Stories of the CelticPipes

Stories of the CelticPipes

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Over SchotlandPosted by Peter Wed, February 25, 2015 11:12:36
Have you ever been to Culloden Moor
Have you heard the horrible stifled snore
Of the Jacobite clans who lie there?
Sleeping softly, in mass graves everywhere....
Desperate they died for a gallant cause,
To restore the Stuarts to ALBA's shores.
The Butcher Cumberland slew the wounded where they lay,
Aye, it was surely a terrible day,
When lowlanders fought the highlanders...
The harsh Hannovian showed no pity
To the wee brave clans who did their duty.
As they lay dead on Culloden Moor
Crows clustered to devour them, rich and poor,
Then the Prince departed without a care:
Leaving his clansmen in total despair.
They served their Prince with courage; gave their all,
They will never age on Culloden Moor.

By Clive MacKenzie Richards

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Santa Claus

Over SchotlandPosted by Peter Sat, December 20, 2014 19:47:30

St. Nicholas

According to local Irish legend, Saint Nicholas is buried in Co Kilkenny. The grave is said to be in the ruined Church of St Nicholas, Jerpoint. The church is all that remains of the medieval village, Newtown Jerpoint, that fell to ruin by the 17th century. The village was surrounded by the Cistercian Jerpoint Abbey, founded in 1183. Located on 1,880 acres, the abbey had its own gardens, watermills, cemetery, granary, and kitchens. It served as a launching point for Irish-Norman Crusaders from Kilkenny. The abbey was disolved in 1540.

The ruined church is now found on privately held farm land. Located to the west of the abbey, the church has an unusual grave slab with an image of a cleric, thought to be a bishop, and two other heads. The cleric is said to be St Nicholas and the heads, the two crusaders who, so the story goes, brought Nicholas' remains back to Ireland. Though the church dates from 1170, the grave slab appears to be from the 1300s.

The tale tells of a band of Irish-Norman knights from Jerpoint, traveling to the Holy Land to take part in the Crusades. On retreat, as they headed home to Ireland, they seized St Nicholas' remains, bringing them back to Kilkenny, where the bones were buried.

Evidence lends some posible credence to this tale as the Normans in Kilkenny were keen collectors of religious relics—possibly even more so than the Italians. And it is known that Norman knights from Kilkenny participated in the Holy Land Crusades.

Another version of the story tells of a French family, the de Frainets, who removed Nicholas' remains from Myra to Bari, Italy, in 1169 when Bari was under the Normans. The de Frainets were crusaders to the Holy Land and also owned land in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny. After the Normans were forced out of Bari, the de Frainets moved to Nice, France, taking the relics with them. When Normans lost power in France, the Nicholas de Frainets packed up once again, moving to Ireland. This story has the relics being buried in Jerpoint in 1200.

This poem by Bill Watkins commemorates the legend:

'The Bones of Santa Claus'

Where lie the bones of Santa Claus
To what holy spot each pilgrim draws
Which crypt conceals his pious remains
Safe from the wild wind, snows and rains.

It's not in Rome his body lies
Or under Egypt's azure skies
Constantinople or Madrid
His reliquary and bones are hid.

That saint protector of the child
Whose relics pure lie undefiled
His casket safe within it's shrine
Where the shamrocks grow and rose entwine.

Devout wayfarer, cease your search
For in Kilkenny's ancient church
Saint Nicholas' sepulcher is found
Enshrined in Ireland's holy ground.

So traveler rest and pray a while
To the patron saint of orphaned child
Whose bones were brought to Ireland's shore
Safe from the Vandal, Hun and Moor.

Here lie the bones of Santa Claus
Secure beneath these marble floors
So gentle pilgrim, hear the call
And may Saint Nicholas bless you all.

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Over SchotlandPosted by Peter Thu, January 23, 2014 08:00:54

Unveil thy bosom, faithful tomb;

Take this new treasure to thy trust,

and give these sacred relics room,

to slumber in the silent dust.

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Sing-Along Sam

Over SchotlandPosted by Peter Tue, December 31, 2013 10:37:37
A canny wee Scotsman called Sammy MacNabbitt,
Was possessed of an odd an' peculiar habit.
He'd sit on the roof of his wee Scottish hoose,
An' sing all day long 'til the tiles rattled loose.

