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ASHBURTON CALEDONIAN SOCIETY

ANNUAL GATHERING. The second annual gathering of the Caledonian Society began to-day. The Society has as yet had but a brief existence. It was fdrmed only in the September of last year, but it has been so successful during the few months of its early life, as to give promise of a long and important career. Caledonia has sent her sons to every quarter of the world, and there is.no English-speaking colony on the face of the globe that does not find amongst its population here and there —more- ,or less plentifully—families who, round their own hearth’s converse in the broad dialect of the “ Land o’cakes.” In this County such families are very numerous. An English electoral roll usually puts the printer on his beam ends for capital “ S.’s,” to satisfy the demands upon that letter of the huge family of “ Smith,” but a Scotch roll changes the demand, and the letter “ M ” is more in request, to register the great regiment of “ Mac’s.” A glance at any roll in Ashburton will show the “ Mac’s ” in great force, as well as other names closely identified with the land of oatmeal. If there is one feeling more common to Scotchmen than another, it is love for his country, and however far he may roam from the land of his birth, he never forgets the associations he left behind. Mingling with people ' who speak the softer and more mellow language of the South may tone down the asperities ot his dialect; and Scotchmen born and bred may be found in New Zealand who have succeeded in repressing in pronounciation the inherited harshness of the letter “ rbut no rubbing of shoulders with the outside world will ever eradicate his memory of the “ land of the mountain and the flood.” He may even be brought to coincide with the Englishman’s remark as to the “barbarous” music of the bagpipes ; but let the piper skirl up one of the old strathspeys, and, “ barbarous ” as he has just allowed the pipes to be, he is quite prepared to tolerate them, and to dance to them like a wild Highlander if need be. The Caledonian Society’s gathering in Ashburton to-day is only a copy of what takes place every summer in every Scotch town and village, and the “games,” as they are there called, are the one great event,of the year that masses together round the athletes’ enclosure old and young, rich and poor. To these gatherings the piper and his dancers are indispensable, and without them the meeting-s to the Scotchman, even at Home, would be tame indeed. As a rule, the Scotchman cares little for athletic competitions. He takes a momentary interest in the running of a race, or a leaping or vaulting contest, and he will go in the watching crowd while men like Donald Dinnie or James Fleming heave the ponderous hammer,- give a mighty cast to a heavy stone, or toss the -unwieldy cabar, but the average Scotchman feels no lasting enthusiasm in these contests, and is seldom galvanised, into making a bet on their result. He comes loyally to the V games,” and he enjoys them while thete; but were the athletic contests the' only attraction, they would be no loadstone for him. The annual sports of the town or village bring to one spot almost everyone he knows, and it is because of the many happy reunions of old friends they bring about that they are so attractive to, Sandy. Donald, from the hills, is there in his kilt to do battle for the honor of his glen with the dancers of the neighborhood, and 'Donald is an old cron}'. Tam, from the farm, is there to see the fun, his sweetheart Jess, and many old faces, whom he has not seen perhaps since he saw them a twelvemonth ago on a similar occasion. He, too, is an old crony, and will perhaps take a turn at the hammer, or the stone, or the cabar, or the quoits—he is seldom a runner, or only a short distance one, but those other trials of strength are an every evening affair behind the “ bothy,” or ploughmen’s whate at the farm. The annual “ games ” are thus patronised so largely more because of the opportunity they give for seeing old friends and for making new ones through the medium of the old, than for any real love the average Scotchman has for the contests as such. But, for all that, he would rebel against any attempt to discontinue them, and should the “games” fall through in one village one year, the crowd of patrons would simply make for the nearest gathering to supply the want. Nothing will tend more readily to the unpopularity of a sports meeting than the absence of pipers and kilted men, and were there no competitors in Highland dancing the sports would be a dead failure.

The Caledonian Society in its annual gathering, gives the Scotchman his “ games ” meeting, and of course every Scotchman in the district makes an effort to i come. But we are not all Scotchmen here, and the Caledonian Society is not by any means made up wholly of Scotchmen, consequently, the sports meeting has to be' made of a kind that will be attractive to others as well as Sandy. Hence several events appear on the programme that would have a place on but few of the Scotch lists. More running prizes are given than would be offered by any Scotch Games Committee, and the arrangements are made with a view to suit every taste. John Bull likes athletics of every kind, and his likes are aimed at being suited, while Pat is not forgotten, and he has a chance of airing his cleverness in a jig. ■ THE GATHERING. Immediately on the opening of the gates a rush of people, to the number of 500 or thereby, came on the ground, and this number was increased to nearly x;ooo during the .day. The weather was admirable —bright sunshine with a light breeze—and, as a consequence, the day’s outing was highly! enjoyable. The arrangements were far more complete this year than they were last, and the comfort both of competitors and visitors was fully cared for. The refreshment booths were in the hands of Mrs,- Butler and Messrs. Mutch and McKenzie, while Mr. Thomas- Taylor had his luncheon booth in fine fettle, near the enclosure, with Mr. Hicks at some distance, The usual following of shooting galleries, &c., \vere also about, and did ; their share of business. The

