Celtic Culture & heritage

William Wallace - The Great Scottish Patriot

Depiction of William Wallace

William Wallace (Scottish Gaelic: Uilleam Uallas; c.1270 - died 23 August 1305) was a Scottish knight, patriot and national hero. He was one of the main leaders during the Wars of Scottish Independence. Leading the Scottish rebellion against Edward I and along with Andrew Murray inflicted a famous defeat on the English army at Stirling Bridge.

William Wallace was born in the 1270s in Elderslie in Renfrewshire into a family of gentry, although there are also claims that he was born in Ellerslie in Ayrshire. Little is known about his family history of which there are no reliable sources. His early life was recounted in the The Actes and Deidis of the Illustre and Vallyeant Campioun Schir William Wallace, more commonly known as The Wallace written around 1477 by wandering minstrel Blind Harry (c. 1440 – 1492).

Following the death in 1286 of Alexander III, King of Scotland his only surviving relative, his three-year-old granddaughter, Margaret, the Maid of Norway was Scotland's Queen-in-waiting. Margaret died en route to Scotland from Norway in 1290. John Balliol was named as the new King of Scotland in 1292. However, Edward I of England undermined his reign and viewed Scotland as a vassal state. John Balliol's weak response to this angered the Scottish who grew tired of him and in 1295 appointed a council of twelve to rule instead. The newly-formed council negotiated a defensive alliance with King Edward of England's enemy, France. Scotland's treaty with France was known as the Auld Alliance.

The Celtic Festival as a Cultural Experience - An inside Look at the Tide that has Lifted Celtic Music

A sign of the resurgence of Celtic Identity in North America is the Celtic Festival. A phenomenon best shown by the annual increases in attendance figures and the number of festivals established within the past 20 years.

A major force in the growth of Celtic Festivals in North America is Celtic Heritage Productions, a firm that organizes dozens of Festivals and concerts primarily in Florida and North Carolina. The festivals provide an opportunity for Celtic bands to gain experience and build a fan base, making them an invaluable resource for aspiring Celtic bands. The firm's Mission Statement is:

Celtic Heritage Productions strives to educate individuals and groups about the heritage, history, culture and tradition of the Celtic lands through the medium of music, providing entertaining productions with broad appeal to a wide range of audiences.

Estimates vary on the number of American’s claiming descent from immigrants to North America from the modern Celtic Nations. More elusive still is identifying the number of American’s descended from Celtic immigrants who enjoy a “Celtic Identity”.  An analysis of the American 2010 Census data proffered in an August 2013 article in “Business Insider” estimates the number of descendants of Celtic immigrants to North America to be in the vicinity of 50 million, comprised primarily of Irish, Scottish and Welsh in that order and inclusive of 5 million Americans who claim Scots-Irish ancestry.  Manx, Cornish and Breton identity is more difficult to measure as it has generally been subsumed within the census data into either English or French categories.

Shenn Laa Nollick ec Cabbal Pherick (Old Manx Christmas Day at Patrick’s Chapel) - A Manx Ghost Story

Glen Mooar

He had to clear his head. His brain still felt addled. When did the round of pre-Christmas drinks and celebrations start? One minute it was Hop tu Naa (Manx Halloween) and then bang! Along came an invite to this and an invite to that. Building and building and then there it was 25th December. Did it stop there? Certainly not; New Year was the grand finale. Seemed like a solid month of unbroken over indulgence. Jamys felt weak from the whole celebration thing. It was only now that he felt that he was returning to any kind of normality.

A light breakfast; all part of the recovery process and then he would walk from his home in Kirk Michael to Glen Mooar. January 6th 2013 was a cold, clear Sunday morning. It had been raining for the last couple of days but last night the skies had cleared and now a thick white frost covered the ground. As he stepped out of his house the cold air entering his body made him gasp. The village street was deserted and he walked quickly toward the road that led towards Glen Wyllen, Glen Mooar and then on to the town of Peel (Purt ny h-Inshey). He crossed the road as he neared the village pub, giving it a nervous glance as he passed. The site of many overzealous drinking sessions over the last few weeks and now taking on the guise of Dracula’s Castle; a place to be avoided at all costs.

