Beltane, Celtic May Day

Apr 30, 2015 by

May 1st is traditionally celebrated in the Celtic countries as Beltane, an ancient feast honoring the beginning of the summer season.

It occurs midway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. For the ancient Gaelic speaking peoples, Beltane rituals were performed to protect their cattle, ensure fertility, and to ward off fairies known as the Tuatha Dé Danann.

Beltane welcome

The May Queen welcomes Beltane at Edinburgh’s festival. Original image by chrisdonia on Flickr

The name “Beltane” ( rhymes with airplane) is thought to have come from the ancient Irish: Bel from the ancient Celtic god Bel or Belenus, and the Old Irish word tene, meaning fire. In Irish, it is Bealtaine, in Scottish, Bealltainn and in Manx Gaelic, Boaltinn or Boaldyn.

My favorite Beltane song is Jethro Tull’s magical ” Beltane:

Have you ever stood in the April wood
And called the new year in?
And while the phantoms of three thousand years fly
As the dead leaves spin?

There’s a snap in the grass behind your feet
And a tap upon your shoulder
And the thin wind crawls along your neck
It’s just the old God’s getting older

And the kestrel drops like a fall of shot and
The red cloud hanging high a come, a Beltane
A come, a Beltane…

Beltane was celebrated in some form in all of the Celtic countries. Here’s a lovely Beltane song sung in Welsh:

Although not a traditional Beltane song, Wild Mountain Thyme is a wonderful song about the coming of summer. It’s been covered by many artists, including the Chieftains, Rod Stewart, The Corries and more.  Here’s the inimitable Van Morrison doing his stellar version, entitled Purple Heather:

In Scotland, Edinburgh holds a HUGE Beltane festival every year, complete with pagan fertility gods and fire. It is put on by the Beltane Fire Society  and is quite popular with tourists from around the world. The fest combines traditional Gaelic Beltane rituals with neo-paganism to create unique, rolling party/play. This video gives you an idea of how Edinburgh celebrates the arrival of summer–caution, includes pagan nudity:

In Cornwall, Beltane is celebrated with the Obby ‘Oss tradition, in which a dancer dressed as a stylized black horse dances through the streets, trying to “capture” young maidens under his black cape.  “Teasers” chase the horse through the street (albeit slowly, in parade fashion), towards the May pole, whereupon the ‘oss is returned to his stable til next year. The origins of this Cornish fertility fest are ancient, but somewhat obscure; it is definitely pre-Christian and Celtic, possibly connected to the worship of horse deities such as Epona.


 You don’t have to be pagan to enjoy Beltane. Just fire up the BBQ grill, crank up the Celtic music and invite all your rowdy friends over to party like a Celt.

Happy Beltane!

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Quimper Faïence From Breton

Apr 28, 2015 by

Quimper faïence from Brittany is a popular hand glazed pottery that is uniquely Breton. 

  Quimperware, as this lovely, tin-glazed pottery is known, is highly collectible, especially the older and unique pieces. 

Quimper faïence

Vintage 19th century Quimper faïence binioù (bagpipe) wallpockets from Brittany, France–fabulous!! Image from ebay via Pinterest

Brittany, a former duchy, is known as Breizh in the native language, and has a rich Celtic heritage. 

Music is “E Garnison” by Denez Prigent, a Breton singer from Santec, in the Finistère (Breton: Penn ar Bed) region of Brittany, singing in the gwerz and kan ha diskan Breton styles. Click HERE to see the English and Breizh lyrics to this song about a wandering lady and amiable miller.

Quimper ( pronounced “kem-pair”) is the capital of the Finistère department of Brittany in northwestern France. It is also the ancient capital of Cornouaille, Brittany’s most traditional region that was settled by princes from Cornwall fleeing the Anglo-Saxon invasions of 430–1084 AD.

Quimper faïence

Quimper faïence for sale in Brittany. Image by Julle Kurtesz

The town’s best known product is Quimper faïence pottery. It has been made here since 1690, and is highly collectible.

