Australian Celtic Festival Events 2013

The Eight Celtic Nations Parade

This year in 2013, the Combined Gaelic Clans of Australasia Inc. will host a parade of the eight Celtic Nations, including Glen Innes and District Celts, at the annual Australian Celtic Festival.  The event will commence at 10:45 am on Saturday 4th May, directly after the parade in the main street, Grey Street, and finish at 11:15 am. Buses will be available to take people up the hill to the Festival site at the Standing Stones. The mayor has been invited to speak, and the Gaelic Choir of the Caledonian Society of Glen Innes will be featured. For now, the rest remains a surprise.

Caelidh Evening

On Friday 3rd May 2013, the Combined Gaelic Clans will host a dinner with live entertainment at the Uniting Church HALL, corner of Macquarie and Bourke Streets Glen Innes. There will be the traditional piping in of the haggis at 6:15 pm sharp, followed by a smorgasbord feast. Arrive around 6pm so as not to be late for the ceremony!

Entry is $25 a head – tickets can be purchased at our Cultural Centre, 290 Grey Street, Glen Innes, (Mon – Fri) or at the Tourist Information Centre on the New England Highway (right next to MacDonalds!)  See you there!

Annual General Meeting

The AGM for the Combined Gaelic Clans will be held on Thursday 2nd May at 6:30 pm. At the moment our intention is to have this at the RSL club, Grey Street, Glen Innes, but check earlier to the date as this could change. Right at the start of the Australian Celtic Festival, this is the once a year opportunity to meet with our members from afar, and refresh our ties.  Office bearers will be nominated and elected for the coming year.

Irish Chiefs of the Name

Irish Chiefs of the Name

Historically, in Ireland, there were hundreds of tribes/clans/families/septs/tuatha resident on the island. Each of these family groups had an Irish chief, or head of the family. Eventually, as groups of clans banded together (tuatha), there came to be somewhat of a distinction between a larger/regional group’s ‘Chief’, and a smaller/more local group’s ‘Chieftain’. Further, there were dynastic clan chiefs who were royalty, kings and sovereigns over their own family sub-groups, as well as other families such as O’Conor Don (of Connacht) ; MacCarthy Mór (of Munster and Desmond); O’Brien (of Munster and Thomond); O’Neill (of Ulster); and, MacMurrough-Kavanagh (of Leinster).

‘Courtesy Recognition’ of Irish Chiefs

With the destruction of the Gaelic system, history lost the vast majority of hereditary chiefs and chieftains. But with the coming of Irish freedom/independence in 1922 (and partially before), some chiefs began to come forward, to ‘proclaim’, and again use their historic Gaelic titles. Finally, in 1944, the successor Irish government (based then and now on English Common Law) authorized a form of recognition of the old titles/chiefships, which was referred to as ‘Courtesy Recognition’. This system operated until 2003.

However, under the constitution of the Republic of Ireland, this practice was (at least technically) illegal in the first place; which was finally recognized by the Irish government, and the ‘courtesy recognition’ business then stopped altogether. It had been abused with one totally false person being certified as a chief, and there were perhaps a few others whose claims were not studied carefully enough. In short, the system operating within the Office of Chief Herald was a mess, and this has brought great embarrassment on the Irish government and to many people who acted on its advice.

However, at the time this system was operating, it was considered ‘the approving authority’ for claims to a chiefship of name, and indeed its approval was taken as absolute proof of legitimacy. Certification/recognition by the Irish Genealogical Office (IGO)/Office of the Chief Herald entitled the person to automatic admission to the Standing Council of Irish Chiefs and Chieftains (SCICC), founded in 1990 in order to promote the interests of its members and Irish culture in general. So, as of 2003, with the Office of Chief Herald no longer being an approving authority, many naturally (though in ignorance) viewed the Standing Council of Irish Chiefs and Chieftains as the ‘new’ approving authority.

Standing Council of Irish Chiefs and


However, the Standing Council of Irish Chiefs and Chieftains CICC,  has in fact NO approving authority over successions to Chiefships.  It never did, never should, and never will. All it has is approval authority over its own admissions.  Since 1999, it has admitted no one, even though there have been applications from at least four or five Chiefs who have proclaimed, based on their proofs and genealogical reports. In short, the Council has walked away from any responsibility to anyone attempting to be admitted. It appears to not want any accountability even for its own admissions, and a few people have reported that they haven’t even had the courtesy of a reply to their submissions.

The reputation of the Council has fallen significantly, and the only thing it appears to do is to offer an annual prize for an essay on a Gaelic subject. It maintains no website and, as said, seemingly gives out no information. Composed of less than twenty Chiefs of Name (and no ‘Chieftains’), most do not live in Ireland, and it is unclear how often they even meet anymore. Nonetheless, there are indeed some very, very qualified individuals who are still members. But, all in all, the organization has been invisible in terms of taking any position on a number of subjects, and has not responded to any of the attacks on its members which certain people have carried out.

Clans of Ireland Ltd.

