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Alabama Celtic Association

Celtic Alabama News
Volume 2 Issue 7

“If defeated everywhere else, I will make my stand for liberty among the Scotch-Irish."
George Washington, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army and First American President.
2002 North Alabama Scottish Games Review - by Paige Smith
Favored with the best weather for an outdoor event, the 2002 North Alabama Scottish Highland Games attracted a great crowd to Dublin Park in Madison.  The Alabama Celtic Association was the Honored Clan for the day with ACA President Randal Massey invited as the Honored Guest of the Games.  We were especially grateful to Heritage Pipes and Drums Pipe Major, Ryan Morrison, for his gift and performance of his original composition, "The March of the Alabama Celtic Association" which premiered during the opening ceremonies. The ACA tent was busy all day and we added many new friends to our Celtic Alabama News community.  The festival entertainment was outstanding including featured performances by Flora MacDonald Gammon, Hooley, Good Fortune, Colin Grant Adams, Seanachie Margayle Williams, Heritage Pipes and Drums and members of Birmingham Society of Piping.  Judy Hackett's Scottish Highland Dancers, Irish Dancers from Birmingham and Scottish Country Dancers kept the dance stage busy all day. Myles Wetzel of Tuscaloosa took Athlete of the Day on the athletic field. The hard work that the Tennessee Valley Scottish Society puts into this festival each year continues to produce a wonderful Celtic event. Special Thanks to Judy McRae, Megan Laird, Andrew Stamp, Steve Schnell and Barbara Bell for helping out at the tent and on the field! Thank you TVSS for recognizing ACA at your event - it was truly an honor (and HUGE fun!). 
Join us at Killarney's in Birmingham for "Pub Night", Celtic Open Mike and more on
Wednesday Night, July 10 from 7 P.M.
Come on down to Killarney's for "Pub Night" - a gathering of Celts from the Central Alabama area on the second Wednesday of every month.  Everyone is welcome to come by for dinner, pints, darts and pool, or just some general Celtic-flavored socializing.  Musicians are welcome to share tunes, kilts are part of the landscape and Irish Dancing may occur!  There's al fresco seating for the summer evenings as well.  It's a great way to meet other Scots and Irish in the Birmingham area. Killarney's is family-friendly (kids welcome!) and a great place to bring your pals!  For details on "Pub Night" contact Paige Smith at 205-655-7259 or .  See the June Killarney's Pub Night Photos Here 
FEATURE STORY - by Dale Wisely
How Birmingham Became the International Internet Hub of Electronic Tinwhistle Journalism
I have a perfectly respectable day job.  I live in Birmingham,  am married and have three children.  I pay my bills.  Go to church.  Buy groceries.  But there is a bizarre story behind my apparently normal life.  Although it would never be apparent to you if you ran into me in Winn-Dixie, I am the Undisputed King of Internet Tinwhistle Journalism.  
I've always been interested in music and I've had an interest over the years in inexpensive musical instruments.  This was probably related to the time I spent in college and graduate school and had no money to buy anything except inexpensive instruments.  But, I like the idea of those instruments which aren't inherently bad because they are cheap.  You know, plastic recorders, kalimbas, harmonicas--that kind of thing.  About 6 or 7 years ago, I heard Joanie Madden interviewed on NPR. I subsequently  walked into Bob Tedrow's shop and Bob sold me a Clarke D whistle.  He tried to sell me a concertina, of course, but I didn't have $2000 in my pocket.  I had about $8.  I stuck the whistle in the sun visor of my car (1993 Dodge Caravan--stick with me and someday you'll have a ride like that) and played with it occasionally during my daughters' soccer practices.  After a few weeks, some dark, shadowy spirit of compulsion began to grow in my chest.  (Actually, in retrospect, I think it may have been pollen allergies.)  In any case, I got very interested in pennywhistles and started scouring the Internet for information.  Finding relatively little, in 1995 or 1996, I started a modest little website which was originally called "The Tinwhistle Table."  I put my email address at the bottom. 

Soon I started to hear from similarly afflicted people.  All were stricken with a malady which I have since dubbed WhOA (Whistle Obsessive Acquisition disorder).   Many were people, like me, who compulsively collect various brands and keys of whistles as an excuse to avoid actually learning to play well.  Others were very fine players worldwide, amateur and professional.

After a short time, I renamed the site Chiff & Fipple, purchased a domain name and located the site permanently at .   It is the largest, most visited, and best known whistle website.   Over the years, I've accumulated huge numbers of pages on various whistle-related topics on the website.  There's also an insanely busy message board with over 1100 registered visitors and currently averaging about 40,000 messages per year. (More than 100 a day.  How weird is that?)  I publish a semi-regular email newsletter, also called Chiff & Fipple, which, as of today, has over 3000 subscribers.  The tone of the entire enterprise is very light and there's lots of fun and humor in addition to useful information.  I get about 20 whistle-related emails a day and try to respond to all of them. 

