Holding Kate Kennedy’s Day at St. Andrews—Golf again—Amusing account of
its origin and history— Holy well customs at Dunkeld—Holy wells at
Huntly—Numerous holy wells over Scotland— Superstitious customs
connected therewith—The burning of the Clavie at Burghead.
KATE KENNEDY’S DAY
THE following celebration
is observed annually by students at St. Andrews, attending the United
College of St. Salvator and St. Leonard during the fourth year. Kate
Kennedy’s Day is yearly fixed by the observers for the last week in
February or the beginning of March. The students meet at an appointed
place at noon, when they array themselves in masquerade attire. They
then form a procession. The leading performer, Kate Kennedy, is dressed
in female garb, and mounted on horseback. Kate has a bodyguard, attended
by a mounted escort. A drummer leads the way discoursing martial music.
Each member of the procession represents some historical character, such
as the Pope, the Stuart kings, Roman citizens, Greek Philosophers, etc.
The cavalcade first proceeds to the college quadrangle, where Kate
receives a congratulatory address. They then visit the private houses of
the different professors, who are cheered or hooted according to the
estimation in which they are held. The day’s proceedings terminated in a
banquet. Dr. Charles Rogers proceeds to say that the origin of this
celebration is involved in some doubt. It seems to combine the honours
paid in Romish times to the memory of St. Catherine, with a public
recognition of the good services of the pious James Kennedy, Bishop of
the See, who founded St. Salvator’s College in 1455. A bell was placed
in the college steeple by Bishop Kennedy who dedicated it to St.
Catherine. This was recast the third time in 1686, when a procession
attended its suspension. Probably the modern observance began at this
St. Andrews, as we have
before stated, is the head-quarters of golf. A golfing society was
established there in 1754, and two grand meetings of this club are held
annually :n May and October. The following amusing account of golfing at
St. Andrews is taken, we believe, from the Pall Mall Gazette.
Here s man is playing
golf all day long. He is scarcely ever in the house except when he is in
bed and dreaming of ‘bunkers' and ‘hog-bucket-anes,’ and the other
mysteries of the game. How old golf is at St. Andrews no one knows.
Probably when St. Regulus arrived here in 370 A.D., he found the natives
absorbed in their pastime, and indifferent to religious matters. I
daresay they howled out “ Fore” at him, and took no other notice of him
and his relics. In the fifteenth century golf was put down by Act of
Parliament. The earliest document about golf 1 have been able to
discover is on the seal of a Bishop of the twelfth century. The seal
represents the tall square tower of St. Regulus as it still stands, and
in the field are two golf clubs crossed in the form of a St. Andrew’s
Cross ; at least if these objects are not golf clubs what are they ? The
game is as popular as ever here, and at once forces itself on the
attention of the observer.
As you approach St.
Andrews by railway the links are found in the possession of men in red
coats equipped with arma campestria like the old Bishop of Galloway
(1612) for whom the devil came in the very midst of a game of golf.—(See
Proud’s History of the Kirk). Men are not the only persons thus armed.
Every lady who respects herself carries a “ putter.” Even infants in
arms have little clubs in their hands. They suck the handles, I believe,
and thus aid the process of teething. Every small boy has a club, with
which he “ addresses himself,” to imaginary balls wherever he may be,—at
home, in the drawing-room, or in the streets or gardens. The eternal
swinging of clubs adds much to the misery of nervous persons at St.
Andrews. He is not comforted either by the howls of “Fore,” (that is,
being interpreted, “get out of the way, if you don’t want every bone in
your body to be broken, confound you!” which greets him on all sides
whenever he leaves his lodgings. After calling out “Fore,” at St.
Andrews, you may commit, I believe, any crime of assault and battery
with the arma campestria without fear of the law of Scotland.
HOLY WELL CUSTOM AT
The Grange Well, Dunkeld,
is still to some extent sought after by people who come even from a
distance bringing their sick children in order that these may drink of
the life-giving water, and be healed of their various ailments. Silver
coins have occasionally been thrown into the water in return for
supposed favours received; and rags and scraps of the sick persons
clothes are left lying around, as offerings to the guardian spirit of
this much esteemed spot.
HOLY WELLS OVER SCOTLAND.
St. Mungo’s Well in
Huntly, St. Fergon’s Well near Inverloohy, the well at Metheshirin near
Dufftown, the well of Moulblairie in Banffshire, St. ('olman's Well in
the parish of Killarn. in Ross-shire, Culboakie, also in Ross-shire, St.
Mary’s Well in the birch wood above Culloderx House, the Craigie Well in
the Black Isles opposite Inverness, the Wallaek Well, and the Corsmall
Well, at Glass in Banffshire, together with “these superstitious
round-earth wells of Menteith,” are still resorted to by the common
people. Miss Gordon Gumming tells us, that among the various efforts
made to check the favourite well worship two centuries ago, was an order
from the Privy Council appointing com missioners to wait at Christ’s
Well in Menteith on the 1st May, and to seize all who might assemble at
the spring, and imprison them in Doune Castle.
CURIOUS OLD CUSTOM AT
According to Miss Gordon
Cumming, from time immemorial the fisher folk and seamen of Burghead,
have on Yule night, O. S., met at the west end of the town carrying an
old barrel and other combustible materials. This barrol having been sawn
in two, the lower half is nailed into a long spoke of firewood which
serves for a handle. This nail must not be struck by a hammer but driven
in with a stone. The half barrel is then filled with dry wood saturated
with tar, and built up like a pyramid, leaving only a hollow to receive
a burning peat, for no lucifer match must be applied. A fresh libation
of tar completes the Clavie, which is shouldered by one of the lads,
quite regardless of the streams of burning tar which of course trickle
down his back. Should the bearer stumble or fall, the consequences would
be unlucky indeed to the town and to himself. When weary of his burden a
second is ready to fill the honoured post, and then a third and a
fourth, till the Clavie has made a circuit of the town, when it is
carried to a hillock called the Doorie, where a hollowed stone receives
the fire spoke. Fresh fuel is added, and in olden times the blaze
continued all night and at length was allowed to bum itself out
untouched. Now after a short interval the Clavie is thrown down the
western side of the hill, and a desperate scramble ensues for the
burning brands possession of which is accounted to bring good luck, and
the embers are carried home and carefully preserved till the following
year, as a safeguard against all manner of evil. In bygone times it was
thought necessary that one man should carry it right round the town so
the strongest was selected for this purpose..
Moreover it was customary
to carry the Clavie round every ship in the harbour, a part of the
ceremony which has latterly been discontinued. In 1875, however the
Clavie was duly carried to one vessel just ready for sea. Handfuls of
grain were thrown upon her deck, and amid, a shower of fire-water she
received the suggestive name of Doorie.—The modern part of the town is
not included in the circuit. The meaning and origin of this custom are