Cruinneacad na nGaideal, or Gathering of
the Gaels, officially started in Febuary of 1995, but the history
begins some time before that...
Set the Way-back machine for 1985, destination: Blackpoint Forest,
home of the Northern Renaisance Pleasure Faire. The powers that
be have decided that with the departure of Clan Colin, the resident
Scots group, there is now a need for a replacement group. Somewhere
for all the new Scots players to gather, and more importantly, some
way to keep an eye on them. Enter one Christophe Pettis, member
of the Clan Mac Colin, the group at the Southern Ren Faire responsible
for the Scots and the Irish. The Entertainment Department has asked
him to come up north and help form a group for the Scots. The Irish,
it seems, are already set up with their own group, but the Scots
are without a place of their own.
Thus was created the Guild of St. Brigid, new home for all the reenactors
choosing to portray Scots at the RPFN. To form the basis for the
group, Chistophe looked to those that had come before for inspiration:
the clans Colin and Mac Colin, who between them had some 20 years
experience in creating scottish reenactments.
What followed was something of a shake-up, as a number of different
groups tried to congeal into a single entity. New clans were formed
and old ones intergrated, while others left or were moved to a different
Along about the second year, Chistophe handed off the leadership
of the group to Liz Mitchell. Under her tenure, St. Brigid's guild
grew in numbers, adding new clans while refining the focus for the
group: as accurate a portryal of Highland and Island Scots culture
Four and a half years later, Liz was hired by the Pleasure Faire
as their costuming director. This forced her to resign as Guildmaster
for the Scots, leaving yours truly, Alex Medeiros, to take over.
I'd been assistant to Liz almost from the begining and had helped
her to craft most of the changes in the group during her time in
charge. It was under my term that we added a new stage show, created
new language and costume guidelines and increased our numbers to
there greatest (around 120 or so). It was also under my watch that
we fell from grace.
Maybe that's too strong; let me explain: in the five years since
my taking over leading, the Scots had prospered grandly. This isn't
to imply that I had more to do with that than any other member,
just that times were good for most members of the group. It was
decided that we would take the show on the road: start attending
other events in an official capacity. Not wanting to continue as
the Guild of the Scots (how does one Scot, anyway?), we decided
on the name Cruinneacad na nGaideal, or Gathering of the Gaels.
We felt it was more descriptive of our representation and our goals,
allowing for growth and not tying us to one locale or timeframe.
We had begun working other gigs into our schedule, such as the Calaveras
Celtic Festival, the Sebastopol Celtic Festival, the Folsom Faire
and we had done the San Luis Obispo Faire as well, when the unexpected
happened. The folks at RPFN called to say that the Scots as a group
were no longer needed at the Faire. Suddenly, doing other gigs became
the only thing to do. Be careful what you wish for...
This brings us to the present. Gathering of the Gaels is a much
smaller group now, but just as commited to what the Smithsonian,
Colonial Williamsburg (or Plymouth Plantation) and other professionals
call "First Person Interpretation": an accurate portrayal of life
and times of Highland and Island Scots of the medieval and renaissance
periods. It is through this venue that we teach, both to our own
members and those whom we interact with at events, the amazing differences,
and simularities, between that long ago time and our own, and how
it helped to shape the world as it is now.
Not bad for a bunch of weirdoes in funny clothes...
Nominally in Charge/Gathering of the Gaels