Tuesday, March 20

The Judging of the Pipe Bands

Dear Angus,
I have been a big fan of the pipe band competition at Celtic Classic for several years now and would like to know how they are judged. After the first two or three, I usually can’t tell the different bands apart, let alone judge which is the best!


Dear Challenged,
By the time the last band marches off the field, ye’re joined by many in your confusion. Just pick out the best looking legs of each band and focus on them to help ye distinguish just who is playing. As for the judging, our professionals at the Celtic Classic inform me that the pipe bands are judged for several things, including attack (a nice, neat start-up), tone/tuning (quality of sound), expression (tempo, rhythm and duration of musical notes), pitch (sharpness or flatness), execution (how clean the playing is), unison (do they sound like one piper; or one drummer?) and ensemble (how well do they complement each other?). So, jest as we are listening for the most put together band, so are they!
Guid luck, and I hope ye remembered ta bring ye’re earplugs.


Wednesday, March 7

Best Men's Legs in a Kilt Contest!

Hosted by me guid friends of Donegal Square a "Best Men's Legs in a Kilt Contest" will be occurrin' on Saturday, March 17th at 2PM, outside of their shop located on the corner of Main and Walnut St's in the fair town of Bethlehem, PA 18018. www.donegal.com

Ye'll need to register by goin' inta Donegal Square or by registerin' through e-mail: info@donegal.com. Include yer name, address, an phone number. Unfortunately, this contest is open ta' the lads only, sorry lassies.

Ye must be wearin' a kilt (at least) when competin' and register before noon on March 17th- or if'n ye be doin' it through the e-mail, by 9PM on March 15th. Prizes te be given for the first three best legs.

What is the difference between Gaelic and Erse?

Dear Angus,
What is the difference between Gaelic and Erse? I’m curious about what I do not understand.
Thank you,

Dear Changed,
Weel, to explain the difference between Gaelic and Erse ye’ll be needin a bit o’ a convoluted explanation involving the development of languages in the British Isles.

Ye see ma dear, before English began the people inhabiting the British Isles didna spake English, but different Celtic languages. The modern forms of these languages are Welsh, Scots Gaelic, Irish, and Breton, as well as the dead languages of Cornish and Manx. These Celtic languages are grouped inta three different subfamilies, ye ken? And one of the groups is Giodelic (the other two being Continental and Brythonic), to which Irish (also called Irish Gaelic), Scots Gaelic, and Manx belong.

All the modern Giodelic tongues are descendants of the ancient Celtic speech of Ireland, Gaelic. Gaelic began to reach Scotland in the late 5th century A.D., when it was brought by the Irish invaders, and in Scotland the Gaelic language was called “Irish” or “Erse” (different spellings of the same word). For a time the only language on the British Isles was Gaelic, and there was no difference between Irish Gaelic and Scottish Gaelic. However, the Norsemen (Vikings) and Saxons invaded and migrated to Britain from Europe bringing their Germanic languages. The varieties from this mixture of Gaelic and Norse in England came ta be called “English” and in Scotland they came ta be known as “Scots” around the 13th century. So, a chief difference between Scots Gaelic and Irish Gaelic results from the substantial Norse influence on the former, d’ye see?

And so to answer ye’re question, the term Erse is used as a synonym for Irish and sometimes even for Scots Gaelic, and the difference between the two is that Erse is defined as the Goidelic language of Ireland, ye see, while Gaelic is considered to be the Giodelic language of Scotland. Hope this was some help t’ye, and if’n ye’re interested in learning more about Gaelic, sign up for the Gaelic language classes sponsored by the Celtic Cultural Alliance.


Pronounce it right, ye daft announcers!

Dear Angus,
Why is Celtic pronounced with a hard “K” in every case, except when referencing the Boston basketball team, when it’s pronounced with an “S” sound?

Dear What’s Up,
Och, well na didna ye be askin’ one of the most controversial questions out there? I reckon it’s sucha mystery because people have forgotten that til a few years ago, Celtic was pronounced SELL-tick.

Ye see my dear, the first use of a word resembling the word “Celt” was by Greek chroniclers as early as 600CE. The Greek word was ‘Keltoi’, meaning ‘stranger’ or ‘hidden people’ -probably due to the feisty early Celts using ambushin’ techniques when fighting- and its not till much later, in the 1700’s, do people speakin’ French and Latin start usin’ the word ‘Celt’. So, technically I believe the word, being translated into English from French and Latin, like many words startin’ with a “ce-” in English, should be pronounced SELL-tick.

