As readers will be aware, we have seen a significant rise in interest in Scotland across continental Europe in recent years, and Clan Hay has benefited enormously from the support of enthusiasts for Scotland in Belgium, France and Germany in particular. Many of the new members we have acquired in recent times have come from beyond our shores in Europe, largely driven by our dynamic, Brussels-based member, Tom Hye.
Indeed, Scotland in general, and the society in particular, owe Tom a debt of gratitude for all he does to promote the cause of Scottish heritage across the continent, in particular by securing the society’s involvement at the annual Fetes Franco Ecossaises at Aubigny sur Nere every July, and at Belgium’s popular Celtic Days Festival.
Celtic Days historically took place at Belgium’s magnificent Castel Ooidonk, which is unfortunately not been available in recent years. The Celtic Days organising team was hard at work identifying another venue when Covid struck, and everything stopped for nearly three years. That’s why it was a particular pleasure to see Celtic Days reconvened in September at the new location of Thy le Chateau, part of the municipality of Wallcourt, where the event was generously hosted by the city council, under the leadership of Wallcourt’s mayor, Mme. Christine Poulin.
Representatives of many Scottish organisation were privileged to attend on the society’s behalf, warmly welcomed to the Wallcourt community by its mayor, Mme. Christine Poulin, and the city council.
Over the long weekend the followed, more than 5000 people visited the town to take part in a wide range of activities. There were “weddings” complete with anvil and blacksmith, at a reconstructed Gretna Green smiddy. Musical entertainment was provided in a large marquee, where an ongoing, all-day concert featured every genre of Scottish music and where one of the star turns was Clan Hay's official harpist, Inge Frimout. Scottish food, drink, sport and much else was on display and available for all to try. A clan tent featured Clans Ramsay, Mackinnon, Hay and others. The Royal Celtic Society tent was a hive of activity throughout, the scene of a rolling series of presentations on four themes: introductions to piping, country dancing, and the Gaelic language. The lively attendance at these demonstrations, and the lengthy question and answer sessions that followed them, testify to the enthusiasm for Scotland the event generated, as well as the enduring fascination Scotland holds for those beyond our shores.
The next Celtic Days will take place at Thy le Chateau over the weekend of 2 and 3 September 2023.