Faience or faïence (in French) is the conventional name in English for fine tin-glazed pottery on a delicate pale buff earthenware body. Quimper faience is still hand painted, often depicting men or women in native Breton costume. I’ve even seen a Quimper piece featuring a dragon!

Quimper faïence dragon plate

Quimper faïence featuring a dragon, perhaps heralding the Breizh connection to Wales. Image from via Pinterest.

Still looking for one of those dragon plates on ebay….

Here’s a brief video showing some of the decorative styles of Quimper faïence:

For more information about Quimper faïence and its history, I recommend the following sites:

OldQuimper.comwebsite written by Quimper faïence experts who also sometimes have vintage pieces for sale.

Quimper Faience Pottery by antiques expert Pamela Wiggins –a good site for collectors to see examples of the various Quimper faïence marks

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Rare Welsh Gold

Apr 16, 2015 by

Gold is a beautiful, valuable element, and rare Welsh gold is the most precious Celtic metal of all. 

Highly sought after because of its scarcity, Welsh gold is found in only two areas of Wales: in south Wales near the River Cothi and in north Wales, in a narrow band stretching from Barmouth towards Snowdonia.


Rare Welsh gold nugget at the National Museum of Wales. Image by J.C. Mason

Ancient Welsh princes wore great torcs of gold, possibly from Wales. The British Royal family has continued the tradition of wearing rare Welsh gold.  In 1911, Prince Edward I was invested as Prince of Wales, using regalia such as a coronet, rod, and ring incorporating pure Welsh gold. Prince Charles used the same regalia at his investiture in 1969. 

In 1923, the Queen Mother ( Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon) used a nugget of rare Welsh gold to fashion the ring for her wedding to the future King George VI. Welsh gold was also used in the wedding rings of Queen Elizabeth II, Diana, Princess of Wales, Princess Anne, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and most recently, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.


rare Welsh gold wedding band for kate Middleton

Kate Middleton’s wedding band is made from rare Welsh gold. Image source

Kate’s gorgeous gold band–somewhat overshadowed by her blue sapphire engagement ring– was created by Wartski, a jewelry company founded in 1865 in North Wales. Wartski has been commissioned by the Queen and other royals to create several rings from rare Welsh gold.

One of the oldest of Wale’s gold mines is the Dolaucothi Gold mine in Carmarthenshire, Wales.  Dolaucothi was established by the Romans more than 2000 years ago, and continued to produce gold until 1938. In 1941, the mine was donated to the National Trust, which now runs guided tours through the old mines.

The Gwynfynydd Gold Mine in Dolgellau operated from 1860 to 1998. Queen Elizabeth II was presented with a large gold ingot from this mine on her 60th birthday. The mine’s owners used to give guided tours and allow visitors to pan for gold; the Gwynfynydd mine was closed to the public, however, because of potential liability and pollution regulations.

rare welsh gold from clogau mine

Rock containing rare Welsh gold from the Clogau mine. Image source.

One of the most well known Welsh mines is Clogau (pronounced Clog-eye), also called the Clogau St David’s mine in the Dolgellau gold mining area. Located in Bontddu (bont-thee), in north west Wales, Clogau was the largest and most productive gold mine in the Snowdonia area between 1862 and 1911.  The officially recorded output between 1862 and 1911 was 165,031 tons of gold ore from which 78,507 ounces of gold was extracted.

rare Welsh gold dragon brooch

Clogau Welsh dragon brooch containing rare Welsh gold. Image source.

