The names of seven ancient tribes are contained within the names of seven hills and wattirs all within sight or sound of Knockengorroch Meadow home of Ken Dee.
The Brockies, the Brackies, the Fiddaich, the Maddys, the Dukies, Shallochs and the Garrochs, all converged once upon a time on Knockengorroch Meadow, home of the ‘Gai-sure’ Garrochs on wattirside of Deugh. To the green sward bank of the ‘Birth-stem’ Deugh of Solway Diva goddess River Dee Ken Doon hame of Gallowa’, from far and wide they gathered here the people of the land to celebrate the gifts of Spring and Summer time.
So it went, for century on century, until one day their voice was silenced. The cruel 19TH century hand of the Southern Upland ‘clearances’ made landlords rich at the expense of their cattle herding tenants, most of whom were forced to the flee their homes, to make way for more profitable new improved sheep farms. After which historical British crime against humanity, the whole of the upper Aftonwater glen of Birthstem Deugh was home to no more than a dozen families, where once had been hundreds and thousands of souls. All was not lost however. Those hired shepherds and their households who remained continued to gather on the ‘Recht Knock meadow holm’ of Knockrach of Deugh, until the late 20TH century in fact, when coniferous cabbage wood was deemed more profitable than the lives and livelihoods of good folk. Sad to say, by the year 1971 on the upper Deugh above Carsphairn only one of ten hill farms remained in occupation, and that was Knockengorroch …
Which is where I come into the story – a little later in the midge ridden summer of 1997 a Magic Rainbow descended on Deughside and after that an equally midgie Ceilidh Gall Gallowa’ was born and after that at the end of a dricht september, the first Hairth of Knockrach made history. The mother of all Upland Music Festivals in all the land of Scotia – Knockengorroch World Ceilidh sounded loud and clear the call of return to the hills, and you came, you the people of the land, and for over twenty years now you came to this place and made it happy once again
And then, once more bad news was heard. First a rumour, then a rapidly appoaching threat to life and limb, then suddenly, if not the actual end of the world, as close to doomsday as ever I recall in more than seventy years, the lock down was upon us. This month of May the Cairnsmore hills of Deugh are strangely silent, but every passing storm cloud has a silver lining. Wind and rain have lashed the meadows for the past two days, Knockengorroch 2020 this weekend would have been a bedraggled cold affair. In addition to which the good news is that we’re safe and well and warm and dry in our homes -and connected as we never were before. When I was a boy in short trousers only the likes of comic Dan Dare and the Martian Treens conversed with each other’s moving image on a futuristic screen, but now we can do just that.
To me it is miraculous, that I can talk to all of you like this, and that you can hear me. I don’t know how you did it but you’re here on line. Thankyou for supporting our ‘world ceilidh’. The virtual treat that we’ve enjoyed these past two days confirms my faith in humankind but more than that, it reaffirms the future of a real music festival that awaits out there in the not too distant unlocked future, and what a fest of fests that will be!
I am nearly finished. When I am done I want to hear a huge round of un-muted noise. Give it up for all the performers, songsters , musicians, wordsmiths and workshop tutors who have given joy, and I still don’t know how it was done. Give it up for Katch, Fiona, Lizzy, and Toby , and give it up for my son Robert who tells me what to do, and last but not least give it up for Liz my lovely wife.
Haste ye back to Knock INSHALLOCH if God permits one day in the not too distant future we will meet again in person but till then cheerio, stay safe