This year saw the 23rd Australian Celtic Festival at Glen Innes. Record numbers flocked to the New South Wales town of Glen Innes to experience this very unique festival celebrating the music, song, dance and culture of all the Celtic Nations. The main events of the festival took place between the 30th April to 3rd May. Glen Innes is a town known for its friendly people and welcoming atmosphere. Celts from all over Australia celebrated along with locals and tourists from abroad. A street parade, concerts and events taking place all over Glen Innes demonstrate how much this warm hearted town has embraced this wonderful festival of all things Celtic. Each year there is a featured Celtic Nation and this year it was Wales (Cymru). Next year 2016 will celebrate the Isle of Man (Mannin).
The Fairy Flag (Am Bratach Sìth) is a flag which is said to have magical properties; it belongs to the chiefs of the Clan MacLeod. It is located in Dunvegan Castle, which is close to the town of Dunvegan (Dùn Bheagain) on the Isle of Skye in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. The fragile silk flag is about 18 inches squared. The origins of the flag are not clear and there are a number of legends which say that the flag was a gift from the fairies.
One such story was that a young chief of the Clan MacLeod fell in love with a fairy princess and proposed marriage. The King of the Fairies initially forbade his daughter’s betrothal to a mortal, but relented on seeing her distress. However, he stipulated that the marriage should last no more than a year and one day, at which time she should return to the Fairy Kingdom with no human possessions. The couple were much in love and had a son. On the day that the marriage was ordered to end the sad couple were rendered apart. One version of the story is that she presented her husband with the fairy flag for protection at the nearby “Fairy Bridge” from where she re-entered the Fairy Kingdom. Another version is that the fairy princess told her husband to look after their son well and not to let him cry as she would hear and it would break her heart.
To celebrate the Scottish National Party's landslide victory in the UK's 2015 General Election, we are re-featuring some of our favourite Scottish articles. This is our 2013 article on the mighty Scottish band Albannach, including an exclusive interview with the band's leader Jamesie Johnston.
Transceltic attended the 2013 Saint Augustine Celtic Music & Heritage Festival in Florida. The organisers proudly announced to us that the Headline act was the Scottish band "Albannach". Being curious to see this band which was unfamiliar to me and sensing the excitement of the crowd eagerly awaiting Albannach's arrival on stage, I watched as the band set up as the first performance of the festival. The only way to describe the impact when the performance began is as an assault on the senses. The energy of the drums juxtaposed against expert piping of band member Donnie MacNeil was transfixing. Not to put too fine a point on it I was stunned and the 30 minute set seemed to pass in an instant and at the conclusion the crowd went nuts. Having always suffered from a genetic predisposition to becoming slightly unbalanced at the sound of the Pipes, the ricochet of the pulsing tribal drum beat against the soaring mastery of the Piper left me spellbound. The organisers had placed Albannach as the first and last act for each of the two days which I soon realised was a successful tactic to build the excitement into the evening hours and the keep the crowds to the last.
"If there is a hole anywhere on earth, you're sure to find a Cornishman at the bottom of it." *
It is commonly said that the Cornish are inward looking. Cornwall has even been described by some ill informed folks as the 'insular peninsula'. Nothing could be further from the truth!
The photograph below shows a group of Cornish Miners in South Africa c. 1900. The gentleman in the centre middle row is my maternal Great Great Grandfather.
A tin miner, he left Redruth in Cornwall on one Tuesday bound for mining work overseas.
Leaving his wife, a Bal Maiden (a mine surface worker), and child behind, he mined gold in South Africa, was conscripted into a town guard battalion in the Boer War and saw action and thereafter headed to Venezuela where he mined diamonds.
Loch Ness (Scottish Gaelic: Loch Nis) is a freshwater loch in the Scottish Highlands (Scottish Gaelic: A' Ghàidhealtachd). Renowned for its great beauty the Loch is a maximum of twenty two and a half miles (36.2km) long with a maximum width of just over one and a half miles (2.7km).
