History of the Clann

This index points to both articles on period history and the history of our clann.The history of the Clann is written and kept by the Fili (different members have served in that role over time) and are told from their own personal perspectives.The opinions given herein are not necessarily those of the Tuatha de Bhriain and should not be considered as official policy in any way.

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The Clann's Persona History

There were many Chieftains of the tuatha that followed after the great hero Brian, and many Chieftains before Murchadh, but this tale is of the Poc Rua Chieftains, as they were Chieftains of our tribe for three generations before the present and have produced three Chieftains in the current generation.

The sons of Murchadh:

Some Chieftains are builders, some are great speech makers or peacemakers. Of the line of Poc Rua; Murchadh, his son, and grandson were Warrior-Chieftains in a time of great wars.

Murchadh commanded many great houses and among those houses were skilled boat builders that plied their trade to the will of the fierce warriors who wished to course the rivers and seas for trade and plunder. Many men found riches and in doing let their blades turn brown neglected.

On Murchadh's death, his son, Muirchetach, succeeded him.

But in Muirchetach's time, for every seven waves that carried away the curraughs of our clan, only a tide of five waves would return. And as their fathers before them, with the fortunes of war heavy in their boats and bellies, the fires of the forges grew cold.

Muirchetach, in time, went mad, and wondering out was never seen again, though some say in his madness and in drink he danced over the edge of a sea cliff, his body broken by the gray rocks below, and claimed by the foaming sea.

Muirchetach was succeeded by his son, Diarmuid.

Diarmuid was called Ui Domnaill, after his paternal grandfather, as his father had, by way of concubine, another son of the same name.

And in the time of Diarmuid, for every four waves that ebbed away, only two return. While many great warriors had taken to the sea for fame and plunder, our clan was attacked. Great was the suffering visited upon us. Our forge burned down, Our craftsmen killed, Women carried away as screaming slaves, Young boys butchered before receiving arms. Cattle raided, livestock that couldn't be driven away spitefully killed. Ale and mead kegs dashed to pieces, grain stores and houses burned. Amidst all this Diarmuid was cut down. He died in defense of our tribe, sword in hand and in honor shall he always be spoken of. In truth, many died as Diarmuid, if only to let some escape with their lives at all.

With few warriors at hand to press our rights, many of our ancestral land holdings were lost, including the great plain where our burial mounds were and where our coronation stone sat.

Diarmuid was succeeded by his son, Falgon.

With no coronation stone, Falgon couldn't be properly inaugurated as Chieftain. Though many followed his word as if he were, some did not, and this plagued both Falgon and the clan. No clan may prosper without the protection and rule of a Chieftain and for 2 long years the clan had none. These were the darkest days indeed.

Falgon vowed to reclaim what was lost and restore the clan to glory and visit vengeance upon those who killed his father. He sent lookouts to the shores to watch for the return of any of the clan's warriors who had put to sea. He sent messengers to other clans that were fostering young kinsmen approaching arms bearing age, urging their return. Falgon sent envoys to clans with which alliances were held, calling upon their honor to live up to their word. With what little wealth he had left to his name, he hired mercenaries. What few slaves the clan had able to bear arms were promised freedom should they shed blood in the name of the Tuatha de Bhriain. A sizable host was assembled, though with all told, fewer warriors than one would hope for the task at hand.

But, battle fortune favors whom it will. The gods smiled on Falgon for such an undertaking, in treachery was our homeland taken and in blood was it regained. Many of the enemy clan were killed but battle tricks left very few of our own for the ravens.

Our kinsfolk were freed from servitude, along with some slaves from other clans. Captives were ransomed back or sold into slavery, cattle and live stock taken - the wealth of the clan restored for the most part. And all insults and injuries repaid tenfold. Our land re-taken was parceled out to new landholders - to those slaves, mercenaries, and clanless folk who proved worthy and who bared wounds from the glorious battle.

With his vow fulfilled and the clan restored, Falgon was officially inaugurated upon the sacred stone of the clan. Falgon rebuilt the foundation of the clan and prosperity followed. After 3 years however, he grew weary of Chieftain and longed for the simple life he led before.

Falgon was succeeded by his cousin, Aonghus.

Aonghus had served in Falgon's reign as clan Fili. Some say he was to young for the task, and indeed he had barely finished his poets training when he was summoned back for the great battle to regain our rightful lands.But Aonghus proved a wise councilor and was trusted by Falgon for a great many things. It seemed only natural that he reign when Falgon retired.

Filidh, by custom, are prohibited from combat, for with them history dies, but Aonghus was also a warrior. For Aonghus had been trained in Albu, were it is good for a man to know sword craft no matter what his lot in life.

If Falgon laid the foundation for prosperity, Aonghus built the house. Aonghus personally led the warriors of the clan in war, battle, and cattle raids - increasing the wealth and fame of the clan. Many pacts of friendship were made with other clans. But there was trouble in this time too for some of the mercenaries and clanless Celts granted land in Falgon's reign proved treacherous and in time and had to be driven off.

After several years of Chieftain, Aonghus too grew weary. Some say a ban sidhe enchanted him with the same madness his grandfather had suffered, for he disappeared for a time into the wilderness and was sought after by only a few willing to brave the wilds.

Aonghus was succeeded by his cousin, Máinlia.

Máinlia had been away adventuring when the clan saw most of its darkest days.

If any Chieftain had been a warrior before Máinlia, Máinlia was nine times that of those before him. His battle prowess showed itself many times previous as he had been champion of the clan in the reign of Falgon and Aonghus.

Máinlia's thirst for battle is equaled only by his skill in the healing. Máinlia is said to have been pierced with a splinter of the club of the Dagda, for he can kill with one hand and heal with the other. He trained for many years in the Druidic arts of augury and healing, and indeed served as Clan Druid before becoming Chieftain.

Máinlia also led the clan in battle and war and great was the plunder taken in his reign. Máinlia also forged friendships with foreign peoples that traded new wonders for clan goods and slaves.

Máinlia provided stability in a time of uncertainty and did so with tenacity.In time, Máinlia was called upon to hone his Druidic training.

Máinlia was succeeded by his cousin, Aonghus.

It is said that Máinlia cured Aonghus of his madness. And it is he who we call Chieftain this day, as we have for the past 2 years, and for the three before Máinlia. And as Aonghus still reigns, the full tale has yet to be told.