The Clogau mine was re-opened in 1989 by the founder of jewelry company Clogau Gold of Wales, Ltd, but reclosed in 1998.  Clogau Gold continues to produce beautiful gold and rose gold jewelry with Welsh and Celtic motifs, although the pieces only contain “ a touch of rare Welsh gold extracted from the Clogau St. David’s Gold Mine.Welsh gold is chemically similar to other gold, but its scarcity means Clogau and other jewelry makers are forced to use only a scant amount of Welsh gold or else risk depleting all supplies. Clogau says it keep records of all rare Welsh gold used in its jewelry and marks each with a dragon hallmark and authenticity certificate. True Welsh gold is not a rose gold ( an alloy of gold and copper), but rather the typical yellow of any other pure gold.

rare Welsh gold clogau

Nuggets of rare Welsh gold from a recent exploration in the Clogau area. Image source


There are no active gold mines in Wales today, making rare Welsh gold one of the most expensive and sought after metals on the planet. In fact, the total world supply of Welsh gold is thought to be small enough to fit in an overnight bag. More valuable than platinum, Welsh gold sells for more than three times the official bullion price in London.

If you are interested in owning a small piece of rare Welsh gold, make sure to do your homework before you purchase anything. Check out a company’s proof of authenticity for its gold pieces, and try to find out what constitutes a ‘touch’ of Welsh gold.  Consider auctions when sourcing pieces–you might get lucky and find a truly unique piece of Welsh gold jewelry.

Most importantly, remember– not all that glitters is truly rare Welsh gold.

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Happy Scottish Easter!

Apr 5, 2015 by

Happy Scottish Easter!

The Highland Easter coos from the Isle of Skye are here to wish you A’ Chàisg sona, Easter greetings in Gàidhlig.

Happy Scottish easter in Gailidgh

Happy Scottish Easter from the Highland Easter Coos! Original Image via Bing



Madainn Th’air Eirigh (Morning has Broken), a Scottish Hymn for your Easter Sunday:

The words of this beautiful hymn were penned by Eleanor Farjeon in 1931, using a traditional Scottish Highlands melody known as “Bunessan“–the link takes you to a lovely harp version of the tune.  Although Morning Has Broken was made enormously popular by Cat Stevens in 1972, he did not write it. In fact, the hymn was published in 1931 in the hymnal “Songs of Praise”, and also published as a poem called “A Morning Song (for the First Day of Spring)” in a children’s poetry book published by Oxford University Press in 1957.

Happy scottish easter

The small village of Bunessan, on the Isle of Mull. Image by denisbin via Flickr

Bunessan is a small village on the Isle of Mull. Mary M. Macdonald (1789–1872), who lived in the nearby crofting community of Ardtun and who spoke only Gaelic, wrote her hymn “Leanabh an Aigh” to a traditional melody. When the words were later translated into English, the melody was named after the village by the translator, Lachlan Macbean. A monument to Mary Macdonald can be seen near the village, on the road towards Craignure, just after the Knockan crossroads. The ruins of the house she lived in are also nearby.

Sometime before 1927, Alexander Fraser heard the melody in the Scottish Highlands and wrote it down so that it came to the attention of Percy Dearmer, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Martin Shaw. In turn, these editors of the hymnbook “Songs of Praise” requested Eleanor Farjeon to write a further hymn text to the tune.

Gàidhlig lyrics:

Madainn th’ air èirigh mar a’ chiad mhadainn,
Lòn-dubh ag èigheach mar a’ chiad eun.
Taing airson ceòlraidh is solas na maidne;
Taing son gach aon nì thig bho ar Dia.

Milis an ùr-fhras deàrrsadh sna speuran,
Mar an drùchd cùbhraidh air an fheur ùr;,
Taing airson mìlseachd dealtachd a’ ghàrraidh,
‘G èirigh mar spìosraidh far an tèid Thu.

Solas na grèine, solas na maidne,
‘S leam-sa gach solas bho thoiseach an t-saoghail;
Seinnibh le aoibhneas, molaibh gach madainn;
Dia ag ath-ghintinn gach latha as ùr..

English lyrics:

Morning has broken like the first morning,
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird.
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning,
Praise for them springing fresh from the Word.

Sweet the rains new fall sunlit from Heaven,
Like the first dewfall on the first grass.
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden,
Sprung in completeness where His feet pass.

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning,
Born of the one light Eden saw play.
Praise with elation! Praise every morning
God’s re-creation of the new day.

A’ Chàisg sona!

