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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Strumming A New Version of Ireland’s National Anthem

Feb 8, 2014 by

There is a wonderful new version of Ireland’s national anthem, Amhrán na bhFiann, (pronounced OW-rawn nuh VEE-un) also called A Soldier’s Song, that’s been recently posted to YouTube.  Paul Quinn, an Irish musician from County Clare,  performs the famous song of the 1916 Easter Uprising as an acoustical guitar solo with verve and skill, breathing a spirit of vitality into a song written more than 100 years ago.  


Composed in English in 1907 by Peadar Kearney and Patrick Heeney,  the tune became a marching song for Irish rebels in 1916 and throughout the founding of the Irish free State.  The Irish translation was written by Liam Ó Rinn (1888–1950) around 1917  and is the version most commonly sung.  The complete song consists of three stanzas and a chorus, although Ireland’s National Anthem is only the choral refrain.

Amhrán na bhFiann, Ireland’s national anthem

Sinne Fianna Fáil,
atá faoi gheall ag Éirinn,
Buíon dár slua
thar toinn do ráinig chughainn,
Faoi mhóid bheith saor
Seantír ár sinsear feasta,
Ní fhágfar faoin tíorán ná faoin tráill.
Anocht a théam sa bhearna baoil,
Le gean ar Ghaeil, chun báis nó saoil,
Le gunna scréach faoi lámhach na bpiléar,
Seo libh canaig amhrán na bhfiann

Soldiers are we,
whose lives are pledged to Ireland,
Some have come
from a land beyond the wave,
Sworn to be free,
no more our ancient sireland,
Shall shelter the despot or the slave.
Tonight we man the “bearna baoil”,[fn 4]
In Erin’s cause, come woe or weal,
’Mid cannon’s roar and rifles’ peal,
We’ll chant a soldier’s song



This Gaelic version by a different performer gives you a feel for the sound of the Irish version (which is how Irish schoolchildren learn it):


To learn more about Paul Quinn and his music, visit his links:


He has a very popular acoustic version of the theme from Game of Thrones and this gorgeous cover of The Rolling Stones Wild Horses, featuring singer Sinead Boomsma:


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Ringing In the New Year, Orkney Style

Dec 27, 2013 by

One of my favorite Celtic songs for celebrating the New Year is a little Scottish ditty from the Isle of Orkney, An Orkney New Year’s Carol.

There’s no better way to ring in the New Year than with a group of rowdy Scotsmen bound and determined to have a party–with you!

Do a little dance, make a little love
Get down tonight!


A traditional song sung in Orkney and the Shetland Islands, this Scottish carol demands hospitality from the home the revelers have chosen, else “we’ll lay [your door] flat on the floor” .  The origins and author of the song are unknown, but the lyrics reference Catholic Queen Mary and the Blessed Virgin, so it was likely composed before the 16th century separation of the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church.  So, get out your ale and your ham, lads and lasses–the gang’s all here:

This is New Year’s Even Night,
We are all Queen Mary’s Men,

And we’ve come here to claim our right:
And that’s before our lady.

The morning, it is New Year’s Day,
And we’ve come here to sport and play:

And if you don’t open up your door,
We’ll lay it flat upon the floor:

Master, get your ale vat,
And give us a couple of pints of that:

Mistress, get your pork ham,
And cut it large, and cut it round,
Be sure you don’t cut off your thumb:

We wish your cattle all may thrive,
To every one, a goodly calf:

We wish your mares, well fare they all,
To every one, a stag foal:

We wish your hens all well may thrive,
And every one lay three times five:

We wish your geese may all do well,
And every one, twelve at her heel:

God bless the mistress and her man,
Dish and table, pot and pan:

Here’s to the one with yellow hair,
She’s hiding underneath the stair:

Be you maids or be you none,
Although our time may not be long,

You’ll all be kissed ere we go home…


All’s well that end’s well in a Scottish song,  and this tune does end on a happy note.  The carolers confer New Year’s Day blessings upon the (perhaps reluctant) hostess and host, wishing them, their animals and their home much prosperity and good luck in the coming year.

Of course, no Scotsman worth his salt would think of leaving without first also paying honor to the lasses present.  In typical Scottish fashion, the men boastfully promise that ALL the women, old and young,  will get soundly kissed “ere we go home”, even if the time is short.

Quite the way to usher in a Happy New Year and, as they (most likely a Scotsman) say,  it’s not bragging if it’s true, aye?


To hear a sample of the tune and purchase the MP3 download, click HERE.

Nowell Sing We Clear  is a four musician group who have recorded several albums of traditional Celtic and British folk songs. An Orkney New Year’s Carol was originally released on their eponymous first album in 1977, then re-released on their 1989 Best Of Nowell Sing We Clear album. I don’t think their original album is still in print.

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Apr 3, 2013 by

Milladoiro is a traditonal Celtic music band from Galicia. Often compared to the Chieftains, they are among the top Celtic music groups. Muiñeira de Cabana (you’ll love this song):

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Mar 30, 2013 by

Gaitas atlánticas (celtas): Galega, asturiana, de foles trasmontana, biniou kozh & bombard, piobh mhor(highland great bagpipe), uillean pipe, la veuze.

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Mar 18, 2013 by

Tri Yann – Franzozig

Celtic music and dance from Breizh(Brittany)

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Feb 20, 2013 by

“Róisín Dubh” (pronounced Ro-sheen dove, meaning “Dark Rose”), written in the 16th century, is one of Ireland’s most famous political songs. It is based on an older love-lyric which referred to the poet’s beloved rather than, as here, being a metaphor for Ireland. The intimate tone of the original carries over into the political song. It is often attributed to Antoine Ó Raifteiri, but almost certainly predates him. Originally translated from the Irish language by James Clarence Mangan, this translation is credited to Pádraig Pearse.

The song is named after Róisín Dubh, probably one of the daughters of Aodh Mór Ó Néill, earl of Tyrone in the late 16th Century. The song is reputed to have originated in the camps of Aodh Rua Ó Domhnaill.

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