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Camanachd A brief story of Scotland’s auld game. Introduction Why haven’t I heard of Camanachd? What is Camanachd? What is the history of Camanachd? What.

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Presentation on theme: "Camanachd A brief story of Scotland’s auld game. Introduction Why haven’t I heard of Camanachd? What is Camanachd? What is the history of Camanachd? What."— Presentation transcript:

1 Camanachd A brief story of Scotland’s auld game

2 Introduction Why haven’t I heard of Camanachd? What is Camanachd? What is the history of Camanachd? What comes from Camanachd? How important is Camanachd to Scottish culture? How to get Camanachd played again in New England?

3 Why haven’t I heard of Camanachd? Quite simply In what season do people visit Scotland? It was played during _______ season We know it has been known in Canada Shinny & Nova Scotia Cape of Good Hope to Toronto We know it has been known in the States… 1903 in New York a camanachd team was formed…long before… Revolutionary War We knew it was known in many areas of the world Australia, New Zealand, Panama, Africa – anywhere the Scots settled they brought with them their well-loved game…their cultural identity (kilt) Its history in Scotland – we’ll look at this in a moment – also has led to its “secrecy”

4 Camanachd: What is it? What is this strange word, “Camanachd?” The modern game of camanachd (shinty), is played to the following rules (in summary): The field of play is rectangular – 140-170 yards long; 70-80 yards wide Goals are10 feet (3.05 metres) high and 12 feet wide The ball is spherical, made of cork and worsted inside, the outer cover of leather or some other approved material, not more than eight inches (20 cms) and not less than 7.5 inches (19 cms) in circumference. The weight of the ball at the start of the game should not be more than 3 ounces (85 gms) nor less than 2.5 ounces (70 gms). Players’ equipment and apparel, apart from the obvious stick (known as a caman ) is also minimal: shin guards and strips (uniforms). The caman head must not be of a size larger than can pass through a ring with a diameter of 2.5 inches (6.3 cms); no plates, screws, or metal in any form shall be attached to or form part of the caman. Scrolled photos courtesy of Washington Camanachd Club

5 What’s in a Name? Camanachd, shinty, shinteag, iomain, shinnock, cammock, cammon, etc are all names referring to camanachd (iomain literally means “the driving game” and can refer to other sports as well, but generally was used for camanachd) SHINDIG – has as its root, shinty Why the name Camanachd? Today, the most commonly used term is “shinty.” This comes from reference of a game of the sport – “shinny” The word “iomain” is the word that Robert Burns would heard most for the game because of his location. Iomain, which could refer to many games played by the Scots, demonstrates to us the importance of the game to Scotland. THE driving sport (iomain) was Camanachd

6 History of Camanachd There are ties to ancient stick and ball games of Egypt and beyond 5 th century BC carvings found in Athens show players getting ready to play a sport closely resembling Camanachd. Perhaps Camanachd is linked to Greece’s conquest of the known world and then abandoned by Greece as their world strarted crumbling Perhaps Camanachd’s development was coincidental to Greece’s sport

7 First Written References 1272 BC is the first recorded reference Battle of Moytura, near Cong, County Mayo Native Fir Bolg Invading Tuatha De Danann (demanding half the country) Demand refused and battle was inevitable It was agreed upon to have a match while each side was preparing for the battle 27 of the best players from each side play Many a blow was, predictably dealt on legs and arms, “till their bones were broken and bruised and they fell outstretched on the turf and the match ended” The Fir Bolg won, fell upon the Tuatha De Danann and slew them Leabhar na Nuachongbhalaor ( The Book of Leinster ) some 2000 years after the event!!

8 History of Camanachd There is no doubt that camanachd was played in pagan times, but it’s doubtful that it was really “a recognizable relic of a very ancient, pagan, magical fertility rite” or that the caman is a phallic symbol as suggested by Rev. Robert C. MacLagan (National Library of Scotland, H.2.86.1349; article on Hogmanay, pp 3-42, 1910) ?????????Was it introduced to Scotland, along with Christianity and the Gaelic language, nearly 2000 years ago by Irish missionaries???????? MOST LIKELY, camanachd developed from the stick and ball games of Egypt more than 4000 years ago. The Gaelic peoples originated in Galatia and migrated up through Europe and settled in places like Scotland

9 History of Camanachd Regardless of how stick and ball games came to Scotland, the game of Camanachd has at least two millenia of being an integral part of Celtic culture What about Irish hurling? Hurling, is Camanachd’s cousin sport. Hurling was developed from a game resembling Camanachd Hurling started off as a seasonal variety of Camanachd Camanachd was great to play on frozen turf and ice, but Irish players wanted an aerial game with a larger, softer ball and a flat-faced stick for Summer leisure. 1607 we know Camanachd was played on ice on the Firth of Fourth