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Artisan Irish Gin

Mar 28, 2015 by

Ireland is famous for its whiskey, but did you know that it also produces outstanding artisan Irish gin?


Gin, that most colonial, most British of spirits, is now being made in Ireland (formerly ruled by Britain) at two distilleries: The Dingle Distillery in Kerry and the Blackwater Distillery in Waterford. Although gin is usually referred to as London dry gin, this drink of the Empire in fact owes its existence to an Irishman, Aeneas Coffey. Coffey, born in 1780, redesigned the column still to allow a more efficient–and purer–distillation of spirits, giving birth to the classic dry gin. Now the story of gin has come full circle back to Ireland.

artisan irish gin from dingle

The Dingle Distillery produces its artisan Irish gin in small batches of 500 liters.  The distillery also makes whiskey (first batch to be released in 2016) and vodka. Image source

The Dingle Distillery in County Kerry prides itself on its use of Irish botanicals in creating their artisan Irish gin:

We are not prepared to reveal our recipe but are happy to give some idea of what is involved in creating the unique flavour profile of Dingle Original Gin.. We use, amongst other botanicals, rowan berry from the mountain ash trees, fuchsia, bog myrtle, hawthorn and heather for a taste of the Kerry landscape. It’s a formula unknown elsewhere and is calculated, amongst other things, to create some sense of place and provenance, what winemakers might call the gout de terroir.. The spirit is collected at 70% abv and then cut to 40% abv using the purest of water which we draw from our own well, 240 feet below the distillery.

The art of the cocktail has enjoyed a rebirth in the US, and gin is one of the most popular ingredients in both new and traditional recipes. Dingle gin is distributed in the U.S. by A. Hardy USA.   You can follow their production of artisan Irish gin on Twitter and on Facebook.

artisan irish gin from blackwater distillery

Blackwater No 5 is an artisan Irish gin just launched by Blackwater Distillery, Waterford. Image source


Blackwater Distillery from County Waterford just released its artisan Irish gin, which is receiving favorable reviews  from gin aficionados like Jenny in Brighton

Named for the nearby Blackwater River in Cappoquin, the distillery is proud of its bespoke gin:

Our first label – Blackwater No. 5 – is a classic London Dry Gin, distilled from the purest spirit, the finest botanicals and soft local water. Crisp and elegant, it’s great as a G&T, excellent in a cocktail.



 Blackwater is the first micro-distillery to open in Waterford in 174 years, and has plans to produce whiskey as well as artisan Irish gin.  You can follow their gin production on Facebook and Twitter.

As we head towards warmer weather, it’s a good time to taste test these fabulous artisan Irish gins. I will always love whiskey best–sorry, gin.  As a resident of a former British colony, however, I’m proud to make my future gin and tonics with Irish gin.

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Affordable Ireland Tour

Mar 15, 2015 by

The stunning decline of the euro means an affordable Ireland tour may be in the cards again for Americans.

Uragh stone circle megalith Ireland

The ancient Uragh stone circle on the Beara Peninsula, County Kerry, Ireland.

When I was in Ireland in 2014, the euro, the Irish national currency, cost about $1.40.  Every where I went, I saw visitors from Germany, the UK, Italy, France–but almost no American visitors.  Why?  Because the weakness of the dollar against the euro meant a trip to Ireland was cost prohibitive for most people from the U.S.  European visitors already use the euro, and the strong pound sterling gave British visitors even more of a bargain.


Affordable Ireland Tour

Crossing the finish line at the Ballabuidhe Sulky races in County Cork, Ireland, August, 2014

Today, the euro is at a 12 year low of $1.05 and is expected to continue its drop for the next two years.   Deutsche Bank expects the euro to drop to $0.85 by the end of 2017.   Essentially, the euro has tumbled because the U.S. economy has been strong against a weak global economy.  You can read more about the cause and effect of the euro’s depreciation HERE and HERE.


