It’s Time For The Greenville Scottish Games!

May 3, 2014 by

The Greenville Highland Games are calling and Aye must go!

Join me in Greenville, South Carolina on Memorial Day weekend, May 23-24, 2014,  for some awesome Scottish games, events and the world’s BEST KILT CONTEST! 


 To quote Dee Benedict, Board chair and Wild Eyed Southern Celtic woman:

In the finest tradition of marauding Scots, we are taking over Downtown Greenville and points north.  We are re-branding the whole kit and caboodle into one fabulous word, GALLABRAE, which is a mash up of two Gallic words meaning “Something bold and daring” and “beautiful highlands.”  That’s us!  Bold and daring Scots in the beautiful Highlands of the Upstate!

Some of the EVENTS:
5/23 Great Scot! Parade 6:00 pm
5/23 The Bagpipe Challenge! 7:00 pm
5/23 The Ceilidh! 7:00 pm
5/24 Demonstrators 8:30 am
5/24 The Greenville Scottish Games 8:30 am
5/24 The British Car Show 9:30 am
5/24 RAPTORS! 9:30 am
5/24 Opening Ceremonies 10:30 am
5/24 Celtic Jam 6:30 pm
11/16 Miss Greenville Scottish Games 7:00 pm

I will be hosting Rocking the Kilt, a new and fun contest to crown the man who who rocks our Celtic socks off in his kilt!

Open to ALL men in a kilt, between ages 18 and 100–claymores and dirks allowed, but not required, y’all.




We’ll have everything from wood faeries to border collies, hot Celtic music from Seven Nations to bagpipes and belly dancing with Cu Dubh, Southern fried haggis to traditional Scottish dishes and MUCH more.

Our featured clan this year is the wild and mighty Clan Kennedy, led by their hereditary Chief, the Marquess of Ailsa, Earl of Cassillis.

To purchase tickets and see the full schedule of performers and events, go to



You can read the online version of The Dirk, the official newsletter of the Greenville Scottish Games, by clicking HERE.

See you in Greenville, beautiful Celtic people–Alba gu bràth!

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National Tartan Day: Celebrating America’s Scottish Heritage

Apr 5, 2014 by

National Tartan Day is celebrated on April 6th in the United States to honor the many ways Scottish immigrants have contributed to the creation and growth of America.   In 2008, President George W. Bush signed a Presidential Proclamation designating the 6th of April, the date on which the Declaration of Arbroath was signed in 1320, as a day to celebrate Scottish heritage, and Tartan Day events have been steadily increasing ever since.   Although the celebrations are not as widespread or well-attended as Saint Patrick’s Day festivities, large National Tartan Day parades and events are held annually in New York City, St Charles, Missouri, Washington, D.C. and many other cities.

Can’t make it to one of those cities?

Show pride in your Scottish heritage and have your own cèilidh– break out your kilt,  bagpipe music and whisky and invite your friends and family over to rock the tartan!





There is some evidence that the ancient Celts wove cloth that looks like what we now think of as tartan, but the use of tartan as an identifying pattern for Scottish clans is a more recent invention.  In the late 16th century,   some historical sources refer to various types of checkered or patterned cloth among the Scottish clans.  By the 18th century, the tartan had become so closely associated with the Highland clans that the British Crown passed the Dress Act of 1746, banning the wearing of tartan, as a means of crushing the rebellious Highlanders and the Jacobite cause.  The Act was repealed in 1782, but by then tartan had become a part of the Scottish national identity and a symbol of Scottish freedom  for all Scots, not just Highlanders.




Not sure about the difference between tartan and plaid?   It’s a question I get asked frequently, especially in connection with clan ancestry research.
Tartan is a pattern on cloth consisting of criss-crossed horizontal and vertical bands in multiple colors, called breacan in Scots Gaelic. In weaving, the warp (the lengthwise yarns) and the weft (the transverse threads which are pulled through the warp yarns) are woven at right angles to each other, creating a distinctive pattern of squares and lines known as a sett.   There are setts for all kinds of things, such as the Scottish clans, several US states, and big companies like Harley Davidson– there’s even a Hello Kitty sett!

Plaid is not the same thing as tartan, although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably in the US.   The word plaid comes from the Scots Gaelic word plaide, meaning blanket, and originally referred to a piece of cloth used as a blanket or as a belted plaid, the original form of a kilt.  In Scotland today, if you ask for a plaid, you’ll likely be shown a piece of tartan designed to be slung over one shoulder or used as a blanket or throw for your bed.

The Grand Marshall at this years NYC Tartan Day parade is Howie Nicholsby, owner of world-famous 21st Century Kilts in Edinburgh and handsome Scotsman. Here’s a video from Howie about the kilt and its history:



Of course, it’s not  Tartan Day without a few Americans in kilts, right?!



Kennedy tartan

Kennedy tartan






US Navy tartan on left and US Army tartan on right, courtesy of Sportkilt

US Navy tartan on left and US Marine tartan on right, courtesy of Sportkilt



 Have a great National Tartan Day!

Sources and Links:

The Scottish Register of Tartans

This is the first place to look when researching your clan tartan.The Scottish Register of Tartans was established by an act of the Scottish Parliament in 2008, to protect, promote and preserve tartan. The Register is a database of tartan designs, maintained by the National Records of Scotland.

Scottish Tartans Authority-has a large database of info on tartans and clans

Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America,  by James Webb (2005)–great book!

Tartans of Scotland

New York Tartan Week

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