Diaries 2004
St Kentigern baptising converts glasgow cathedral windowsTo a lot of people Glasgow is a grotty little industrial city which grew up along the banks of the River Clyde and was home to thousands of impoverished Scots. But this is only part of her story.

The origins of Glasgow are confused. Popular legend has it that the infant Kentigern and his mother were chucked over a cliff by her father when she had the baby out of wedlock. Other versions say she was pregnant when her father gave her the big drop. Whichever, she managed to survive and was washed up by a Christian community in Fife run by St Serf. This fellow helped raise Kentigern and named him Mungo which means 'darling' or 'dear one'.

When Mungo was old enough he followed the Clyde for a bit and decided to build a church by the side of the Molendinar Burn. This is a minor tributary of the Clyde and is near where the current cathedral stands. With all due reverence, the Victorians turned it into an underground sewer.

Another theory is that this story of St Mungo has actually been confused with the story of St Ninian, who is said to have founded a cemetery where the cathedral now stands. St Ninian was a scholar, educated in Rome and very knowledgeable about the world. I think St Mungo's simplicity is why he is favoured over the more literate St Ninian.

Work began on the Cathedral, dedicated to St Mungo, in 1114. It was consecrated in 1136 but was then burnt down around 1186. A new one was commissioned immediately and it is this one we see today.

The meaning of Glasgow is another hazy subject. In some places it is 'dear green place', basically used as an example of irony these days, another 'green hollow'. According to Fay Sampson in her Voyages & Visions, it means 'happy family'!

Whatever the truth, Glasgow held a fascination for us. Our first visit is a memory of a wonderful vibrant city, very friendly, very Scottish. This second visit has shattered this memory and we were left wondering why we thought it so fantastic.

Anyway, our (very) short whistle stop trip, starts with just a click on a head below...