The rivers Tarff, Coiltie, Moriston, Farigaig, Enrich, Foyers and Oich along with a number of burns flow into the loch which at its deepest is over 754 feet (230m). It holds about 16 million 430 thousand gallons of water and has just one outlet, the River Ness (Scottish Gaelic: Abhainn Nis), which flows down through the city of Inverness (Scottish Gaelic: Inbhir Nis) in the northeast of Scotland and out into the Moray Firth which is an inlet of the North Sea.
Ny Ta Lhiams, S'lhiats as Ny Ta Lhiats, Ta S'lhiams.
What's with Me is with You and What's with You is with Me.
Possession forms an important part of modern life in many cultures. We are, on a daily basis, reminded to buy things for ourselves. Upon purchase, in the English speaking world, we say that we "have" those things, that they are "ours". However, possessive expressions differ across languages and may reflect differing aspects of cultural attitudes and practices. To take a specific example, by looking at how our Celtic ancestors in the Goidelic speaking regions expressed possession we may be able to understand how their philosophy differed to the philosophy of the modern English speaking world. What seems to emerge is a difference of permanence vs transience, of seizing vs approaching.
The Cornish and Welsh are the oldest peoples on this island and as a proud Welshman I look forward to seeing Saint Piran’s flag flying with extra Celtic pride on March 5 next year.
-Stephen Williams MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government at Westminster, 24th April, 2014 on the announcement of formal recognition of the Cornish.
Having recently witnessed some 6,000 people process through the streets of Falmouth in Cornwall in memory of a much respected local beat police officer, PC Andy Hocking, who suddenly and tragically died aged 52, it has become increasingly apparent that Cornwall is a very special place. The procession ended with the singing of that ever popular Cornish anthem 'Trelawny' written as 'The Song of the Western Men' in 1824 by the Reverend R.S. Hawker. I don't suppose many other places in the British Isles would see such a thing. They certainly would not have sung this song. Andy was a local man and a fine Cornishman. The singing of what has become widely recognised as the Cornish National Anthem was entirely appropriate.
Manannán is a Celtic sea god and associated with the Tuatha de Danaan (thoo'a-hay-day-danawn). They are the Gaelic pre-Christian pantheon that are known in Ireland, Scotland and Isle of Man. His legend is widespread throughout the Celtic lands.
His father was Lir, God of the Sea. Both Lir and his son Manannán are mentioned in the work of ‘Sanas Cormaic’ by Cormac mac Cuilennáin, King of Munster. In Cormac's 9th century glossary, he links both to the sea.
In many Celtic stories, we are told of Manannán's wife, the Fairy Queen Fand, his sons Ilbhreac (Fairy King), Fiachna and Gaidiar, and daughters Áine, Aoife and Griane. Manannán also had a foster son named Lugh; the Great Warrior, on whom he bestowed his magical belongings. Manannán, above all, is heavily associated with the Isle of Man (Mannin).
The Island’s name is derived from his and he was Mannin’s first ruler and protector. It is said he could bring down a cloak of mist that would hide the island from foreign threat. Using his magic powers he controls the wind and the waves and bring forces to defend the island.
Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh (Happy St Patrick's Day)!
To celebrate St Patrick's Day we are re-publishing this popular article from last year.
There is no doubting the immensity of Patrick's presence in the English Speaking world. Without question it is rooted in Irish emigration, but what explains this phenomenon? How is it that a Roman Briton came to be an icon of the modern Celtic world?
As we approach the feast Day of the Patron Saint of Ireland, it is time for the annual nod to the revelers who participate in St Patrick's Day celebrations and to the mythic Saint Patrick himself. One would like to imagine the throngs clogging the streets of most major cities of the “Anglo Saxon” world are soldiers of Celtic identity, but we know most are there because it is a party. Participants in St. Patrick’s Day festivities are measured in the tens of millions. Based on published attendance records for Manchester, Dublin, New York City, Philadelphia, Toronto and Sydney, approaching 5 million people will either participate in or attend the parades in these cities alone.