I’m terrible at math, but even I can calculate that my trip to Ireland this year will be about 25 % cheaper–woo hoo!   Airfares TO Ireland likely won’t be lower, but once you’re IN Ireland, your dollar will buy you more than it has in a decade. 

Go ahead, run the numbers and start planning your affordable Ireland tour today–

the Emerald Isle is always worth it.

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Irish Party Time

Mar 7, 2015 by

St Patrick’s Day is March 17th, and that means it’s Irish party time! 


Make your party standout with the following tools and decorations that will help you bring the Irish BLING!

Basic, inexpensive and multipurpose, these shamrock cookie cutters come in 3 sizes.  They’re great for cookies, of course, but you can use them to cut out Jello, brownies, ice cream for the brownies, as a butter mold, fondant for cakes, pizza dough to make mini shamrock pizzas—use your imagination!

It’s not a St Patrick’s day party without Guinness.  In Ireland, these Guinness pint glasses are what you’ll find in most pubs. They’re perfect for downing the dark stuff or for ice cream floats.  You can use root beer , but trust me–Guinness over ice cream is amazingly good as a dessert! Click HERE for a simple recipe for a Guinness float.

Shamrock lights are perfect for Irish party time. This Luck of the Irish Light set looks great on a mantle. I usually add some of my green Christmas lights for that extra oomph!  Tip: using plain green lights (without shamrock covers), stuff them in an empty Jameson’s bottle. Place 2 or 3 around and behind the shamrock lights for real Irish bling.  You can do the same with any clear glass piece you like.

You can probably buy St Patrick’s Day table covers at your local party store, usually with green shamrocks or leprechauns and rainbows. Those are fine for a kid’s party. Adult Irish party time needs a bit more sophistication, I think,  and these Irish flag table covers are perfect! They come in a set of three, so you’ll have enough to use throughout the house.

Irish party time

Irish party Time: Whiskey in the jar!

Irish party time means lots of toe-tapping music.  The best Irish music is in off-the-beaten-path Irish pubs, where you’ll find fine ceilis and craic.  Ah, but we can’t all celebrate in Ireland. A good substitute is Whiskey in the Jar, a two CD set that contains a good mix artists and songs. Click HERE to preview the songs or buy them as digital downloads.  There are many more albums available for your Irish play list–take your pick!

Lá Fhéile Pádraig!**

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!!

**Lá Fhéile Pádraig is pronounced  Law Ale-yeh Pawd-rig


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Mad Scottish Hares

Feb 23, 2015 by

Did you know that the phrase “mad as a March hare” refers to mad Scottish hares?

mad Scottish hares

Mad Scottish Hares: Think ye can take me, bucko? Image by Andy Rouse


In the old days, people in the Scottish Highlands observed an annual smack-down between mountain hares, who boxed and scratched each other til one hare ran away. The contest seemed crazy to humans, hence the birth of the well-known phrase. Everyone assumed it was two male hares battling for breeding privileges with the local doe (a female hare). Here’s a video of two mountain hares (in their brown spring coats) in frenzied battle:




Turns out it’s actually a battle between a male hare and a FEMALE hare. She’s weeding out the wimp hares herself, through combat. Only those bucks strong enough to last the bruising round will be considered a worthy mate for her. Female hares are receptive for only a short time, making the local bucks mad to mate–and willing to get punched around to prove their worth.

mad Scottish hares boxing

Mad Scottish Hares: What part of NO don’t you understand, ye numpty?! Image by Andy Rouse


Not exactly my preferred form of dating, but this kind of March madness seems to fit the

Highland way of life, I reckon.


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Get Right With Jamie Fraser

Feb 20, 2015 by

Do you have a friend who needs to get right with Jamie Fraser?

Sooner or later, we all need to “get right” with somebody, usually God or an in-law.  Friends who haven’t explored Outlander, the book or Outlander, the television series, however, need to get in the right relationship with James Fraser, his wife Claire and the other characters of Diana Gabaldon’s special Highland world. 


Dougal say get right with jamie fraser

War Chieftain Dougal MacKenzie takes it personally, ye ken.