One organization that does exist, and is public, and has a website, is Clans of Ireland Ltd., which is based in Dublin. This organization was started in 1989 with the help of the Irish government, and has done good work in helping clans organize (that is, people with a common surname). They have encouraged groupings, and clan rallies in Ireland, and the election of ‘honorary’ chiefs. ‘Honorary’ because those elected would not be of the derbhfine line, and would therefore not be hereditaries as on the SCICC. (Though an honorary Chief would almost certainly step aside if a true hereditary descent were to be proved in a given family.) It is not a practice or responsibility of Clans of Ireland Ltd to distinguish between hereditaries and honoraries.


Irish titles and inheritances are back (‘finally’, some would say); back to where they always were, and should have stayed: in the possession of the individual families – to settle their successions within the family (or, as was also the common Irish practice, to fight it out among rival claimants).

The key today is that the government of the Republic of Ireland is out of the ‘recognition’ business, over which it never had any authority in the first place. The Standing Council of Irish Chiefs and Chieftains – even if it ceases to be ‘invisible’ – is not, and never will be, an ‘approving’ authority. There is only one approving authority: the derbhfine of the individual family.

Yes, it is a shame that so many bloodline descents have been lost over the centuries, due to the destruction of records by the invaders, emigrations, and loss of ‘Irish identity’ as fostered by the imposed government of the British.

However, it is comforting to see that so many Irish families have taken to the clan movement, and many are indeed searching for their surviving chiefly lines, with a view to having an Hereditary Chief once again!

Reprinted, with permission, from the Doyle Clan website   December, 2011

Historical Novel

Celtic Blood

James Loftus, an Australian living in Brisbane has written an historical novel/thriller called Celtic Blood -  set in the Scottish Highlands in the 13th century. You will find more about this book on our history page because although fiction, the story is based around the founder of Clan McKay, or McAedh as it was then known, and other clans of that era, which Mr Loftus has extensively researched.

There are some good reviews  at >> Goodreads





Sheridan Chief New in Australasia

Announcing the New Sheridan


We wish to announce that on 27/8/2012 in Granard, County Longford, the Republic of Ireland, Sean Mcdonald Sheridan, a descendant of the O’Sirideain Clan Chiefs, was officially appointed Sheridan Chief  in Australasia, by the all-Ireland Sheridan Chief (Chief of the O’Sirideain Clan), Mr Francis Sheridan.

Mr Sheridan said that henceforth he will be known as Sean Sheridan, dropping Mcdonald from his name.  He said he was delighted and honoured to become the Sheridan Chief in Australasia.

Meaning of the Coat of Arms

Or (gold) is associated with the sun and represents Nobility, Wealth and Power. The lion represents strength, courage and majesty. Vert (green) denotes Hope and Joy.

History of the Name

The Irish surname Sheridan originated in Granard, County Longford, where the family were Erenagh of Granard that is hereditary lay lords of the Church. This exalted position gave the family all the rights and favours granted to Church leaders at the time. The name was first recorded in Granard in the 8th century. From Granard the Sheridans spread throughout Ireland and indeed the world. Famous bearers of the surname include writers, poets, politicians, singers , sports people, actors and film directors.



Chieftain Breaks Silence

Chieftain Breaks  Silence

Your Chieftain Sean MacDonald-Sheridan, would like to relate some early history of his involvement with the Clans, specifically Clan Donald. You may have heard rumours or tales about Sean Macdonald-Sheridan and the fact that he left the Clan Donald under a cloud. He is some sort of rebel and troublemaker. For some time some very negative information about Sean has been portrayed on the Clan Donald website. I would like now to TELL YOU THE TRUTH regarding these matters and WHO IS REALLY RESPONSIBLE! What you are about to read is the WHOLE TRUTH and I swear by all that I hold dear that this is so. Many men like me, in the history of our people, have been singled out and targeted as rebels etc. because they stood up for what they believed is right and for FREEDOM against oppression which is so important to all Celts.     – The Chieftain

Please go to “Chieftain’s Story”, a new page added under “Chieftain”.

Australian Celtic Festival, 2nd to 5th May 2013

Celtic FestivalAustralian Standing Stones Entrace

Australian Standing

Stones, Glen Innes

Glen Innes, NSW is host to an annual Australian Celtic Festival, which brings together thousands of people interested in their Gaelic and Celtic heritage.

Held at the only place in Australia with Standing Stones (erected in 1992 from local granite) the Celtic Festival is increasingly popular every year.

Each year one of the Celtic nations is especially featured, and 2013 is the year of the SCOTS.

Celtic Festival Highlights

Australian_Celtic_Festival_ParadeSome of the events not to be missed are

  • Piper in the Mist and the Dawn service (5.45am Saturday at the Standing Stones)
  • Festival Street Parade and Massed Band Performance (9.30am Saturday, Grey Street)
  • Strongman Events (Australian Standing Stones)
  • Celtic Country Yard Dog Championships
  • Please check with the festival website for an up to date schedule prior to the festival.

