Australian Celtic Festival Newsletter – May 2020

In this month’s issue we share a message of hope from the Australian Celtic Festival, congratulate the well-deserved winners of the 2020 Australian Celtic Music Awards and share articles from our guest editors.

Letter from the Festival

The weekend of this year’s scheduled Australian Celtic Festival passed us by with a little sorrow but it wasn’t by any means a long grieving. Our town and the ACF team have been constantly bolstered by all the well wishes received via social media, emails and phone calls, many remarking how much they are looking forward to 2021 and the reinstatement of the year celebrated being Ireland & The Isle of Man.

As we proclaimed, ‘it’s a shame to waste good craic’, so we have locked in the same schedule of talented performers and hope this extra planning time can see the emergence of more ideas to take the Festival to a new celebratory level.

There have been so many Celtic online celebrations, zoom concerts, Celtic inspired bake-offs and just great spirit in the Celtic community during what would have been our festival week. Local businesses who would normally be gearing up for a huge weekend of revelry resumed their focus on reinvention with initiatives with new digital platforms and community collaborations in light of 2020’s Covid restrictions.

Those in the performing arts are now turning to online concerts and we’ve seen some extraordinary heartfelt performances from the comfort of their lounge room to ours. It has been amazing to observe the joy and resilience, especially in our community after drought and the bushfires.

It is predicted that we will see a resurgence in regional tourism and we hope we can extend our welcome to those planning interstate travel during late April and early May to take a moment to consider Glen Innes and the Australian Celtic Festival as a great place to celebrate in 2021.

Rhonda Bombell
Tourism & Events Officer

Feature Article – Australian Standing Stones Management Board

Late April/early May heralds the beginning of Glen Innes’ annual Australian Celtic Festival. In an historic ‘first’ this year, for the first time in the Festival’s history, the 2020 event had to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 virus.  What an impact this virus is having on every aspect of our lives.

The Glen Innes community certainly missed the 2020 event along with the enthusiasm and energy that the Festival brings to town. The decision to keep the focus on Ireland and the Isle of Man for the 2021 festival has been a wise one and very much valued by performers and cultural groups.  Roll on 2021!  It will be a year to celebrate celebrating!

And to set the mood, I hope you enjoy reading about the history and growth of the Australian Celtic Festival. From very humble beginnings, the Australian Celtic Festival has matured into a professionally run event that delivers a varied program to entertain the entire family. The whole local Government area gets behind the festival with local organisations providing many options during the week prior to the main weekend.

After the inauguration of the Standing Stones in February 1992, the Australian Standing Stones Management Board (ASSMB) felt that celebrations were in order.  It formed a sub-committee to organise a festival to honour Celtic music, dance, art and poetry and registered the title of ‘The Australian Celtic Festival’. This festival was unique as it encompassed all Celtic nations and was not created as a folk festival.  The very first Australian Celtic Festival was held in 1992.

The festival has always been held on the first weekend in May.  In 1992, the Official Opening ceremony was on Friday afternoon with a Tartan Ball being held that night.  A Dawn ceremony was held on the Saturday, the traditional street parade, entertainment at the Standing Stones site and a concert in town on the Saturday evening.  A number of church services were held on Sunday morning.

As the success of the festival grew, a separate Community Committee of Glen Innes Severn Council was formed in 2004 – the Australian Celtic Festival (ACF) Committee.  This committee was instrumental in developing the festival by extending the program and progressively included many new activities. The ASSMB had a delegate on this committee which enabled the two committees to work closely together.
The wonderful enthusiasm and organisational skills that the volunteers of the ACF committee have brought together over the years, has seen the festival go from strength to strength, so much so that in 2019 the ACF Community Committee of Council was disbanded and taken fully under Council management with an Event’s Co-ordinator being appointed.  This position is actively supported by many volunteers who are involved in organising entertainment, music and dance stages, pipe bands and official events around town.

The annual Australian Celtic Festival has become a signature flagship event for the Glen Innes community. Next month honours the most famous saint in Brittany – another of the Celtic nations acknowledged in Glen Innes. St Yves is celebrated on 19 May which is the date of his passing in 1303.  One of the larger cities in Brittany, is Lorient – home to the Interceltique Festivale – an annual Celtic Festival that attracts over 600,00 visitors worldwide and has included performers from Australia such as Murphy’s Pigs – regular attendees at our festival here in Glen Innes.

