AS someone who always enjoys articles by your columnist Kevin McKenna, I was somewhat disappointed this week over a number of aspects in his piece on the Irish flag and the Great Famine (“Why do some Scots still have a problem with the Irish flag?”, The Herald, April 25). The general tone highlighted how this had such an effect on immigration from the Emerald Isle to Glasgow and how the city had over the years failed to acknowledge with either a memorial or a specific celebration.

The Great Famine of the 1840s hit Scotland as badly as Ireland, although far less has been written about our disaster than that of our neighbour. James Hunter’s recent epic Insurrection: Scotland's Famine Winter helps address this imbalance. My own family’s story saw a large number of my ancestors having to migrate of necessity to the Dear Green Place – the McFarlanes from Kintyre, the Lamonts from Bute and Cowal and the Bremners and Plowmans from Caithness all made the move whilst others crossed over the pond to the United States.

Interestingly, it is suggested that the Irish immigration to Glasgow resulted in religious conflict. In Scotland the dominant force in famine relief was the Free Kirk, which having received substantial donations was able to help out wherever famine occurred. These staunch Presbyterians made no discrimination as to the recipients. The starving Catholic population of both Barra and South Uist were taken care of, as were all others. The Government in fact brought in Commissionaires who had been based in Cork in Southern Ireland, including the unusually-named Edward Pine Coffin.

Apart from the potato blight in Scotland there was both a chronic shortage of oatmeal and an inability by the majority of tenants to afford. Absentee landlords failed to meet their obligations and fulfil their legal requirements to distribute financial aid. In Caithness violence erupted and the Riot Act was read in Pulteneytown, Wick. Soldiers were brought in, resulting in a number of casualties.

It seems an indictment on Scottish education that the true story of the Scottish famine has given way to a parallel happening in Ireland.

Colin Mayall, Comrie.


I NOTE Stuart Waiton’s article ("Will some people ever stop wearing Covid face masks?", The Herald, April 27).

Having just returned from visiting family in Switzerland where, to our delight, there was no mask wearing, both my husband and I caught Covid – possibly from travelling on a jam-packed train to Lausanne on Good Friday where there was not a mask to be seen and you were lucky if you could social distance by five centimetres Both of us are fully vaccinated but were laid really low by this.

In future in certain situations I will be using common sense and donning a face mask if I feel there is a heightened risk of catching the virus because I do not want to experience Covid again.

Elaine Honeyman, Largs.


IT would be interesting to find out what risk assessments were carried out when National Records of Scotland, the Census organisers, decided to postpone it by one year, make it online first and decided to skimp on enumerators (“700,000 homes still to submit Census", The Herald, April 24 , and Letters, April 26).

While there is no doubt that a year's delay will impact on the strength of population estimates, a shortage of hard data of the scale foreshadowed by recent reports would seriously impact on the planning and delivery of public services for the next decade and create myriad injustices as a result. Neither fair, nor smart.

Harald Tobermann, Edinburgh.


I READ the story about the maintenance project that has just started on the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge (“Attenshun!, Commando Memorial set to receive some well-earned spit and polish”, The Herald, April 27). This was an interesting and informative piece regarding this important memorial and the British Commandos to whom it is dedicated. Given that this was a serious story about the remembrance of the many Commandos who lost their lives in the second world war, it seems an unnecessary flippant attempt at humour to have the headline commence with the word “Attenshun!”

Brian Watt, Edinburgh.


I DO not know in which part of Milngavie Willie Maclean (Letters, April 27) lives. A recent comment on the Bearsden and Milngavie Community Facebook page did, however, express both joy and relief at the fact that the 60A bus to Glasgow had actually turned up.

So much for accessing the city centre using public transport. As for the train service ...

David Miller, Milngavie.


YOUR picture of the Singer's clock ("Remember when... Time ran out for the famous old Singer clock", The Herald, April 26) reminded me of how the clock dominated Clydebank. Who needed a watch?

We lived more than a mile from the clock tower and when the wind-up clock at home needed reset I was dispatched to the end of the street to get the real time from the Singer's clock.

Happy days.

Ian Martin, Milngavie.


AT the risk of being accused of name-dropping, one sentence in Rosemary Goring's paean of praise to gardening, "it's being outdoors that is the greatest part of the pleasure" ("Help! Our friends have gardens to rival Capability Brown's", The Herald, April 27), reminded me of an occasion when the late Donald Dewar and his friend and my cousin Kenneth Munro came to lunch with us.

It was a beautiful, sunny day and innocently I asked Donald if he would like to sit outdoors. Donald barked back: "Outdoors is grossly overrated." So we went indoors where he immediately found my study and spent more than quarter of an hour browsing through the bookcases. Much more to his liking.

Rev Dr Johnston McKay, Dunbar.