My surname, McDowall, is a Scottish variation of the Irish name Doyle. Originally Clann O’ DubhGhaill, the name means Dark Stranger or Evil Foreigner and refers specifically to the Danish Vikings who came down into Ireland raping, pillaging, plundering and eventually conquering and settling to found towns like Dubhlinn, Limerick and Cork.
The Scottish branch of the family were the Lairds of Argyll, for a time, and very briefly royalty on the Isle of Man. They fought alongside William Wallace against the English but then opposed Robert the Bruce for control of Scotland and lost. Exiled to Ireland, the clan became Galloglass, hereditary, professional mercenaries.
Now, my father was a soldier and his father was a soldier. I was an Army Reservist for a little while and later worked full time as a bouncer. But really, I’ve always been the black sheep of the family, the bookworm, the weird-o, the artist and philosopher. My grandfather once predicted that I’d “wear a collar one day”, meaning that he thought I’d become a priest. He may not have even been completely wrong, though I strongly doubt he would have guessed which denomination.
I spent the better part of my teens and twenties trying to force myself into the box of being a Warrior, and the worse part drowning the other voices in my head with liquor and beer. Now, at the age of thirty, I’ve come to realize finally that a Warrior can at best only ever be a small part of who I am.
I must become an Artist, a Philosopher, a Husband and Father and a Businessman. I must be true to myself and let the voices speak. But I can never forget where I came from. It’s where I come from that makes me who I am.