The second half of Starz’ Outlander series debuts April 4th and it looks to be a stunning finish to Season One. There’s no better time than now to set your friends on the true tartan path with the help of the following Outlandish goodies.


Amazon has the Kindle version of Outlander for just $1.99, a bargain for those who haven’t read the book and want to know what the kilted fuss is all about.  Click HERE to buy the e-book.

This “beautifully illustrated compendium of all things Outlandish” has been updated by Diana Gabaldon and will be published March 31st, just enough time to get it before April 4th, if you use fast shipping.  It covers Books 1-4 in the Outlander series.

There are also older versions available of The Outlandish Companion available HERE.

Season One, Volume One of the Starz series, Outlander, will be available on DVD March 3, 2015. This 2 DVD set contains the first 8 episodes of the series based on the book, with several bonus features. Click HERE to pre-order the set and catch up with the series.

Finally, here are a few recent trailers from Starz to whet your appetite until Outlander returns on April 4, 2015:


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Kilted For Mardi Gras

Feb 17, 2015 by

If you love the the wild side of Fat Tuesday, there might be an advantage to being kilted for Mardi Gras.

After all, it’s the last day before the Lenten season of penance and fasting begins. As the Cajuns of Louisiana say: laissez les bon temps rouler–let the good times roll!! 

Snagging some of the purple, green and gold beads thrown by passing  floats has been a highlight of New Awlans’ (honey, don’t say N’awlins--that’s the tourist way) Mardi Gras parades for years. 

Why, young women have even been known to —read no further if you are easily agitated by licentious behavior— bare their breasts just to get those plastic necklaces and fake doubloons.





Well, fair’s fair, I guess.

If you absolutely, positively MUST have those authentic Mardi Gras beads or doubloons, you may want to offer a bit of lagniappe, a little something extra beyond the elegance of your kilted self. Wink, wink.

The parade rider ladies will declare you hawt, but it’s gonna be a mighty cold night in the Big Easy.

I say just buy da beads ya self and preserve the “mystery” of what’s under da kilt, mista.

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Entrudo, Portugal’s Fat Tuesday

Feb 16, 2015 by

In the ancient Celtic region of modern Portugal, Entrudo, meaning carnival, marks the beginning of the Lenten season.

Entrudo is celebrated on Fat Sunday and Fat Tuesday, right before Ash Wednesday, in the northeastern region of Portugal, once home to several Celtic tribes.  Although the modern celebrations are linked to the Christian season of Lent, Entrudo is rooted in pagan Celtic celebrations of spring.

Unlike the hugely popular, elaborate Carnaval of Brazil, complete with dancing showgirls, Entrudo is a traditional, localized festivity.  Even so, it successfully combines pagan Celtic customs with Christianity to express both a wild, primitive sense of fun AND a Lenten tone that impresses all who watch.

Not that Christianity can’t be fun, of course, but we’re talking about Lent, a time for penance, reflection, and fasting–not exactly a raucous time.

Entrudo in Podence, northeastern Portugal.

Colorful caretos at the Entrudo in Podence, northeastern Portugal. Image by TM

The three day Entrudo is most common in the Bragança area of Portugal.

Like Carnivale in Brazil and Mardi Gras in America, Entrudo is a noisy, exciting, colorful adventure through the streets of town–but on a smaller scale. Symbolically, winter is driven away and spring is welcomed.  Masks are worn, bounteous food and drink is available, and traditional masqueraders like the caretos roam the streets causing mischief and scaring people.  Sounds a bit like the Celtic festival of Samhain, aka Halloween, doesn’t it?

The energetic caretos are usually young men wearing green, yellow, red, black and blue fringed wool quilts. Their masks may be made of wood, leather or metal and are distinctive for their beaked noses.  They carry a mace or staff and are adorned with bells that herald their arrival with “tinkling”.

