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by Magistra Nicolaa de Bracton

When last we left Gleann Abhann at the end of the last Pennsic War, they were a Principality about to take the great step into Kingdom status. Preparations were well underway for the October first Coronation, and all was well.

Gleann Abhann (the name is Gaelic for “River Valley”) dates back to the early 90s as a region of Meridies, chose its name, colours, and heraldic symbol (the Ram) in the mid-90’s, and became a Principality in 1998. According to Her Majesty, Mary-Grace, “Meridies was geographically very big, and the two halves of the Kingdom had very different personalities. It seemed like a natural progression.” The Board of Directors approved Gleann Abhann’s petition for Kingdom status in 2004, and in 2005, the Heirs were chosen.

Then Gleann Abhann had a most unwelcome visitor by the name of Katrina.

The Heirs to the Kingdom, Radu and Broinnfinn, were amongst those who found themselves homeless; they were eventually forced to relocate to Little Rock, AR. The majority of the Barony of Seleone (Biloxi, MS) lost almost everything, and the Barony of Axemoor and the Shire of Northover (New Orleans and the Lake Ponchtrain area) were also hard hit. Homes, jobs, and memories were swept away in the swirling waters—not to mention regalia and SCA gear.

Just two months later, however, Gleann Abhann became a kingdom, and there were few dry eyes to be found. How was such a thing possible? Both the relief efforts of the Known World and the spirit of the people of Gleann Abhann made it possible. According to Her Majesty Mary-Grace, “people gave so completely of their time, talents and energy that I am without words to express what it meant to us. It made us all realize what a truly special society we are a part of.”

The next milestone, according to Her Majesty, was the first Crown Toruney as a sovereign kingdom. Though the weather was miserable, the excitement was palpable as the field neared the finals. “I think for many this event marked Gleann Abhann moving forward on her own without Meridies,” Her Majesty said, adding that seeing her husband win was, of course, also a highlight. The first Gulf Wars run by Gleann Abhann followed soon thereafter. The site had been devastated by Katrina, but an excellent relationship with the site owner and an outpouring of assistance allowed the site to be prepared in time. “It was one of the best Gulf Wars ever,” said Her Majesty.

At the Coronation of their Heirs Havordh and Mary-Grace (first to bear the titles of Crown Prince and Princess), Radu and Broinnfinn were given Augmentations of Arms upon stepping down for their great dedication and hard work, and were given the right to style themselves Duke and Duchess Gleann Abhann “so that all would know they had been the first,” explained Her Majesty.

Another highlight was the Known World Heraldic and Scribal Symposium, which took place in New Orleans in June and attracted about 150 guests from fourteen kingdoms. Her Majesty: “We were thrilled to be able to host this, but also, on a mundane note, to bring people to New Orleans. I grew up in New Orleans, and currently live just across the lake from the city and it has truly been devastating to witness what this city has been through. It felt good to bring people to New Orleans and to see them enjoying themselves there.”

The next milestone has arrived—attending Pennsic for the first time as a Kingdom. Her Majesty notes that Gleann Abhann’s reputation is that of a kingdom with “just down-to-earth friendly folks” and a strong youth program. The Kingdom also has an Auxillary, similar to the Calontir Soup Kitchen or the Ealdormere Commissariat, which provides battlefield support for the troops, from construction of tabards to on-field refreshment. Plans for Pennsic include hosting the annual Ladies of the Rose Happy Hour, which gives Ladies of the Rose, Viscountesses, and sitting Queens a chance to relax for a few hours.

Her Majesty would not tell us who Gleann Abhann will fight with at War this year, preferring to reveal it at Opening Ceremonies instead—so stay tuned! You can find Gleann Abhann camping at N01, right next door to Meridies.