Now, one of the ironies is that, to this day, I am, at my best, a modestly talented amateur.  At best.  Although I am a very comfortable public speaker, I have a terror of playing the whistle in public.  So, I tend to remain a tad reclusive and haven’t circulated much with local Celtic music people because of this. (A few years ago, I did make Rick and Karen Cunningham cringe at the Chulrua show when I mispronounced "uilleann." In spite of that, they’ve been uniformly nice to me since.)   But, I understand the whistle rather well and I receive sample whistles from all the major makers.  I suppose I have 300 whistles.  (I can't keep inventory because they come in and I give some away).  These range from the whole catalog of inexpensive ones to handmade whistles made by fine craftsmen that cost in the neighborhood of $400.   There’s a range of Chiff & Fipple t-shirts and sweatshirts available. I get CDs sent to me for review now--I suppose about one a week.   I occasionally get calls from musicians who need a particular whistle in an odd key for performance or recording and I sometimes loan out instruments from my collection.  It's all very odd.

About two weeks ago, on a Sunday, one of my daughters answered my home phone and told me there was a man on the line with an emergency.  In my line of work, I get emergency phone calls with some regularity.  In this case, the caller was a musician who was traveling through Birmingham on his way to a recording date in Nashville.  He told me frantically that he plays a number of wind instruments and that he had forgotten to pack his whistles.  He had called Bob Tedrow who had given him my number.  I talked to him about what he needed, packed up a few candidate instruments, and met him in a parking lot off the interstate.  He took a couple of Generation High G whistles with him with my blessings.  It must have looked a little odd to passers-by:  These two guys handing these metal tubes back and forth and blowing into them.  I was sort of hoping law enforcement might come by and "check on us."  That would have been fun. (You can visit Chiff & Fipple at .  You can subscribe to the newsletter by sending an email  - blank is ok, or say hello - , with "SUBSCRIBE" in the subject line, to  Please come by and visit the site!)