The caretos run wildly through the local streets in large groups, their loud shouting almost drowned out by the tintinnabulation of their many bells. Think of Halloween trick-or-treaters, but older and with too much caffeine in their system.   The caretos’ craziness can seem a bit wild, even frightening, to tourists, especially young women who are the primary targets of the caretos. That behavior relates to the Celtic fertility aspect of Entrudo.


Gotcha! Women are the main target for caretos during Entrudo. Image by Rosino



Young girl dressed as a careto during Entrudo in Podence, Portugal. Image by Rosino.



Entrudo: Caretos and carnival on Fat Tuesday. Image via Pinterest.

Although Podence is famous for its Entrudo, other parts of northern Portugal hold their own unique carnivals for Fat Tuesday. Here’s a video from the city of Bragança–watch for the plaid-covered bull (a common Celtic symbol of fertility); the traditional bagpipers playing gaitas, and the amazing variety of costumes and masks.



Here’s a photo of a fabulous masquerader from the small village of Lazarim. His costume has an agrarian theme: corn cobs strung together for the outer costume; a mask carved from alder wood by a local craftsmen; gloves adorned with dried corn kernels and a donkey to ride upon (both pagan and Christian symbolism).

Entrudo in Lazarim Portugal

Corn man at Entrudo in Lazarim, Portugal. Image by Alfredo Miguel Romero via Flickr

Here’s a short video of other caretos at Entrudo in Lazarim, 2010.

Oh, look at the cute, fluffy ram costume–wait–is THAT what I think it is?!

Only at a Portuguese Entrudo are you likely to see a pagan fertility careto marching alongside a nun while she hands out blessings to the crowd!

I think I have a new item for my Celtic bucket list.

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Love Poems Of William Butler Yeats

Feb 11, 2015 by

 Valentine’s Day is almost here, and what better gift for your beloved than the love poems of William Butler Yeats?

After all, Yeats was Ireland’s greatest poet. Brilliantly quoting from the lyrical love poems of William Butler Yeats is more likely to win his or her heart than gambling on a fat, winged baby to hit the correct target.


love poems of William Butler Yeats

Love Poems of William Butler Yeats: A Drinking Song



A Drinking Song may seem a strange title for a love poem. Yeat’s words, however, make clear that this brief verse is a toast to love, not to wine.


Romance is not just for the young. In When You Are Old, Yeats reminds us that love can be eternal.


Love Poems of William Butler Yeats: “He Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven.” The image is “The Meeting on the Turret Stairs” (1864), by Irish painter Sir Frederic Burton (1816-1900)


Yeats’ He Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven is a beautiful, eloquent love poem.  I’ve paired this heartfelt verse with an exceptionally romantic painting: “The Meeting on the Turret Stairs”, by Irish painter Sir Frederic Burton. This painting was voted Ireland’s favorite painting in 2012.


Christopher Plummer (he has Scottish ancestry) gives a poignant reading of Brown Penny in this clip from the 2005 film Must Love Dogs.

Yeats tell us we can never know the good and the bad that comes with loving someone.

Don’t try to seek advice from scholars or fortune tellers–just go and love, says Yeats, for “one cannot begin it too soon.”

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Kilted Valentines

Feb 2, 2015 by

February is here and it’s time for Kilted Valentines!

Better than chocolate or flowers, you get 12 months of aye candy in our Kilted Up 2015 calendar of kilted Valentines.



Kilted Valentine-Kilted-up-2015

Give something unique and fun for Valentine’s Day–the Kilted Up 2015 calendar, full of kilted Valentines hotties to enjoy year round!

Click HERE to purchase our calendar at ON SALE at and save 25% off the original price.

Your purchase of KILTED UP 2015 brings you 12 months of handsome men in kilts AND helps THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT, a group dedicated to supporting and empowering American military personnel injured while serving their country.

Our Kilted Valentines are brawly represented above by model Tim Kennedy, martial arts expert and member of Clan Kennedy. He is wearing a Kennedy tartan kilt and carrying a two handed Scottish broadsword!

All of our models are volunteers who have given their time and support to the Kilted Up 2015 project.   Please give them and, our sponsor,  a round of internet applause for their dedication to this worthy endeavor!

