Care and Feeding of Dancers
By Molly Patterson

It is that time of year again, when many of us start thinking of Faire. For some of us, that also brings to mind DANCING. I can already hear the groans. For those who have danced in a Faire show before, I dont't need to elaborate. For those of you that are new to the Clan, or have just made the decision to try your luck, I can assure you, it's an experience never to be equalled. The rewards are small. A few pats on the back, some "atta-boys" and a quiet satisfaction within yourself are about all you can expect. What I'd like to pass on are some ideas I have and some of the problems I had or became aware of. Please don't consider any of this as expert medical advise. It worked for me and it may help some of you.

CONDITIONING- This is something that I don't believe is stressed even a fraction of what it should be. Now is not to soon to start. Try to get some sort of exercise into your weekly routine. Half an hour two or three times a week will help enormously. It will improve your wind, and condition those muscles you may not even realize you have. It wouldn't hurt to do exercizes that pay special attention to toning the lower body. It will also build strength around any old injury and help prevent new ones.

WARM-UP- Before you pracitce, exercise, or perform, you should warm up! Note- Many exercise authorities insist that you are not warmed until you begin to perspire. Not a raging foamy sweat, but when you can feel your body limbering and your heart rate begining to rise (120-130 beats per minute). I realize that the last thing you want is work up a sweat before you step into the direct sunlight and blistering heat of Main Stage, but it really can make a difference in the way your body works for you. A warm-up should consist of about 10 minutes of good stretching- moving directly from one position to the next with special attention to the backs of your calves. Remember, it's not a contest in flexibility! Don't stretch to the point of pain and never bounce into it. This should be followed by five to ten minutes of minor calisthenics. Brisk alternating toe touches, squats, and gentle jogging in place are good.

WARM-DOWN- This is nearly as important as warming up, because it can help prevent sore, stiff or cramped muscles. Think of yourself like a car. You can't put ice cold fluid into it when it is hot unless it's running. By all means force yourself to drink fluids, but make an effort to cool down gradually, and resume normal heart and breathing rates before you go collapse in the shade somewhere.

BE KIND TO YOURSELF- The kind of dancing we do puts an incredible amount of stress on your legs. Last year probably 85-90% of our dancers ended up with shin splints. I taped and wrapped some people every day. Shin splints are an extremely painful condition centered in the main bone between your knee and ankle. They are caused by the pounding exerted on one end by your foot hitting the ground and on the other by your body's weight as it comes to an abrupt halt on top of it. There is no remedy for this except to rest the injured area. Now before you decide that the pain isn't intolerable and of course you can do an extra dance, let me warn you that shin splints are a stone's throw from being stress fractures which in lay terms are a broken bone requiring a doctors attention and complete rest. Do rest during the week for the length of Faire and pamper your legs and feet. Keep up your exercizes, there are plenty you can do which won't bother your legs at all. The alternative is a trip to Odo's infamous torture chamber and the possibility of being grounded from performing by him or any one of our many capable med-tech types.

 I know this all sounds like a sermon from a soap box, but I'm sure your friends don't want to see you in pain. If this helps just one person make it through Faire more comfortably, I will feel happy.

Note from Odo: Molly is saying the same thing I have advised. (No, I didn't write it, but it is what I would say) She Knows what this is about; she has had shin splints, but not last year! [Odo]


Sift 4 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking POWDER in a large mixing bowl. Cut in 1/4 cup butter or margarine with pastry blender until mixtures resembles corn meal. Stir in 1-1/2 cups currants. Mix 1-1/3 cups buttermilk, 2 eggs, and 1 teaspoon baking SODA. Stir into flour mixture until well-moistened, but not overmixed. Turn the batter into a greased 2-quart casserole or souffle dish, cover and bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes.


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. coat a baking sheet evenly with 1 Tablespoon of softened butter. Sift 4 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon salt together into a deep mixing bowl. Gradually add 1 cup buttermilk, beating constantly with a large spoon until the dough is firm enough to be gathered into a ball. If the dough crumbles, beat up to 1/2 cup more buttermilk into it, by the tablespoon, until the particles adhere. Place the dough on a lightly floured board, and pat and shape it into a flat circular loaf about 8 inches in diameter and 1-1/2 inches thick. Set the loaf on the baking sheet. Then, with the tip of a small knife, cut a 1/2-inch deep "X" into the dough, marking the top of the loaf into quarters. Bake the bread in the middle of the oven for about 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Serve at once.

 SEANNACHIE 27 2/25/84


Patron Saint of Glenderry (well, actually "the whole coast between Applecross and Loch Broom"), St. Maelrubha is our very own favorite interlocutor for heavenly favors and the left ear of God. His feast is celebrated on the 21st of April, so we have plenty of time to think of an appropriate remembrance.

 On the island of Eilean Maree, in Loch Maree, there is a spring known as St. Maelrubha's Well. It was considered to have healing properties, especially in cases of insanity. This leads to a possibility of a mild insult when someone appears to be acting irrational: "That one's wanting a dip in Maelrubha's Well!" (Good to remember for Faire street threater.)

 Thanks to our Chaplain, John Eddings, for his research on this subject.


Among the many types of swords in use in Europe during the 16th century, one was, according to evidence, a distinctively Irish weapon. Nothing quite like it seems to have existed outside Ireland.

 It is a sword with a long, straight, moderately broad double-edged blade, having as its most noticeable features quillions with flattened ends - fan shaped or slotted - and a pommel of an open ring within which, crossing the ring on a diameter, the end of the tang is visible. Four known specimens of this type of sword are housed in the National Museum of Ireland.

