Medals, sticks and trophies to welcome New Year in Lochaber
One of the oldest medals in competitive shinty is to be handed over to the West Highland Museum in Fort William for safe-keeping and display. The medal, awarded to a Brae Lochaber player after the 1897 Camanachd Cup Final, which they lost to Beauly, has recently been discovered by a local family.
The medal, and a trophy which is being re-introduced to play amongst young children in the Fort William and Lochaber area, the St Mary’s Primary School Challenge trophy will be on display as part of a fund-raising illustrated talk to be held in January.
The illustrated talk - “The Caman and the Calluinn” – shinty’s place in the games and diversions of New Year and thoughts on the history of the shinty stick - will be delivered by Dr Hugh Dan MacLennan, recalling many of the fascinating incidents related to shinty matches at New Year in Lochaber and beyond. The talk will focus on the historical background to these gatherings and recount details of some of the spectacular events which have ensured that New Year shinty matches are one of the most enduring traditions associated with the game. Dr MacLennan will also discuss shinty artefacts held in the West Highland Museum and also the history of the production and manufacture of shinty sticks.
He said: “The West Highland Museum has a number of interesting and important historical artefacts and remarkably, I discovered that it also holds an image of the 1897 Camanachd Cup Final, the second ever match for the trophy, before the medal appeared. That match was attended by a remarkable crowd of 3,000 - about two-thirds of them were not Inverness townspeople - which is very different from local attendances at new year matches – whatever day they were played. New Year, or Old New Year’s Day shinty matches have always been a great part of the shinty community’s traditions, and this talk will provide an ideal forum to draw all these strands together.”
Dr MacLennan is also keen that people in the Fort William and Lochaber areas will bring old camans and any made locally over the years to show at the evening, when the remarkable history of the making of the caman will be detailed.
The talk, which is being held in the Moorings Hotel, Banavie, on Wednesday January 8 at 7.30pm. will be a fund-raising event for the West Highland Museum and Lochaber District Shinty Memories Group.
Tickets are £5 and available from the West Highland Museum, Fort William.