Tag Archives: NH Highland Games at Loon

Albannach’s Star Piper, Donnie ‘Bullfrog’ MacNeil Gets His Own Personal Dressing Room At NH Highland Games In Loon.

by Anura Guruge


Click to ENLARGE to get a better view of Donnie’s star-plate on the door.

Picture supplied online, on Facebook, by a member of ANOTHER band playing in Loon — who obviously was quite put out that he, much senior (in terms of age), does not get his own private dressing room. I won’t say who he is to save him the blushes.

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by Anura Guruge

I Think I Am, After 17-Years, Done (Finis) With The New Hampshire “Highland Games” At Loon.

by Anura Guruge


Since I discovered it in 1998, serendipitously by happening to drive past, the New Hampshire “Highland Games” was a much anticipated highlight of my year. For a number of years I used to go for the entire weekend, borrowing a condo from a friend. I marked my year in terms of the “Highland Games” — before the “Games” and after the “Games”.

Between 1998 & 2015 I only missed two “Games” — both because of high dudgeon. One was the second year when it was in Hopkinton and I just could not stomach going there rather than to Loon. The other time was more recent, viz. 2013. I had had enough. It had just become sheer exploitation of the punters — i.e., folks like us.

And I am boycotting them again, expect I don’t think I will ever be going back! Enough is enough. Yes, we had a GRAND TIME last year. One of the best. But when I look at the schedule it is deja vu all over again with one new band, i.e., “Skerryvore“, thrown in. I could have even overlooked that IF not for the conspicuous shortage of Pipe Bands, especially the lack of bands from the Mother Country. In the late 1990s and early 2000s they always paid to have a decent band from the U.K. fly over. No more. And it isn’t as if they have reduced the prices.

This is exploitation. It is banking on us loyal ‘Scots’ truding up there and ‘paying the piper’, irrespective, even if they just keep on watering down the show. I had it. I, as ever, studied the schedule. Found but explicit references to two pipe bands: “Hampshire Pipes & Drums” and “Kiltie Pipe Band“. Two fine bands and there will, of course, be five or six from around New England and possibly even as far as Pennsylvania. But I don’t even see a Canadian band on the schedule and they have some fine bands up there.

So I am DONE. Through. Kaput. Finis.

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by Anura Guruge

“Skerryvore” (From Scotland) The Headlining Performers At Loon’s 2016 “Highland Games”.

by Anura Guruge

The 2016 Scottish Highland Games
in Loon, New Hampshire

will be on Friday – Sunday,
September 16 – 18, 2016.


Yes, ALL the evergreens, viz. The Brigadoons, John Carmichael, Charlie Zahn and Albannach are back ALONG with the Glengarry Bhoys (from 2014 & before) and the Searsons. Click to access the official “NHScot” Website.


Click to access the “Skerryvore” official Website — with samples of their music.

The name “Skerryvore” comes from the name of a reef OFF the Scottish west coast island, Tiree, from which the original band hailed (in 2005).

Not as strident as Scottish groups of the past … but this could be the mellower sound. Easy on the ears. Looking forward to checking them out.

Here are 2 recent YouTubes of Skerryvore.


Tiree is highlighted in yellow. Skerryvore Reef is to the southwest of the island.

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by Anura Guruge

New Hampshire (NH) Highland Games, At Loon, September 21 – 23.

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

by Anura Guruge

The Games are just over a month away. So we as a family kind of start a countdown for the Games. The Laconia Multicultural Day, which in marked contrast to the Games typically tends to get better each year, will come before that. That is also on the calendar. As I said yesterday, I stumbled upon the Games serendipitously in 1997. Other than for the last year when they were being (stupidly) held in Hopkington, when we just couldn’t take going there and sitting in cow sheds (replete with manure), I have been attending yearly. So, I think that is 13 Games I have attended. From 1999 to 2007, I would go for the whole weekend getting there on Friday afternoon — and going to the Friday night concert. Yes, I was there when we had the hurricane. Yes, I have been there in the rain — prior to the days of the Performance (or Concert) Tent. Now we just go for the day — many times on Friday to see the sheep trials.

The kids love it. That is good. In 1997, Matthew was 5. He was hooked. He loved the Games. He attended without fail for the next 8 years. Once he became a teenager other things took priority. Devanee has been going since she was 3. Teischan since she was born; in 2006, 6 months old, we took her, in the rain, in her carriage, for the whole weekend. Devanee and Teischan now start talking about the Games around May.

We didn’t get the usual colorful brochure urging us to pre-buy tickets, at a discount, this year. That is OK. If that saved a tree, all the better. You can get a PDF of the brochure here.

They don’t have the schedule as yet. They say they will have it in early September. That is fair.

I checked the list of performers. All the usual suspects are listed. The perennial Brigadoons are on the list, as they have always been from day one. I like the Brigadoons. Liked them from the first time I heard them. Great group of folks, though the cast list keeps on changing. Jackie, with whom I used to chat each year, died a couple of years ago. That was a shame. He was a delightful guy. All the men really need to lose some weight. Their music is haunting, but I will confess that it is kind of getting ‘old’. They, alas, typify what I THINK is happening to The Games. It is like a slowly leaking helium balloon. It is still inflated, but the gas is slowly leaking out.

