Friday, December 31, 2010

Auld Lang Syne (with lyrics)

The Kilt In Ireland

(this a copy of my post on the Ulster Heritage Magazine blog)
Is the kilt Irish…. was the kilt ever worn in Ireland? The answer to this question is a very simple yes, of course, but even simple answers need some explanation. The kilt comes in two forms, the filleadh beag and the filleadh mór. The wearing of kilts came into fashion in the Hebrides and Highlands of Scotland sometime during the late 1500s. Prior to the popularsation of the kilt most Isles and Highlanders dressed identical to the native Irish in a léine and short jacket.
Liam Neeson portraying Rob Roy wearing the large kilt, of filleadh mór

Why the kilt came into fashion can only be speculated on, perhaps it was the changing climate, which was growing colder in the late 1500s and the full kilt offered warmth, or perhaps it was improved small looms that could produce more woolen cloth, or perhaps just a fashion trend indigenous to the Gaels of Scotland. For whatever reason, the kilt became popular and fashionable among Gaels in certain parts of Scotland and would be brought to Ireland by Scottish Gaels that settled there in the late 1500s.

The filleadh mór is comprised of a very long piece of material called a plaid, which is belted in the middle. The upper part could be arranged in various ways depending upon the temperature of the day. The part below the belt was folded in the back to make pleats and came down to the knees.

There is a pseudo history about the creation of the smaller kilt, the filleadh beag, which is the form of kilt still very much in use today. At some point prior to 1690s, Gaelic tailors began to cut the filleadh mór in half. It was an organic fashion development within the Scottish Gaelic community. The upper part became a separate plaid and the lower part had the folds sown into it. This way the lower half, the kilt, could be worn separately from the plaid.

Sean Connery wearing the small kilt, or filleadh beag

A false story has long circulated about the creation of the small kilt that maintained two English tailors invented this form in 1727. However, in Gaelic oral history it was known that the small kilt predates this time. The English creation myth persisted in some circles until writer Clifford Smyth produced an illustration of the small kilt in use in 1690 and put an end to the pseudo history of the small kilt.

18th Century illustration on how to wear the kilt

In Ireland the full kilt and small kilt were worn in those areas settled by Highland and Hebridean Gaels. There are eyewitness descriptions of the kilt being worn as early as the 1590s in Ulster. Originally it was worn in the Redshank communities in east Donegal, northwest Tyrone, and north Antrim. Its popularity has waxed and waned over the years, but more and more the small kilt can be seen in Ireland worn at weddings and parties, by hill walkers, and sportsmen. This growing popularity of this very old Gaelic garment is natural and part of the heritage of Ulster.

(c) Barry R McCain 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010

More County Antrim Winter

Two more photos from Nevin Taggart, a friend of mine who lives just outside Bushmills, in north County Antrim. I have been to north Antrim several times now. My McCain family lived there just before they emigrated from Ireland to Colonial America in 1718. I still have kinfolk there that I have visited, it is a very nice place.

Winter In Ireland

There is also great beauty in the very cold winter this year. Here are a few photos from north County Antrim, Ireland. Enjoy lads and lassies. The trick is to be in your own home with a glass of cheer and a warm fire, and several good friends near. Merry Christmas.

The last photo is of Nevin Taggart, who took the photos above.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

In the Bleak Midwinter

Remember Lads and Lassies, 25 December is the beginning of Christmas, it continues on to the night of 5 January. The Twelfth Day of Christmas is 5 January,with the celebrations of Christmas traditionally ending on Twelfth Night and is followed by the Feast of the Epiphany on 6 January.Keep the Old Christmas. Turn off your TVs, pour a glass of cheer, sing, and make merry. Rejoice, it is Christmas Time.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Oxford Mississippi White Christmas

My two Manx Cats, Piscín and Pangúr, woke me up around 4 o'clock this morning, saying, 'Papa, you need to come look at this.' And, what was it? But a White Christmas. Very lovely. This photo taken this morning. Lovely white snow.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

please come home for christmas - CHARLES BROWN

A Song from my Louisiana past and my Mississippi present. Enjoy, a sublime Christmas tune.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Father Christmas

I will post more on Father Christmas, i.e. Santa Claus, in the next few days as time allows. Prior to the, oh I don't know, circa 1880s or so, Santa Claus was Father Christmas, or the Spirit of Christmas, and wore green, not red. He had trappings of the old pagan god, An Dagda, complete with holly (the sacred red and green) and the magic cauldron (the horn of plenty). You will see the real Father Christmas in any good version of Dicken's A Christmas Carol.

Kist o Wurds Link

Here is the link to the BBC Northern Ireland Kist o Wurds page on their main website.

Kist o Wurds

My interview will be available to listen to for six more days. It piece of the small pipe player is also excellent, I really enjoyed it. Kist o Wurds is an excellent program, all the episodes are available to listen to via computer, great way to discover this part of Irish history.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Barry R McCain's BBC Interview

William Roulston (left) and Barry R McCain

Dr William Roulston interviews me on the BBC Northern Ireland program, A Kist o Wurds. The interview details and how to hear it both on computer and the radio broadcast schedule are found at this link: BBC Northern Ireland

Many thanks to the BBC setting up this interview. They had to rent a studio on the Ole Miss Campus to do the interview.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The BBC Interview

Here I am in the very cold wooded hills of north Mississippi and I just listened to myself on the BBC Northern Ireland. A couple of things cross my mind. First, damn I'm good, but also the extreme talents and professionalism of the BBC N Ireland team. It was very nice working with them. Also, Dr William Roulston, was a very good interviewer. He is the top historian in Ireland in the field of family history and genealogy. Great fellow, very competent and intelligent, etc.,

I'll post a link tomorrow lads and lassies.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Jeeves Speaks Irish.