Brittany is also home to the famous megaliths in Carnac.  There are over 3000 stones covering approximately 4 kilometres and laid out in long rows.  Due to the ongoing restrictions, there will be no official flag lowering at this time.

The Celtic Family Wall is another feature of the Centennial Parklands site and is situated on Tynwald Hill.  It is a place to house authentic stones brought from Celtic homelands or places that have particular Celtic connections by individuals, families, clans and/or societies.  These stones are placed into the wall and accompanied by an appropriate plaque.  Application can be made to the Australian Standing Stones Management Board via the Glen Innes Highlands website. Four new plaques have recently been placed in the walled.  These plaques will be publicly acknowledged at the 2021 Festival.

My thanks to Raelene Watson D Urr and John Mathew D Urr for their invaluable assistance with information included in this month’s article.

Next Month ……more features of the Centennial Parklands site – Home of the Australian Standing Stones.

Judi Toms D Urr
Chair, Australian Standing Stones Management Board

2020 Celtic Music Awards

The show must go on! even though the awards weren’t presented in the traditional way at the Australian Celtic Music Awards Night, held on the Saturday during our Festival at the Glen Innes and District Services Club, the nominees were judged and winners for the 2020 awards have been announced.

Visit the Australian Celtic Music Awards website for all of the 2020 winners.

Celtic Artist of the Year                                                  Australian Celtic Song of the Year
String Loaded Celtic Fiddle Band                                Ella Roberts

From our Festival Performers!

Moreton Celtic Fiddle Club held a digital Celtic Concert on Saturday the 2nd May to keep spirits high!

Watch Video Here

Feature Article – Caledonian Society

So do the Irish Wear Kilts?
Of course, they do. It is a sense of Gaelic pride. Most people associate kilts with the Scottish Highlands and this cannot be helped – with films like Braveheart showing Mel Gibson’s character, William Wallace a 13th-century warrior, wearing a kilt even though the kilt is a 16th/17th-century garment.

Whilst the topic of intense debate most researchers claim that the kilt first appeared as the great kilt, the breacan or belted plaid, during the 16th century, and is Gaelic in origin. The filleadh mòr or great kilt was a full-length garment whose upper half could be worn as a cloak draped over the shoulder, or brought up over the head.

A version of the filleadh beag (philibeg), similar to the modern kilt was invented by an English Quaker from Lancashire named Thomas Rawlinson some time in the 1720s. Yes that is correct – an Englishman! He felt that the belted plaid was “cumbrous and unwieldy”, and his solution was to separate the skirt and convert it into a distinct garment with sewn pleats, which he began wearing.

Iain MacDonnell, chief of the MacDonnells of Inverness, also began wearing it, and when clansmen saw their chief wearing the new style, they soon followed suit. From there its use spread amongst the Clans. There has been some representation of Irish men in the 16th century wearing garments resembling kilts called lein-croich – long shirts with wide, hanging sleeves and elaborately pleated skirts. But neither the filleadh mòr nor the lein-croich are in the style of a modern kilt. Modern Irish kilts may resemble those worn by Scots, but there are three differences: (1) the fabric, (2) the jacket style, and (3) the accessories.

In the Scottish tradition, the kilt uses the wearer’s Clan tartan. For the Irish, the tartan is either plain (usually saffron or black) or that of the county of the wearer’s family origin.

The jacket most commonly worn with an Irish kilt is the Brian Boru, which like the Scottish Prince Charlie jacket is mostly worn at formal ‘black tie’ events, or the Kilkenny, which is the equivalent of the Scottish Argyll jacket and therefore suitable for day or evening wear.

Knee-high socks with ribbons to match the colour of the Tartan, and Ghillie Brogues on the feet are worn by both the Scots and the Irish. The sgian dubh is a Scottish tradition that has spread to the Irish. Sporrans and belts are worn by both. These days most of the Celtic Nations have a tartan and members wear the kilt as a sense of Celtic/Gaelic identity. Now about the origins of trousers!!!!! I can remember learning in history classes that the Romans borrowed them from the Celts!!!!

Article by Garek Fysch Caledonian Society
Chair Caledonian Society Glen Innes

Other News and Updates

Next month we’ll have more updates for you on the 2021 Australian Celtic Festival – Year of Ireland & Isle of Man as well as more featured articles from our guest editors.

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