Celtic Fling in PA


Four years ago, my friend Jimmie took me to my first Celtic Fling at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire in Mannheim, PA, and we have gone every year since.  It is usually the last weekend of June, starting Friday evening and going through Sunday and it has been hot every year!  Mannheim is about two hours away using the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and you have some nice views of dairy farms and fields once you get close to Lancaster.  There are a lot of bands at the faire that play Celtic music – both modern and traditional.  Many are based in Ireland or Scotland and come to America to tour music festivals.  There is food galore – most with a Celtic theme like boxtys and Scotch eggs – and a large number of vendors selling everything Celtic, including a wide variety of kilts.

Speaking of kilts, almost everyone at the Fling is dressed either in a kilt made of their favorite tartan or some type of renaissance garb.  Traditionally, specific tartans were associated with regions or families; at the Fling, you may see attendees in the draped great kilt, regular kilts with various accessories hanging off the belt, or contemporary utility kilts.  There are at least four shops specializing in period costumes if you did not already have an outfit.  Dressing up is part of the excitement of attending the faire – whether you are a girl just wearing a plaid skirt or a guy dressed in leather armor with a sword – it is like Halloween in the summer.  I wore a gray plaid kilt and black t-shirt – a more modern and comfortable look.

One of my favorite things to see is the Scottish band Albannach.  They describe themselves as “outlawed tunes on outlawed pipes.”  Practically every piece played involves Donnie playing the bagpipes, Jamesie on the bass drum, Aya on the bodhran, and Colin on the drum kit.  The only female band member, Jacquie, occasionally will sing a cappella, giving them all a break from drumming.

To more fully immerse yourself in the Celtic tradition, come see what the Library System has to offer.  To find Celtic or Celtic-inspired music, search the catalog using the keywords “celtic compact disc.”  You will find everyone from the Chieftains to Clannad to the Dropkick Murphys.  For a more traditional sound, search “folk irish compact disc” or “scotland compact disc.”

Take a look in the adult nonfiction area under 941.5 (Irish history), 941.1 (Scottish History), 936.4 and 940.0491 (the Celts) for in-depth information.  More specialized topics may be shelved under additional call numbers.  If you are not sure where to look, the staff will be happy to assist you in finding what you need.

If you are interested in attending a Celtic-themed festival, they are easy to find.  Search the Internet with the keywords “Irish festivals,” “Scottish festivals,” or “Celtic Festivals.”  Add a state name to further limit your search.  A few that are not too far away from our area include: the Shawnee Celtic Festival (May; East Stroudsburg, PA), Celtic Classic Highland Games and Festival (September; Bethlehem, PA), Hunter Mountain International Celtic Fest (August; Hunter, NY).

--Andrea at the Hopewell Branch

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