Thus is the story of the Poc Rua Chieftains.

Falgon's History of the Clann Part I

It was the summer of '86. I was still attending a local college and working for a local merchant when I found out that my close friend, Mainlia, had just returned from a journey in the west. I was eager to hear about his travels and we made arrangements to meet. Over mugs of ale he recounted his trip.

He had been to a place called "Coopers Lake" in Pennsylvania (A large land holding to the west). There he encountered a large gathering of people from all over the known world (and even farther than that!). Men, women and children, merchants, montebanks and performers and peasants. Noblemen and their ladies, and the people who attended them, and the many
fighters and warriors. I think he was most impressed by the warriors, and had it in his mind to become one.

He had traveled with his close companion, Templeton, going as fast as they could to find this place. They were drawn there as if by Lugh himself.(He told me that they were lost and upon stopping at a common house along the way, they overheard some people speaking about the event and gained
directions from them.) They arrived at the site, and after handing over some coin, were allowed to enter the great encampment. They discovered that the reason for the gathering of so many people was that there was a war about to be fought! The Pennsic War to be exact! It was a war between
the Kingdom of the East and the Mid-Realms (or Middle Kingdom). He said that there were tournaments and battles of all kinds. That the common men and women would fight with and against kings, dukes and knights. It sounded very exciting and I knew then that I wanted to see this all for myself.

Mainlia went on to tell me that he and Templeton had been poorly prepared and could not find a very good place to set camp. They finally settled down on the outskirts of the Estmar/Silver Phoenix encampment. The people of this group were from many lands and been to the war many times before.They saw how "green" Mainlia and Templeton were and introduced
themselves. After exchanging some friendly information and conversation, they were invited to camp in the Estmar/Silver Phoenix compound. They met Gyrfalcon and Keely, Amron and Magdeline, Torrin, Li Chaing and many others.They were introduced to the people of Dalhradia, with which Mainlia shared
many of the same beliefs and attitudes. They were made welcome and shown great hospitality and a bond of friendship was made between Mainlia and Estmar/Silver Phoenix. Mainlia's narrative went on for hours And many a plan was made as well as many an ale swilled!

This is the first part of my recollections of the history of the Tuatha de Bhriain. I encourage anyone and everyone to help and share their memories and experiences of with the clann. This way, we can have a history that is of clann Bhriain, by clann Bhriain.


Estmar / Silver Phoenix images

Ron Lutz II, who has personal Pennsic galleries posted here on pbase and here at flickr is an excellent photographer.One of his galleries is specifically of the Estmar / Silver Phoenix encampment at Pennsic which contains some very nice portrait shots.Since that group is mentioned at this point in Falgon's history of the Clann, this page has been inserted here.

Falgon's History of the Clann Part II

After many discussions about the great event in the west, Mainlia, Sil and I decided that we would make the trip to the next years' war. Mainlia was invited to camp with Estmar-Silver Phoenix again so, we started to make the necessary arrangements right away. He had camped with them the year before at Pennsic 15. We also invited two other companions, a German wanderer named Trelvis and a Norse agitator named Fjolnir. We borrowed a great wagon from a local hostler, loaded our tents, gear and provisions
and set off. This time we were prepared and had the journey mapped out in advance, so that we wouldn’t lose the way as the had happened the previous year. The trip was long and hot as we made our way across Pennsylvania towards the site.

We arrived in the morning and on attempting to gain entry were denied because Sil was considered a minor by mundane law. We left the site to solve our dilemma . I gained temporary guardianship by writ of a brehon from home and our problem was solved to the chagrin of the Coopers Lake caretakers. We did however have to spend one night camping off site. I believe it was called Roseland. We set off the next morning back to the war site and gained entry. We were greeted by the Estmar-Silver Phoenix
group, told them of our setback and set up our camp. We immediately set off to see the sights of Pennsic 16.

We saw all different types of people from many different lands. Kingdoms great and small were represented there, as well as independent groups of varied sizes. We set out for the merchant area and were impressed by the many goods and services that could be found. We made our purchases and returned to camp to prepare for a night of revelry.

The real formation of the clan began before we set off for this event. Back home, Mainlia, Sil and I had discussed forming a group or clan to help in our interest in medievalism and with the goal in mind of appreciating and recognizing our Irish roots and ancestry. Mainlia had some ideas about how to go about starting out. We formed a Tuath. At the time, there were only the three of us, so, Mainlia was elected as Bard/Druid. He would oversee
ceremonies, music and history. I was elected Comhlaire, a"policeman" type position and also leader of the group. Sil was the first regular clansman with all the rights and privileges as the rest of us. We decided that the group was too small to elect a chieftain at the time. So there it was, the formation and foundation of clann Tuatha de Bhriain.

During our first Pennsic, we discussed many plans and things that we had to do to improve ourselves as far as mediavalism and to develop our personas in the period of time we had chosen, which was 5th century Ireland. We had our first ceremony at a Pennsic, which was a man-making ceremony in honor of Sil. A wickerman with explosive tendencies (it had fireworks interwoven through it!) was burned and a feast was had also. Trelvis was welcomed into the clan as a member with the effect of ostracizing Fjolnir,
who refused to join our clann and decided to sulk in the wagon for a while. This wouldn’t be the first time! We met a lot of people, did a lot of partying and made a lot of friends. We strengthened the friendship with Estmar-Silver Phoenix, who were great hosts and put up with a lot of noise, late night drinking and an over-abundance of beef jerky wrappers!

Our first Pennsic as a clann was the beginning of a new brotherhood and we hoped that we would one day be as impressive as some of the other groups we had seen but, we also knew that there was a tremendous amount of work ahead of us. Our plans for next year were already being talked about, as we said goodbye to our friends and made the long journey home.

This is the second part of my interpretations of Clann Bhriain. Again I ask that anyone and everyone to help with this endeavor. Whatever you remember or recall. This is so we will always have our history and our experiences to share and remember…..forever.


A Gift for Morcar

Written for inclusion in Morcar's Book June 5, 1996.The story of the first medieval "event" I attended in 1991 under the assumed persona of Comyn MacFergus of Clan Tuatha de Bhriain aka "Little Yvan".

