When in 2020 all bars had to close their doors mere days before Saint Patrick’s Day, I didn’t celebrate it at all. For this year’s edition it was already clear well in advance that celebrating in pubs again wouldn’t be an option… At least I had time to prepare for an alternative this time!
I started the day with a walk—in my saffron kilt—past a lot of the Irish and Celtic pubs of Brussels. Even Manneken Pis was dressed for the occasion!
When I was back home, I started cooking a traditional Irish dish, that would hopefully also provide enough sustenance for the beery night that would ensue: colcannon. I even poached an egg for the first time!
The main event of the evening however, was an online Saint Patrick’s Day celebration which I co-hosted, on the Discordserver I set up for my beer blog. For this occasion I sourced some beers from a couple of different Irish (Third Barrel, Galway Bay, Stone Barrel) and Northern Irish (Boundary) breweries, and the only Irish dry stout by a Brussels brewery: Stouterik!
So barely a year after I had my first tattoo, I decided to have another one! Well, it started as an idea for one, but it ended up becoming two separate ones… Another great job by Sara Stella Tattoo at Mystical bodies!
So on the left calf I have a slightly improved version of the world scout emblem. I wanted it to look a bit more natural than the usual WOSM ‘logo’, but since the lily flower the fleur-de lis is based on actually rarely looks like the heraldic symbol, I decided to draw inspiration from one of those classic metal scout hat badges instead.
On the right calf the I have the clan crest of the Clan MacLaren, a clan very closely connected to the scout movement since its early days, and therefore ‘my’ clan, of which I proudly wear the tartan… The lion is a bit more lifelike than is usual in heraldic depictions. I also had a subtle reference to my favourite Scottish city—Glasgow—included in the design: the clan motto (Creag an Tuirc) is in a typeface based on one designed for the Willow Tearooms by famous Glaswegian architect, designer, and artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
Participated in the Scottish clans’ remembrance ceremony in Ypres again this year (7/10/2017), proudly showing my scouting connection to the clan MacLaren. Didn’t find any good shots of the ceremony itself, unfortunately, but at least we have a nice Belgian MacLaren group photo.
(Photos by Clan Hay Pipe Band )
Saint Patrick’s Day, the only day each year I wear my saffron kilt. Although sometimes I get the question wether I’m Irish even if I’m wearing a kilt in a — to me clearly — Scottish tartan, most people associate any kilt with Scotland, and rightly so.
But there certainly is such a thing as an Irish kilt, and saffron kilts have been around as an expression of Irish nationality for over a hundred years!
The ancient Irish actually wore the léine, a linen tunic with voluminous sleeves and a hemline reaching the knees or higher, often dyed with saffron, which turned out quite yellow on linen. When there was a revival of Gaelic nationalism in the nineteenth century, the Gaelic League and the Gaelic Athletic Association — two major nationalist organisations, both concerned with Irish identity — wanted a ‘costume’ or national form of dress. The léine was considered to be too difficult to be updated to the fashions of the day, so they adopted the garment of their Gaelic cousins in Scotland: the kilt, dyed either green or saffron. Used on wool, the saffron dye gave it a bit more of an orange-brownish colour, the one we associate today with saffron kilts.
The school uniform of St. Enda’s School for Boys (1908) included the saffron kilt.
Nowadays the saffron kilt is mainly worn by pipers of Irish regiments, often without a sporran.
Another year, another Saint Patrick’s Day, so enjoy it! 🙂
If you’re in Brussels and would like to celebrate Burns’ Night somehow, next week Friday — I know, still a long wait — the Caledonian Society of Brussels is hosting a special Burns’ Ceilidh. As usual, The Hoggies will be playing, and Gavin will be calling the dances. Always great fun!
I haven’t been able to go a ceilidh for quite some while, so I really hope I can make it to this one… Kilt up!
Saturday was the day of the Lochearnhead Highland Games, including the Clan MacLaren AGM, Stone of Strength, Tug o’War and lots of other (heavy) events. In the evening we celebrated Donald MacLaren of MacLaren’s fiftieth year as our chief with a supper and ceilidh in the Balquhidder Village Hall.
In a blog named Kilted Guy, it wouldn’t be right to skip the subject of being kilted in Aberdeen.
Usually I change into my kilt once I check into my hotel or hostel, but since we had the convenience of a private cabin in the Caledonian Sleeper, I could just put on my kilt in the morning, before even touching Aberdonian soil.
As usual in Scotland, people never seem to be fazed by the sight of a kilt — unlike in Brussels — and wearing my MacLaren kilt, I never received any remarks about it. Well, the lady at the left luggage facilities at the train station inquired about it, but she seemed to be seizing any opportunity to chat about anything…
During our stay in Aberdeen, we noticed two other kilties. The first one, a guy in his twenties, was wearing his kilt very casual. Read: halfway down his calves, way too low to my taste…
The other one was wearing a beautiful kilt, obviously made by 21st Century Kilts, easily identified by the typical kilt pin. He was wearing it exactly as you see it worn in the ads of the kilt maker, complete with high boots and scrunched down hoses. Now I look at their photos again, it might very well have been the white-bearded guy featuring in a couple of them!
For the Punk AGM I decided to wear my black ‘beer kilt’, complete with BrewDog-bottle-opener-converted-to-kilt-pin. Only minutes after leaving the hotel, someone noticed my BrewDog outfit, and wanted to take a photo of me.
At the AGM, someone else even made close-up shots of my kilt pin!
Then, while I was on my own for a couple of minutes, a Scottish lady — who obviously had a few beers too many already — came up to me to ask me why I was wearing “a schoolgirl’s skirt”! At first I thought it was because my black kilt is not the same high quality and yardage as my MacLaren kilt, and her Scottish eye spotted it was probably made in Pakistan. But no, it was merely because it was black! Apparently, in her mind, only a tartan kilt is a kilt.
I guess even some people in Scotland still have to get accustomed to ‘modern’ kilts…