10 History of Camanachd 15 th century grave slab in Inishowen, County Donegal shows a relief engraving of broadsword, caman and ball The Highlands has been the heartland, of what was known as the “Scottish Game” – it spread It continues to be played in the Highlands and Isles Skye and the Hebrides – the game remain unchanged for centuries – parishes or villages would play in the weeks surrounding Christmas and New Year CULMINATING in the annual Hogmanay match with the losers supplying kegs of beer and the water of life

11 History of Camanachd It was such a part of everyday life that countless stories of major moments in Scottish history include Camanachd Some believe the game was designed to train younger lads to become warriors, others believe it was for soldiers to remain fit between campaigns and exercise the art of war. In either case, conflict and Camanachd have been bedfellows 1699 – prior to the battle with the Spanish in Darien 1692 – Campbells and MacDonalds – the afternoon of the betrayal and murder in Glencoe

12 History of Camanachd “Organized days” in the late 1800s – Camanachd Association Associated with celebrations, especially Hogmanay (New Year’s Day) and Christmas Male populations of one village/district against another There’s history in that the Scots spread it to England, the States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, Panama (hundreds of those headed for the New Caledonia of Darian included camanachd players) 1745 Rebellion – camanachd suffered the same repression that plagued Scottish culture Legislation against it (and it’s daughter, golf) by the Kirk and English authorities

13 History of Camanachd 1869 Shinty clubs began to form and soon District Organizations sprung to life 1880 First set of universal rules was adopted Foundations for the modern game were laid 1893 Capt. Archibald Chisholm, founder of the Strathglass Club, was elected Chief of the Camanachd Association

14 The Use of Caman The first use of the word caman dates back to at least the 12 th century Cù Chulainn, the greatest of all the Irish heroes, excelled at the sport His name was changed from Sètanta to Cù Chulainn because he drove a ball through the foaming mouth of a dog which forced the animal’s entrails through the other end

15 Camanachd – At Home In 1589, the Kirk Session Records of Glasgow (October 16, 1589) “We respectt to the Kirk-yeards, that ther be no playing at golf carrict, shinnie” The Club of True Highlanders regarded camanachd as being: “undoubtedly the oldest known Keltic sport or pastime. The game is also called Cluich bhall, shinnie, shinty, bandy, hurling, hockey, and at one time was a universal and favourite game of the whole of Keltland…. The origin of this game is lost in the midst of ages… indeed, it is said, and no doubt, with great truth, that the game of Camanachd, or club playing, was introduced into the Green Isle by the immediate descendants of Noah. On such authority we may rationally conclude that it was played by Noah himself; and if by Noah, in all probability Adam and his sons” ( Leabhar Comunn nam Fìgravèor Ghael, The Book of the Club of True Highlanders, p.50) The Book of the Club of True Highlanders was published by the Society of True Highlanders in 1881

16 Camanachd – At Home It was played to a considerable extent in all of December and January At Hogmanay, thousands would show and watch and play It was played by all ages – boys, young men, and men from 60 years and older In Islay – two men: MacNiven and MacLauchlan, both old and grey-haired, were recognized by all as distinguished players and played prominent roles in the matches A good caman was the object of ambition and pride

17 Camanachd’s Importance to Scottish Culture It’s been recognized in terms of its historical pedigree and connection with its cultural cousin of hurling in Ireland – hurling was developed for summer play HOWEVER…there’s much more to its importance It’s provenance world-wide and its significance as one of the cultural anchors which emphasized the “Scottish-ness” of Gaels forced abroad has been consistently under-estimated, if not ignored completely

18 Camanachd Threatened Shinty, as with many other aspects of Highland heritage (notably the Gaelic language) has been frequently threatened: By Statute The influence of Sabbatarianism following the Reformation The savage dislocation of the Highland Clearances In modern times Harsh economic reality Falling birth-rate Season – now changed People don’t see it

19 Further Reading & Resources Camanachd Association: Washington Camanachd Club: MacLennan, HG. (2006). Shinty’s place and space in the world. n_Shintysplace.pdf n_Shintysplace.pdf Hutchinson, R. (2004). Camanachd! The Story of Shinty. Edinburgh: Birlinn Limited. The Games & Diversions of Argyleshire: Compiled by Robert Craig MacLagan [1901]. Cornell University Library: Digital Collections

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