Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Scottish Weekend

"Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome tae your gory bed
Or tae victorie!"
~ Rabbie Burns

Last Saturday, I took a little trip up to Sky Meadows State Park outside Delaplane, Virginia for the 35th annual Northern Virginia Scottish games and festival.

The location was chosen for it's extraordinary resemblance to the Scottish Highlands.

As many of you know, my heritage is Scottish. My surname is a sept of clan Gunn, of the northern Highlands of Scotland. I was little disappointed to discover my clan was not represented at the festival, but I did meet another member of clan Gunn, here:He was the only other member of my clan I met there, although he told me there was another one there, one of the members of one of the bagpipe and drum bands. He is wearing a kilt of the Gunn clan tartan plaid. I have a tie just like it.

Here are some pictures I took of some of the Kilted Scots in attendance:

I tried a sample of Haggis, a national dish of Scotland. A Haggis is actually a large spherical sausage made of the liver, heart, and lungs of a sheep, all chopped and mixed with beef or mutton suet and oatmeal and seasoned with onion, cayenne pepper, and other spices. The mixture is packed into a sheep’s stomach and boiled. I got it from this stand here: If you click on the picture you can make out the word, "Haggis" below the counter behind the people standing there. Actually, the sample I tried wasn't in a sausage, so I don't know how authentic it really was, but they had the ingredients posted on a sign at the booth, and most of the ingredients they had in theirs are present in the preceding description.

It is not as horrible as it sounds, but it doesn't taste good.

I watched a little bit of the caber toss, a traditional Scottish sport that involved throwing a large pole. Caber is the Gaelic word for "tree" . Contrary to popular belief, the toss isn't judged on distance but rather, accuracy.

There was entertainment besides the Pipe and Drum bands previously alluded to. Here is a picture of a Scottish folk singer. I think his name was Robert McLeod. I'm not sure. He was very good.

Here is a picture of one of the bands that were entertaining. They had a parade sometime during the festival but I was somewhere else at the time and missed it.

As we were leaving the rain started to fall. You can see this gentleman and his wife were getting wet. So was I.

This picture wasn't at the festival. I saw this rather perplexing sight elsewhere. Both of these signs were in the front yard of the same house! I wonder if there is a disagreement between a husband and wife here:

Before I close, if anyone out there is still wondering what a Scotsman wears under his kilt, this may be the answer to the age old question: Click the picture unless you're squeamish.


Timothy said...

My wife is a bit Scottish... she's both Hamilton and ... darn, now I'm forgetting. One of the famous ones... Stewart! That's it. She has the Stewart tartan, but not the Hamilton. So my boys are part Scottish. I'm supposed to be Scotch-Irish, but not sure what that means... as in "Collins."

Alas, more English than anything else.

Trader Rick said...

Well, here's one Welsh-Russian that has sure enjoyed those games and the border collie trials that are sometimes held at Highland Games--Looks like your naked guy has a blue heeler with him?

Mark said...

They had one of those at these games, too, but I missed it. I got there a little late, and left before it was over.

Henry said...

Looks like some good fun!

My mother's side is from the (Scottish) Kennedy clan. I have ties in all three tartans - old, new, and hunting.

Maybe the guy in the last picture is a Scottish plumber!

Mark said...

Ha ha, Henry! Maybe so!

Mark said...

Timothy, Here's a little history and a song about one Hamilton:

Mary Hamilton was supposedly one of the "four Marys" who were ladies-in-waiting to Mary, Queen of Scots. However, the name of Mary Hamilton does not appear in any official records of the time. The Marys that attended the Queen in France were Seaton, Beaton and Livingston.

Other versions of this ballad (circa 1563) have Mary bearing an illegitimate child as a result of an affair with Lord Darnley, the Queen's husband. She drowns the baby and is subsequently hanged for her crime.

The Queen's Maries

Yestre'en the Queen had four Marys
Tonicht she'll hae but three
There was Mary Seaton and Mary Beaton
Mary Carmichael and me

Oh little did my mother think
The day she cradled me
The lands I was tae travel in
The death I was tae dee

Oh tie a napkin round my e'en
No let me see to dee
And send nae word tae my dear mother
Who's far awa' o'er the sea

But I wish I could lie in oor ain kirk yard
Beneath yon old oak tree
Where we pulled the rowans
And strung the gowans
My brothers and sisters and me

Yestre'en the Queen had four Marys
Tonicht she'll hae but three
There was Mary Seaton and Mary Beaton
Mary Carmichael and me

But why should I fear a nameless grave
When I've hopes for eternity?
And I'll pray that the faith o' dying quick
Be given through grace to me

Yestre'en the Queen had four Marys
Tonicht she'll hae but three
There was Mary Seaton and Mary Beaton
Mary Carmichael and me

Al-Ozarka said...

I have Scottish blood from my mother's side.
Lyon College in Batesville (about thirty miles from my home) has an annual Scottish Festival, as well.

Toad734 said...

While in Scotland I actually had vegetarian Haggis...some how. It was tolerable but I wasn't about to try the real thing.