I had noticed that the leaves were already turning when I first arrived at the Fall Thyng assembly.I did not know at the time that this would be Norseland's last gathering at this place.Passing through the encampment, I wrapped myself a little tighter into my woolen cloak against the chill that came with nightfall.These people were kind and generous, yet very proud of bearing.Their clothing was, though decorated with weaves of trim that would have seemed strange to the women back home, essentially the same as that of my own clan.The music, accompanied though it was by rythyms that were foriegn to me, echoed over the hills and into the valley below and in time worked its way past all pretense and tingled the nerves at the base of my spine.Morcar was the undisputed master of this music and it went wherever he bid.

The success of my initial introduction to Morcar was made slightly more complicated by a strange vision I had upon meeting him, but it couldn't be helped.We had been admitted to Morcar's yurt.A smallish, circular tent on the hill proper.Outside hung the bone white skull of what must have been a huge hound in life.Beads and knuckle bones and wooden disks with the markings these men called "Runes" had been strung together with care into necklaces and hung carefully about its toothy grin.Whether it was a ward or just a warning I cannot say for at the time, my knowledge of runes was remedial at best.I was the second of our party to enter the dimly lit shelter, and for the briefest of instants, as Morcar turned to greet me, it was not he but Fjolner who stood before me, smiled and offered me a horn.In shock, I recoiled until the vision had passed.Morcar was a little confused to say the least.He suggested that if he was actaully that hideous, he could find a sack to put over his head,explaining that he didn't want to upset anyone's stomach.

Upon the advice of a companion, I had assumed a Norse travelling name that was easier for the Norsemen to pronounce than the Celtic equivalent.Unfortunately, the name I had chosen was also worn by a more impressive figure - and I quickly became "little" Yvan.Morcar knew me then only by that name, and I must admit I feel a little uncomfortable living with the memory of that deception.A Celt should bear his name and the name of his father proudly and with honor.

I had travelled many leagues, on what a Christian might have called a pilgrimage, to stand where one Norseman claimed that they had burned Fjolner and his worldly possesions in his own longship.Now it seemed as if Fjolner himself was hovering somewhere nearby.The shock of my earlier experience had for the most part worn off, but I was sure now that the one they called Morcar had known Fjolner well, known his private council, been bonded to him somehow in the kind of brotherhood that outsiders can never fully understand.

If I said earlier that my introduction to Morcar was complicated, I mean only our formal one.I did not know his name when, just after we had arrived and finished lashing our tents to nearby trees, he strolled up, fingering furiously on his whistle the strains of songs from my native Eire.Our whole company joined in rousing choruses of the familiar tunes which came as sweet comfort after our long journey, but he was gone again as suddenly as he had appeared.

The next night, I had my first experience with what these men called a "Norseland Fire".I now equate every fire I witness, be it in the brush or in a dwelling, with the size of that fire.For example, when a local grainary sadly went up in smoke several months ago, it was easily a one and a half Norseland fire.It has certainly become the standard by which all other fires are measured.

Later that night, Morcar gathered all the men of the encampment together to meet in secret, away from the women's prying eyes.We stood quietly in the valley, just at the edge of the training field next to a larger yurt.I noted the banners of all the households that were represented there, arranged all around the hill.I remember that my eyes fell upon a sword, thrust into the ground near one banner depicting a longship.Perched atop it was a helm.For a second it seemed to move, as if an invisible wearer had turned his head to the side for a better look at me.I squinted, trying desperately to detect any further motions, but if there had actually been any movement, it had ceased.I thought not much about it, as my head was swimming in mead, but I remember it now.Strange...

The purpose of the gathering was to learn from Morcar the Norseland Warrior's Reply.A lusty response to a song the women of the village had composed to praise their husbands and warriors. Eagerly my companions and I entered the yurt while smoke from its central hearth wafted lazily around inside, struggling unsuccessfully to exit at the small opening at the top.When everyone was settled, Morcar began the tedious business of teaching all of us the words.When we had memorized them as best as our soggy minds could manage, we marched up to where the embers of the great Norseland fire still glowed, and promptly made fools of ourselves to the delight of the womenfolk.

Five years have passed since that night, yet countless times since then, male voices have been raised in an impromptu chorus of the Warrior's Reply, and I would not be surprised if many of the men who were there that night remember most of the words to this day.

One final meditation: As I passed through the market at Pennsic last, I noticed two small children who were amusing themselves (and the women watching them) in an area near the road.As it happened, my lady slowed to inspect some fabrics, or I would have been out of earshot of these young children in a matter of seconds.As fabric is about as fascinating to me as rotting vegetables, I turned to watch the children.

They were not looking in my direction, and they were too young to know me in any case, but suddenly one blond youth, of about 8 summers looked toward me, if not directly at me and burst into song.He was soon joined by another, younger dark haired child.Sure enough, it was the Warrior's Reply."Norsemen, norsemen.We're lucky we're not divorced men.We fight, we drink we're an army of slobs and yet you love us still..."

Once again the echo of Morcar's skaldic power had found its way across rivers and hills to tingle the nerves at the base of my spine.

Comyn Mac Fergus

Eight Years of Clann History by Aonghus


I don’t think I’m the best person to relate clann history. I’ve been at the center of several (if not all) of the controversies that have rocked the clann’s boat and therefore may not have the most objective opinion. But having warned you ahead of time, I will try and relate what I can remember of clann history including how I came to witness it. Though I have written this in somewhat of an autobiographic style, this history belongs to all Tuatha de Bhriain.
How I got started in Medievalism

How I Got Started In Medievalism

I first got involved in medievalism back in my sophomore year of high school 1984 -85.It was not with the clann however, it was with the MSR (medieval studies and restoration). They were (and still are) a large splinter group of the SCA located primarily in the New York metro area… a lot of there events were held at Columbia university and of course they had their big show at Sands Point every year. I was involved in a small group called "Suphoria" (affectionately known as "Euphoria") that never really went anywhere… though we tried to become a shire. Momus also got his start in the MSR. He and I actually hung out for the fist time at one of the shire meetings. My persona had been a German who fought in the crusades, was captured, and converted to Islam (Allah akbah… and Momus was a jester).

We had some great times back then, mostly because we were underage and yet allowed to drink mead (we even got a lecture from king Juda on responsible drinking). We had a few fighter practices in a members back yard in Sayville. Using borrowed armor we got to beat the hell out of each other and clown around a lot. There was one particular opponent I faced who I will always remember… He was this skinny dude with short dark hair and a mustache. He talked a real mean game but I wound up beating the tar out of him to the cheers of my comrades. But that’s not why I remember him so well…(more on this guy later).