Ailsa Craig - Natures Granite Masterpiece

Ailsa Craig

Ailsa Craig (Scottish Gaelic: Creag Ealasaid or Aillse Creag) rises out of the seas of the outer Firth of Clyde like a magnificent monster emerging from the deep. Climbing to a height of 1,109 ft (338 m) it lies nine miles offshore from the coast of South Ayrshire (Scottish Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Àir a Deas) in the west of Scotland. Ailsa Craig geologically is all that remains of a volcanic plug from an extinct volcano and is 2.5 miles (4 km) in circumference.

It lies approximately halfway between Glasgow (Scottish Gaelic: Glaschu) and Belfast (Irish: Béal Feirste). This rock stood as an important milestone for those Irish who emigrated to Scotland in the nineteenth century looking for work. Ailsa Craig is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Protection Area because it supports 73,000 breeding seabirds and is now a bird sanctuary, leased by the RSPB until 2050. Now offering a home and protection to birds, in the past it had also acted as a haven for Roman Catholics during the Scottish Reformation in the sixteenth century.

Celebrating Scotland's Patron Saint On St Andrews Day Monday 30 November 2015

St Andrew

St. Andrew's Day (Scottish Gaelic: Là Naomh Aindrea) is Scotland's official national day. Who was St Andrew and why is he Scotland's Patron Saint?

St Andrew has been the patron saint of Scotland from at least the mid tenth century and legend says long before. He was born in the village of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee in the early 1st century and is the brother of St Peter. According to the Gospel of St John, Andrew was a follower of the preacher John the Baptist and then became a disciple of Jesus who he recognised as the Messiah. A messiah is associated with Abrahamic religions which originate in the Middle East. Christianity is one of these religions and Jesus Christ in that religion is seen as the son of god. Andrew was one of the twelve apostles who was present at the Last Supper. Interestingly his name, Andrew, is not Hebrew in origin as might be expected, but Greek. St Andrew is thought to have died in the mid to late 1st century and was said to have been crucified on a diagonal or X-shaped cross which is now known as St Andrew’s cross.

The spread of Christianity to Scotland mainly came from Ireland in the fifth century. The national flag of Scotland (Scottish Gaelic: Bratach na h-Alba) is a white cross against a blue background. It is known as the Saltire and legend dates its origins back to King  Óengus mac Fergusa (Óengus II) who defeated a force of invading Angles in the ninth century. The legend is that in 832 AD the Scottish King prayed to St Andrew for help to defeat the English.  Against the blue sky the diagonal white cross appeared and it was on such a cross that St Andrew had been martyred.  The English were beaten and honouring his promise prior to the great victory Óengus made St Andrew the patron saint of Scotland. The association of St Andrew with Scotland goes back further than the reign of King Óengus II to Óengus I who was King from 732 to 761 AD. Legend also says that relics of St Andrew were brought from Constantinople in about the middle of the tenth century to the place where the town of St Andrew’s (Scottish Gaelic: Cill Rìmhinn) now stands.

A tale of old Redruth, Cornwall - The men overseas for mining work, their wives left behind in poverty

Lower Fore Street, Redruth, Cornwall in 1907

My maternal Great Granny Eliza Goldsworthy, whose maiden name was Hicks with her family originating from the Isles of Scilly, was herself born in North Country, Redruth in 1880. Her many younger brothers all died during the Spanish ‘flu epidemic of 1919 during which time the ground was too hard and frozen to bury them. They were laid out in the house pending a thaw to allow for their internment.

Co-op Stores, Falmouth Road, Redruth as it is today - built over the site of Great Granny's cottage

When Great Granny Goldsworthy first married in the latter years of the nineteenth century she moved with her husband John to a cottage in Falmouth Road, Redruth. This was situated on the spot now occupied by Lanyon House, previously a garage, and the now Co-op stores.