ACA working with Regions 2020 to enhance Cultural Arts Exchange
Regions 2020, a 12-county planning initiative to guide Central Alabama's future growth and development, hosted a meeting for Cultural/Arts Groups in the region.  The featured speaker was Tom Wolf, CEO of Boston consulting firm Wolf,Keens and Co. which has been retained to help develop the plan. The Cultural Arts project is in the information gathering phase which will help planners develop ways to build an inclusive arts community, improve and increase arts education programs, grow arts funding and encourage intra-organizational exchange .  The Alabama Celtic Association is currently working with the Regions 2020 effort to ensure that the Celtic cultural arts are represented and will be part of this regional arts initiative.
Huntsville Scottish Highland Dancer, Erin Higginbotham - Going to the National Championship !
When the National Scottish Highland Dance Championships are held in Colorado this year, Alabama will be proudly represented by twelve-year-old Erin Higginbotham of Huntsville who qualified for the Nationals at the Savannah Highland Games in May. She is a hard-working young lady and the honor is well-deserved. Her trip to Colorado is being to sponsored by contributions from:  The Alabama Celtic Association, The Tennessee Valley Scottish Society, Killarney's Irish Pub and Restaurant, The Mid-South St.Andrew's Society and the Caledonian Society of Alabama.  Congratulations, Erin - we are all so proud of you!
Killarney's Celtic-flavored Medieval Evening - the Crowd Cometh!
Killarney's Pub and Restaurant hosted a HUGE crowd at the Celtic Medieval Evening on June 7.  The parking lot was the scene of Irish Dance, Sword Fighting and Medieval Dance all evening long. Inside the Pub, Southwind shared their Celtic music talents with a full house while costumed Lord and Ladies served the crowd a medieval-flavored feast.   Local radio, 107.7 "The X" was on hand broadcasting live from the site throughout the night.  Huge success - look for this event to return! Photos from a Celtic Medieval Evening
Oak Mountian Highland Games Review - abridged from OMHG Report of June 27, 2002
The Oak Mountain Highland Games and Scottish Gathering featured entertainers: Colin Grant Adams, Cynthia Lynn Douglass, Martha Wynne and the Tartan Heirs, Ron Messer, Caledon, Joyce Godwin, Four Spirits of the Wind and Heritage Pipes and Drums.  Stan Moore presented demonstrations of sheep herding with his border collies and the Krugerand Run Thoroughbred Farm offered equestrian demonstrations.  Representatives from 24 Clans were on hand with Scottish heritage information and the Scottish Armory gave demonstrations of Scottish weaponry.  The Oak Mountain Highland Games are planned, arranged and presented by Gene McKenzie, Annette McKenzie, Gibson McKenzie (Founder and First President of Clan McKenzie) and Martha Wynne. Photos from Oak Mountain Highland Games
ACA Local Hero  - Steve Schnell
Because ACA is a volunteer service organization, we often depend on friends in the community to help with various tasks and projects - large and small. Steve Schnell has volunteered time and again to help ACA at various events (he's a strong, athletic guy). He has helped with setting up the tent and taking it down, making tables and chairs materialize from thin air, delivering the ACA banner safely and more.  He also takes pride in wearing his kilt, participating in every Celtic event, and trying his hand at everything from Scottish Heavy Athletics to Scottish Drumming.  Steve's volunteerism and participation is a model for what Celtic community is all about.  Thanks Steve - you rock!
Don't miss this month's Celtic Alabama News PHOTO GALLERY !
Lots of Great Photos from: North Alabama Scottish Highland Games, Oak Mountain Highland Games, Celtic Medieval Evening and Pub Night at Killarney's in June and MORE !! Visit the PHOTO GALLERY HERE
Celtic Alabama Announcements
Gerry O'Beirne "House Concert" in Montgomery on October 25th
Montgomery's number one fan of Irish music, Gwen Orel,  is bringing one of Celtic music's brightest talents to town for a "house concert".  Seating will be intimate and limited so don't delay getting your foot in the door!  Irish songwriter, guitarist and singer Gerry O’Beirne was born in Ennis in County Clare and raised in the West of Ireland and in Ghana in West Africa. Gerry is not only a self-taught master of the six and twelve string guitar, he is also a renowned songwriter. He has toured around the globe with several bands and artists including Patrick Street, The Sharon Shannon Band, Midnight Well (which featured his unique slide guitar playing), The Waterboys, Andy M. Stewart, Martin Hayes, Kevin Burke and Andy Irvine. He has performed at the White House, opened for the Grateful Dead, and played electric guitar with Marianne Faithfull. As a producer Gerry has a large number of albums to his credit including Promenade for Kevin Burke and Micheal O’Dhomhnaill (winner of the Grand Prix Du Disque at Montreux), Irish Times by Patrick Street, Man In The Moon and Donegal Rain by Andy M Stewart, First Footing by Anam, The Connaughtman’s Rambles by Martin O’Connor, Up Close by Kevin Burke, Lifting The Veil by Fiona Joyce, To Anyone At All by Clandestine, Fine Small Storm by Jen Hamel and many more.  Tickets are $12 and CDs will be available.  For more details:
FREE Bagpipe Lessons being offered in Birmingham on Saturdays
Free bagpipe lessons are being offered by various members of Heritage Pipes & Drums, including Ryan Morrison, Kathleen Ryan and "Wee" John Douglas. Lessons offered on a first come first served basis from 9 A.M. to 10 A.M. at Reformed Heritage Presbyterian Church, 1401 Montgomery Hwy in Vestavia. Heritage is also offering free lessons for Scottish snare from John Kirkpatrick and for tenor drum from Ryan and Sherry Morrison. Contact Ryan Morrison at home at (205) 836-2306 or work at (205) 823-1988 or e-mail at Also check out the new HPD web site at . Now's the time to take up the Pipes!

