Celtic Festival and Highland Games of the Quad Cities



2017 Celtic Festival and Highland Games of the Quad Cities

Field Trip Activities

Celtic Music

Teaching time: 60 minutes
Presented by: Patsy O'Brien & Dick Hensold

Students will learn about the Celtic musical traditions, what elements make a song "Celtic", and basics of compositions and group performance.

This workship features traditional Celtic music, but with unique and innovative arrangements, including a variety of songs from Britain and Ireland, accompanied by guitar and Northumbrian smallpipes (a quiet bagpipe from Northeast England), or various whistles. It also features traditional and historical tunes from Cape Breton Island, Scotland, Ireland and Northumberland, with a good measure of original music in the traditional style. As well as a broad range of styles of Celtic music, this program also features an impressive range of expression, from the jaunty and humorous to soulful, led by Patsy’s warm and multi-colored baritone voice, Dick’s variety of pipes and whistles, and the nimble instrumental virtuosity of both musicians.

Patsy O’Brien, vocals, guitar. As well as supplying the driving guitar rhythms of Celtic/World Music diva Eileen Ivers’ last European tour, and collaborating with many giants of the Celtic/World music scene (Paddy Keenan, Cathie Ryan among them), award-winning artist Patsy O’Brien hosts guitar workshops all over the country, and NPR saw fit to feature one of his song arrangements on the prestigious All Songs Considered. With 4 critically-acclaimed solo albums under his belt, along with numerous live and studio collaborations, Patsy’s songwriting reflects his penchant for seamless genre-hopping, and a strong interest in roots Americana as well as jazz.

Dick Hensold, Northumbrian smallpipes, Scottish reel pipes, whistles and recorder. The leading Northumbrian smallpiper in North America, for the past 20 years Dick Hensold has performed and taught in England, Scotland, Japan, Canada, and across the United States. He is an active composer, writing both music in the traditional Celtic idiom, and more contrapuntal pieces. This repertoire is featured on his solo CD, Big Music for Northumbrian Smallpipes, released in 2007. He is also a studio musician and theater musician, and is a 2006 Bush Artist Fellow.


Border Collie Sheep Herding

Teaching time: 30 minutes
Presented by: Wendy Peters

 Students will learn about the history of the border collie dog breed, elements of working dog training, and the traditions of sheparding in southern Scotland.

A well-trained herding dog works in partnership with its handler and obeys commands to perform its job. Properly trained, the dog is able to move the sheep just about anywhere. Good herding dogs control sheep with calm authority and without excessive "commotion".


Traditional Highland Athletics

Teaching time: 30 minutes
Presented by: Mark McVey

Students will learn about the traditional Scottish strength games, and the athletic tradition of the Scottish highlands.

Heavy Athletics is a term referring to the throwing events in Highland Games (Scottish). Many of these same events are also contested in Hibernian (Irish) Games as well as in other Celtic Nations.

Some believe the term "Heavy" came about due to the weight of the implements thrown or to the physical stature of the athletes who perform the events, but in general "heavy" has to do with the heavy or strenuous effort required to perform these feats and was a term used in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Heavy Athletics is in contrast to “Light” athletics such as running and jumping events, which are contested in Highland Games in Scotland. Light Athletics also reffers to the Dance competition where in earlier times, heavy athletic champions also competed and won!

It has often been said these events have grown out of the Celtic Warrior Traditions of testing fellow Clansmen for strength and agility. However, the implements of the modern game have little to do with training for combat and these stories seem more designed to romance and entertain than being based on truths.

No matter the origins, Heavy Athletics is made up of six athletic endeavors, which test the contestant’s strength and agility. It is not surprising that versions of many of these events are seen in the Olympics, NCAA Track and Field meets, and Strongman contests as this sport is the grand daddy of all strength sports.



Teaching time: 30 minutes
Presented by: Joe Latsch
 JoeLatsch.jpg    Students will learn about traditional metalworking techniques.

 Irish (Gaelic) Language

Teaching time: 30 minutes
Presented by: Wayne Shannon

 Students will receive an introduction to the Irish language.

Why not Irish? You know what is said about alzheimer's, one way to guard against alzheimer's is to learn another language, thus keeping your brain in condition. Many of my ancestors came from Ireland. How about yours? So why not learn the language that they spoke, and perhaps get a feel of what kind of people they were. Many people here in the U.S. are doing just that right now, so take the leap and join us at one of the above organizations.

Why is it not called Gaelic? Gaelic is of the Celtic family of languages. One Celtic branch includes Welsh, Breton, and Cornish; while the other (Gaelic branch) includes Irish, Scottish and Manx. It is Gaelic, but it is Irish Gaelic as opposed to Scottish Gaelic or Manx Gaelic, and referred to simply as Irish. Irish speaking areas of Ireland are referred to as the Gaeltacht.


Teachers & Homeshool Parents

There are two rotations available to see all of the workshops, with the rotation taking 3.5 hours total including transit time between the workshop areas. There are tables in the Celtic Music area and students are welcome to eat lunch (quietly) during this workshop, however, please note that the festival does not provide food and the field trip groups will not be near the food vendors. There is no cost to attend, and no requirement to complete a full rotation.

Start Time End Time Rotation 1 Rotation 2
11:00 AM 11:30 PM Celtic Music *Border Collie Sheep Herding
11:35 AM 12:05 PM Irish Language
12:10 PM 12:40 PM Border Collie Sheep Herding Blacksmithing
12:45 PM 1:15 PM Irish Language Traditional Highland Athletics
1:20 PM 1:50 PM Blacksmithing Celtic Music
1:55 PM 2:25 PM Traditional Highland Athletics
2:30 PM 3:00 PM   *Border Collie Sheep Herding

*The rotation may be either started or ended with this workshop, providing flexibility in the overall start and end times of the field trip.

To reserve space, please e-mail and specify which rotation or specific workshops your students will be attending. While this is not mandatory, it is helpful in preparing hand-outs for the various workshops. Please check in at the welcome tent located at the intersection of Priester Drive and S. Warren Street to receive a map showing the locations of the workshops.

Rain Policy: The Celtic Music and Irish Language workshops are under tents. All other workshops will be conducted unless rain impacts visibility. Please note that a tent is available for the Traditional Highland Athletics workshop, although the presenter(s) will be outside of the tent. No shelter is provided at the Blacksmithing or Border Collie Sheep Herding workshops.

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