 Three of them, all of the same distinctive type, are discussed at length in the book "16th Century Irish Swords," by G. A. Hayes. The first, which was illustrated by G.F. Laking in his monumental work on European armour and arms, was found at Tullylough, Co. Longford, at the end of the 19th century; for a long time it was the only sword of its kind known. The second was found during dredging operations in the river Bannat, Portglenone, Co. Antrim. The third came to light in Galway in 1948. The Tullylough and Galway swords closely resemble one another. The Portglenone sword exhibits minor differences.

 Laking recognized the Tullylough sword (the only one of the three known in his time) as Irish and dated it as "probably early 17th century." He also mentioned two 16th century illustrations which show swords that are "most unusual, having flat ring-like pommels and straight quillions that widen at the ends to a form resembling the ward of a key." Curiously enough, he did not point out the remarkable similarity that exists between the Tullylough sword and these and other pictorial representations of the Irish 16th century weapons. The Tullylough sword has been dated as somewhat earlier than Laking supposed, and in view of evidence supplied by contemporary pictures, it should be looked upon as a typical Irish weapon of the 16th century. Later finds seem to bear this out.

 There are five contemporary pictures, and are all well known, but they have hitherto been used more as documents in the history of Irish costume than as evidence on weapons. They are:--

 A drawing made by Albrecht Durer in 1521 shows two Irish warriors and three peasants, probably in the Low Countries. Two swords are shown, both double-handers. One has an unmistakable open ring pommel which, apart from the decorative feature where the tang enters the ring, is the same as those on the three swords in the museum. The terminal of the single quillion visable is reminiscent of those on the Portglenone sword.

 A woodcut in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, entitled "Irish Chieftains" shows six figures, each of whom carries a sword. All the swords have the same distinctive open ring pommel. Their general proportions are the same as those of the surviving examples save that the blades are broader. The outline of the crossguards of three of them are the same. On the other hand, the terminals of the quillions, unlike those of the Museum swords, are all either slotted like the bitt of a key or are pierced.

 Three colored drawings by the Flemish artist Lucas de Heere, who worked in England from 1567 to 1577, show sword-bearing figures. They carry weapons which very closely resemble those in the Oxford print; indeed the only difference is in the scabbards, which have fringe down the sides as well as at the end. Major H.F. McClintock has suggested in Old Irish Dress that de Heere's pictures are copied from the Oxford print, and possibly from some other originals no longer in existence. He also uses them to date the Oxford print, pointing out that an inscription on one of them which reads in translation "Irishman and Irishwoman as they were attired when subjects of the late King Henry" suggests that the Oxford print is earlier than 1547.

These pictures provide ample evidence that swords with ring pommels were regarded as distinctive Irish weapons in the 16th century. Durer's picture shows that the open ring pommel was known in an Irish context as early as the first quarter of the century. It is suggested that all three weapons come from about the middle of the century, the Portglenone sword being perhaps a little earlier than the others.

 The blades are almost certainly importations from the continent, like those of the contemporary Scottish claymores. The hilts, however, seem to be of native fabrication. They are part of the distinctive Gaelic order of ideas and materials that still functioned amid the turmoil of the changing world of the 16th century.

 This provides a background for our three surviving specimens from Tullylough, Portglenone, and Galway, and our justification for assigning them to the 16th century.

 Since the book was written a fourth sword of this group has been presented to the museum. It was found in the river Suck during cleaning operations, about five miles north of Ballinasloe, Co. Galway.

---The above article (edited from the Crann Tara, Nov. 1979) was written by Eoin MacKenzie during his tenure as Chief of Clan Colin. It was based on notes from a 63-page book put out by the National Museum of Ireland, which he recommends highly to any of the clan who are interested in an Irish persona.


The Renaissance Faire (apparently) approaches, which suggests it's time to get ready! It really doesn't seem to be that long since the last Faire; the years seem awfully short when thinking about Faire, being about equal parts Faire and rest-of-the-year. In any case, it is time to think about how to survive the six weeks that feel like months. While this is particularly important at Faire, it also applies to all Clan events, and every day.

 Most of us live a day-to-day existence that does not prepare us for life in medieval Agoura. Faire involves much physical exertion and concentration, and a not-so friendly environment to do it in. What is 'fine' the rest of the year may put us out of commission in the heat and constant exertion in Agoura. In truth, what will keep us doing well at Faire would be better done all year, but without the NEED to treat ourselves properly, we develop bad habits which can suddenly become critical under the stress of running around in funny clothes in the hot chaparral in Agoura. How do we have to prepare?


 The first problem most of us notice is how badly we have gotten out of shape. Remember huffing and puffing up the hill? The sore legs? Yes, exercise, as such, tends to be offensive and boring. I don't like it either. The way to take care of that is to be physically active. Remember cursing that elevator that took a week per floor? If you regularly take the stairway instead, you will find that you can avoid that crowd, beat the elevator (when you want to), feel better now, and save yourself some pain later. Do the short trips on foot when you can, and whistle, sing, or talk along the way; you get some time to think while you walk, too. Walk like you mean it, not strolling. Do some stretches of a moderate sort when you get up; it will lead to less problems, make reaching up and down easier, and help you wake up and get going. I spend much time at a keyboard, but find it helps to stretch and flex some muscles when I pause to think. Not only does it help muscle tone, it makes sitting here more comfortable for my legs and back. Do everything vigorously, from schlepping the files down the hall to scrubbing the pot with the dried oatmeal. The BEST exercise for any activity IS that activity! Other exercises are really to take care of deficiencies, i.e., build up knees or stomach for when needed.

 $Fuel- diet

 The term 'diet' has developed some strange and wrong connotations, thanks in large part to media advertising. They seem to believe that "diet" is what you do to lose weight; that is a weight reduction diet. A DIET is what you eat. It can be described by either its effect or its characteristics. A vegetarian diet describes its most apparent characteristic, the kind of food you are eating (and warns you that much care is required to make this diet a healthy one). If you are gaining weight, note that you are on a weight gaining diet, even when it is your regular one.