Alas, for all our mirth, this little shire of ours was doomed from the start… riddled with politics of who was in charge and plagued by the "greenness" of its members. Now there is no crime in being inexperienced, most of us were in high school and really didn’t know how to participate to the level that was expected. But what really messed things up - people would brag and promise all kinds of support for events - and then not even bother to show up for them. We were actually supposed to host an event - it was publicized in the MSR newsletter ("The White Hart") but never came to pass…. Much to the kings chagrin who was not notified of the cancellation and showed up to where the event was supposed to be held. That pretty much marked the end of Suphoria, my involvement with the MSR, and medievalism for a while.

How the Clann found me

Now a few years past, and Tim Cole (Momus) and I became great friends. Like most of our peers (and many medievalists) we enjoyed playing role playing games. And like most role players…we were starved for a good and consistent campaign. One day Momus tells me of this guy he knew in college (SCCC) who was willing to run us in a game (Warhammer) and was supposedly a good GM.Lo and behold… It was the same skinny guy I had beat the tar out of some years earlier… Steve Taylor (Fjolnir - and his hair was much longer now). (*In actuality… I was introduced to Steve and Mike Mirrabella (Volund) once before this at a concert we all went to… I thoughtit was Roger Waters but Volund has informed me that is was in fact Pink Floyd). Through this game group, I was introduced to Chris Hagan (Conn) and the "Treudler brothers" Eric and Chris (Falgon and Sil).

It was Fjolnir that re-introduced me to medievalism. The clann already existed at this point but Fjolnir was not part of it because of …well…lets just call them "artistic differences". Fjolnir was looking to start his own band called "the wolfs head mercenaries".He wanted me in and originally I was interested.Then came Pennsic. My first Pennsic.

Though Fjolnir and the clann didn’t see eye to eye so well… they still camped with each other. And it was at this point that I became acquainted with the Tuatha de Bhriain. I had become good friends with Falgon and Sil through gaming, and didn’t quite understand the differences that kept "Fjolnir", "Sil" and "Falgon" separate "medievaly" while "Steve" "Chris" and "Eric" got along and gamed so well together "mundanely".As Pennsic went on, I learned that it was mostly due to Fjolnir wanting to be a Viking amongst a group that wanted to be Celtic. That and an ongoing contest of wills between Máinlia and Fjolnir - which often manifested itself as debate fueled by their mutual misunderstanding of ancient history. I, on the other hand, was intrigued by the clan, after all, I had taken the name Aonghus, before going to Pennsic (saying goodbye to Allah, but stuck with most of the garb). The Celtic way just appealed to me more than the Viking way. And one night at Pennsic I let it be known.

A Simple Probate

We were at the "tower party" ( a small group of people who built a plywood tower and through parties almost every night). Falgon, Máinlia, and I sat at a picnic table, and in the candle light, discussed the prospects of me becoming a probate of the Tuatha de Bhriain. It was a one of the most grim and serious conversations I ever had(Fjolnir said it look like we plotting to kill the king)…. Speaking in hushed tones and hoods pulled high over heads I was told what would be expected of me… and I in turn expressed my concerns over the relationship between the clann and Fjolnir and stated that no matter what I would not abandon my friendship with him. Fjolnir, who was quite drunk, was bopping around the table and only caught snatches of the conversation… but he knew what was going on. He became very upset but tried not to show it and I felt like a great big rat… but it was my hope that there would be a reconciliation between all parties involved and that together we might all be stronger. (OK… so maybe I watched too much sesame street when I was little).I was officially made a probate a few days later…

The next day, a sober Fjolnir confronted me and we spoke about my decision and he expressed his disappointment.I asked him why he didn’t want to be a Tuatha de Bhriain and he basically said that he was too much into being a Viking. (*Steve, being an artist,wasvery visually influenced. Vikings had much better press back in those days and a lot more books written about them. It wasn’t until somewhat recently, with the economic unification of Europe, that articles and books became more popular and readily available. The ancient Celts are seen as the "Fathers of Europe" and used as a symbol of continuity and a common root for the majority of Europe. I’m sure that Celtic personas are even a hell of a lot more popular now because of the making of "Rob Roy" and "Braveheart"…. Back in those days the best inspirational movies were "The Vikings" with Kirk Douglas and of course "Excaliber", not much mention of Celts at all… except maybe for highlander which was deemed a "cult" film…. I wonder if were going to see more Greek personas with all this Hercules and Xena crap now… well I’ve certainly digressed a bit but its all in parentheses so I’ll get back on to the main story now…). I had suggested to Fjolnir that maybe he should seek membership in our Pennsic neighbors group who had the rep of being the "Viking’s Vikings"… That group was Norseland. Fjolnir at first was reluctant, he told me that he wanted his own group… but after being invited to fight along side them in the battle and a share in the war booty, he was hooked.

It was also at this Pennsic that I was introduced to Trelvis and Rayna. Trelvis was the "bard" at the time and Máinlia was "druid"… Flagon was the leader but wasn’t called chieftain…they were reserving that title for when the clann was bigger. Though the clann's heart was in the right place, it certainly needed improvement on the period front.Máinlia had set up two screen tents side by side, these were known as the "period tent" - all mundania had to be left outside this tent … but the rest ofcamp looked like a boat load of refugees exploded all over it. Our camp was dubbed by our neighbors "the hobo camp from hell" and we were known as "the kid Celts". These two terms were sometimes merged into "the kid Celts from Hell".

Winging It

There was no definite time period we were supposed to represent… supposedly the name Tuatha de Bhriain was taken to associate the clann with hero-king Brian Boru… but we also had a clann druid and were pagans… Brian Boru was a Christian who lived around 1000AD. There weren’t any more Druids after 600AD.No one had really done any extensive reading on Irish history... only historical inspired fiction (Morgan Lywelyn’s "Lion of Ireland" was largely responsible for this).

