NOTE: I’m just now getting around to completing this post. This has been a very busy week.
Gallabrae – rhymes with Gallifrey, for the Whovians out there. It’s a made-up Gaellic term that’s supposed to mean “bold and daring” and “beautiful highlands.” It’s also the name that has come to symbolize the Greenville Scottish Games at Furman University. This year was the tenth anniversary of the games.
I hadn’t planned to attend the games this year. However, Laura’s plan for the day was to relax and read at the house. She needed the down time, but I’d been working around the house all week. I decided to head on up to Furman for the games.
I got to campus at about 10:00. Crowds weren’t too bad at that point, and I got a decent parking space in one of the chapel parking lots. I bypassed the British Car Show on the mall, planning to catch them on the way out. I wanted to make sure I had a good spot for the main ceremonies.
After paying my entrance fee I found myself among several demonstration tents. There were folks learning how to throw hatchets as well as demonstrations of weaving and spinning.
There were other vendor booths set up in the area, but for now I skipped these. The Clan booths line the outer ring of the event field. I set out in search of the Cameron Clan, of which the Taylor family is a sept.
Sadly, the Camerons were no where to be found. I made my way back around the field to the southwest end. Here the lighting was better and I could watch some of the events on the field. Currently underway were the caber toss for both men and women and bale throwing.
I had the perfect vantage point. The main ceremonies would be starting soon, so I was perfectly willing to hang out here and wait. As I watch, two Phantom drones took to the air over the athletic field.
I spotted a familiar face walking along the edge of the field. Jim Leavell was in full photographer mode, snapping photos. I told Jim to join me, so we set up shop with cameras at the ready.
The ceremonies began with an overly long military tribute for Memorial Day. There was a Marine guard, a Scottish guard, a band from the National Guard, skydivers, and a flyover with the “Missing Man” formation.
Sometime during the midst of all of this members of the clans that were represented at the event marched around the field with the tartans on display.
Most visually and aurally stunning, though, were the massed pipe bands. These entered the field at the last, arriving in two waves – right and left. These were preceded by more honor guards.
National anthems from both Great Britain and the US were played. Following that was a 21 gun salute, then a single bugle playing taps. A single piper started Amazing Grace, and after one verse the massed pipe band joined them. It was an odd mixture of Scottish culture and US military veneration, but it was stirring.
Here’s the audio from that segment:
Once the pipe bands marched off the field and the Jim and I set off to see some of the other competitions. First, though, we encountered a fairy. We chatted a bit, and she posed for us. Then, Jim requested, and got, a fairy blessing.
At this point Jim and I went in separate directions. I spotted my friends Karen and Herman out with their daughter, Olivia.
Out on the fields behind the PAC a large children’s area had been set up. Behind that on the Furman track area were the sheep dog trials. I stayed for a few moments to watch a dog expertly maneuver a group of geese over a little bridge and through a tunnel.
While watching the sheep dog demonstration I glanced over and spotted another familiar face. My former 11th grade English teacher, Anne Sheppard, was there with her daughter, Margaret. I hadn’t seen Anne in ages. When I was music director at First Presbyterian in Laurens, Anne sang alto in my choir. I’m still not sure Anne remembered me. She remembered my brother, Stephen, but didn’t remember my dad. She is now in assisted living in Laurens, and needs a wheel chair to get about, but I was glad to see her out and about.
There were more track and field events on the lower fields, including more sheaf tossing and the hammer throw. I didn’t stay for those events. On the lawns of Cherrydale there were judging areas set up for piping competitions. In previous games I’d watched individual pipers compete. At this time the various bands were competing. Concentric circles and been marked off, and the pipers and judges arranged themselves around these.
I’d love to know what criteria they used for judging.
From the competitions I wandered over to the vendor tents. This was a strange commingling of both Scottish and Irish goods. I guess Irish stuff can be sold at Scottish games. To me, this kind of points out that to most US folks it’s all the same – just some kind of exotic “over there”-ness that mixed into a weird British Isles amalgam. I skipped the Celtic tents, as I’d soon enough be over there myself.
It was hot. I’d already found water, but I was seeking shade and a bit more refreshment. I headed over to the entertainment tent, where I got an “of age” bracelet which allowed me to sample some whiskey from Dark Corner Distilleries and get a bit of Thomas Creek Scottish Ale.
I chatted with a few of the other tent patrons, some of whom and had multiple samplings of the various potent potables. What was weird was that several asked me what part of Scotland I was from. Do I really sound that different from other Greenvillians? Either that, or they had more of the Scottish Ale than I had thought.
I stuck around and listened to a bit of the music on stage.
By this time I was getting worn out. I did have one more stop, though. I wandered through the classic British cars out on the mall. I was surprised to see the Upstate Minis represented there. I guess I could have brought our car to compete, but then I’d have had to leave it there, or either spend all day with the car.
Obviously, I took a ton more photos than are shown here. Here’s the slideshow of all of them.