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The Viking Heritage of Mann

Jan 24, 2015 by

Did you know that the Viking heritage of Mann is one of the strongest amongst the Celtic nations?

The Isle of Man, (Ellan Vannin in Manx) often simply called Mann, today is a self-governing British Crown dependency, and not a part of the United Kingdom. Beginning in the 9th century, however, the Manx people (descendants of Iron Age Celts) were colonized and ruled by Vikings. The Norse rule did not end until 1266, when King Magnus VI  of Norway  ceded Mann to Scotland in the Treaty of Perth.  The Viking heritage of Mann can still be seen in many places on the island: in place names, myths and legends, artifacts on display in local museums, festivals and in its political structure.   The Tynwald, Mann’s legislative body, was probably created by early Celts, but derives its name from the Old Norse word Þingvǫllr , meaning “the field of the thing.” It claims to be the oldest continous parliamentary body in the world, dating back to 979 AD.

Here are few of my suggested readings for learning more about the Isle of Man, especially the Viking heritage of Mann.

Kermode’s book investigates the link between Celtic, Viking and Christian myths and legends that often appear on the standing stones and sculptures of Mann. Click HERE to purchase the book for $2.99.


From the Amazon review of Wilson’s book: “This book presents, for the first time, for both specialist and general reader, a major survey of the Island in the period from the early tenth century to the middle of the eleventh century. The rich archaeological material pagan grave-goods, silver-treasures, headland fortifications, farm-sites, inscribed and carved Christian memorial stones and the wealth of evidence provided by runic inscriptions, place-names and institutions, provide a unique picture of a vibrant society striving to be ever more politically and economically powerful. The story tells of the gradual change from paganism to Christianity and of the absorption of a native population into a society dominated by incoming land-owners and a king owing allegiance to Norway.”

Click HERE to read more and purchase either a soft or hard cover version of David Wilson’s well-written book.

Moore’s book is superb reading for those interested in learning the history behind Norse and Celtic place names and surnames (for genealogical research)that are found on the Isle of Man. Click HERE to purchase the Kindle version for $1.59, HERE for the paperback version or HERE for the hardback copy.


Last, but not least, Bryan Sykes’ book is a fascinating discussion of the DNA history of the British Isles. It is more generalized than the above noted books, but will help you see the many connections modern Celts have to the ancient Vikings who lived in and ruled over the Celtic areas of the British isles. Click HERE to purchase the Kindle or other versions of this fine book.

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Celtic Motivation For 2015

Jan 6, 2015 by

Need a bit of Celtic motivation for 2015?

We all make resolutions in January, but most of us–myself included– fail to follow through. This year, focus on your CELTIC MOTIVATION instead.  Set a goal for yourself that revolves around your Celtic heritage.

For example, choose a Celtic country that you’d like to visit, then take steps, even baby steps, that will get you closer to that country.


Celtic Motivation: The beautiful Isle of Skye in Scotland

Part of my Celtic motivation this year is to get back to Scotland. My family has ties to Clan Robertson, whose clan territory was in the historic earldom of Atholl, in Highland Perthshire,  including Loch Rannoch  and the wild, boggy Rannoch Moor.  I want to walk some of those ancient clan areas, to just BE there.

And then, merry of soul, I’ll go over the sea to Skye….

To quote the great Scottish bard, Rabbie Burns, however

“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley…”

from  To A Mouse, by Robert Burns

It may be that I won’t have the funds to travel to Scotland this year, or family and/or work issues may arise and prevent me from going to Scotland this year, or it may be that my new German Shepherd puppy just isn’t ready this year to be left alone for a month.

Doesn’t matter, so long as I keep taking those baby steps toward my Celtic motivation: I WILL get to Scotland soon.


Celtic Motivation: The neolithic stone circle of Orkney, the Ring of Brodgar. Image copyright Colin Smith


After all, the Ring of Brodgar wasn’t laid out in a day, and neither is the Celtic trip of a lifetime.

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