In MacNabbitt tartan, he'd start every mornin'
In kilt an' in sporran as daylight was dawnin',
With beret on head an' bagpipes in hand,
He'd sing an' he'd play like a wee Celtic band,
An' he'd dance to the skirl of his bagpiping lilt
With the whirl of a wee Scottish breeze up his kilt.

Now Mrs MacNabbit did not have a hunch
That he'd slip on the haggis she'd packed him for lunch,
An' Sammy MacNabbit fell kilt over head,
An' just for a while it was feart he was dead.

It's not a good thing to step on your meal
While playing the bagpipes an' dancin' a reel.
An' it's not very pleasant at all I suppose,
With a great haggis sandwich stuck well up your nose,
An' to judge by his screams, I very much doubt
That the pleasure improved as the stuff was scraped out.
So Sam does nae sing on the roof any more
An' considers it wiser to stay on the floor.

An' is he still singing? - och aye so he is,
He's the top o' the charts in the radio biz,
A star of the air and for your information
He's a disc jockey noo at a radio station,
He sings to the music as only he can
An' he's known to the world as Sing-along-Sam.

An' he sings o' the heather, he sings o' the glen.
O' bonnie wee lassies an' brave Scottish men.
O' the moors an' the lochs, an' yon bonnie braes,
O' the mists, o' the highlands an' Scotland the brave
He'll sing o' the bluebells that blossom galore,
But he will nae eat haggis for lunch any more.

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Glencoe Order

Over SchotlandPosted by Peter Wed, April 17, 2013 08:07:25

Copy of order to Capt. Campbell by Maj. Duncanson

You are hereby ordered to fall upon the rebels, the McDonalds of Glencoe, and put all to the sword under seventy. you are to have a special care that the old Fox and his sons do upon no account escape your hands, you are to secure all the avenues that no man escape. This you are to putt in execution at fyve of the clock precisely; and by that time, or very shortly after it, I’ll strive to be at you with a stronger party: if I do not come to you at fyve, you are not to tarry for me, but to fall on. This is by the Kings special command, for the good & safety of the Country, that these miscreants be cut off root and branch. See that this be put in execution without feud or favour, else you may expect to be dealt with as one not true to King nor Government, nor a man fit to carry Commission in the Kings service. Expecting you will not fail in the fullfilling hereof, as you love your s...elf, I subscribe these
with my hand at Balicholis Feb: 12, 1692

(signed) R. Duncanson
For their Majesties service
To Capt. Robert Campbell
of Glenlyon

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The Legend of The Appin Dirk

Over SchotlandPosted by Peter Wed, April 17, 2013 07:50:43
In the years after the Jacobite uprising of 1745, the terrible reputation of the government troops or 'Redcoats' as they sought to finally put down once and for all the brave highland clans was spread throughout the North of Scotland. One story concerning a poor milkmaid and a wicked redcoat sergeant passed into highland folklore and became known as the story of the Appin Dirk.
It was June 1746, only a few months after the disastrous battle of Culloden, Government troops were still engaged in a frenzy of looting and burning as they carried out Cumberland's order of 'No Quarter' beyond what was expected of them. One such detachment was passing through Lochaber and Appin on their way to the barracks at Inveraray. On the way they had burned small cottages, casting highlanders from their homes for nothing more than their own wicked amusement.

On one particular evening, as the troops moved through the Strath of Appin they encountered a young woman milking her cow in a nearby field. Overcome by their own bloodlust and some even more base instincts besides the sergeant who commanded the detachment leapt over the small wall into the field and with no warning shot the cow dead. With the cow dead he then advanced on the young woman - his intentions almost certainly dishonourable.

The young woman fought off the wicked sergeant bravely and ran off towards the Appin shore however she was pursued by him. In a last desperate attempt to make good her escape she picked up a good sized stone from the shore and hurled it at the sergeant with all her might. Whether by great accuracy or sheer luck the stone struck the sergeant square on the forehead, stunning him and knocking him to the ground. Her good shot gave her the few precious seconds she needed to make it to the shore where she knew a small boat lay moored. As the other soldiers tried to pursue her she managed to quickly row out of range and off to a small island where she sheltered for some time.

The sergeant was less fortunate, the blow had been more serious than the soldiers had at first realised. He was taken to a nearby place where they could stop for the night but as the evening wore on his condition became worse - almost as if the stone itself had been cursed. During the night he died from his wound. The other soldiers decided to bury him in the nearby churchyard; the old churchyard of Airds and move on.