Bheul, tá Gaeilge ag Jeeves anois.

Interesting story below about actor Stephen Fry appearing on Ros Na Rún, which is a Irish language soap opera. I loathe the show myself, but watch it on occasion to practice my Gaelic. I love speaking Gaelic, hard to sum up exactly why. It is the McCain family's original language certainly. That has a lot to do with it. My McCains spoke a eastern dialect of Gaelic, Argyll Gaelic. Today I work mostly with Donegal dialect Gaelic, which has similarities to Argyll Gaelic. Speaking it has made my life interesting. Stephen Fry is best known for his role as Jeeves, in the PG Wodehouse, Jeeves and Wooster series.

The quintessential British actor, Stephen Fry, is learning Irish - so he can take a part in the Irish language soap, Ros na Rún.

The actor and broadcaster will be coming to Galway early next month with a BBC film crew to shoot a new series on minority languages. Mr Fry has a special interest in Irish literature and is a scholar on James Joyce and Oscar Wilde. His new series takes him all over the world to document how minority languages are faring in the modern world. He has recently presented Stephen Fry’s America and is the regular host of Qi, has a huge interest in language and especially minority languages.

It is believed that Mr Fry was completely taken with the idea of an Irish language soap and was thrilled when he was not only invited onto the set, located in Spiddal village, but to take a part as ‘a special extra’. Scripwriters have written a small speaking part for the Englishman and from this week, Mr Fry will be learning his Irish script though he will be touching up on his accent when he actually gets to Galway.

The filming of the programme will take place on December 6 and possibly December 7 and will involve a game of golf - in Irish of course - at the Connemara Islands golf club in Eanach Mheain, a visit to Ros a’ Mhíl harbour where he gets a boat to Spiddal Pier before heading to the Ros na Rún set. TG4 broadcaster, Páidí Ó Lionaird, who is the contact in Galway for the visit, said: They wanted to film something different and it is important that they see us banking, shopping, eating and drinking as Gaeilge and going onto a set of an Irish language soap was very appealing to Stephen Fry.

The Connacht Sentinal - Bernie Ní Fhlatharta
16 Samhain 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

New Madrid Fault Says Hello

New Madrid Fault Areas of Influence

The New Madrid fault line gave us a wee hello yesterday. A magnitude 2.8 earthquake located in southeast Missouri happened yesterday, at 07:11:37 PM (CST). Several years ago, I actually felt my first earthquake. No, not on a visit to California, it was here in Oxford, Mississippi. It is interesting as I knew instantly what it was, even though I had never been in an earthquake before.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Barry's BBC Interview

The BBC did an interview with me today; we did 45 minutes of tape which will be edited down to 25 minutes. I was in a studio on the Ole Miss Campus, they at the BBC studios in Belfast. It was very enjoyable. The name of the show is the Kist O' Wurds program, which focuses on the Ulster Scots community in Ulster. I will post the broadcast time when I find it out.

Focus of the interview was my upcoming book, Finding the McCains, my work with the Ulster Heritage Project, and the Redshanks communities in east Donegal.

A perfect fall day here in Oxford, Mississippi. I am preparing to go to a high school play off game, between Lafayette and North Pontotoc. It will be a excellent game. High school football is more fun to watch for me, than college or pro. Go Commodores...!

Monday, October 25, 2010

White Throated Sparrow

Here in the wooded hills of north Mississippi the White Throated Sparrows have returned. For all you Latin speakers, that is the Zonotrichia albicollis. It is my favourte bird. Not sure exactly why it is. It has the most unique song, which I enjoy hearing. They are very easy to bait, if you can mimic their song they will come up and check you out.

During the Autumn, Winter and Spring you can find them in hedgerows and thickets. You will know they are there by plaintive song. When evening comes and they gather to roost in dense thickets, their silvery flocking call is almost as evocative as their song. I associate them with falling leaves and the coming of Winter. They will visit a feeder, but often they are hard to spot and usually you will know they are around you by their song only. A very groovy bird. I noticed a few of them last week and it is very nice to see them back.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

May in Oxford Mississippi

Well, it was uncomfortably warm and humid in Oxford, Mississippi, today. My cats, Piscín and Pangúr, looked like melted licorice on the concrete. That time of year in the Deep South, you know, Faulkner and others rambled on about it, our summers. They are HOT and HUMID. Not good, but there you go, what are you going to do about it? Best to lay in a supply of beer, wine, and selective uisge beatha (that's whiskey for you people out around Pontotoc)... and make the best of it.

The world is weird today isn't it? Greece, that wacko Mexican from Austin, TX, making 'kill the white man' films, terrorists in New York, Volcanoes in Iceland; lads and lassies, that is some seriously weird stuff going down.

This is Him, The Big Guy

But, my tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers are doing fine... the blasted deer have not found them yet that is. Love is still the most important thing in life... now all of you, go to church this Sunday, you owe it to the Big Guy. He's not half bad.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Narnia- Puddleglums Heroic Speech

Perhaps my favourite scene from any book or movie. This is Puddleglum's speech from The Silver Chair. This is CS Lewis at his best and it mirrors our world so exactly.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Summer Tanagers in North Mississippi

well lads and lassies, wonderful news, there is a Summer Tanager family nesting on our land. Strikingly pretty birds, the male is bright red and the female a sort of greenish yellow. I've seen then for over a month now, always together, in the bird path, on the ground among the sunflower seeds I put out.