 PLEASE NOTE that weight reduction diets are forbidden at Faire, especially the vogue or "fad" versions.

 We have all heard much about balanced diets. Faire requires a balanced diet for survival, for food is fuel for the body. A balanced diet is required to provide the needed building blocks for the body in a way that it can use it most efficiently. When the body does not get enough fuel from the diet, it gets the needed fuel from both fat AND muscle tissues. That weakens the muscles. As a result, a weight reduction diet will cause PROBLEMS at Faire, when you need the most muscle efficiency. Eat a selection of foods that provide all your needed nutrients. Remember, you'll be working off a good many more calories than usual at this time! Watch for more about nutrition as Faire approaches.


 Ever heard that the body is 80% water? Ever notice how much we sweat at Faire? Ever heard me or the Chief tell you to drink LOTS of water? It's an old story that needs repeating. First, a few statistics.

A wet forehead indicates a loss of about a quart an hour.

 Heavy sweating (as in heavy labor at Faire) means you're losing about two quarts an hour.

 Muscles lose about 25% efficiency when the body is down two quarts below normal.

 You can survive (remain alive) 14 days without food, but less than four days at best without water.

 Your body requires proper hydration (enough water) for the liver and kidneys to rid the body of toxins, e.g., lactic acid, a by-product of muscle activity and alcohol (the result of ingesting Guinness).

 In case you haven't noticed, it's hot at Faire, and we sweat through our wool early in the day (wool, by the way, helps keep us cooler than those who are wearing polyester and bare skin, and prevents the sunburns). You lose water faster than usual, and faster than you may be aware of. Kidney output is an effective way of determining hydration. We require that you urinate at least twice while Faire is open each day (you've heard of the "gold star," no doubt), to insure you last through the day. If you do not urinate, or if your urine is strong or dark, you ARE dehydrated, so drink some water!


 Another nutritional concern is body electrolytes. The body needs a number of chemicals to work properly, and some get sweated out at a pretty good rate. Sodium is necessary, but the American diet typically includes much more than needed, so just don't cut it down too severly. If you crave salt unusually much, your body is telling you it needs some. Calcium is needed by the muscles and nervous system; a deficiency will lead in short time to muscle cramps. Potassium is another necessity, but is lost faster and not regained as easily. Those without heart problems can use the doctored lemonade ("Clan Cocktail"); if it tastes good, you need it, otherwise it will taste like camel sweat (for good reason). Good sources of potassium are bananas and avocados (can you think of a better excuse for eating those delights? keep them backstage, though -- they're out of period!). The CCC's Celt Rations do a good job of providing these nutrients; cheese has calcium, salami is salty (as is steak on a stake), bread gives a good complex carbohydrate, and fruit has vitamin C and fiber.

 $Limits- find out what yours are & don't violate them.

 A good way to keep going is to pay attention to what your body is telling you. It has a way of telling you what it needs, if you listen. When it needs salt, salty food will taste very good. When your blood surgar gets low and your body needs food, you get hungry. When it needs rest, you will know, so don't wait until you fall over. Pain is a warning you are doing damage to it. Find out what is wrong, and pay attention to the limit, and you will do well. That is how humans learn not to pick up glowing iron, cut themselves, and lift too much weight, or ignore the body's needs. If you pay attention, you can extend your limits; but do not exceed them, or you will pay dearly.

 $Problems & how to handle them.

 If you are developing a problem, let the leaches know about it. Many things can be identified and taken care of, or further damage can be prevented. We have proven on a number of occasions that nobody, including the Chief, is so indespensible that we can not do without him or her for one day; if you try to exceed your limits too severely, you may well miss not only the day, but the rest of the run of Faire. You may only need food, or to picturesquely nap on the cannon for a couple of hours to keep going, so let us know!

 $Co-operation: keep everyone going.

 We have had a lot fewer problems, medically, the last couple of years. Much of this is a result of cooperation and taking care of each other, befitting a Clan or family. By taking care of each other, we all put on a better show and feel better both physically and emotionally. This caring has resulted in us being the healthiest outfit at Faire, even though we have some who regularly make doctors cringe. We have bad backs, knees, hernias, pinned bones, heart problems, and some of the worst sinuses in Christendom, but we do a great, fun show and do not need to get hauled out with nearly the frequency of the rest of the Faire folk. Let's keep it up!

 SEANNACHIE 30 10/25/84

The Chief Speaks

Mo Chimidh,

 I am writting this to inform you of a matter of grave importantance to our family honor and our educational mission.

 As you remember, last year at the Chino Games, the "Clans Of The Highlands" withdrew our invitation to participate. The reasons given where vague and unattributed.

 At the games my officers and myself wandered around to the "family clan" tents to poll them about their feelings concerning our activities and participation in these games. We were unable to discover any particular animosities.

 This year, it was thought, we would not have any great trouble securing an invitation. Such was not to be the case. At a meeting of this group the subject of our invitation came up, and while we were defended by our friend and my kinsman, David Mc Nab, our reputation was assaulted and defamed with petty and foolish charges. Few barely plausable and the others downright stupid. One of these charges, as reported to me, was truely horrifying. We stand accused of theft. The representative of Clan Chatten asserted that they were robbed of $300.00 worth of something, presumably books, from the clan tent at the games two years ago. They are convinced that it was one of us. I had but one answer, not bloody likely!