Other Events

Too numerouAustralian_Celtic_Festival_jousters to mention here, the whole town will be abuzz with Celtic activities including Market Stalls, European Celtic dancing, Exhibitions, Musicians, Concerts, Food and Wares.

Traditional Scottish, Irish and Australian music will feature strongly and musicians from afar will be thrilling audiences at this years festival.


Combined Gaelic Clans

Drop in to our Combined Gaelic Clans market stall and we’ll be happy to chat about our organization. Don’t forget to visit our new Combined Gaelic Clans Cultural Centre, which will be open on the Saturday from 9am to 3pm at 290 Grey Street. See you at the Festival!

To learn more about the Australian Celtic Festival go to

Cultural Centre Now Open

Combined Gaelic Clans Cultural Centre


Welcome to the Cultural Centre

On Friday 13th April the Combined Gaelic Clans opened our new Cultural Centre in the main street of Glen Innes with an address from our Chieftain, Sean MacDonald-Sheridan and the Mayor of Glen Innes, Steve Toms.


Mayor SteveToms and Chieftain Sean MacDonald-Sheridan

The Combined Gaelic Clans Cultural Centre will serve as a focus point for all our activities.

Headquarters of the Combined Gaelic Clans

The main objective of the Centre is to provide a Headquarters for Combined Gaelic Clans business as well as to promote our Gaelic and Celtic heritage. New members can sign up here or make enquiries about what we do.

Browse Our Wares

At present our stock consists of an eclectic mix of Celtic gifts, souvenirs and crafts such as

  • Flags


    Walls Adorned With celtic Maps and Flags

  • Scarves
  • Caps
  • Fridge magnets
  • Cups embossed with Clan and Family crests
  • Note Pads with Clan crests
  • Celtic jewellery
  • Artwork

Our selection will gradually grow as our income allows.

Soon we will be 0ffering a service where you can request a search for your Clan or Family name and receive a beautifully set out description of your heritage worth framing. We will announce that as soon as the service becomes available.

Drop-In Centre

In addition the Centre serves as a drop-in centre where all members of the public can come for a chat and enjoy a cuppa and a piece of home-made cake.

We have a public Noticeboard where anyone can place private notices such as “Room to Let”, items for sale or wanted etc (no bigger than A5 please!).

We invite the public to make use of it as a service to our local community, in a friendly spirit.

The Centre is open from 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday and is staffed by volunteers. On the day of the Festival Parade, here in Glen Innes, on 5th May, the Centre will be open from 9am to 3pm.


The Combined Gaelic Clans Cultural Centre was set up on a shoestring by a very small group of volunteers, including the Chieftain Sean MacDonald-Sheridan and the High Commissioner George Robertson-Dryden who are warmly thanked by the Clans Council for their fantastic efforts.

Combined Gaelic Clans Cultural Centre Location

290 Grey Street, Glen Innes, NSW. 2370
Telephone: (02) 6732 2885 Hours: 10am – 4pm Monday – Friday


Chieftain’s Inauguration Day

Chieftains’s Investiture

Investiture_of_Chieftain_Sean MacDonald-Sheridan

The proud Chieftain, Sean MacDonald-Sheridan

It was a special day for The Combined Gaelic Clans of Australasia Chieftain Sean MacDonald-Sheridan on Saturday, 1st October 2011. The Chieftain’s Investiture was held at the Australian Standing Stones at 2.30pm.

It was the first time such an event was ever held in Australia.

“It will be one of the major highlights of my life,” Mr. MacDonald-Sheridan said, prior to the event. “I feel myself and my family have been greatly nonoured by this occasion and I will continue to serve in this role until the end of my days. On Saturday it will be like I am standing on the great hill of Tara, knowing I am keeping our Gaelic spirit alive. I will be looking down into the past and seeing that we are very much still here,” he said.


Eric Sinclair, Piper to the Chieftain

The ceremony was conducted by James Burdon, Lieutenant to the Chief of Clan Lamont. The Glen Innes Pipe Band attended the ceremony, along with the Chieftain’s Piper, Honorary member Eric Sinclair.

Inauguration of Commissioners

The Inauguration of Commissioners also took place. High Commissioner, George Robertson-Dryden of Clan Robertson, NSW Commissioner Ian Adams of Clan Gordon, Victorian Commissioner Cameron Burgess of Clan Cameron and Queensland Commissioner Caroline Gartside of Clan Fraser of Lovatt received their honorary titles and pledged their allegiances to the Chieftain.


From Left - Caroline Gartside (QLD) Cameron Burgess (VIC), Sean MacDonald-Sheridan (Chieftain), George Robertson-Dryden (High Commissioner), Ian Adams (NSW)

And Then It Snowed!

It was a bitterly cold, unusual for an October day, and unsuspecting visitors clutched at their warm weather outfits as the wind began to blow. Storm clouds gathered in the northwest as the ceremony proceeded and, shortly afterwards, it snowed.

Following the ceremony, all in attendance were invited to afternoon tea. That evening a celebratory dinner and entertainment was held in Glen Innes for Combined Gaelic Clans members.

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Our new website will be growing over the next few weeks.