Clan MacColin of Glenderry is a historical, theatrical and social organization dedicated to researching and portraying the daily life of a 16th century Hibernio-Scottish clan. For many years our major activity has been our appearance at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire, where our rousing dance show and colorful marches are traditional crowd-pleasers. These activities, along with our crafts demonstrations, also contribute ethnic color to many Highland Games, Irish festivals, and similar local events where we are frequently featured by name .
The Clan is very much a family, and we attempt to maintain the ancient clan structure. Our Chief, Stiofan A Giollain Maccaolinn of Glennadoire (otherwise Steven Gillan of Santa Ana) makes all final decisions, appoints officers and duine uasail and, backed by long tradition, his word is law. The MacColin numbers among his officers and gentlepersons experts in Renaissance and Gaelic crafts, dance, costume, weaponry, and manners, as well as social and military history.
Each of our members develops a period "persona" or character to portray, suitable to the household and tail of a Western Highland Chief. Costume, weapons, and personality soon follow, making the persona a three-dimensional, authentic representation of our period: a piece of living history.
The Gaelic costumes of the 16th century differ conciderably from the familiar ones of Victorian or modern times. For instance, the kilt in its modern, tailored form and the system of registered clan tartans were unknown. The Clan has done a great deal of research on this little-documented subject, and has drawn up some basic costume and weaponry guides which are available at nominal cost.
We encourage our people to go beyond theatrically portraying our time, to research, study and practice the language, skills, and customs our personas would have known. Both men and women may learn spinning, weaving, dancing, and other crafts under the guidance of our Craftsmaster, Dancemistress, and other skilled members. Our folk most often make their own weapons, chain mail, eating utensils, and other accessories. In fact, nearly all costume pieces must be homemade, although we do allow such modern methods as machine sewing.
If you are interested in our historical place and time and would like to join in our activities, talk to the Chief or Clan officers about appropriate costuming and about our various events.
The year is 1572. Mary, Queen of Scots is in prison in Elizabeth Tudor's England and has been forced to abdicate in favor of her infant son, James VI. The great Lowland families have enormous power and control over the throne, while the Highland clans are virtually a law unto themselves. (One recent historian says that "Highland...law enforcement was three feet of steel independently wielded.")
North of the Isle of Skye, on a pleasant peninsula of the Scottish mainland, the lands of Glenderry separate the waters of Loch Ewe from Gruinard Bay and the Summer Isles. This peninsula and the Isle of Ewe comprise the homeland of Clan MacColin. Led by our Chief, Stiofan A Giollain MacColin, we have fled the troubles in Ireland (his father was a Constable to the Earl of Ormond) to find a home with our Scottish cousins in Glenderry. We have thus as many Irish as Scots in our ranks, and even some Welsh and others who have joined our family over the years.
We are a sea people. It is even said the original MacColin was the son of a silkie (seal-man) who came out of the sea. Our folks live primarily by fishing and cattle raising, but also trade in hides and leather, sea coals, and tough Highland ponies; our several trading ships ply many coasts, sometimes to Ireland and Sassun (England).
Although every man is called upon to have some skill with weapons, we have few full time soldiers among us. And though our women are all skilled in the "womanly" arts, they can be as fierce as the men if pressed to a fight. Our children start their military training early, for they may called on to defend their clan at any time; the boys are trained in arms from the age of eight. Many of our men have seen action overseas, especially in Ireland.
Occasionally, we see a visitor of great wealth and state, for we are connected not only to the Earls of Ormond, but to O'Neill and the Gordon Earls of Huntly as well. On those occasions we put on our finest show and make a ceilidh for our grand guests, as our Chief's honor demands.