris entertained an unknown guest with a lengthy and elaborate puppet show.  The guest was Norman Stone, who directed Cerris in her first film, shot in Cornwall later that year: ‘A Different Drummer’, the BBC biopic of Cornish poet Jack Clemo.  From that point forward, Cerris knew her life would involve much more of this magical work.

She trained at Central School of Speech and Drama in London, received a BA from Sarah Lawrence College in New York and spent several years working on stage in NYC before moving to Los Angeles where she is currently based.

Sir William Golding – author of world renowned ‘Lord of the Flies’ and numerous other classics, novelist, playwright, poet

Sir William Golding

William Golding was born on September 19, 1911, in Saint Columb Minor, Cornwall. He was raised in a 14th-century house next door to a graveyard. His mother, Mildred, was an active suffragette who fought for women’s right to vote. His father, Alex, worked as a schoolmaster.

William received his early education at the school his father ran, Marlborough Grammar School. When William was just 12 years old, he attempted, unsuccessfully, to write a novel. A frustrated child, he found an outlet in bullying his peers. Later in life, William would describe his childhood self as a brat, even going so far as to say, “I enjoyed hurting people.”

After primary school, William went on to attend Brasenose College at Oxford University. His father hoped he would become a scientist, but William opted to study English literature instead. In 1934, a year before he graduated, William published his first work, a book of poetry aptly entitled Poems. The collection was largely overlooked by critics.

After college, Golding worked in settlement houses and the theater for a time. Eventually, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps. In 1935 Golding took a position teaching English and philosophy at Bishop Wordsworth’s School in Salisbury. Golding’s experience teaching unruly young boys would later serve as inspiration for his novel Lord of the Flies.

Selina Cooper – suffragette, first woman to represent the independent Labour Party, pacifist and rights campaigner

Selina Cooper

Selina Cooper was born in Callington, Cornwall in 1864, the daughter of Charles Combe and Jane Combe. Selina's father was a labourer and died of typhoid fever when she was 12 whilst he was working away from home. Her mother was left penniless, and as there was little work in Cornwall she decided to take her two youngest children, Selina and Alfred, north with her, to get work in the textiles mills. Her two elder sons, Richard and Charles, were already there. She settled in Barnoldswick in 1876.

Selina Cooper, who was now 12 years old, soon found work in the local textile mill. She spent half the day in the factory and the other half at school. She worked as a 'creeler' , the person that ensured a constant supply of fresh bobbins. When Selina was 13 she left school and worked full-time in the Barnoldswick Mill. Her wages enabled the family to rent a small house close to the mill.

By 1882 Selina's mother was suffering so badly from rheumatism that Selina now had to leave Barnoldswick to look after her bed-ridden mother. They made clothes at home, and took in washing to make money. Jane Combe died in 1889, and Selina returned to work in the factory. Selina joined the Nelson branch of the Cotton Worker's Union. The majority of members were women, however the union was run by men. Selina found that the union was less than proactive on women's issue, for example toilets did not have doors, and women were sexually harassed at work.

William Gregor – scientist, mineralogist, Clergyman, discoverer of titanium

William Gregor

Born on Christmas Day in 1761, William Gregor was the son of Francis Gregor and Mary Copley of Trewarthenick Estate near Tregony in Cornwall. He studied in Bristol Grammar School, where he first developed his interest in the field of chemistry. He underwent private tutoring and, 2 years later, he entered St. John's College in Cambridge. He graduated with his Bachelor of Arts in 1784 and Master of Arts in 1787. He later became ordained in the Church of England, hence becoming a clergyman and vicar of St. Mary's Church, Diptford. In 1790, he married Charlotte Anne Gwatkin and they had one daughter.

#Gregor became fascinated with Cornish minerals when he permanently moved to the rectory of Creed in Cornwall. This was the time when he began chemically analyzing the different minerals found in Cornwall. It was in 1791 that he was able to isolate calx, the residual left when a mineral combusts or is exposed to high heat, from an unknown metal. He named this metal ‘manaccanite’ since he got this mineral from the Manaccan Valley in Cornwall.

The Amazing Courage Of Flora MacDonald - 'Preserver of Prince Charles Edward Stuart’

Flora MacDonald

Flora MacDonald (Gaelic: Fionnghal nic Dhòmhnaill; 1722 – 4 March 1790) was born in South Uist (Scottish Gaelic: Uibhist a Deas) in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. She was the daughter of Ranald MacDonald and Marion MacDonald, but was brought up under the care of the chief of the Clan MacDonald of Clanranald her father's cousin.

She is remembered for the help she gave to Bonnie Prince Charlie after he had been defeated at the Battle of Culloden (Scottish Gaelic: Blàr Chùil Lodair) in 1746. Putting herself at awful risk she helped the Prince at a time when he was being hunted across the Highlands and Islands by the forces of the Duke of Cumberland. Cumberland was the third and youngest son of George II of Great Britain known for his brutality after the Battle of Culloden when he ordered his troops to show no quarter against any remaining Jacobite supporters and where his forces roamed the battlefield and stabbed any of the defeated soldiers who were still alive.

Prince Charles Edward Stuart, (31 December 1720 – 31 January 1788) The Young Pretender, affectionately known as Bonnie Prince Charlie was the grandson of James VII of Scotland and had led the second Jacobite Uprising of 1745 to overthrow King George II. The Jacobite cause was supported by many Highland clans, both Catholic and Protestant. Forced to flee for his life after his defeat at the battle of Culloden Moor in 1746, Bonnie Prince Charlie eventually arrived at the island of Benbecula (Scottish Gaelic: Beinn nam Fadhla or Beinn na Faoghla) an island in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. Here he met 24-year-old Flora MacDonald and it is this young Presbyterian woman's heroic efforts to save the young Catholic Prince's life that has resulted in her name being remembered with great respect in Scottish history.

Rosamunde Pilcher – top selling author, writer of ‘The Shell Seekers’ read by millions, incredibly popular in Germany

Rosamunde Pilcher

Rosamunde Pilcher was born 22 September 1924 in Lelant, Cornwall and is a Cornish novelist with many of her books based in Kernow.

Her first school was St. Clare's Polwithen, Cornwall. When the school later became co-educational in 1995 it was renamed Bolitho School and is still going strong affiliated to, but independent of, the Woodard Foundation. Rosamunde Pilcher in her televised novel ‘Coming Home’ depicts life at the school in the inter war era. Much has changed since those days but the caring family ethos portrayed in her book - continues to be a dominant feature of the School today.
She then moved away from Cornwall, attending Howell's School Llandaff, followed by Miss Kerr-Sanders' Secretarial College.

She served with the Women's Royal Naval Service 1943-46 as a secretary including top secret work at Bletchley Park.

She married Graham Hope Pilcher in 1946. They have two daughters and two sons. She moved to Dundee, Scotland, where she continued to live.

 

Pages

Subscribe to Celtic Culture & heritage