Month: April 2012

Culturally inspired team names

This is the text of an email sent to CBC’s “the Current” Friday April 20.

It was with interest that I listened to today’s piece on team names. A thoughtful discussion. However, sometimes I wonder whether the topic deserves so much anguish. One other group of people whose supposed culture seem trigger a large number of sports team names are the Gaelic cousin cultures from the Scottish Highlands and the Ireland.

A few examples:
• Golden Gaels – Queen’s University Kingston ON
• Fighting Irish – Notre Dame du Lac in Notre Dame Indianna
• Green Gaels – Jr B. Lacrosse team in Bowmanville Ontario area
• Highlanders – NewZealand professional rugby team Dunedin
• St. Mary’s Gaels – Moraga California
• Glengarry Gaels – various teams in the Alexandria Ontario area
• Clansmen rugby club – Edmonton AB

Their logos/crests are often cartoonish and not very related to the true culture (ex. Notre Dame’s pugnacious leprechaun and the Dunedin Highlander’s kilted sword carrying long haired warrior logo).

Although I too rue the loss of culture (the last native Gaelic speaker in this part of Canada died over a decade ago), I usually feel good when I hear that teams called Gaels or Highlanders are active. Someone recognized we were here. Instead of negative navel gazing, maybe culturally inspired team names should be something of which we can be proud.

The Plaidneck

Why do we use the term Celtic to refer music?

There are no Celtic people left, only derivative cultures. Breton, Cornish and Welsh, Irish, Manx, Highland and possibly Galician.

One of the common used terms that particularly irritates me is “celtic music”. When used, it most often refers to Scots/Irish and Canadian Cape Breton.

This is not Celtic music, but the music of separate cultures that descended from the people others called Celts.

In addition to Irish and Highland Scottish, there are derivative cultures
• Breton music (the biniou and bagad bands) is starting to be heard more widely on this side of the Atlantic.
• Welsh singing but is renown, but how many of us know the sound of their traditional instruments (crwth, pibgorn, tabor).
• Cornish music (Cornish double pipe, Crowdy Crawn) can be heard mostly in local festivals.
• Manx music (the lur and harp) are also are in revival, but their sounds are also rarely heard outside local festivals and fairs.

• Galicia & Asturias in northern Spain near (or even over) the Portugese border are often included in the list although there is some question over how much of the Celtic culture remains.

I play the Highland bagpipe and its music. The pipe music is varied (modern, dance music, marches through to piobaireachd). I do not play Celtic music.

I recently heard someone who was talking about various music style and listed Scots-Irish, Celtic and Cape Breton. I doubt that by Celtic, she meant Cornish, Manx, Welsh or even Beton.

So why Celtic music? Probably a mix of lack of knowledge and laziness.

If it’s Irish music, it’s Irish music, etc. or the blend that is now called Scots-Irish. It’s not Celtic. We should be more specific.


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