Highland Games and Gathering of Clans

Screen shot 2013-06-22 at 9.06.10 PMI am not now, nor have I ever been, Irish. But I recently did one of those genetic tests, the type where you swipe out a q-tip of your finest DNA (from inside your mouth) and send it back to a techie company. The results came back saying that my genetic make-up matched that of someone from Ireland! Curiously, my real country of origin (somewheres south-east of the Iries), grinned at me in the results as close to last place in the genetic lottery. That’s when I knew those DNA rackets were a load of rubbish.

That said- I am not now, nor have I ever been, Scottish. But I (indeed) attended the San Diego Scottish Highland Games and Gathering of Clans today. A friend of mine (who has her very own shirt for this occasion with her last name proudly emblazoned on the front and the back) (nerd) takes her Scottish roots seriously.

Not quite Alexander Julian Colours
Not quite Alexander Julian Colours

Quick funny story about last year’s Highland Games. Forgive me for dropping names (ahem), but I was wearing an Alexander Julian Colours shirt a year’go. And a lady, a lassie I s’pose considerin’ where we was, passed me and nearly squealed. Oh, I like his tartan! I wonder wot’s his clan? I had no nerve to tell her, clan J.C. Penny, ma’am. Men’s section. At the yearly Christmas sale! I felt somewhat delighted and flat-footed. Both. The latter’s a feeling I rarely feel, for my feet are delightfully (that word again) arched. Quite nearly Grecian. (Truth: I have an average arch, but average does not an interesting blog post make.)

So this year, when I searched for my tartan, I discovered my rust colored Alexander Julian Colours shirt was in the wash! Argggh, I did not plan well for this Gathering of the Clans. Not to fear, I wore my blue Alexander Julian shirt. And proudly sauntered around, ready to loudly proclaim my Clan. Sadly, no squealers over me were to be found at today’s gathering.

Wicked Tinkers
Wicked Tinkers

The music was pleasant. With the wild:

Wicked Tinkers

Wicked Tinkers – Known as “The Wicked Ones” , (click on photo to enlarge) play the music of the Scottish Highlands proud, stirring, passionate and spice it with the Celtic tunes of Ireland. Aaron Shaw, one of the top pipers in America and Warren Patrick Casey, drummer for twenty five years have wowed audiences all over America. Not a military or rock band, Wicked Tinkers perform the kind of music you might have heard hundreds of years ago at a Scottish wedding, ceilidh or around the campfire of a Highland raiding party.


The soulful:


The band Blackwaterside was formed in 1995 by flutist Susan Craig Winsberg in celebration of her Scottish heritage. Since then they have released three CDs and have played several concerts and festivals, receiving great public acclaim. They are known for their varied approach to traditional Scottish and Irish music, alternating lively, upbeat tunes with lyrical and haunting ballades, constantly changing the texture and color of the instrumentation so that their sound is forever fresh.

Men of Worth
Men of Worth

And the lulling and subtle:

Men of Worth
The folk-music duo, Men of Worth, was formed by James Keigher (Ireland) and Donnie Macdonald (Scotland) in 1986. Both exiles, it was through the Celtic music scene in Southern California that James and Donnie first met, and within a couple of years a partnership developed that was simultaneously serious and fun.

Before you ask, yes there was highland dancing, sheepdog trials, piping and drumming, haggis (I checked ’em out, did not partake), the Braemar stone throw, hammer toss, caber toss, and all that tossing, hurling, heaving stuff. Was it fun? Very much so. Although, I must remember for future Gatherings to wash me clan shirt!

7 thoughts on “Highland Games and Gathering of Clans”

  1. If you are a Scot, then avert your eyes now, as the following information is irrefutable…


    Since the article went to pixel, Hadrian’s Wall has been manned 24/7, as the English await the arrival of the ginger haired, blue wode covered hordes North of the border… Sadly, good Scotch whisky has been diluted with tears these past several days.

    One thing we cannot (and would not) take credit for, is the deep fried battered Mars Bar, reckoned to be an absolute delicacy North of the border; whose nick name incidentally is the artery blocker…


    Yours Aye.
    A proud ‘Sassenach’. (The Gaelic term for a Saxon that survives in modern day Ireland and Scotland as a derogatory term for an English person). 😉

  2. Old NFO: I’ll try it. Sometime in the future. . .
    EB: I must commend you Islanders for your adherence to tradition. Over there, it is a thing to nurture and protect. When I was at the Gathering, I peered at a wool sweater tag. And it said something like: Edinburgh Wool, since 1437. As for the Sassenach, are you saying you are one of these?

    1. NavyOne, heh heh… Sasquatch indeed!

      There is a term often quoted by the Royal Navy, as a reference, and term of endearment towards Royal Marines “Growling hairy arsed bootnecks”… So your assumption, and offered clip, is bang on the button.


  3. I’ve never made it to the San Diego games, but I’ve been to a few at Costa Mesa, Pomona, and even Pleasanton. They’re always fun, and fascinating, and very family friendly.

    Clan Buchanan!

  4. It must be extraordinarily confusing to be so inundated with all these many confections that are artery blocking testaments to human existence…the haggis is a rather disgusting example of famous Scot’s fare, I quite honestly could live without…but I remain a fan of pâté which to many others would find equally abhorrent…pick your poison….that fried Mars bar is an item I’m sure originated at some of the state’s fair we have here in the US; so much else is considered worthwhile at such events…fried cheese, ice cream bars….you name it….
    Really, Navy One comparing Ex Bootneck to Sasquatch, the Bigfoot…for shame….k

  5. EB: Glad you did not hoist your ax at the Yeti slight. At least I got Kris’ hackles up.
    Xbradtc: I seem to recall going to one in Costa Mesa many moons ago!
    Kris: A deep-fried Mars bar does not sound good. (And I second you on the pate. Although it has been awhile. . .)

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