one day at a time…
Monday, 13 September 2004

A Step Between Merely And Beyond
CREDIT: © Carnegie Corporation of New York/Carnegie For Kids
WHERE: Dornoch, Inverness-shire, Scotland. WHAT: a benefit to all mankind.
MAP: Dornoch. Thumbnail pops-up larger image.

Skibo Castle © Carnegie Corporation of New YorkF. Scott Fitzgerald knew that the very rich were different, though he failed to note the most obvious difference, which is that they have far much more money than us. There are two divisions of the very rich, however: there are the 'merely rich', and there are the 'beyond merely rich'.

John Hays Hammond Jr., whose Boston, USA, Hammond Castle we visited yesterday, was merely rich, and so had to make do with a pastiche castle imported in bits and pieces, then mixed with fake parts. Andrew Carnegie was beyond merely rich: he had the real thing, whose Gaelic name, Schytherbolle, translates as 'Fairyland'.

Skibo Castle, near Dornoch in the northeast of Scotland, was purchased by Carnegie as a derelict estate, then transformed into one of the world's great houses. No expense was spared to create a luxurious summer home for the Carnegie family, where they entertained their personal friends and the famous personalities of the day.

A Forbes Fact claims: "The castle was the first structure in all of the United Kingdom to boast both hot and cold running water, and electricity. King Edward VII is said to have stayed as a guest of Carnegie's shortly after the renovation was completed. After his visit, the king returned to Buckingham palace and promptly saw to a renovation of his own home to make sure it was as modern as Carnegie's."

There are even allegations that Edward was so starry eyed (pun intended) after his visit that he granted Carnegie special permission to fly a double sided flag — with the Union Jack on one side, and the Stars & Stripes on the other!

You may see today's feature picture of Skibo, along with other pieds à terres used by the family, in a photo gallery on the 'Carnegie for Kids' web site, along with links where you may read more about the life and works of the great philanthropist. Margaret Carnegie, the daughter of Andrew and Louise, came to the castle after her parents death, until she was no longer well enough to journey from America.

The property was bought in 1990 by developer Peter de Savary (seemingly known as PDS to his employees, and allegedly flying that flag again), who ran it as a club with paying members to make ends meet. The new owner is in turn a philanthropist, though he has on occasion make known his views on Scottish land reform legislation, and people with drug or alcohol dependencies. PDS has recently moved on to pastures, or at least moors anew, where planning controls are retrospective.

The RampantScotland.com web site has an article by Vivien Devlin, who visited Skibo as a guest (even membership is by invitation) and her review recalls Margaret Carnegie's fervent hope for the castle, "I pray that Skibo will continue to be used to benefit all mankind, which is what my father would have wanted." The Carnegie Club web site offers a five part history of the castle, a two part photo gallery, and a selection of magazine articles about the location.

Of all the articles we read, we think Vivien Devlin hits the nail on the head: "The Gaelic Faeries of Schytherbolle must have been listening, for Margaret Carnegie's wish to continue the legacy of Skibo Castle 'to benefit all mankind' has now come true" — provided you are invited, and you are able to afford the fees, of course.

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Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
"Ah! que la vie est quotidienne."
Oh, what a day-to-day business life is.
'Complainte sur certains ennuis' (1885)