Ah Knockengorroch World ceilidh.
Scotland’s undisputed, premier music festival to those familiar with such muddy foot-stomping field gatherings, and a quizzical mouthful for those unacquainted.
It was a special year according to many folk. Maybe the music, the people gathered there, the absence of rain for an entire day, a refreshing dunk in the river post sauna….the crazyness of club mud, or one of the various other unorthodox shenanigans. Each will have their own sweet cocktail of reasons… I’ve got a few, but for the sake of this post I’ll keep it story-wise, for at this particular Knockengorroch I got to tell in the Longhouse- undisputed, understated champion of intimate venues, and a place crying out to have stories shared within its lime-coated stone walls.
With an impromptu set to open the venue at 1.30 on the Sunday, I was a wee bit concerned that it’d be a low turnout. And as I sat there in the relative darkness, with one enthusiast and his kids, I was anticipating a fairly low profile affair. May as well just talk about faeries I supposed.
So there we started, differentiating between the sweet, winged, flower-fairies of Victorian England, and their larger, altogether more mischievous, occasionally helpful, and sometimes downright evil, hillock dwelling Scottish counterparts. Best left a bowl of creamy porridge to be kept on board, and resisting their riotous fiddle fuelled parties, lest we disappear for 100 years or more.
Maybe it was the wee folk themselves, pulling the elemental strings outside, and drumming up a crowd to hear of their cultural prowess & historical stature, or maybe it was a bout of rain that brought people into the Longhouse, but soon enough we were full, and at the end of a Healing story from Skye, with a faery clan and a dearly loved cow, I was pleased to feel the eagerness of those gathered and be given the nod for another tale.
Witches this time, and of to Kintail. Out at sea, through the forest, into strange dwellings, a stranger journey, and Kintail again, fit for the sea. One of my favourites, and again popular with those gathered.
It struck me how the setting adds so much to the story, and reminded me that although the storytelling aspect of our folk culture and heritage has played second fiddle (excuse the pun!) to the songs and tunes of old, maybe its time is coming again. There’s a thirst for it for sure, and when the right place, right people and right stories come together like that there’s a tangible magic….whether by faery blessing, or some more pragmatic alchemy.
Anyways, knock was great, and sharing Highland tales in the Longhouse a personal highlight. Its a long way off to be thinking about doing it again next year, but that’d be a fine way to see out of May annually I reckon. In the meantime, there’s an intention brewing like the contents of Stine Bheag’s iron pot. For other such venues must surely be waiting, more folk curious for the tales, and as much lore as one could ever hope to carry for the sake of sharing. Until next May, I’ll be leaving the metaphorical porridge bowl out for the Wee Folk, and hoping they conjure these elements together for an alchemical ceilidh or three.
Hopefully I’ll see you there, in the warm glow of the hearth.
In fine fettle and good health.
Happily sitting on the Wild Edge.