Pennsic is a magical place and will absolutely overwhelm you the first time you go, and maybe even the second time too. Watching the field battle was absolutely glorious and a great inspiration to get into armor. It was great to shop at the merchant area. All kinds of things could be bought and sometimes even bartered and haggled for. But for all material goods, the best things I returned from Pennsic with was my new found friendship with a Norselander named Connor. That Pennsic was Connor’s first as well, and being that we were both "Pennsic cherries", we were friends from the get go. We usually wound up laughing till our sides and faces hurt and tears were streaming down our faces most nights. And one night Connor even taught us all how to get free stuff by burning your tent down. (Connor had left a candle burning in his tent unattended. He returned to camp with the smoldering remains of what had been his shelter. Many folk took pity and heaped all sorts of goods upon him, equipping him far better than he had been before the fire. Witnessing this act made a lasting impression on me as to the depth of good will, generosity, and honor that some of the folk in this hobby had embodied.)

How To Be A Celt Or Just Look Like One

After Pennsic, a rather unusual coincidence occurred. My grandmother gave me an old book on Irish history "The Story of the Irish Race" by Seamus McMamus. Though it was written in 1910 and some of the information a bit dated, it was an excellent book to get started with. I sort of took it upon myself to be the group historian and sought to re-structure the clann to be more historically accurate. The first clann event we held was known as "Ben Bhriain" ("the mountain of Brian"…really mink hollow in the Catskills). The event was a hike up a mountain and a camp out (I almost didn’t make it). At this event I was officially made clann Fili (poet/historian… though I was still only a probate) and a some changes were made in the laws of the clann which got the ball rolling. New probates were also made at this event, Cian, Otto, & I think Conn (who had been in the clann once before but quit for some reason). We settled on a time period: 5th century AD, because it was a volatile time in Irish history and allowed for both Pagan and Christian personas, as well as a wide variety of other "barbarian" types. Wealso disassociated ourselves from Brian Boru (Unless you consider that we might be his ancestors). By far, the most monumental decision at the event was to officially proclaim Falgon as chieftain. Trelvis became the Druid and Máinlia became Bard.

Aside from Ben Bhriain, the primary reason for the clann’s existence was Pennsic and to a much lesser degree, War of the Roses (War of the Roses is held in upstate NY and used to be a mini Pennsic but has gone down hill in popularity). Back then we didn’t hold our own events. We also were not to keen on going to other SCA events for various reasons (we didn’t even know that we had a local SCA and besides, we were(or are rather) all pretty young and loved to drink, howl at the moon, and acted pretty barbaric compared to the "polite" society of the SCA). We had also become good friends with our Pennsic neighbors and started trucking upstate and attending Norseland events.

The Spiral Starts To Spin

One of our major goals was to improve the look and atmosphere of our camp. The idea of Máinlia’s "period tent" was great but we sought to make it even better…. So we reversed the idea. We turned the period tent into the "mundane tent" and all mundania was to be stored in it and out of the way. It was an innovation that paid off well. Not only did this clean up the camp… it also cleaned up peoples tents. People also stored their coolers and kitchen gear in the mundane tent… this was an unanticipated advantage. Now the "period" tents were becoming period within as well as without…. This created more of an even medieval atmosphere throughout camp as people milled about and were entertained by various members.

By far, the biggest thing that our camp got noticed for was the BIG TOP. This was a huge circus like tent that stood out like you wouldn’t believe…. It was an easy landmark to spot on the aerial photograph postcards that they sold at Pennsic. We had some of the most incredible parties under it. But even more significant… In this time period, we started holding local events.Though they were humbly held in the back yard of Trelvis and basement of Máinlia they marked a significant mile stone in clann history.

Elders and the Old Law

The old laws were written somewhat haphazardly… they were pages torn out of a composition notebook and in two different colored inks. Though they were no basis for running the Tuatha de Bhriain efficiently, they certainly had heart. If you ever get a chance to read them, do so … they are a clann artifact and good marker to show how far we have come.

One of the first political struggles that occurred in the clann happened over an institution know as "the council of elders" it was a small body that was self elected and self appointed and had the power to veto the decision of the general clann assembly. I had opposed this institution on ethical and historical grounds. Of course the members of the council weren’t too happy about this. I was motioning all kinds ofadditional changes in the laws based on these grounds as well… and as they say… birth is painful. My political allies in the group were the majority of the new members and even Trelvis who sat on the council.

Even though there was much tension and bickering, the overwhelming majority of the changes proposed were accepted. And there were significant contributions from other members as well. It got easier to pass new laws once I had earned the old members trust. They had come to accept me as doing what I thought was historically accurate and best for the clan, not just some upstart who wanted to shake things up. I often brought my history books to meetings and read passages to validate the proposed changes.

Despite the trust I was given… it was not so complete…at a meeting of the council of elders they voted me down for membership to that station. I was told that I had so much influence already they were afraid of me becoming a some sort oftyrant. Though, I believe it was because I shot my mouth off and said that if I became an elder I was only going to use the position to disestablish the institution. In the end, a vote was called by the general populace to disband the elders and they themselves chose not to veto the decision.

The Gate Incident

The clann had grown and was beginning to make a name for itself. More and more was being demanded of the laws and officers as we did more things. Falgon was a much loved chieftain, but he found the responsibilities of the office tedious and would just flat out refuse to do certain things that may not have been legally required of him… but were expected of him none the less. Though he was fairly comfortable amongst his own.. he found it difficult to play chieftain for visitors and relied mostly on his junior officers for diplomacy. This policy caught up to him at one particular Pennsic. We were camped with the Norslanders as was our custom… they had become very good friends as well as teachers to us. Now at the previous year at one of the outrageous parties under the big top… lots of small trinkets were stolen… along with a precious artifact… the keg of doom (a relic from our dead comrade Fjolnir who was killed by a drunk driver). So this year, the camp was set up to restrict access to the big top area and we were denied our own main entrance. This was a blow to our developing identity. The clann was none to thrilled about this and called on Falgon for action. At a camp meeting, Falgon expressed the opinion of the clann and the camp voted to give us our entrance. But after the crowd dispersed, the head of camp approached Falgon and told him he would only permit a small side entrance. It was pointed out that the majority of the stuff that was stolen was from members of our group and were the belongings of people who left their stuff about unattended. The head of camp was unrelenting and Falgon capitulated. Falgon was our chieftain and we lived with the decision, but plans for next year were being talked about to avoid this situation. It was time for our own separate camp again.

