UMFK Medieval Club celebrates St. Patrick's Day with Ceilidh

31 March 2013

FORT KENT - In these modern times, St. Patrick's Day is often commemorated with cardboard leprechauns, shamrock-shaped cookies and green beer, but the University of Maine at Fort Kent Medieval Club decided to take the celebration old school this year. On Saturday, March 16 at the UMFK Bengal's Lair, the club hosted a Celtic Ceilidh which was open to the public.

For those unfamiliar with its meaning, a Ceilidh is a social gathering which features dancing, folk music, and food derivative of old Irish customs. The UMFK Medieval Club worked to maintain the authenticity of these customs, turning the Bengal's Lair into a veritable episode of The Tudors for approximately five hours on that day.

Members of the club, as well as guests, who also included members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, dressed in authentic garb from royal gowns to peasant attire. According to Chelsea Sadler, this is one of the best parts of being a member of the Medieval Club.

“We get to dress up, which is fun,” she said.

Susan Arendsee, a longtime SCA member, pointed out that one of the main benefits of engaging in activities such as the Ceilidh is that participants “get to escape the 21st century and get to go someplace else for a while.”

Live entertainment was also in full medieval force as UMFK professor and liaison to the club, Mariella Squire, played a handmade wooden alto recorder as guests learned such dances as The Spanish Lady. In addition Sadler sang to an enchanted audience a ballad known as The Willow Tree.

Food served at the Ceilidh included Irish soda bread with cranberries, meatballs with raisin sauce and, of course, potatoes.

One of few breaks in medieval character which took place at the event was when, demonstrating a sense of humor, Squire pointed out to those seated at the cloth covered dining tables, “If the dinner is cold, it's perfectly period.”

This was followed by a Gaelic toast given by SCA member Karralena Castaway who raised a goblet and said to those present, “slainte agus taiente” or “health and wealth.”

Both the UMFK Medieval Club and the Society for Creative Anachronism are accepting new members. Students interested in joining the Medieval Club can write to

Members of the public who are interested in learning more about local SCA activities can contact Susan Arendsee at