 I know that if $300.00 of something that belonged to us had been lifted and I thought I had an idea about who was responsible, I whould have looked into it immediatly. Not waiting two years to broach my unsubstantiated and uninvestigated suspicions, presented as fact, in a semipublic meeting. Along with this outrage, an assortment of other transgressions were put forward by others, which I will simply list without attribution. One:"We" {an unspecified number } were caught coming thru a hole in the fence without paying two years ago. Three: That "one of us" had loaded pistols there {this one is about three years old at least and concerns a nonmember}. Four: That we had a naked baby there {no time specified,shocking ain't it}. Finally that most commonly held complaint of all-"we are not really a clan", or not all Scottish, or do not share a common surname and I am not "really" a chief. You all have heard the numerous variations on this tune.

 I have inquired of my officers concerning these matters, and it is their opinion, only one of these calumnies has the slimmist chance of holding water. This is the "hole in the fence matter" and there is some dispute as to this being a misunderstanding. What has been alleged by some to have happened, is that we were passing the gear of ourselves and others thru this hole and that it was observed by the management and misconstrued. Thereupon this person told these folks of ours to go around to the front and pay up. An act they had intended anyway. Sceneario two, suggests the possibility that these individuals were indeed slipping in, being ignorant of our need to pay admission. A thing we are not much accustomed to. I believe that this matter can be smoothed over whatever the actual circumstances were. If you have any specific memory of these events,three games ago, and have not already done so, please tell me before the games.

 It is my intention to confront these individuals, and the family clans they represented at that meeting, with the foolishness of their charges and the damage they and theirs have done to the honor, integrity and stated goals of me and mine. It is also my further my intention to inform the other clans in attendance, of the nature of the charges laid against us and of the unfounded animosity of these persons and organisations who bring them. We will appeal to their sense of fairness and justice to help us to resolve these issues to the benefit of all concerned.

 These games have never been a major event on our calendar due to the expense and for some of our membership the "long drive". In the past this has not been an concern because our major event in the Fall was the Irish Fair, {an event at which we are so well liked that they actually pay for our presence and routinely take us for granted}, however now that they have moved to summer this event takes on a larger import. Beside which it is the only compleatly Scottish event we have available. Along with this consideration, I believe that it is important to convince these people that we know what we are about and that our unique perspective on their collective past is valuable to the "family clan societies". To that end I am calling for a large turnout, a general muster, if you will.

 I know that for some of you, that the cash outlay is prohibitive. If you are really needy, the clan will bear the expense. To accomplish this please call your family head with information about how many admissions you will require and on what days you will attend. Please note that there is a discount for both days. Family Heads please inform Norm {714-5570794} by Thursday evening at the latest. It might be helpful and heartening to call your family head, reguardless of your financial status, and let them know if your are coming.

 The Crois Tara is passed; The Bloody Shirt displayed; The signal fires burn on the high places of Glennadoire. The Standard of our Race is unfurled at the Great Oak.

An Darroch Mor !

Stiofan macirral mhicroich ui' giollain maccaolinn Glennadoire

The Music of 16th Century Scotland
By Simon Spalding

The musical instruments of Scotland in our period present a vital but perplexing subject for study. Only a couple of genuine instruments survive, and evidence of the music played on then is extremely scanty. In most cases, a few documentary sources, perhaps an illustration, and a lot of speculation is all we have to go on. If I seem tentative and unspecific, it is to consolidate brevity with accuracy.

 In the Highlands, as in Ireland, the Clarsach or wire strung harp involved, of all instruments, the greatest prestige. It was expensive to build and maintain, required years of training to master, and was intimately with the loftiest poetic and musical traditions of the Gael: epic and lauditiory poetry recitation and its own instrumental forms. There is no mention of Highlanders dancing to the Clarsach, something that is known in Ireland and Wales. Tradition has it that the clarsach was played in battle, until the use of gunpowder forced a switch to the piob mor. There appears to have been little difference between the Irish and Scottish clarsach in construction and playing technique, and the Irish harpers found ready patrons in Scotland.

 The PIOB MOR, or "Scottish war-pipes", likewise occupied a high position among the Highlanders instruments. As the clarsach declined in Scotland the piob mor inherited much of its prestige: it was in our period that the body of art music for the pipes, Ceol Mor, began to develop, evidently out of roots in music for the clarsach. Pipes, whether the piob mor or another type, were the customary accompaniment for social as well as exhibition dance until well after our period.

 The piob mor of the 16th century differed form the modern instrument, though the precise details are disputed. It was certainly a two-drone instrument, either mounting a bass and tenor like the contemporary piob mor in Ireland, or possibly, in the islands at least, mounting two tenor drones. There are more period illustrations of Irish pipes than Scottish, and these indicate that the drones were sometimes mounted in a single stock, and that the overall size may have been larger ( and the pitch consequently lower) than the modern piob mor.

 A smaller, quieter form of the pipes seems to have existed around our period, eventually becoming the "parlor or half" pipes. It may be these that were so popular at social dances. The various bellows-blown pipes of Scotland, Northumberland, and Ireland were not to develop ( from the French musette) for another hundred-fifty years.

 The PIOBCORN, known variously as a hornpipe, stock-and-horn, or corne pipe outside the Gaeltacht, was popular all over Scotland. While the form of the instrument varied in Ireland and Wales, the Scottish form consisted of a single, cylindrical-bore chanter of wood, with a single cow-horn bell and a wooden reed-cap greatly resembling that of a modern practice chanter. While it was supplanted by the practice chanterin the 19th century, it was not strictly a practice instrument for the pipes, but a solo one in its own right, often associated with shepherds.

 The "recorder" and "quihisail" are mentioned in 1549: the fact that they were regarded as separate instruments suggests that the metal tin-whistle had already reached Scotland ( it was known in France at least as early as the 13th century). Whistles of bone have been found in Ireland and were probably made in the Highlands too.

