I wrote this a year ago after Sorcha arrived on the fifteenth of June, a few days after her mother, Jen’s birthday. June is a busy month as my elder brother, James, as well as grandchildren, Leo and Lilly Ann were all born in that month.
Neill, Jen and the children , Leo , Senan and Sorcha are currently in Lyons for the Women’s World Cup.
You arrived, Sorcha, with the dawn on the fifteenth of June, another bairn for Scotland, a sister for Leo and Senan, a daughter for Jen and Neill , another grandchild, a burst of radiance in this gilded summer. Your Gaelic name means ‘light’ and you have in your sweet and gentle newness brightened the lives of all those around you. In his final poem to his grandchild, Síofra, written two weeks before his untimely death, Seamus Heaney mused on her future maturity to full grown womanhood;
‘ Your toddler wobbles gone,
A sure and grown woman.’
In the sweet and comforting melancholy of old age, I wonder about your future progress into a confusing world, the first steps on a deserted sandy beach or newly fallen, pristine snow. The worries of Brexit will not trouble you today or tomorrow; that it is a policy constructed more from imperialist temperament than the social and environmental needs of the common people; President Trump and the alternative right’s nurturing of fascism will be footnotes in history for you to learn about in another ten years or so.
My dearest hope, Sorcha, is that you will grow up in an independent Scotland where the values of tolerance and respect are foremost in determining political philosophy; where education, health and social care are budget priorities; where fairness and the rights of all are cherished and privilege ignored. I believe that you and your brothers will imbibe and spread those virtues since your parents will have taught you and practised them throughout your lifetime. The voices of women are heard clearly today, defining the kind of Scotland that we want for ourselves and for our children. In time, I am confident that yours , too, will swell that potent chorus.
Your future World will be very different technologically from the present day; it will present many challenges but opportunities as well. You are cocooned in love for the present and that will fortify you for the future. I hope that you will be proud too of your Irish heritage; that its strong, cultural links with the best of Scottish music and literature will be a constant source of joy and pleasure to you
Ruskin said, ‘ The World would be an awful place without children who bring their innocence and perfection with them’
Welcome, Sorcha Óg