brass band occupied 'S' site near the dancing platform, and discoursed lively music during the da,y. There were some four or five pipers on the ground, and for the pipe music competition there entered the Society’s piper, Murdoch Elder, Mr. John Mackay, Mr. Alex. Finlayson, and Mr. Alex. Forbes, who at, intervals throughout the day contributed reels and strathspeys in addition to playing the music for such Highland dancing as came off to-day. There were a considerable number of Highlanders in costume on the ground. Shortly before noon a small detachpnent (the big, drum and cymbals) of the Ashburton Brass Band, accompanied by four pibrochs, marched on to the ground. At this time the attendance did not exceed five hundred, but an increasing strain of vehicles, horsemen, and pedestrians freed towards the games throughout the afternoon. The following are particulars of the events decided before we went to

and Fred Mayo also ran. Morsohead led for half the distance, when Organ and Bis cl y rushed to the front, Organ, who ran in quite his old form winning easily. Bisely, tiring in the last fifty yards, let Moreshcad up again at the last hurdle, and they finished in the above order.

Hockler, A. Lechner, 0 ugh ton, Gilmour, Bayliss, Connar, and Risely also ran. After one attempt they got away to a capital start, Lechnerand Hodder loading to within fifty yards of home. Here Groves and Organ made a rush, and secured first and second place respectively. After a splendid struggle, Lechner a good third, and Hodder fourth. Vaulting with the Pole. J. Hunt, Bft din 1 R. Hodder, 7ft lOin 2 F. Morsehead, 7ft din ... ... 8 Jephaon also competed. This event produced a good contest between Hunt and Hodder, the former proving victorious after some very pretty vaulting from both. Highland Reel. The following competed ; —J. Mcßae, Jas. Murray, Pelvin McDuff, and T. Forbes. Piper Elder played. Jas. Murray was awarded first prize, and Mcßae second. Half Mile Handicap. . Organ, scratch ... ... ... 1 Groves, 5 yards ... ... ... 2 'Spray, 15 yards ... 3 Risely took the load for the first half of the first lap, and then F. Majm closed with andpassed him, andkepttheleadforawholo turn. Opposite the- winning post Spray was leading, and appeared to be going very strong, but Organ and Groves,| who had been in the ruck till now, put on a tremendous spurt, and Organ got the lead, but Spray still kept second place till about 20 yards from, home. Groves just passed him and got second place by about half a length, Organ being first by six lengths. 1 Throwing the Hammer. The following were entered :—Brosnahan, A. McKay,. G. R. Leadly, S. Millar, and T. Clark. Brosnahan throw it 69 feet, and gained first prize, Mcßae being second. None of the others were measure;!. Running High Leap. E. Mayo, sft. 4in 1 Jephson, sft. Sin. ... ... ... 2 Macfarlane, sft. 2in 4 Hill and Reeves went out at 4ft. sin., Stewart at three inches higher. Jephson could not quite do sft. 41n. and Mayo made a splendid jump and cleared it easily. 100 Yards Mrn’s Rage. X. Anderson ~, ... 1 F. Morsehead ... ... ... 2 Gilmour, Lechner, Oughtcn, Organ, R. M‘Faria no, Brosnahan, Risely, Brown, and A. F. Lechner also fan.

The start was very difficult owing to the eagerness of some of the men to get away, but at last Mr. Wilkie got them off to a capital start, Ike Anderson taking the lead, followed by F. Morsehead, the rest in a ruck, which position they 'maintained throughout. Anderson winning by about a yard, the same distance being between the second man and the general ruck who could not be placed. Irish Tig.-

Baylis, 10 yards, also ran. Lechner and Bayliss took the lead and maintained it to the turn, when Groves passed them, and came in a winner by about two yards ; Lechner, second ; Organ, third ; Risely, fourth.

press : — Quoits. M'Farlane 1 M'Leod ... 2 Kidd . 0 . Lindsay 0 Open Handicap Hurdl s Race ; 440 yards ; 6 hurdles. F. Organ, scratch ... F. Morsehead, 5 yards 1 2 0. Risely, scratch,... 3 .W Baylis, 0. Jephson, John Conuar,

PlBKOCHS. M. Elder 1 Finlay son ... ... 2 McKay 3 Forbes 4 Grand Handicap, 200 yards. J. Groves, 5 yards 1 F. Organ, scratch ... 2 It. Lechner, 3 yards 3

M. McLaughlan 1 C. Connor ... ... ... ... 2 Cullen, Murray, and Brosnahan also competed. The dancing was good, and the music was the fiddle. Highland Fling. J. Murray ... ... ... ... 1 P. M'Duff ... ... ... ... 2 J. M‘Rae ... 3 These were, the only competitors. 300 Yards Grand Handicap. Groves, 7 yards ... ... ... 1 Lechner, 7 yards ... • ... ... 2 Organ, scratch ... ... ... 3 Gilmour, 3 yards ; Eisely, 3 yards ;

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ASHBURTON CALEDONIAN SOCIETY Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 226, 27 December 1880

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