As if bagpipes needed to be any louder...

Highland Games in Girvan, Scotland

June 6th, 1999; Girvan, Scotland:

Marching bandSo the highland games in Scotland felt a lot like the Scottish Games held in the States. The primary differences are people aren't faking the accents, the weather is much colder, and there's inflated fun houses next to the marching pipe bands.

Standing in the circleGirvan is just a minor town with a small sized Games. But they have enough pipe bands to play just one set each from 10am till 3 in the afternoon. They march on, stand in the circle and play their hearts out while the judges take notes.

Sword DancersJill getting readyThe second of three big events at the Games is the Dancing competition. There's 12 different categories of dance.

To the left you see the Primaries dancing the Sword Dance. They have to do certain steps in each quadrant formed by two crossed swords. We saw one competitor just walk off after her toe touched one of her sword blades -- it's instant disqualification.

To the right we see Jill getting ready for the 'Premier' (highest level before professional) competition. (Her mom is putting her competition number on her kilt.) She placed second in most of her dances. There was one annoying participant who won all the first places.

Tossing the 56lb weightThe third big attraction was the Heavy Events (a.k.a. Manly Feats of Strength). There were all sorts of events with a similar theme: Putting the 16lb Shot, Throwing the 28lb Weight for Distance, Throwing the 16lb Scots Hammer for Distance, and Throwing the 56lb Weight for Height.

It was pretty exciting watching David Horne set a record for Girvan -- 14 1/2 feet high. He went on to win the event against the other major competitor Mark McDonald who travels to the states for Highland Gaming.

Tossing the CaberIn the penultimate event, Mark McDonald proved himself to be the only heavyweight who succeeded in Tossing the Caber. It's basically a telephone pole that they balance upright in their hands, then take a running start and toss it up into the air, attempting to send it end over end.

Mark did it twice, but it wasn't good enough for a win.


After five hours in the blowing cold, and Carrying the 40lb Packs for Distance, we were were bushed.

We watched the dancing awards and then retired to our van where we found resuscitation by the sea side looking out at Ailsa Craig.

Our next stop is Northern Ireland and Belfast, a city trying to forget its Troubles

Or: Back to Scotland

Home Page || Meet Kathleen & H. Woods || Purchase Photographs
Kathleen's Fine Art Photography || H. Woods' Reading Room
Our Favorite Links ||