Irish Gaelic Class begins in August 2002
Native Irish Gaelic speaker, Sinead Maher of Birmingham is offering a four-week introductory course in Irish Gaelic in Birmingham.  The class will be a casual exploration of conversational Gaelic with the potential for continuing Irish language growth. Sinead has been in contact with some wanting to take the Gaelic lessons and the first meetings for the class are planned to start in August.  The class size is limited and is currently full with a waiting list - so get your name in the hat early! Additional inquires may be sent to Sinead Maher .
Alabama Highland Games will welcome Lord Montgomery - in Montgomery!
Lord Montgomery will be an Honored Guest at the Alabama Highland Games at the Shakespeare Festival Grounds in Montgomery.  Featured Celtic entertainers will be, Jack Tamson's Bairns and Jennifer Roland .  Both are critically acclaimed in Celtic music circles and we look forward to seeing them perform at this event!  The Alabama Highland Games are the last weekend in September so mark you calendars today!  Details to at .
World Champion Pipe Band coming to Stone Mountain in October - Simon Fraser University Pipe Band
The 2001 World Champions, Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, will be coming to the Stone Mountain Highland Game in Georgia this October.  Traveling all the way from Vancouver BC for their first visit to Georgia, the four-time world champions will be performing through the weekend.  As a very special treat they will be performing in recital Saturday evening.  Their 2 hour concert performance will be created especially for the games and based on their previous concerts.  The band has performed in such famous places as New York's Carnegie Hall, the Sydney Opera House (Sidney Australia), the Belfast Waterfront Hall, the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow Scotland and now Atlanta GA.  For all of those serious lovers of bagpipe music, this concert is not to be missed. Details at  
Welsh?  Where are you?  ACA Board member, Jenny Honeycutt, is creating an informal forum for the development of the Welsh community in Alabama.  She is working with Jeff Owens of the Alabama Welsh Society to gather those with Welsh interests.  We welcome ideas and thoughts about the form and purpose of a potential Alabama Welsh organization.  If you are interested or would like to know more, e-mail Jenny at .
Do You Have a Favorite Celtic Book?
The ACA Web Site at has added an Education Page for teachers and others seeking age/education level specific materials to build or enrich studies of Celtic themes.  We are also including a "Recommended Reading" historical fiction list from and for our friends in the Celtic community. Tell us about your favorite books on the Celts! If you have a favorite book or videotape - send us your review!  We'd also like to know where it can be purchased (in print or out-of-print).  Send your recommendations to or call 205-655-7259. 
Please share your Celtic Calendar Items and Announcements with us! 
The Celtic Alabama News is always looking for news of, announcements for and photos of various Celtic events around the state to share around through the CAN and the web site.  We depend on you to share photos and news with us.  IF YOU DON"T LET US KNOW  - WE CAN"T LET EVERYONE ELSE KNOW - so send your news today!  ALSO - is now easier to view. We've reduced the file size on most of the photos so they will load faster. Check out the Celtic Alabama News Photo Gallery !  Also, be sure to visit the NEW Photo Gallery Archives for 2001 and 2002.
How can I ensure Alabama's Celtic Legacy? Become an ACA Patron!
ACA depends on the support of our friends in the Celtic community for all of its operating expenses. Patrons make ACA Possible!  ACA Patrons receive four quarterly issues of the deluxe version of Celtic Alabama News for as well as the occasional preferred seating or ticket option.  It's a great way to show your Celtic Pride and ensure our cultural legacy in Alabama! You can become a Patron of ACA today by sending a $25 check to:  Alabama Celtic Association, P.O. Box 724, Trussville AL 35173.  Please include your preferred mailing address.  (For more details: Click Here for ACA Patrons)
Celtic Alabama News Calendar
July 10, 2002  -  "Pub Night" at Killarney's Irish Pub and Restaurant
Join the Celtic crowd every SECOND Wednesday at Killarney's for dinner, a pint, darts, pool or the pleasure of Celtic company!  Musicians are honored guests, Kilts are allowed, toasts are common and Irish Dancing can occur!  All welcome - family friendly.
Where:  Killarney's Irish Pub and Restaurant in Eastwood Mall, Birmingham Details:
July 13, 2002  -  Southwind - Celtic Music at Killarney's Irish Pub
Where: Killarney's Irish Pub and Restaurant, Eastwood Mall, Birmingham  Details:
July 13, 2002  -  Scottish Society of Mobile Meeting
Where:  Mobile, Alabama  Details:
July 13-14, 2002  -  Scottish Fiddle Worshop with Laura Risk
Where:  Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, Linville, North Carolina  Details:  Cathy McInnis 704-932-2278 or
July 20, 2002  -  Hooley - performing at Killarney's Irish Pub and Restaurant
Where:  Eastwood Mall, Birmingham  Details:
August 2, 2002  -  Henri's Notions - Live Celtic Music
Where:  Humphrey Bar and Grill, Huntsville  Details:
August 3, 2002  -  Southwind AND Henri's Notions - Sundilla Summer Concert Series
Where:  Auburn, Alabama  Details: or
September 2002  -  Caledonian Society of Alabama Fall Picnic
Where:  TBA  Details:  TBA
September 6, 2002 -  Henri's Notions - Live Celtic Music
Where:  Humphrey Bar and Grill, Huntsville  Details:
September 12-22, 2002  -  Henri's Notions - performing at Walnut Valley Festival
Where:  Winfield, Kansas  Details:
September 28, 2002  -  Alabama Highland Games
Where:  Alabama Shakespeare Festival Grounds - Wynton Blount Park  Details: TBA

Visit our ACA Calendar for more details and  EVERYTHING ELSE that you don't want to miss!

The on-line version of Celtic Alabama News is a free service of the Alabama Celtic Association. Help us grow the Celtic Community -  Share this with your friends!  If you do not want to receive this monthly e-newsletter, contact  Please include your name and e-mail address when making this request for removal.  If you would like to reproduce any of this copy in another publication, please credit Celtic Alabama News and author, if noted.

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