 Other wind instruments mentioned in our period are a (reed) "pipe maid of ane gait [goat] horne", "ane pipe maid of ane bleddir and ane reid" ( a droneless bagpipe? a doucaine?), and cow's horns either blown trumpet-style or fitted with a reed.

 The fiddle as we know it, the modern violin, was just emerging in Italy in our period, and was not to become the instrument of choice for Irish and Scottish dance until the 17th century. "Fiddils" and "rebeca" are inscribed in the hand of Scots of our period ( the "fiddil" would be a form of what is now called a vielle or fiedel), but no example or illustrations of the Scottish varieties exist. The bowed lyre family was probably no stranger in the Highlands: the Shetland gue or goe is one of these, and something resembling the Welsh erwth may well have been played in the Highlands.

 The lute, viol, and virginals are often mentioned, but always in the context of Lowland gentry.

 The TRUMP, now known as the Jew's harp, had already reached the Highlands ( probably from Norway) and became very popular.

 References to drums are conspicuous by there absence. The side drum seems not to have joined the piob mor for military music in Britain till the establishment of Highland regiments in the British army. There is a reference to drums being employed as noise makers along with cow horns of every size in the 16th century, and the 17th century Irish regiments on the Continent using drums as well as pipes, but otherwise they seem to be missing. The BODHRAN, the Irish frame drum which I am told is also indigenous to Scotland, is equally elusive in the historical record. It is identical to the Eurasian shaman's drum of thousands of years ago, but how and when it entered the dance of the Gael is a mystery to me. Other period rhythm instruments, e.g. pairs of bones, spoons, and tongs, were probably played in the Highlands of our period, though proof is lacking.

 The picture of Highland instrumental music of the 16th century that emerges is one in sharp contrast with that of the Lowlands and the rest of Europe. Whereas a terrific variety of strings, especially plucked and keyboard ones, dominated ensambles elsewhere, the clarsach seems to have been the only plucked string to see much service in the Highlands. Bowed strings remained in a subordinate position for another hundred years, and percussion instruments seem not to have been as common as elseahere. There was, on the other hand, quite a variety of homemade wind instruments, particularly reeds. The contemporary trend of building instruments in high and low pitched versions for playing in consort seems not to have taken hold in the Highlands. While broken consort playing was probably known, much if not most of Highland instrumental music seems to have been played solo until after our period. Though much of what is now familiar in Scottish music is missing in the music of the 16th century, there is much of the older musical culture which is now lost, or whose original diversity has been stylized and fixed in form. One can only hope that the ingenuity and originality of our forebears is returning to the musical art of the Gael.

 SEANNACHIE 31 11/08/84


It is said that a Scotsman appreciates but three things in life: good food, a game of golf and his whisky.

 At no time is this more apparent than at an authentic ST. Andrew's Day feast when the table is set with the traditional fare: Cock-a-leekie soup, Haggis, and a fine Scotch whisky.

 While Americans are still recovering from an overdose of Thanksgiving, the Scots will be just gearing up for St. Andrew's Night. Celebrated on November 30, the occasion is a perfect excuse for drinking, dining, and dancing into the wee hours, and the Scots excel at all three.

 St. Andrew of Scotland is mentioned in the Bible as a fisherman, the brother of Simon Peter. He founded churches in Constantinople and Rome before, according to legend, being shipwrecked off the wild coast of Scotland. Making the best of it, he proceeded to convert the heathen ***PAGAN*** Scots to Christianity, and, although crucified for his efforts, he eventually became their patron saint.

 St. Andrew's Day is much like our Thanksgiving feast. It's a time for camaraderie, the enjoyment of fine food and drink, and a time to celebrate St. Andrew, who as one of the 12 apostles, was a martyr. Crucified by Nero in the year 60, St. Andrew is remembered annually via the elaborate fashion of a St. Andrew's Day feast. As the Gaelic proverb says: "Foolish is he that despises food." Nowhere in Scotland can a foolish man be found on St. Andrew's Day. They eat and drink very well.

 It is customary for the Scots to enjoy Haggis on this day although this large round sausage has not proved itself appealing to the American palate. Haggis is made from minced deer's liver, and the heart and intestines of a sheep. It is served to the sound of bagpipes, and small glasses of whisky are taken between bites.


The doctrine of signatures means that the shape of a plant indicates its curative value. At least it did to the herbalists and medical men of the time we are working with, although it is starting to fall apart as science grows. But then we are still people of the earth and very superstitious, and hold on to our traditions like a dog his bone.

 Care should be taken in collecting wild growing herbs that the proper species of plant is used. Properties and strength may differ widely from one to another. When to gather is equally important. If the root or stem is to be used, pick the herb in the early morning when the dew has dried. If the leaves, flowers, or tip of branch are to be used, pick these around two O'clock on a sunny afternoon when the fragrant oils and juices have risen to their fullest. Pick as much as to be used fresh is better than old. Drying is for use at a time when the herb is not available fresh.

 INFUSION: dry plant put into boiling water such as tea

 DECOCTION: plant into cold water and boil for 15-30 minutes, then filter

 MACERATE: plant into cold water and let stand, then filter

 TINCTURE: plant into alcohol for several days. Let the water or alcohol evaporate and you have EXTRACT

 POWDER: that which is left when all the water or alcohol evaporates

 JUICE: liquid, may have water added

 PULP: fiber left after the juice has been extracted

 SYRUP: juice plus sugar

 POULTICE: paste of oils, starch, and mucilages, either hot or cold

 PLASTER: mixture of wax, resins, and fats with the herb on a strip of linen and applied to the skin

 LINIMENT: any medicine used externally as an unction or friction

SEANNACHIE # 33 01/17/85

The Chief Speaks


 In the begining there was the bog, the glen, the hill. Eoin MacKenzie saw the need and the method, and then there were bogtrotters, glen goblins, and ridge runners. And he saw it was good.

