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.