As every schoolboy knows, Mikhail Lermontov “was a descendant of a Scottish soldier of fortune, George Learmonth, who settled in Russia in the early 17th century and adapted his name to Lermontov”; I quote a NY Times story by Stephen Castle, which describes his reception in the land of his ancestors, and specifically in the village of Earlston:
On Saturday, a bronze bust of Lermontov, whose verse is considered by many Russians as second only to Aleksandr Pushkin’s, will be unveiled on the tidy village green. There will be Russian and Scottish dancing, poetry readings and Russian guests — including at least one descendant of Lermontov, whose modern-day family has created and officially registered its own tartan. […]
Lermontov’s link to Thomas the Rhymer remained obscure here until 2011. One day, Gwen Hardie, who leads a group in Earlston that promotes awareness of Thomas the Rhymer and who helped organize the installation of the bust, answered her door to two visitors from Russia, one of whom was researching a book on Lermontov.
The next year, Ms. Hardie had another Russian visitor, Maria Koroleva, who is a descendant of Lermontov through her maternal line.
So intrigued was Ms. Koroleva by Lermontov’s Scottish connection that she learned Scottish Gaelic (spoken by about 58,000 people, about 1 percent of Scotland’s population), changed her first name to a Gaelic variant, Màiri Òg, and now teaches the language at Moscow State University.
There can’t be many Russians who learn Scottish Gaelic. (Thanks for the link, Trevor!)