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The Irish, Kilts and Bagpipes

I have mentioned my fascination with men in kilts at Cons.  Since I first started talking about this phenomenon I have had explanations presented by men around the world.  Oddly, I don’t think any of them were Scottish which is another mystery to solve.  Any Scotttish guys out there want to tackle that one?  At Cons there does no one wear a kilt because it’s too common?  So many questions.

Now let’s make it clear, I don’t have an issue with kilts in general just with why men wear them at Cons.  They’re nifty little garments and I hear they allow an, uh, freedom of movement not usually found with more common garb.  I just don’t get the Con aspect.  I’ve always said that if you live in Scotland or if you’re participating in a Highland Games then I get it.  Well, I have to add one more occasion that I never thought would be on the list of  “I get it” places to wear a kilt.

Last week I spent a few days in Philadelphia with my very Irish family.  It was not a happy trip as a relative had passed away after a long illness, but as usual happens at our family gatherings it ended up being a bit like a party by the end.  In fact, hours before I left for home I was sitting at Reedy’s Tavern eating an amazing cheesesteak and wishing I could stay another day.  So I left with a smile on my face, but the smile started way before the great food and conversation.

At the saddest possible moment when we were all getting out of our cars I heard bagpipes.  I looked up and there, standing off to the side, was a lone bagpiper.  And of course he was in a kilt.  He stood solemnly playing as we all filed past to say our final goodbyes.  It was a touching and ultimately extremely sad moment and you know what happened?  I started laughing.  Actually, it was more like a snickering, choking sound that I tried to hide behind my hand.  All I could think of was “Dear God, the kilts are everywhere, multiplying like tribbles!”  So, to all you Kilt-Wearing-Con-Goers, thanks for giving me a good laugh when it was desperately needed and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


10 Responses to “The Irish, Kilts and Bagpipes”

  1. John Richard says:

    If you replace the word "kilt" with "corset", you pretty much have expressed my main puzzlement regarding con attire. I love conventions (it's hard not to when Gen Con is 15 minutes from my house), but I just don't understand how "I like to roll dice to kill imaginary monsters" translates to "I like to wear kilts and corsets in the Midwest in August". It's an absolutely mind-numbing mystery. 🙂

  2. Tornik says:

    Speaking as a Scotsman, I can personally vouch for the fact that kilts are *not* common over here. Weddings, funerals and stag nights are generally the place you can expect to see them more than not. And even then, it's a rare person that wears it the way a 'true' Scotsman should.

    That said, if you have one made at good kiltmaker instead of just buying some cheap, tourist-type one, they can be fantasticlly comfortable, assuming you wear it 'properly'.

  3. John, I completely agree with you about the corsets. Although kilts at least would be breezy, why on earth a woman would squeeze into a corset that pushes her, um, assets, up to her eyeballs is beyond me!

  4. Yeah, a Scotsman has spoken!! So, you wouldn't see them at a Con over in Scotland? And what, exactly, is the proper way to wear a kilt?

  5. David says:

    As a Scottish Highlander,I would like to answer the previous comment about what exactly is the proper way to wear a kilt.

    For the answer to this, and any other kilt related questions you may have, please go to the following page on my site.

    Kind regards,


  6. il Cattivo says:

    I would also suggest the following film to get an idea of just how dangerous a kilt can be:

  7. Stevie says:

    I don't understand why an Irish restaurant had someone in a kilt playing the bagpipes???

  8. The guy in the kilt playing bagpipes in my post was at the cemetery, not the restaurant. Although, the Irish do wear kilts and play bagpipes(a slightly different kind of bagpipes, but still bagpipes) so it wouldn't be odd at all!

  9. RW says:

    Irish bag pipes (Uilleann pipes) are what you'd get if traditional bag pipes got together with an accordion and had a child.

    More info:

    Apparently round about the 19th century the Irish looked over at the Scots and said "My, those look comfy" and started wearing kilts as well.

    More than you'd ever want to know about kilts:

  10. NicoleWakelin says:

    RW, I started telling my Mom about your comment and she said "Uilleann Pipes" before I had a chance…and then scolded me for not knowing that myself. Dude, you totally got me in trouble with my Mom!

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