The hatred for the government troops in this corner of Scotland was so great that the local men felt appalled that such a beast should contaminate their churchyard. As soon as the detachment had gone they stole into the churchyard and dug up his body. They carried him down to the sea but were stopped on the way by the brother of the young woman who had been attacked. He pulled out a knife and tore the skin from the arm of the wicked sergeant. This he took away with him. The corpse was then, with no ceremony cast into the sea.

The milkmaid’s brother dried and cured the skin and used it to make a sheath for his dirk.

Legends of the 'Appin Dirk' spread around the area, becoming a symbol of the highlanders continued resistance to occupation. In 1870 the Rev. Alexander Stewart who was in the area was shown a dirk by a local man which he claimed was 'The Appin Dirk' He described the sheath as having a dark-brown colour, limp and soft in appearance, with no ornament except a small piece of brass at the point, and a thin edging of the same metal round the opening. Around the brass rim there was a small inscription. The initials D.M.C. and a date; 1747.

This gruesome relic has long since vanished but the inscription does bear some clue into its possible whereabouts:

According to the story the young woman's name is given as Julia MacColl, the 'M.C.' of the inscription would suggest that this was the case as MacColl was a common name in that area at the time. Some years after the last sighting of the dirk many MacColls immigrated to New Zealand, among them were a few 'Julias'. It is highly possible that the descendants of Julia MacColl of her brother held on to the dirk and that it now lies undiscovered in New Zealand.

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Scotlands dresscode

Over SchotlandPosted by Peter Thu, February 07, 2013 23:57:24
Clothing for Scottish men of the mid 18th Century was divided between Highland dress and everything else. Scottish men not in Highland dress wore (depending upon class) what the rest of Europe wore, occasionally with a tartan accent. Not all men in the Jacobite army regularly wore Highland clothing. Many men were not even Scottish Highlanders. This document addresses Scottish Highland clothing. Consult with your Clan or unit about your character’s clothing needs.

Men wore loose fitting white or off white linen (or cotton, rarely) shirts, hanging to mid thigh. No patterned, printed, or bright colored shirts have been documented, please do not wear them. These shirts were open, or buttoned with loops or button holes at the neck and cuffs. Shirts did not lace up like shoes or have metal grommets at the neck, and often fastened between the legs with a button or tie. Shirts doubled as underwear, slips, and nightshirts for many men of the period.

Over the shirt were worn belted plaids (known also as great kilts), or kilts (one half of a belted plaid, lengthwise), or trews (the combination of thigh-high bag socks and shorts, made of tartan wool.) The belted plaid or great kilt consists of from four to six yards of roughly 60 inch material (originally two pieces of 20 to 30 inch wide fabric sewn lengthwise.) It is worn with hand folded pleats, and is belted, tied, or pinned into place. The belted plaid was your overcoat, pants, rain gear, blanket, tent, backpack, and fire damper. It is one of the most utilitarian garments every invented. Circular brooches for fastening the great kilt at the shoulder were still in use, but the ones with great big stones are Victorian foofaraw. Please do not wear modern kilt pins to keep the skirt’s overlap closed. Small kilts were also hand pleated, or had tacked-in box pleats 3 to 6 inches wide. Do not wear modern kilts.

Most Highland men wore waistcoats, and a wool coat or jacket. Highland waistcoats and jackets were often cut shorter than mid 18th Century fashion so they could be worn with a belted plaid or kilt. Waistcoats were often a few inches longer than the Highland jackets and both were commonly different tartans. Short waistcoats and jackets, plain or tartan, were also seen in the working classes, worn with trews or breeches. Animal skins with the hair on them were rarely seen as dress items in the mid 18th Century. A neck stock or neckerchief was worn, as much for protection against sword blades as it was fashion. A lace jabot and cuffs were often seen on gentlemen. The use, quality, and design of some of these items was class sensitive.

Aside from weapons [SEE WEAPONS AND BATTLE RE-ENACTMENTS], a belt and sporran (leather purse or bag hung on your belt) complete the traditional Highland outfit. The sporran is a simple leather pouch in which is carried money and small items, as there are no pockets in a kilt. Expensive, fancy sporrans are inappropriate for most Highlanders. Do not wear modern sporrans.