House Grimmson

House Grimmson played somewhat of a role in clann history. Its basis of formation was the death of Fjolnir Grimson , they assumed his goal becoming a long island household of Norseland. But it was never to be, House Grimson had a short career plagued with poor leadership and petty squabbles. On its final demise the bulk of its associates entered the fold of Tuatha de Bhriain. Comyn, Volund, Rutger, Grimnir (who was the head of house Grimson), and Guthrum eventually all became members of the clan. Grimnir later quit because he and I had a difference of opinion (I thought he was a clann slacker and he thought the clann would collapse without him.

A New Chieftan

With the influx ofnew people and a higher demand on the office of chieftain, Falgon and I traded offices. Falgon had been chieftain for five years and breathed a great sigh of relief at his retirement to the less demanding position of poet. I was now chieftain and really wanted to get things moving. It was during this time that the clann finally broke the bounds of fenced in backyard and basement events. We started renting a hall out for our indoor events. And it was also this time that we had out first out door event at a county park. The first park was very public with lots of mudanes running around. The best we could do to shield us from the gaukers was put up a sheet wall and stay within the confines of our immediate camp, which was a dirty ash ridden place that seemed to turn everything gray. Someone got a bathtub to use as a fire pit- hinting at the hobo days again, but it was soon abandoned as the acrylic coating on it started to burn and release noxious fumes. Though it was far from rosy, it was a significant step. After the fiasco, the clann endeavored to gain the trust of the parks department and was granted access to more exclusive camping grounds.

Purge Of The Faithless

All these advances had a price. My old political allies in the clann fell away from me. I think to many of them it wasn’t so much that they didn’t like the direction I was taking the clann in, it was just that I was now the establishment to be rallied against. Meetings were long and drawn out. It was not the most pleasant place to be as there was more debate than cooperation. A consistent annoyance (even at the good meetings) were those members who always wanted to leave early to go role play. This always seemed to happen just as we would start to get something constructive done. Suggestions for changes that were not researched or thought out were summarily dismissedin a quick manner which bruised a lot of egos. Adding to this cut throat climate was my complete intolerance of members failing to live up to there word. I publicly chewed out those who had more excuses than constructive input. ( I think I developed some kind of complex from the MSR days.)

But perhaps the single most damaging thing that took place was the enactment of a particular law know as "The Vortigern Clause".Many new members that had come to the clann were not of Celtic persona but Germanic. The Vortigern Clause was an attempt to allow other persona types to be adopted into the clann and yet assure the goal of Celtic re-enactment in a majority rules forum. In other words… if it ever happened that there was one more German in the clann then Celt… it didn’t mean that we would suddenly become a Germanic tribe with Germanic customs.The name of this law refers to an incident in history that we thought was a metaphor of our situation. Vortigern was a Celtic king of Britain that had invited Saxon mercenaries into his domain to help combat his enemies, these mercenaries treacherously rose up and killed many Celtic nobles at what was supposed to be an unarmed "peace conference". This incident in history is commonly referred to as "the night of the long knives".

While the new members understood and accepted this clause, this law served to anger the old Germanic element of the clan. Their protest of this law aroused the suspicion of the Celts in the clann and only justified in their minds the enactment of it. This, fueled with constant personality clashes, alienated the old Germanic element. Many attempts were made to bring them back into the fold and resolve personality issues, but their way of dealing with it was to ignore and avoid. This only worsened the situation as they showed up for events to enjoy the fun but skipped out on the grueling meetings to plan them.Their avoidance was interpreted as an insult to the members who had offered in good faith to sit down and resolve the issues that left a such a noticeable blot on morale. Trelvis, Otto, and Helga’s membership was revoked by a vote of the clan. Though we knew we would not be seeing Rayna (Trelvis’ girlfriend) anymore, her membership was not revoked as she had always been a positive asset to the clann and was considered a victim of circumstance. Conn resigned his membership to be with his comrades.

On our own

With the first major controversy just passed, the machinery for having our own Pennsic camp again was in motion. These were shaky times for the clann and held a lot of uncertainty as to weather the structure we implemented, while historically based, would work in practice. The old big top was abandoned. It was too large for a group our size and had rotted beyond usefulness.Attendance was low for our group as compared to previous Pennsics for various reasons. But despite the obstacles, we had an excellent looking camp and the clann had a damn good Pennsic.We did not hire with Norseland that year for several reasons, mainly it was for identity, beyond the gate incident, some of us were being confused for being members of Norseland, in addition, things were getting funky in the Norseland camp and we thought it best to have our own space as well as give them theirs ( Though we thoroughly enjoyed our space being right next to theirs - its good to have neighbors you like). We were "sub contracted" by clann Preachain to fight that year, and made out pretty darn good as far as war booty goes. Preachain were (and are) Celts as well and it was a nice change to mingle with them on a cultural level as well as personal and business.

Norseland Feud Shock Waves

The unrest in Norseland had degraded to a feud. This feud caused a split and now there were two groups, Norseland and Vikland. There was much unpleasantness and bad blood.Having friends in both groups, it was disheartening to see what transpired. Clann interaction with any of the Viking folk sunk to all time low. There was a feeling that nothing would ever be the same ( you cant go home again type thing). This disappointment further strengthened our resolve to improve our own events rather than rely on the hospitality of others.

Sacrifice And The SCA

Momentum began to build after Pennsic, we were now regularly holding events and the need for policy discussion evaporated. Meetings were now spent just planning the next event, and each event improved over the last. One thing that diminished though was an interest in fighting. Fighter practices rely on participation, and for many mundane reasons, people were unable to attend. This was unfortunate because when people decided to show, we had a ball. We were even video taping ourselves practicing and learning a lot from watching ourselves fight. Organizing fighter practices that no one would show up to was becoming tiresome. Instead, I got in touch with the local SCA ( the barony of Andubhaigeain) and those ofus still interested started hitting a couple of their fighter practices. In one fighter practice, I was hit in both ankles and my thumb (those of you who know the rules of fighting know what I’m talking about here). I could barely walk and couldn’t even deliver a solid blow with my two handed weapon anymore. It was round about this time I decided to hang up the armor and announced my retirement from fighting. Sil announced his retirement soon after, which was just as well cause I had to drive him most of the time anyway. As fate would have it, Máinlia and Cymrot’s schedules freed up soon after and were now looking for a fighter practice to attend. They started going to the SCA practices and became aquatinted with some of the folk.

