Sunday, July 21, 2024

Celebrating our heritage

Recent stories

Chris Oldfield, Naracoorte Community News

Six pipers, a drummer and dancer recently stirred spirits and awakened the old stone walls and wooden floors of the Naracoorte Hotel – and its patrons.

With music almost loud enough to reach the old cemetery, where our Scottish settlers rest, some talented pipers and a drummer had also travelled from Mount Gambier for a Toast to the Tartan.

Coinciding with the anniversary of an English 1747 law which prohibited people from wearing tartan, Australia and New Zealand each year celebrate Tartan Day on July 1 – and so does Naracoorte.

Almost 60 Naracoorte Caledonian Society members and friends celebrated the July 1 event with a lot of laughter, music and tartan.

There were a variety of tartan placemats on the tables along with people dressed in their best tartan trousers, ties, scarves, hats, kilts and socks.

And there were plenty of “toasts to the tartan” led by Master of Ceremonies and former Caledonian chief, Stuart McLean.

A special spectacle for the night was a 10-year-old State champion who you will read more about next week.

The Caledonian society’s chief is Naracoorte’s highly respected Ed Coventry who kept everyone entertained with his keen sense of humour.

A master of the bagpipes, he also doubles as Naracoorte Highland Pipe Band pipe major.

“This is my third year as (Caledonian) chief. In the first year, I shared (the role) with the past chief Carolyn McLaren. So, this is my second full year,” Mr Coventry said.

“The Naracoorte Caledonian Society will be 125 years old in November. It is the second oldest club in Naracoorte – the Naracoorte Masonic Lodge beats us by one year.

“It (the Caledonian society) actually started as the Albert District Caledonian Society. Albert was the name of the electoral district at the time (now known as MacKillop).

“It went into recess in the war years, and when they came back (after the war) there were other Caledonian societies around, and so they changed the name to the Naracoorte Caledonian Society.

“We normally have 50-60 people turn out to our events.”

Mr Coventry has been a member of the society for around 45 years.

“We moved to Naracoorte when I was about three years old, and my dad played the tenor drums in the pipe band,” he said.

“I started the bagpipes when I was about nine.

“So, I grew up around the Caledonian society, going to all the Caledonian events.

“You never stop learning with the bagpipes – I’ve been learning the bagpipes for 43 years.”

Help keep the music flowing, and our heritage.

Mr Coventry hopes to teach his grandson to play the bagpipes one day – and anyone else who is interested, regardless of their age.

Additionally, there are three types of drums people can learn to play – the snare drum, tenor drum and larger bass drum.

“We are desperately looking for learners, so anyone who is interested can come along and learn,” Mr Coventry said.

“We practise once a week, generally on a Tuesday night.”

“Because our numbers are sort of down a fair bit, we have formed an alliance with the Blue Lake Highland Pipe Band and the Horsham City Pipe Band.”

Those bands also had several younger players, which inspired and motivated other students and younger people to “have a go”.

“We call on each other to help out with events. We probably have five or six functions a year,” said Mr Coventry who paid tribute to them and MC Mr McLean.

While several functions loom for the alliance at Mount Gambier, Horsham, in between and beyond, one of the biggest will be the November 125-year celebration of Naracoorte Caledonian Society.

“Everyone is always welcome to come along to the events and enjoy a bit of Scottish or Caledonian heritage,” Mr Coventry said.

And it would be even better if they wanted to join in and learn how to play an instrument.

If anyone is interested, they can contact Mr Coventry via Naracoorte’s Odd Jobs and More, phone 0475 428 989.

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