With kilts many Highland men either went barefoot, or wore gillies (an open, roman-like shoe) with up-the-calf ties. Shoes were usually simple brogues which tied or, if you had money, buckled. The brogues would be worn with wool bag socks, seamed up the back, and tied on. Gillies were also sometimes worn with bag socks. Wool leggings (like footless knee socks) were occasionally worn, with or without gillies. Riding boots may be worn with trews, but boots were not worn with kilts. Knit stockings were uncommon and strongly resisted in the Highlands until the 19th Century. Class played a large part in footwear. Please avoid modern kilt socks or boy scout type socks.

As with women, upper class gentlemen wore a wider variety of clothing, of a better grade, and more in tune with the fashions of the day.

The Highland bonnet was a very important item of clothing in a man’s wardrobe. Bonnets were predominantly blue wool, sometimes dark green or dark red, and were not made of tartan. They were usually worn flat on the head and not at a great rakish angle. Bonnets in 1745 were generally at least 12 inches across and did not resemble modern golf hats. Bonnets should be decorated as follows:

Politics - white cockade (ribbon or fabric in a bow or rose shape) for Jacobites, worn in front.
Clan - a sprig of your Clan’s plant badge identifies you. Worn in front.
Feathers - worn only by chiefs, sub-chiefs, cadets, or senior Clan officials in some clans.
Boss - (the wool pom-pom) rare, possibly occasionally worn by those in military. command positions so they can be identified from behind by the men following them.
Metal Clan badges - not worn in the 18th Century.

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The Massacre of Glencoe

Over SchotlandPosted by Peter Thu, February 07, 2013 23:52:10
In 1688, William of Orange convinced the English Parliament to oust the current King James VII of Scotland and of England and install William himself as regent. At the time, England and Scotland were a boiling cauldron of national and religious animosities, not only between the two countries but amongst political factions and the clans themselves.
A minor event in history was the appropriation of MacDonald property by the Campbells. The MacDonalds felt free to to reclaim cattle which they still considered their own. The Campbells called them reivers and no love was lost between the clans.

Then King William demanded an oath of loyalty by all clan chiefs with a deadline of 1. January 1692. MacDonald Clan Chief MacIain of Glencoe, leaving this distasteful necessity to the last moment, made his way to Fort William on 31. December 1691. Glencoe presented himself to Colonel Hill the governor, asking him to administer the required oath of allegiance. Hill told Glencoe that he must go to Inverarary, which wasn't easy in deep mid-winter snow, and mountainous terrain, so he was late. This appears to have been a premeditated plot, involving secret letters, ignored letters of free passage and other skullduggery by the current political officials. They gleefully planned to make an example of the Ian MacDonalds at Glen Coe and the Campbells were not in the least reluctant to assist in the execution of this plan.

With instructions to kill every man of the Glen Coe clan under 70 (approximately 200), Campbell of Glenlyon and some 128 soldiers, of various clans, including Campbells, called on MacDonald, said they were in the area to collect taxes and asked his hospitality. For 12 days they had a spontaneous ceilidh, ate the MacDonalds' winter food supply, drank to each other's health and made marriage plans between the young ones.

Exactly according to plan, at five o'clock on the morning of 13. February 1692 Campbell of Glenlyon and his soldiers rose from their beds to massacre their hosts.

They managed to kill "only" 38, including some women, children and an 80 year old man, but some escaped and women and children were sent naked, into a sudden blizzard, from their razed and looted homes.

This event is still much debated today

The monument to the fallen MacDonalds is situated in the Glencoe village, and MacIain was buried on the island of Eilean Munde, in Loch Leven, near the entrance to the Glen.

I would like to add a something to your notes regarding the swearing of allegiance to King William.

Because the chiefs at that time were loyal to King James they could not swear allegiance to a foreign King. The clans continually informed James that unless they swore allegiance to William they were putting their people at risk. King James resisted giving permission to the clans until the last possible moment but eventually relented.

Glencoe being remote, was one of the last to get this dispensation and upon getting permission, from King James, MacIan immediately made his way to the Fort. The rest is as you tell it.

One other point I would like to make is that of recent years, the Campbells deny all responsibility citing the fact that an English regiment carried out the massacre. This is true, but this particular regiment was raised in Argyll-shire, the seat of the Campbells, and Campbells and their Septs were in the majority of the troops who carried this out.

This incident is now being cited as the reason for collapse of the Clan system. Not because of MacIan's so called stubbornness, as for many years was given as the cause, but of the betrayal of the clans by the Campbell.
No longer could a Clan be trusted !

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