At one Bealtaine, the local SCA decided to be our guests. It was the biggest event we had seen thus far. We had about 80 people show and 40 stayed for dinner. Máinlia echoed the feats of Cu Chulainn that day by single handedly fighting all the SCA fighters who showed up, while the majority of us ran around like freshly decapitated chickens. Dinner was great and our SCA guests seemed pleased and even the more xenophobic of our members were beginning to mingle with the SCA folk. Then came the ceremony, the absolute best that the clann had ever seen and the measure by which all ceremonies since are gauged.

We had constructed the biggest wicker-man to date, its size was dangerously impressive. But it wasn’t the fire hazard that was so monumental. It was the sacrifice. A friend of Máinlia’s was chosen as a humansacrifice. In the best theatrics possible, Rutger grabs this guy half his size who "resists" violently and pleads for his life as he is dragged before the druids of the clann. He is held down on the ground and partly obscured from the on looking crowd by the darkness and a kneeling druid (who has his back to the crowd) holding him down… but you could still see him struggling. Then, one of the kneeling druids facing the crowd raises a dagger high above his head, pausing long enough to let it glint and gleam in the dancing light of the bonfire. The blade then comes plunging down with a whoosh and the "sacrifice"lets out a soul splitting howl, twitches violently, and then … silence. The sacrifice’s "entrails" were then brought forth to the crowd - conveyed in an old towel (these entrails were really Italian sausages … some fake rib bones were thrown in too, just for effect). The druids knelt before the towel and then "read" the entrails. Other druids who were in attendance were invited up to give them a good "read" as well. When the prophecies were finished, the entrails were placed in the wicker-man along with other baubles and gifts for the gods. To the shouts and cheers of the clann, the wicker-man was set ablaze.

The SCA were mortified. Though in truth some were quite amused, they were all taken completely by surprise. Here, in so many ways and through the obscurity of time, was the clash of Celtic "barbarism" with "civilized" societyillustrated for us first hand. One thing I do feel a bit bad about, there were one or two small children there who were a bit frightened by our escapade, but we made sure those kids got to see our "victim" alive and well afterward and assured them it was all "make believe". (In an off hand way, I sort of envy those kids, its almost like they were transported back in time and experienced a Druidic ceremony first hand.) And, needless to say, if we are going to mingle more with the SCA, its going to take some understanding.


Once again, our expansion and success had a price. Cian, Colin and Murrough, resigned from the clan. The reason they gave was they felt that they would never have a chance to be in charge of the clann. They also claimed that they were tired of being "chastised" and losing respect for not remaining in persona, they were not so concerned with history as they were with just being able to hang out at events and have "fun". Basically they just wanted to show up in garb and drink and yet somehow be in charge. Of course, this didn’t make much sense from a clann perspective, so we waved goodbye without to many tears. In truth, they probably left because they were pressured by Conn, Otto, and Trelvis who wanted to form their own group and pressed on their friendship with these guys to increase their numbers. They were also led to believe that things would go much smoother in this new group with out the hard core attitudes of Tuatha de Bhriain to spoil their fun. They did manage to form something, but also learned quite a lesson as well. Their group was plagued with squabblingworse than the Tuatha de Bhriain ever had. The "would be" leaders of that group basically let things fall apart as their ego battles raged on (Well, what do you expect when you take all the trouble makers and put them in one group?) Basically, their group doesn’t exist anymore or is of no consequence. ( One of their "members" has even informally inquired about regaining Tuatha de Bhriain membership).

Máinlia as Chieftain

After a total of 6 consecutive years of service to the clann as an officer (3 years as clann Fili and 3 as chieftain), the purge, the exodus, the park system, Pennsic paper work, and being called every name in the book, I was pretty burnt out. I felt that the clann relied on me way to much and I was pretty sure it was my fault for letting it get that way. It was time for the clann to prove itself greater than the influence of any one person. I wanted the clann to be stronger than any one individual and encourage new connections within the clan. The clan needed to be more of a web then a wheel. (If a wheel loses its hub, the wheel no longer functions, if a web loses a strand, it is still a web.) Also, after the "exodus’ incident, I needed to prove something to myself as well. At Samhain ’95 I respectfully declined my re-nomination for the chieftaincy. I think, at that election, I was nominated for every position except bard and declined each one.

The clann was a little shaken by my refusal to hold any position whatsoever. I had only told a few people about my decision beforehand and took a lot of them by surprise.At this point, It wasn’t so much who wanted to be chief, but who was willing. From the chaos, Máinlia rose to the challenge. Máinlia accepted the nomination, but told the clann that he had many mundane responsibilities and thought there were better choices for chieftain, the only reason he would accept is because no one else was willing. My failure to accept any position prompted members who wouldn’t normally think of being an officer to accept the challenge as well. Máinlia’s achievement during this period are a testament to his caring and tenacity in the cause of the clan. I don’t think many of us would do as well as he did, balancing a medical residency and trying to run our group. It was during this period that the clann web page made its debut. Though the clann had to get used to some new ideas and ways of doing things, it proved the clann's existence was guaranteed as long as its members willed it to exist.

Aonghus Chieftain again

Máinlia would have remained chieftain but for overwhelming mundane responsibility.At Samhain ’96 I once again accepted the nomination to be chieftain. Though as I write this, it is not yet Lughnasad and some time before the next election at Samhain, I think the major changes that will make this year stand out are already prevalent. I think I authority is being delegated better and even more people are taking an active interest in the clan. Guthrum’s no nonsense approach has done wonders with the clann treasury, allowing the funding of more projects. The most notable of these projects, which is a long term clann dream realized, is the issuance of our first clann coins, thanks to Volund.The "web page" has also grown into a "web site" and has proven an invaluable organizational tool.Though it is very much a part of the"mundane" world, it is a tool that allows us to combat other mundania by providing constant access to articles on improving our events medievaly. As far as communication, it is a boon from the gods. The web site allows information to be disseminated and updated at the convenience of the "poster" and allows you to read at yours. Paper newsletters get lost,require new articles and art work with each issue, require the coordination of deadlines, and kill trees. The web sites superiority over paper newsletters is conveyed in that any article written is at a fingertips retrieval. This information is also available to a wider audience then just subscribers and makes a great advertisement for our cause.

