Everywhere you look, tartan is present. The air is filled with the wailing sound of bagpipes. This year it is the year for Australia, which might appear somewhat surprising, but when you look at anglo-Celtic ancestry of Australia, you find quite a large percentage of Irish, Scottish, Cornish, and Welsh. I was able to take in a Saturday afternoon, of this event that spans over ten days. It is a festival that attracts not only musicians with a desire to play their Celtic tunes, but visitors from around the world, who have Celtic hankerings. The festival has taken place since 1970 but still retains a vibrant freshness and excitement about it. This is my second taste of this event. With my first experience I was able to take in some of night life, including Celtic dances in a huge gymnasium. My more recent visit was more daytime. The festival comes alive in the afternoon…maybe many sleep long into the morning, needing a certain amount of recharging following the night before. Of course it is a festival where people are selling their wares, for example Scottish whisky or jewelry. It is best to come to Lorient, by train, rather than be stuck in traffic or searching for a place to park.
The festival is lucky to have happened at all, following what happened in Nice. Extra emphasis has been added to security; Soldiers brandishing rifles walk about, heavily armed police are also in evidence. Thankfully there is no terrorist attack to tarnish this unique festival full of joy and music.
Celtic culture is strong and vibrant. The music gets to you and lifts you up. There was a touching moment I witnessed. A youth was playing bagpipes, playing “Amazing Grace” . Spontaneously a group of elderly bagpipers joined him and accompanied him. It was a touching moment, naturally people were drawn to give the young musician money for his rousing efforts.
If you have pangs for Celtic culture, this is well worth checking out.
Some facts about the Celts…
Nobody can be sure of their origins but some place them in central Europe, around the Alps. A nice misconception is that they fought naked, apparently this is an exaggeration on the part of the Romans. They weren’t as savage as the Romans made out. Their woman even had some modern day rights they could have power, own land, and even divorce in Celtic society, which was unheard of in the classical world. They were great travelers as well as notorious fighters and were famed for being headhunters, deeming if they lopped off their enemies heads, they were taking the greatest prizes. They would brag about their gruesome trophies, like a person in modern times might brag about their Ferrari or Chateau in the South of France. They were far from being barbarians and had their own calendar and were money makers.
Living in Brittany I am having to come to terms with strange place names, derived from the Celtic language. The language of the ancient Celts survives to this very day in the modern Celtic speakers of several areas, including Brittany, Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man.