 Now after 9 years of existence, and as much oatmeal under the bridge, we find ourselves at the begining of a new season; and looking back over the sheepskin collar of the brat we see that many things have changed, and many have remained the same. Our membership has multiplied, yet much of the extended family feeling remains. The paternal authority and responsibility insisted upon by our founder as necessary to maintain the structure, and difference in our family, remains. The collective belief that our clan, by its choice of time frame, mission, character, and true clan structure, presents a special gift for give the Gaelic American community; remains.

 Those things that have passed have done so in the normal evolution of an organization. The growing pains of a family- stretching itself-growing in many and varied directions.

 From the days of fhille beag and Faire shirt to now- when we can have protracted scholarly discussions about the correctness of a hem length or a ring- all are significant indicators of the changes over the years. All and all, these changes are part of the original idea.

 This year has been a busy one. After Hog III, an unqualified sucess, our first activity for the new season 1984 was St. Patrick's Day in Pasadena; we marched at about 45 strong with some of ours displaying the uniforms worn by Irish men in many periods. Judging by press coverage and crowd reaction, we were well recieved. This is also the occasion of the fabled "Death March/Trail Of Tears" in search of beers.

 Following this is the ever-popular yearly Last Annual Ren Faire. While The Faire Remains The Same, many changes came our way, mostly signified by words like,"pleased, happy, co-operative, helpful, well-thought-of," things we had never heard before. Our round of activities was popular with the "natives" and, we hope, the "tourists". White folks lunch has become so popular that in this coming season I'm sure it will become "the" invitation to have. There will be hard times to top our gift to the Queen, if only its ability to provoke talk and anxiety among the "Sassenach" gentry. On the subject on Sassan anxiety, our reputation for fierceness extends even to our barbeques. Remember the extraordinary stories about our lamb, or as some would have it, our Doberman? And some feared our supper had the day before been amusing the tykes at Children's Dell.

 I remember with affection my birthday review and my gifts. I remember with pride how we, due to our ability to get from place to place in order, were given the leading spot at Grand Ringout. This was without a doubt a banner year. Even the Byzantine bureaucratic foolishness so common to Faire was navigated with a minimum of grief. We looked good, we worked hard, and we even had some fun!

 The next chapter was the Irish Faire, held this year directly after Faire at the Rose Bowl. Soooo... Instead of the usual eager Fall warriors, they got a really gritty, hard-bitten group of veterans back from a 2-month campaign. We were not really "up" for this one, but nonetheless we turned in a real journeymen's appearance. We found we could handily repel the vicious, premeditated attacks of pipe bands.

 On top of all this triumph, I was allowed to sit with the guests and high muckety-mucks of L.A. Gaeldom (normally a very nice thing, but I was wearing my back and breast, and sitting cut me off at the throat). Also this year our costume contest was very alfresco, and provided for many winners.

 Two very small but important events were added to the calendar this year: the Children's Museum gig and a teaching visit to a school in Palos Verdes. Both of these events were solid successes that demonstrate our ability to produce results on short notice, with small groups who know their stuff. It is hoped that we can do many more of this type event.

 The Chino Games came again with the wind. Very nice layout this year, with a new addition or two (not the least of these being green grass! Also, a very nice entertainment stage which was kept going both days.

 This annual conflict festival did not disappoint; we had plenty. Some of it was useful and some of it was just melodramatic. It certainly had all the elements, but we did make some new friends, and in many of those we could not exactly call partisans to our cause, we at least managed to evoke harmless toleration. Some were frank enough to explain what they believe to be the origins of our frightful reputation: we are presented by some, and perceived by others, as "gypsies!" Extraordinary.

 Well, take a cup of kindness, then....

It was Hogmanay again -- and you all have surprised me a good one with another gift I had no notion of. Thank you all for subscribing. With my Clan birthday gift of my medals, and now my jacket -- I hope to wear it well and bring honor on those, my children, who gave it to me.

 Our Hogmanay this year was a triumph, as we all knew it would be, and a good time was had by all. Our traditions deepen, our bonds become stronger, and the old ways of our culture enrich our lives.

 The wheel of the year has come round again back where we started. Soon the sound of post-hole digging, fence mending, wall building, nailing, stealing burlap, and the voice of the Lieutenant will be heard in the land.

 Hope to see you all at the St. Patrick's Day parade and 2nd Annual Pub emptying contest (see -- a new tradition!).


 SEANNACHIE 35 05/20/85


by James H. Scarlett, F.S.A. Scot

 Readers of tartan lore do well if they look askance at statements beginning with such phrases as "It is well known," or "It is generally agreed," for the information that follows is likely to owe a great deal to wild imagination.

 "Everybody knows" that the belted plaid was put on by first laying it on the ground and pleating it over a belt, and then lying down on it and doing up the belt. But was it?

 It is difficult to imagine that the operation could be performed in a space much less than eight feet square, and that would not be easy to find in a Highland cottage, which was generally the smallest possible shelter capable of containing the family and its livestock. A friend of mine who performs this trick regularly claims to have perfected it so that he can do it on a small stage, but even that would be a good bit larger than the space I have suggested.

Take your plaid outside and you have to find a fairly level piece of ground and contend with any or several of the Highland elements; the slightest puff of wind on the finest summer day can make a 4-1/2 x 18-feet piece of lightweight woollen cloth unmanageable; and, as for doing it in a hurry, I tried it in just these conditions, and it took three of us 20 minutes to array me!

