Time for a Festival!

Posted: May 25, 2011 in Personal

And NO, it isn’t a “Festivus for the Rest of Us”.  It is the annual Arizona Highland Celtic Festival in Flagstaff, AZ July 17th and 18th put on by the Northern Arizona Celtic Heritage Society (aka, NACHS).  I used to develop their website, but no longer.  Now I am only a lifetime member.

NACHS Festival Flyer

Flagstaff 2011 Festival Flyer

What’s a Celt you ask?  First of all don’t pronounce it with a soft C or I’ll toss a caber upside your head (believe me, you won’t like that).  It’s a hard C as in “Kel-tik”.  The Celtic regions are anywhere the native Gaelic speakers settled.  The consist of the following regions:  Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, Isle of Man, Brittany (in Northern France) and Galicia and Asturias (in Northern Spain).   Each of these places had native Gaelic speakers called Celts at one time (actually the Celts dominated most of western Europe before Caesar and the Roman Empire came along).

Going to the Festival used to be an annual pilgramage for me and a great opportunity to escape the blazing mid-summer heat in Phoenix.  I am of English, Irish, German and Dutch ancestry back for probably 1000 years but I identify most strongly with my Irish ancestors.  The Irish clans I am descended from include the Shanahans (who I have heard are a sept of the Dalcassians or O’Brien clan) and the McMurroughs (directly from Aoife McMurrough and Robert “Strongbow” De Clare) *

In any case, the Festival is a grand chance to eat, drink and be merry (not mention to see a lot of fine man flesh in kilts–oops, I think I wrote that out loud).  There are lot of pretty ladies too, by the by. There will be people in period dress and the Crofters association is always there to demonstrate the many techniques used on a farm several hundred years ago.  The main goal of the society and the Highland Game Events is to continue the legacy of our Celtic heritage and to educate others about it as well.  The Highland Games go on throughout the Festival and these kinds of competitions are repeated all over U.S. in traditional Celtic Sports like Hammer Throwing, Caber Tossing, Stone Throw, Music, Dance, etc.)

Even if you don’t have a drop of Celtic blood in you (though most Americans do particularly if your family has been here for more than two or three generations), it is a ton of fun.  And Flagstaff is absolutely a beautiful place to visit at this time of year.  You really should check it out.  Make your hotel reservations early because believe it or not, several thousand people will flood the town for this event alone and there are guaranteed to be other things going on in the city at the same time.


The dormant caldera that forms the tallest peaks in Arizona, North of Flagstaff

*This link to Aoife is through my paternal side and there are all kinds of famous people who also descended from this union if you believe the Wikipedia article.  I believe there is also some kind if link directly from one of the bastard sons (Stephen?) of one of the King Edwards of Britain (there were so many of them who can keep track!)


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