Thursday, October 2, 2003

How to look like Scottish bagpiper

By Jenny Callison
Enquirer contributor

[IMAGE] Louise Reid wears Scottish flag sunglasses as her mother, Lenora Gilmour, strikes a Scottish dance pose in their store, Celtic Corner.
(Brandi Stafford photo)
| ZOOM |
MOUNT CARMEL - The pipes. The pipes are calling Lenora Gilmour and her daughter Louise Reid.

The two are owners of Celtic Corner, a purveyor of Scottish, Irish, Welsh and English goods. They opened their shop in February in a portion of the building that houses Allegro Dance Arts, where they teach Scottish Highland dancing and other forms of dance.

"We've been in business doing Scottish dance since 1991," Gilmour said. "It's not something you find just anywhere; it's pretty specialized."

From dance studio to specialized retailer wasn't such a leap, the Glasgow native said.

"I also sew, making costumes for Scottish bagpipers and dancers. In February, we opened this up with other supplies right here so they didn't have to send away for them."

A Middfest salute to Scotland will occur 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in Middletown. The festival, which is free, will take place on City Centre Plaza.

Oct. 25, Celtic Corner and Allegro Dance Arts studio sponsor a Guy Fawkes/Halloween costume party. The event features Scottish social dancing, bagpipe music, Highland dancers, traditional British Isles games, and a talent and costume contest.

Celtic Corner is at 502 Old Ohio 74. Information: 528-5578.

Since Celtic Corner began catering to Celtophiles in the Tristate, the requests for custom-made Scottish wear have increased, keeping Gilmour at the sewing machine several hours a day. She makes blouses and velvet jackets as well as kilts.

Customer Chris Paul, a Highland Heights resident and a member of the Cincinnati Caledonian Pipes and Drums, ordered a new kilt, since the one his mother made him years ago was threadbare.

"The store is terrific," he said. "It has all the little things a piper needs, both clothing and accoutrements. I'm always over there picking up something, and now that my son is learning to play the pipes, I wanted to get him outfitted as well."

Interest in piping is on the rise, said Reid, whose husband is president of the Cincinnati Caledonian Pipes and Drums.

"After Sept. 11, many firemen and policemen decided they wanted to play the pipes, because they heard them so often in memorial services," she said.

There's merchandise in the shop for those with other Celtic affinities, too. Traditional meat pies, sausage rolls and haggis are available, as are souvenir and novelty items, linens, jewelry, books and music.

"A lot of Scots come in here and get their food from home," Reid said. "We're expanding into Guinness merchandise and fun stuff."

Gilmour and Reid buy most of their items from distributors in Florida and Cleveland. Allegro Dance Arts sponsors a performance group, the Cincinnati Highland Dancers, which performs and competes regionally. The troupe appeared last weekend at the Cincinnati Celtic Music and Cultural Festival. Celtic Corner will have a booth at Middfest this weekend, since the festival's featured country this year is Scotland.


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