 Remembering that the army wore the belted plaid, the thought of a whole company of soldiers performing these antics at the same time, in the early morning in an ill-lit barrackroom or tent, summons up many adjectives, of which "bogglesome" is perhaps the mildest. It is argued, of course, that the plaid was not taken off all that often, but it was worn by the gentry as well as by the rank-and-file; and a glance at the list of household plenishings of any laird shows that he was not short of a change of linen -- and you cannot change your shirt without taking off your plaid.

 Clearly, there has to be a better way, and C.N. M'Intyre North, who wrote "The Book of the Club of True Highlanders" is 1882, thought so too.... With practical experience, North gave it as his opinion that the only way to don the plaid was to pleat it roughly in the hand, belt it loosely, adjust the pleats, and tighten the belt. Quicker perhaps than the more publicised method, and certainly requiring less floor space for its execution, but still not easily done without assistance, and seeming to lack that quality of speed necessary for the pursuit of a raiding party on a winter's night.

 From the point of view of complete practicality, a better arrangement is shown in a plaid reported to have been made for Sir Evan Murray MacGregor for the occasion of the visit to Edinburgh of King George IV in 1822. This plaid -- which survived at least until 1961 when it was exhibited in Edinburgh -- was four feet wide and 17 feet long, and had belt loops of wide tape sewn inside, one in the centre of each sett (but leaving the aprons free). Another length of tape, or a cloth belt, was threaded through these loops which were then pushed together and the belt tied 'round the waist; the aprons could then be adjusted and the belt put on, quickly and without assistance. There is no reason to suppose that every belted plaid was made in this way in the days when they were commonly worn; but equally there is no reason to regard such an invention as being beyond the ingenuity of the average Highlander.

 I have not yet tried this, but shall soon be testing the theory with a one-fifth scale model. If this is successful, I shall try the real thing as soon as I can find the time to weave a length of tartan for myself; for if the difficulties of getting into it can be solved, there is only one garment better for the Highland climate than the kilt -- and that is the belted plaid.

 (This is excerpted from an article published in "The Scottish-American" newspaper, March-April 1985 issue. Anyone wishing to read the article in its entirety, or find out about getting this newspaper, please ask Janet Cornwell at the next function, or write me, c/o Montgomery.)

SEANNACHIE 42 02/01/86


As you know, this Hogmanay marks the beginning of our Decade year, and ten years in California denotes an abiding tradition. As befits such a tradition, we must look back to our beginnings (in the misty, myth-filled past) and, as is suitable for a dynamic, living, growing organization, into the future.

 This organization, for those of you who did not know, began at the Renaissance Faire, with a few lost and lonely "Scots and Irish" looking for a home -- and, by God, they found it. I urge you, whenever you can, to look through our scrapbook of pictures and clippings of these early days, and if you're a new hand, grab a veteran and provoke a few tales of yore.

 Our founder, Eoin MacKenzie, in his wisdom felt that if it was going to look and act like a Clan, the best structure would be the original model. And it worked. It gave us a framework to grow on. And for those of us nominated in Tanistry to these high offices, it gave us grey hair -- I suspect that even Roderick's young head, on close inspection, would reveal a few new ones.

 While Ren-Faire was the birthplace and, for MacColin of Glenderry, continues to be our central event of the year, both Clann Colin and Clan MacColin have branched out in all Celtic directions. We participate in many and varied activities, large and small. We attempt to present a world before "the '45" and before Easter 1916 or the Potato Famine. To be sure, it's a strange world, often savage, often elegant and courtly -- a world so different than most that Elizabethan contemporaries would view it with the same mixture of superior horror and delicious novelty as they would observe a Red Indian thrust into their midst. (It might be said that this group has provoked similar reactions from time to time among 20th-century contempraries.)

 But, over the years, the obscure place and time of Scotland and Ireland in the 1500s has worked its magic on many folks -- 500, at least -- who have worked with us for greater or lesser tenures. At Southern Ren-Faire, I would guess that at least 15% of the cast and crew have spent a season or two with us.

 But more than culture, more than history, this organization has provided Family. In an age when "family" often means three people, here with us you can have 150 people poking their noses in your business, talking about you, giving you advice, and tattling to Daddy. But they will also fix your plumbing, cut your hair, install your hot-tub, give you back rubs, get you drunk, get you sober, refer you to a lawyer, sew for you, sweat for you, abuse mind and body (yours and theirs!) for you, fix your car, bail you out of jail, wake you up, tuck you in, watch your kids, baptise you, marry you and bury you. This is why we're still here after ten years -- that, and the fact that it keeps you from having to think of what to do with your weekends!

 As for the future -- get your running shoes on! We've got appearances before and during St. Patrick's Day, we need to prepare our pikes and have a "wappenschaw," and then Faire starts early this year.

 There will be changes, considerable ones, in our operating procedures at Faire, and a lot of it boils down to money in the Clan Sporan. We have not forgotten our mercenary roots! So we will be organizing into groups for Crafts, Military (marches and guards), Shows, and Games, so as not to strip the camp of bodies at any time. The physical camp layout will see major changes, and will be much more open to the public. The Faire will keep us busy through the Memorial Day Weekend.

 The Irish Fair in June will be at a new location, with a chance to spread out more, have longer parades, and provide enhanced crafts demonstrations.

 The Long Beach Renaissance Fair, which has inveigled us onto their Board of Directors, will provide a nice, cool, seaside weekend in August. It's a comfortable, calm, event, with costume contests and real prizes. Then there will be the annual Chino Highland Games in October, at which we want to present a first class display and demonstration area, and our goal is better attendance.

 Add a few smaller events, like our show at College of the Canyons, and that about shoots the year, and it's time to plan Hogmanay again!