John’s father was landlord of the Feather’s Public House just by St. Euny Church and then the King’s Head Public House situated where the Regal Cinema now stands. His father’s cousin was landlord of the Trefusis Arms at Southgate, Redruth.

Author of Quatermass Series Remembered at Manx LitFest

Matthew Kneale

Nigel Kneale is remembered locally for being the Island's most successful radio, television and film script writer, and more broadly for writing groundbreaking screenplays for the cult 1950s BBCTV science fiction series, Quatermass. But his son, Matthew Kneale, (also a published author) was invited to speak at this year's Manx LitFest, when he made two very successful appearances in Douglas and Peel to talk of his own work and that of his father.

The Natural Wonder of the Manx Glens


The Isle of Man is well known for its many glens. Glen is a word from the Celtic Goidelic language (gleann in Scottish and Irish Gaelic, glion in Manx).  There are many mountain and coastal glens spread around the Isle of Man (Manx Gaelic: Mannin), as many as 120. These beautiful ‘V’ and ‘U’-shaped and often wood sided valleys have been carved over millions of years by glacial erosion and the water that constantly flows toward the sea from the Manx mountains and hills. A series of these glens are known as the Manx National Glens that are preserved and maintained by a department of the Manx government; access is free to everyone. They are noted havens of peace and tranquillity with tumbling waterfalls, deep swirling rock pools and abundant vegetation. Particularly in the 19th century, paths were laid, bridges built, and extensive tree planting carried out that enhanced the natural beauty and gave easier access to those who visited these remarkable places.

Return Home of The Viking Lewis Chessmen

Lewis Chessmen

In 1831 a Viking hoard was discovered by Malcolm Macleod near Uig, Lewis (Scottish Gaelic: Leòdin) in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland (Scottish Gaelic: Leòdhas, Na h-Eileanan Siar, Alba) . This hoard contained 93 carvings: one buckle, 14 pieces of a game called tables and 78 medieval chess pieces. The chess pieces were found in a sand dune where they seem to have been placed in a small, drystone chamber. The Norse beautifully crafted chess pieces, found in near pristine condition except for some discolouration, were made from walrus tusks and whale teeth and date from sometime between 1150-1200 AD. There is some discussion about whether the set was made in Norway or Iceland.

Isle of Lewis

Nobody knows how the pieces came to be buried in the sand in the Isle of Lewis. However, we do know that at the approximate time the chessmen were made the Isle of Lewis belonged to the Kingdom of Norway. The Viking interventions in this area began in the 8th century AD. The Islands of Scotland and the Isle of Man formed the Northern and Southern Isles. The Northern Isles of Shetland and Orkney were known to the Norse as Norðreyjar. The Southern Isles forming the Kingdom of Mann and the Isles (sometimes known as The Kingdom of the Isles) consisting of the Hebrides, the islands in the Firth of Clyde and the Isle of Man were known as Suðreyjar. Lewis was part of this Kingdom of Mann and the Isles and so the Lewis chessmen date from the time of Viking rule.

Redruth International Mining and Pasty Festival 2015

Redruth International Mining and Pasty Festival

The old Cornish mining town of Redruth in Cornwall once again celebrates its ever popular Mining and Pasty Festival with celebrations taking place from Friday 11th September until Sunday 13th September, 2015.

The Mining and Pasty Festival is a three day event celebrating the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Redruth through pasties, mining and music.  The event is focussed around the town centre and is completely free to attend.

Friday 11th, which is Miners’ Day, sees Murdoch House opened, the home of the Scottish engineer and inventor William Murdoch (21 August 1754 – 15 November 1839) with themed displays touching on Redruth’s close links with Real del Monte in Mexico where many Cornish miners made their home in search of mining work and with research material made available by the Cornish Global Migration Project.

Kresen Kernow - The Cornish Studies Centre is hosting events staged by the Trevithick Society highlighting the industrial trailblazers of Redruth and including a tour of the new multi million pound Cornish National Library and Archive Centre development currently under construction whilst the town centre will be alive with music and tales from the past including one of a miner who auctioned off his wife and emigrated!


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