Celtic connection as Cash walks the line in Fife

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ONE WAS a world famous American singer, the other a quiet Scottish laird. Three decades ago Fife brought them together in a friendship that would span generations.

Last night, the daughter of US country legend Johnny Cash revealed that she will continue to walk her father's line when she makes a private visit to the Kingdom's Falkland Palace this week.

Rosanne Cash - an award-winning singer in her own right - also admitted that she would like to find a holiday home in Fife and dreams of making a Scottish-themed album, inspired by Robert Burns.

Falkland Palace was the seat of Major Michael Crichton- Stuart, who befriended Johnny Cash in the 1970s during a chance encounter on a transatlantic flight.

The major explained how prolific the Cash name was in Fife and the country singer later visited him at Falkland Palace several times to try to plug gaps in his family tree.

Rosanne said: "Scotland is my favourite place in the world; I feel a deep connection particularly to Fife.

"It's a joy for me to go back and see Ninian, the son of Major Stuart and the man who played such an important part in introducing Scotland to my father."

She first experienced Falkland for herself with her record producer husband John Leventhal in March 1998, five years before her father passed away, then again quietly in the months following Cash's death in 2003. It was this last visit that has encouraged her return this week following a concert in Edinburgh on Wednesday night.

Rosanne said: "I went back to Fife three months after my father passed away and I cannot tell you what an emotional experience it was to feel this ripple back in time and to know that these family connections last. It was a great comfort for me. I went through a period of great loss and mourning: going to Fife was just a beautiful thing and helped me through a very difficult time."

The Cash family can trace their ancestry back to King Malcolm IV of Scotland, and Rosanne admitted she felt "spiritually revived and humbled" when she visited, spurring her on to find a base there of her own. "I fantasise about moving [to Scotland] all the time," she admitted. "I've researched it, yes. Life would be so much easier, but I have my children to think about and for now they are happy in New York."

Rosanne said that her Scottish roots manifested themselves in much of her music. She said: "I hear the Celtic influences [in my work] all the time. On Black Cadillac, my last record, I wrote a song about the first ancestor that sailed to America - called 'The Good Intent'. That song is about 300 years of my ancestry.

"I'd love to do an album that is all Robert Burns songs and explore my Scottish line even more."

Ninian Crichton-Stuart is equally enthused about the reunion and said: "It has been lovely to see Rosanne's response to the place. It was an unlikely meeting from the start. My dad was a pleasant country gentleman and Johnny Cash was Johnny Cash. I think Americans have a love of their roots and that's something we maybe take for granted in this country - Johnny had an interest in that and now it's lovely that Rosanne has followed that on."

Plans for the visit will be very much Cash-orientated, said Crichton-Stuart.

"What I would like to do is to go up to the battlements of the palace and look over to the Cash land. We might take a walk onto it too and give the whole thing a sense of occasion and perspective."

Records held by Falkland Palace show that King Malcolm awarded a large estate to the Earl of Fife in 1160 when he married the king's niece, whose name was Cash or Cashel. A 15th-century map sited the estate between Falkland and Strathmiglo.

The clan Cash originated from Malcolm's sister, Ada, and streets in Strathmiglo and Falkland still carry the name Cash, as do Easter Cash, Wester Cash and Cash Farms.

The American Cash connection came about in 1612 when mariner William Cash sailed from Scotland to Salem, Massachusetts, with a boatload of pilgrims. He later decided to settle in America.

Rosanne Cash plays the Queen's Hall in Edinburgh on Wednesday. It will be her only Scottish date.

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