 I'd like to thank everyone who helped organize and present this Hogamanay feast in all its intricate glories, and to commend again those whose efforts have brought them special recognition from their officers and kin. And to everyone, thank you all for being such a splendid company.

SEANNACHIE 45 07/13/86


This past Ren-Faire marked the tenth year of our working together as a recognizable group. Oh, a few folk had been working the Faire as Scots characters for several years, and the group gathered around Eoin MacKenzie had formed Clan Colin, our ancestral Clan. At that Faire in 1977, though, a remarkable fusion took place, and we of the South ended up with about thirty strong, Scots and Irish, who plunked their money down and agreed to work as a unit.

 It was different in those days. The Faire was wilder, and so was the Clan -- our personas were mercenaries going to fight in Flanders. We only occupied a slim stretch of real estate on the Hill, a strip of bare, hard, sloping, rocky ground reaching from several feet north of the house to not-quite-to-the-trees. No flat spots, no shade, no fence. Costume requirements were embryonic -- Faire shirts and small kilts could be seen on several of the lads, and lasses were known to go in drag and carry a mean pike. The dance shows were run by pro-fessional dancers, with the Clan only hanging around to provide color. Many of the Faire staff and actors were terrified of us, and were probably convinced that we WOULD eat their children. Or rape the goat.

 Ten years later, one can see the incredible change and development that the group has accomplished under the guidance of three excellent Chiefs, a cadre of dedicated officers and elders, and the grace of the Divine. We've had literally hundreds of people move through the Clan during these ten years, some adding their bit and then moving on, others bringing difficulties that forced us to determine our goals and priorities, and some staying to become real family members.

This year we pulled off the most ambitious set of plans we've ever come up with. Numerous Fairegoers remarked that our area looked and felt the most authentic of any in Faire. Our shows are reliably good; when they falter, as occasionally anything does, ways are found to put them back together again. Costumes are convincing, and getting more authentic all the time -- we wear them not as costumes, but as CLOTHING as we go about our tasks and antics, and that confidence is not lost on our audiences.

 This doesn't mean that we don't need work. More than a few comments have been made, by kinsmen as well as critics, that few of us have a decent Scots or Irish accent. We need a lot of work on this. Personas can be much more developed and used in daily Clan life, though our growing family awareness makes that task ever easier. And as we grow, in numbers and activities, there must be constant and considered attention to the art of making life easier on each other. Lessons and suggestions will be given -- formal and informal! All areas of interest, really, need as much attention as we can give them.

 But, all in all, we have MUCH to be proud of. Those who were at the Chief's Birthday Annual Troop Review could not help knowing the sense of Clan we have earned for ourselves, in and beyond the Ren-Faire. All thanks are due to everyone who has been part of us over these years of our first growth, and who has built part of what we are. Thanks particularly to the officers and leaders among us, who have found ways through the land mines of life as we progressed, and whose hearts, minds, and hands have shaped the Clan. And, without reserve, thanks to the Chiefs who have led us over the years: Eoin MacKenzie of Clan Colin; Stephen Flanigan, first Chief of Clan MacColin; and Steven Gillan, present Chief of Clan MacColin of Glenderry.

 In the near future, there will be the annual awards given to those who made special contributions to this year's production of Faire. In the meantime, just to concentrate on one event of many:

 Special thanks to everyone who helped make the Chief's Birthday, Troop Review and party a real string of successes. There is an old truth about the Chief being the symbol of the tribe, especially in the Celtic nations, where "Clan" means "children" -- or "family." We've shown, through our Chief, just what a truly strong and dedicated family we are.

 Here's to another grand decade. Slainte!

Seannachie #69 July 1988

Faire Dozed...

Three expeditions were made to Faire site to reclaim our goods. Thursday evening Kriske and company made a foray to the site and loaded all they could, fearing no further effort would be possible.

 Friday noon Glen Tieg got a call from Diane, once a German and now a Clansman, saying that she, living in Agoura, had made a morning run to Site. Using the gift of the Blarney Stone, she got on site and saved what she could. She set the way in for the rest of us, but doubted that it would be possible after 3:30.

We got on the phone, made some calls and made a run in. The boy at the gate was cautious, but OK'ed our entry and that of the rest of our crew. " Just get your own goods, and stay out of the way of the heavy equipment. I don't want to get in trouble". Gail Abramovitch met us on site, so she, Pat Kriske, and I extracted and loaded every last bit of burlap and canvas, the rest of the cobbles that could be found, some rock, and some of the smaller useful poles. Both vehicles were full to the gunnals with the Beasty leaving site for the last time, fully as loaded as ever.

 It was no dragon chewing its way through Faire site- it was worse. Not a gut wrenching squeal, but the tight chested knowledge that the all too familiar sound of heavy equipment meant the monster was pulverizing, scooping up and hauling away all that was not barren dirt. Our home of so many years was no more.

While we pried and heaved our way into the remains of the hootch and Chief's House, the squeal of heavy equipment on crawler treads, creak of lumber giving way, and booms of shattering timbers never abated. Where familiar booths once stood was only barren, raw dirt. Ale 5 was rendered a pile of smashed wood and splinters surmounted by a large bulldozer with rampant blade.

There was no heart in the wrecking crew. There was no malice, no compassion, no awareness or concern for what they were destroying, only the careful following of directions for a pay check. They carefully drove the tractors to miss hitting the trees, but heeded not the roots they crushed. Only the boy at the gate talked to people, hearing the hopes, fear, and anger of the people of Chipping-Under-Oakwood-trying to salvage what they could.

 We paid our respects to our Oaks, the Grave, and our Hill, promising to return and do all we can for their well being. We need them, and in the face of such ignorance and greed, they need us.


Seannachie #71 Nov 88