Diaspora Doctorus

[imageright]http://www.tdbcelts.org/files/images/cy ... erties.jpg[/img]This year we will also be losing two strong contributing members. With their residencies over, Máinlia will be moving to Connecticut, and Cymrot will be moving to Florida. Both are starting their professional careers and both will be sorely missed. This is yet another test of the gods for us to endure. It is the first time in the clann’s history that we are losing members in a non confrontational environment. This also means that is the first time we don’t feel relief at their leaving, only loss. I think our one comfort in our loss in knowing that wherever the fates take them, they will always think of us as their brothers and sisters in the family that is Tuatha de Bhriain. Slán libh mo deartháracha Aonghus

1998 - Wheel of the Year by Comyn

In previous versions, this page was black and there were some graphic images.Bringing it to the TdB site has necessitated the removal of these elements for now.I enjoyed keeping this record for 1998 and it still serves as a nice reference to the Celtic yearly cycle though the specific events recounted may no longer be relevant.

It is traditionally the duty of the Druid to keep the calendar of the Clann. Through augury and the study of the Clann's oral history he determines the most auspicious dates for ceremonies, feasts and raids. The people of Bhriain make their accounting of time based largely on the ancient agrarian festivals, the solar year and the lunar cycles. What follows is a calendar for the Tuatha de Bhriain, so that all Clannsmen may better plan for the feasts to come. As the wheel turns, the Druid will ensure that some short commentary regarding the events of each celebration are recorded here.

I, Comyn, held the great honor of leading the Clann spiritually for one turn of the wheel.The Druid's staff has now passed to another. May she find the courage to face the perils of the otherworld and the strength to lead the Tuatha through them.



The harvest was well, and our celebratory feast was joyous but for the absence of three sturdy warriors whose presence around the fire was sorely missed. The New Year was celebrated by a fantastic feast held under tarps
tied against a violent deluge the like of which had not been seen by the people of Bhriain before. Some men grumbled that it had been worse at a Pennsic War two summers ago, but those who had not been there did not take
much stock in their tall tales Aonghus directed the raising of a feasting tent and communal fire on high ground which proved his good judgement. He then ordered the construction of a stacked wall of split wood to be raised under the tarps. The communal labour brought great harmony to the Clann. Vollund supplied a whole side of beef, part of a beast that could not be kept through the winter and had to be slaughtered. One third was eaten, the rest put away for Imbolc. Some small offerings of food and wine were made to the Good Godin a selfish attempt to stop the rains, but it was not to be. They persisted throughout the night. Thanks were given to Momus and Kresny who strode about the camp's perimeter in wonderful death masks confusing all wandering dead who might otherwise have found our tiny dry haven from the flood.

Yule - Winter Solstice

Dec 13

Some say that Yule is the Saxon word for "wheel". I know the Roman dogs call this holiday the "Solstice". It is quite an oversimplification of such a grand event! The first ray of the sun on the following morning passes
through the window box at Newgrange and lights the inner chamber. The light rays fall on a spiral whose symbology is very ancient and arcane. As was traditional, our Clann held a feast indoors (as little can be done out of doors) and celebrated the occassion with good food and good company. Thanks were given to Sabha for providing a stuffed, roasted bird. None who tasted it will soon forget the apple tart that was shared under her roof either! Candles were lit to light Sun God's way north. His travels in the south have made him quite impotent and miserly. We hope that he will be "reborn" soon and that the days will start to get longer. This is the longest night of the year. Plans were made for Imbolc and just begun for a great expidition to be made two Yule's hence.



"The wheel of the year has spun again and the Clann stands as at a ford on the river of time. On the far side, the Sun God lights our way toward spring. His first rays creep toward us, but we may yet remain in the hags
grip for some time. Tonight we gather to celebrate the gifts ofthe goddess of healing, and the arts, and to call to the God of the sun and light his way homeward with the light of inspiration!" Another indoor feast,
traditionally held at our lodgings on the Swan Lake, House SilverOake was warmly welcomed after a long journey and offered hospitality. A grand auction was held, the first of what may proove to be an annual event for the Clann. A feast unsurpassed was served of beef and barley and four coneys in herbs as well as cheeses and other fine dishes (Pottage, as always was standard Clann fare). Eberwolf delighted the Clann with his stirring performance!

Spring Equinox

March 21

The Chieftan called for an assembly at the home of Comyn and Sabha, recognizing the day as matos, or of good omen to planactivities for the coming spring.The night was only as long as the day, but the Sun God's brilliance was dimmed by clouds thrown by the Hag in a last wintery effort.Snow fell on this night, but it amounted to naught.Shorter nights signal the return of the Goddess.Brogan gifted Comyn with a staff of immense power and beauty; it being topped by a glorious skull whose story will doubtless be told around a campfire in the Clann's near future. The energy of the Clann is waxing and many projects are undertaken.It is traditionally a good time to seek the Druid for luck on raids and expeditions after the long winter.


May 9

By tradition, the flames of all fires are doused on Beltaine eve, however, they are usually not put out by rain. The weight of the water brought down the big-top raised by Comyn to fulfill his vow of Samhain. The wind slammed rain against those huddling under tarps as they struggled futily to light and keep aflame the sacred "needfire". The sons of Mil returned with a vengance to scour the land and drown the crops.It is traditional that the Clann move their cattle to higher slopes and better grazing land at this time
of year, but this became apocryphal as Clannsmen scurried to the higher and drier home of Comyn and Sabha to salvage the feast. And feast we did! Roasted birds of many varieties were prepared by Brogan to mention only one highlight. The ceremony of the twin fires was not performed.The Clann is cautioned against making any raids until such time as the gods may be properly appeased.

Summer Solstice

June 21

The Sun seems to stand still for a short time and then, as the wheel of the year turns, it begins to lose its power and days start to get shorter. Traditionally, the tribal god and goddess marry at this time.


Aug 2

First harvest, first bread of that harvest. The name for this festival comes from Lugh, another name for Bel whom our brethren on the continent worship with true Celtic vigor. Seldom have the people of Bhriain had the
time to celebrate this festival properly.This year, however, Aonghus led the Clann to war in Pennsicand there many a brave man met his match (and drank grog with him) if the tales I hear are true.One soul, who dared to walk the mounds one night, was claimed by Aine.It may be true what they say in Dun Aine that she will ever come to claim one man each year.

Fall Equinox

Sep 19

Height of harvest, wine making begins.We met at the home of Aonghus to discuss law and plan the new year's feast.Much there was to discuss, but our Chieftan guided the proceedings through rocky waters to safe harbor
in record time!

Bringing in the last of the harvest is work worthy of praise!