Names carry history, heritage

Names ultimately form the basis for the Celtic Festival and Highland Games held last weekend in Sweet Home as well as the many other similar events throughout the nations.

Names carry entire histories with them, reaching back into the ninth and 10th centuries, some even further.

Among the vendors to the Highland Games over the weekend was the History of Names, an Ashland-based company, that compiles coats of arms and histories on names.

Customers can find out more about the history of their own name through this company and others like it, owner and operator Cory Davis said. “We just get people in touch with where their name comes from.”

A name’s history may not mean much to a 15-year-old, “but as we get older, closer to leaving this planet, the more we want to know how we got to this planet,” Davis said. Most of his customers tend to be older.

Often, family histories are researched and compiled but lost as the younger generations grow. Later, rather than doing their own research, they come to companies like the History of Names to find basic information on their names.

For those attending the weekend festival, name is the criterion under which clans meet.

Among them was Todd Oeder of Sweet Home. He assisted with the Clan Donnachaidh tent. The clan name is Gaelic for children of Duncan. The clan includes dozens of septs and names, including Robertson, Duncan and Reid.

Oeder is a Donnachaidh on his mother’s side. His surname is German.

“I’ve done Oktoberfest in Munich and I’ve done other things,” Oeder said, but Germans don’t “seem like they’re that much into their heritage.”

Oeder has become involved extensively with his Scottish heritage.

“His Uncle Bob got him a kilt,” Robert Wilber, president of the Clan Donnachaidh Pacific Northwest and Oeder’s uncle, said.

“There’s a lot to it, the caber, the dancing, the pipes,” Oeder said. Through it, he has been able to find out where he’s from. His family has been involved with the Pacific Northwest clan since it started in the mid 1970s.

“What we try to do is get people interested within our clan,” Wilber said, but those who want to get involved do not need to be blood relatives of the clan. One man didn’t like the way his clan’s kilt looked, so he joined Clan Donnachaidh.

As part of a clan, the members travel to events like Sweet Home’s in Winston, Prineville, Portland, Enumclaw, Wash., and places around the nation for games, dancing and more.

Those at the clan tents help people learn more about their names and connect them to the appropriate clan where they can get involved in their Scottish heritage and lifestyle.

The clans also hold their own events, whether it’s a Christmas party or Hogmonay, a traditional Celtic New Year’s Eve event.

Other Celtic clans, Irish, Welsh and English, also are represented at these events.