The Games, don’t get me wrong, are still FUN. Great value for money. And, NO I am not one of those nostalgics that ALWAYS claim that things in the past were better. No, that is not me. I live for the future. But, the Games LACK the energy they had a decade ago. WAY, WAY more commercialized than it was. Yes, that is inevitable. It used to be much more spontaneous — a block party. Yes, as the commercial side has grown they have to regimentalize the show. So, yes, you can’t have the Glengarry Bhoys doing their own impromptu jam in the parade ground on Sunday afternoon. But, that was fun. So much energy. Yes, Albannach (the recreated Clanna Drumma) still try to bring some life to The Games. Very nice bunch of guys and one girl. Great personality. Will stop and chat with each and every. But …

The Red Hot Chilli Pipers, who were shown on NBC during the Olympics, are not there anymore. Always happens. As soon as a group makes it big — it is adieus The Games. Seven Nations entertained us for a few years. They are gone.

Well, we will still be going, unless there is a 3 day hurricane over the weekend. I don’t think I can do that again. There is a chance that I will ramble on more about The Games before they start.

Serendipity – The Story Of Its Origin.

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

by Anura Guruge

The more observant among you may have noticed that there is a countdown clock for the ‘NH Highland Games at Loon‘ on the right-hand side sidebar (>>>>). The Highland Games is the highlight of my year. Today’s post was going to be about the Highland Games being roughly a month away. Yes, I think you can still get discounted tickets. I don’t bother with that anymore since we don’t go for the whole, entire weekend. I was going to start the post by saying that I stumbled upon the Highland Games, in 1997, serendipitously. It was classic, text-book Serendipity. I had no idea that NH had Highland Games (though as an adopted Scot I was obviously very au fait with what they were). I was living in Meredith, NH. My son who was five at the time wanted to go for a drive (in the black, rocket-ship, Cadillac STS I had at the time). We decided to go to Loon, may favorite ski destination in NH. We are driving along the Kangamangus and we could see that something exciting was taking place in Loon. Cars (as was permitted then, but not now) were parked on the side of the road. It was Sunday afternoon. So there were empty spots. We pulled in and parked. We walked to the bridge.

We found the Games. Classic serendipity.

To me Serendipity involves three things: chance, luck and delight.

I am cool with ‘happy accident’ or ‘pleasant surprise’. Wikipedia has this example, and I like it too: ‘to look for a needle in a haystack and get out of it with the farmer’s daughter‘.

I am eminently qualified to talk about Serendipity. I was born in Serendipity. I grew up in Serendipity. The gold wedding bands that Deanna and I wear have the word ‘SERENDIPITY’ engraved on the inside. So, Serendipity is very much a part of my life.

Serendib‘ which morphed to ‘Serendip‘ is the Persian and Urdu (spoken in India and Pakistan) word fro Ceylon, (now) Sri Lanka — the country in which I was born in 1953.

There was an ancient Persian folk tale about ‘The Three Princes of Serendip‘; a hallmark of these three Persian Princes being their knack to stumble upon lucky discoveries.

This story had been translated and published in Italian, in Venice, in 1557, by a Michele Tramezzino, as Peregrinaggio di tre giovani figliuoli del re di Serendippo.

Horatio Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford (1717 – 1797), a man of significance in Britain, coined the term ‘Serendipity’ from the Persian tale to connote lucky, chance discoveries as made by the three Princess. All of this is well known among the right circles and copiously documented all over the Web. [Note that we have an ‘Orford’ in NH with a rather delightful diner.]

I think there is more to this story than just that — though I am making this up as I go along because I only thought of it this morning and haven’t had time to research it or ask my father, a font of knowledge on all things Sri Lankan.

In a country as old as Ceylon, with a written historic record going back to 3,000 BCE, you are bound to find various stories as to how the people came to be — in particular the Sinhalese, 75% of the population. Yes, I am Sinhalese.  ‘Sinhala’ basically translates ‘lion people’. I always think that that is cool, given that I love BIG cats. (I could at this point make a lot of feline jokes but I will refrain because I will get told off by Deanna). The dominant feature of the rather spectacular Ceylon flag is the Rampant Lion. So far, so good. All makes sense. Right? Wrong. Serendib, Serendipity, Taprobane, Ceylon now Sri Lanka does NOT have lions (or tigers) and never have! We only have leopards. Yep. All true.

My mother’s family is ‘Jayasinghe‘ — again the ‘Singhe’, lion, victorious lion in this instance.

The story that we were told was of Prince Vijaya, exiled by his father, in three ships, with 700 followers — who, when supplies were getting rather low, luckily, stumbled upon the resplendent island. Serendipity. I like Vijaya. He was a player. Most Sri Lankans, especially the males in my family from my mother’s side, take after him. That is why Vijaya was kicked out to sea by his father. Vijaya, as far as we can tell, came from far Northern India. Hence all this with lions. The Sinhalese, based on our language, are classed as being ‘Indo-ARYANs’. That part has always amused me. I always joke about having to explain to a German that we, brown and black all over, are indeed Aryans.

But, back to Serendipity and ‘The Three Princes of Serendip‘. Isn’t it serendipitous that the Vijaya story sounds so much like the Three Princes story. Given that there were 701 and one of them, I am sure I could find two more Princes amongst that band. They sure lucked out when they found Serendipity by chance. It all fits together nicely.