The day started in Union Terrace Gardens at 9am with the setting up of the tent and the rest of the gear, with a blue sky over head you could actually feel a bit of heat in the sun even though it was still quite early and it was certainly different to what the forecast was.
This year compared to last was different for Crann Tara as we were invited to be involved in the procession which was to come down Aberdeen’s main street, Union Street. I suppose it is a bit ironic really that a tartan day parade should be held in and around so many place names which incorporate the word Union particularly when the wearing of tartan was revoked under the act of proscription in 1747 as an act against those who fought against the Union since 1707 when it was established.
Anyway it was easy to find the starting point of the parade as the sound of the pipe bands could be heard practicing their tunes to perfection before the march. Just like the raising of the Standard at Glenfinnan members of our group appeared from various directions unexpectedly.
The council had equipped each group with their own name for recognition and the parade began. As we entered Union Street we made ourselves heard with various chants in both Gaelic and English, Saor Alba, Alba Gu Brath, Prosperity to Scotland and no Union and the likes, which got a great response from the on looking crowd. The street was lined with thousands of people of all ages, the sound of the 10 bands of pipes and drums filling the air. There were also some comical characters entertaining the crowd towards the end, a piper on stilts which made him about 8 or 9 feet tall, Scott the Dog dressed as a poodle which caused great hilarity when he lifted his leg to pee on everyone!!!, I don’t know if it was the fact that there was water coming from between his legs or the reality of his bits and pieces which had everyone in fits of laughter.
The parade came to an end just after the Town House at the Castle Gate, the pipe bands were dismissed and those who took part dispersed, lucky enough just before a heavy down pour of rain.
We made our way back to Union Terrace Gardens where further live entertainment was scheduled to take place and the dry cover of the tent. Due to the rain proceedings were delayed for a short time to give a chance for the rain to stop and it did and the blue skies returned once again.
The gardens filled up quickly and became a hive of activity with several hundred people gathering to listen to the free live entertainment. Steven Robertson from the comedy trio ‘Scotland the What’ began the proceedings, telling a few jokes to the hilarity of the crowd, he then handed over to Albannach who as always stirred the crowd into blood boiling passion. The line up continued with a fantastic arrangement and variation of traditional music with the Strathspey and Reel Society, then Ted Christopher who reached the souls of the people with his patriotic songs like ‘Freedoms Flame’ and‘ I’m Coming Home’. The concert ended with local Torry quine Joyce Falconer who is also one of the cast in the Scottish soap River City. Through out the concert guest celebrities from Braveheart, Davie McKay and Peter Mullen and River City’s Sarah McCardie mingled with the crowd in the gardens, although I must say the lure of refreshment from our tent seemed to be quite magnetic to them!!!
Although Union Terrace Gardens became the main arena the celebration of Tartan Day was not just confined to the Gardens, there were other activities all over the city including a country fair selling Scottish produce, a lively re-enactment re-creating Aberdeen’s dark and murky past where the public were given a chance to participate in a real criminal trial from the past. St Nicholas Kirk Yard also staged performers from local music groups such as SKAT.
To cap it all the event was deemed a great success and we retired to a local hostelry called the ‘Blue Lamp’ where we relaxed and enjoyed the entertainment provided by Ted Christopher. Look forward to next year!!!!
After writing the report I received this e-mail from Kenny Luke, organiser of the Tartan Day event and speaking on behalf of Aberdeen City Council.
"Aberdeen's Tartan Day 08 was another outstanding success, a lot of which has to do with the fantastic contribution of Crann Tara. Professionalism, enthusiasm, historical knowledge, Crann Tara have it all in abundance, and are an absolute must for events of this kind. You can be assured, they will be very much involved when Aberdeen City Council help
celebrate Scotland's Homecoming year 2009."
On behalf of Crann Tara, our own special thanks go to Kenny Luke Event Organiser at Aberdeen City Council for making us so welcome, The Strathleven Artizans for supporting us and other non members who supported us like wise. Hopefully we will to see you all again next year.
by Jim Singer