However, if ye want to be takin’ seriously by the in-the-know-crowd these days, ye’ll be pronouncin’ the word KELL-tick. It’s all in the numbers, ye ken? Right now it is correct te be pronouncing Celtic, “KELL-tick,” because enough people have been doing it, and will be continuing to do it.

The reason the Boston Celtics pronounce their name SELL-tick is not because they were founded by ignorant folk who didn’t know any better, but because they were named during a time when people used SELL-tick.

The end result of all of this is that “Celtic” ought, according te the rules of the English language, te be pronounced SELL-tick, but because so many pronounce it KELL-tick, that is also a correct pronunciation. To be leavin’ ye with a wee mantra te be sayin’ :

“Anyone who says “Celtic” is not pronounced SELL-tick is wrong; so is anyone who says it is not pronounced KELL-tick.”

I hope this has been a help to ye,

Is Haggis made from old hags?

Dear Angus,
Is it true that Haggis made from old hags?

My Dear Lassie,
Ah, weel no, actually. The ingredients to Haggis have very little ta do with auld hags, although I must admit my grannie Grisel makes a fine haggis indeed.

Ye’ll be needin’ the recipe then for haggis, I suppose? Just didna go spreadin’ it around though, as this is the auld besom’s prize-winning, absolutely-secret recipe for the Haggis, and she’d have me head if’n she knew I was tellin’ it ta strange females.

I wish you luck w’it,

Grannie Grisel’s Haggis

1 sheep’s stomach bag plus the pluck (lights, liver and heart)
1lb Lean mutton
6 oz Fine oatmeal
8 oz Shredded suet
2 large onions, chopped

Salt and pepper about ¼ pint beef stock. Soak the stomach bag in salted water overnight. Place the pluck (lights, liver and heart) in a saucepan with the windpipe hanging over the edge. Cover with water and boil for 1 ½ hours. Impurities will pass out through the windpipe and it is advisable to place a basin under it to catch any drips. Drain well and cool. Remove the windpipe and any gristle or skin. Mince the liver and heart with the mutton (Add some of the lights before mincing if you wish.). Toast the oatmeal gently until pale golden brown and crisp. Combine with minced mixture, suet and onion. Season well and add sufficient stock to moisten well. Pack into the stomach bag, filling it just over half-full as the stuffing will swell during cooking. Sew up the bag tightly or secure each end with string. Put an upturned plate in the base of a saucepan of boiling water, stand the haggis on this and bring back to the boil. Prick the haggis all over with a large needle to avoid bursting and boil steadily for 3 to 4 hours. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

The Wearin' of tha Kilt: advice for tha newbies.

Dear Angus,
Is there a way to properly handle the wearing of a kilt? I don’t want to be shocking any ladies. Thank you!

Dear Newbie,
As any guid, sensible lassie will be telling ye, the wearing of a kilt will na be shocking them, but rather drawing them like bees to a flower. On the other hand, there are certain things men should keep in mind to avoid offending the sensibilities of some spectators:

1. Walk, don’t run. If’n ye must walk quickly, keep both hands on ye’r sporran (ye should also be wearing one of these…) ta keep ye’re kilt from flying up.

2. Do not stoop, crouch or squat to pick up anything from the floor. Have a friend wearing trousers do it for ye. If ye didna have any friends, kick the object to a secluded place before retrieving it.

3. Didna wear shiny new shoes or stand near any reflective surfaces such as puddles. Dull ye’re shoes a little (perhaps with mud) or wear spats like the trend setter that ye are.

4. Hula or Limbo dancing in a kilt at anytime is no a guid idea.

5. Didna forget that ye’re wearin’ a kilt and no’ trousers. Keep ye’re legs together, man! Especially when seated.

6. And finally, avoid all questions concerning wha’s under ye’re kilt and didna go makin’ offers ta show the questioner the answer to their questions.

I must say I’ve no had much trouble with my kilt, but then I’ve been wearing one since I was a wee laddie, and can still hear the lectures about proper kilt wearin’ from my mother and aunties. Just observe these simple rules and ye’ll be fine.