With Burns Night and the 230th anniversary of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s death recently past, it was very appropriate that Omagh Ladies Probus guest speaker at the February meeting attended fully resplendent in Highland dress.
Club President Val Burch warmly welcomed Alistair Moran from the Ulster American Folk Park who gave an animated and dramatic talk on the Scottish Highlanders, Highland clans and their way of life.
Speaking to an audience from which many could trace their Scottish ancestry Mr. Moran, who was born in Inverness, addressed the “issue of Scottishness” by describing his costume of muted MacDonald clan tartan kilt, socks, blue flashes, the obligatory Sgian dubh jewelled blade and a simple brown sporran. The ensemble was completed with a jacket and white lace jabot.
This costume, now favoured by many with Scottish connections for special occasion wear can be traced back to the practical, functional, costume of the Highlanders whose great plaid kept them warm, protected and dry in their harsh environment.
Members were held enthralled as Mr. Moran vividly described the harshness of the Highlands despite their majestic scenery. They heard of the difficult life of the clans as they coped with extremes of weather and terrain and a tumultuous period of Scottish history when their fierce loyalty to Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobean cause led to the fatal battle of Culloden and ultimately the systematic destroying of their culture.
Although the Highlands became sparsely populated as a result, people’s intrigue with highland legendry figures, and the influence of Walter Scott, King George IV and Queen Victoria, cemented the romantic image of the area. The kilt and clan tartans came back into popularity with many now wearing them with pride.
Club member Anne McBain thanked Mr. Moran for his excellent, compelling talk.