Dairine Ingen Niall of Oak Hill's SCA Resume
Dairine Ingen Niall of Oak Hill's History
My name is Dairine Ingen Niall. My father is a ship 
builder and Clan Chief from the Isle of Barra. It is 1045. 
We live in Kisimul Castle. This large stone fortress has 
been in existence for many years as our family settled 
here in 1030 and my father and clan members built it. The 
castle in a very secure place as it sits on a small piece 
of land away from the main shore of the island. We need a 
boat to get to our lands and fields. I was born in Armagh, 
in Ire and made the journey with my mother and father to 
these islands called The Western Isles though I was still 
young. My father knew of a place we could call our own 
here and so we settled. He was the 21st descendant of 
Niall of the Nine Hostages who was the founder of our Clan 
in Ire called the Ui` Niall. He is the first Chief here on 
Barra. My grand Da in Aodh O’Neill, he is still in Ire 
though he is very old.

We have been a Royal family for many generations on Ire 
with many cattle. Here we have maintained our royal ties 
but content our selves with ship building and the 
occasional sea rescue of merchants who find our seas 
inhospitable. Occasionally we do find time to support 
projects that help out the ruling court. 

Life in general is of a tribal nature. We all depend on 
one another for our wellbeing. If one is suffering we all 
suffer for it. That is the nature of the life here on 
Barra.

Cattle, horses, and pigs are the basis for our economy as 
it is in Ire. We also have become proficient in ship 
building and raiding as the season permits. We hold the 
cattle with as much import here in the new settlements. 
Also, we grow sheep, goats, and pigs, mostly for milk , 
meat, and fiber. A cow is a bit large for slaughter except 
on feast days and for storage against the wolf of winter.

On Feast days we have a grand time with much food and 
drink to share. Our honey is the best in all the islands 
here about and we make much mead with it. I think sack is 
my favorite. We raise fowl for eggs and meat. Hunting and 
fishing are also a means to add to our considerable stores 
at the castle. I know ye may think we cannot live on meat 
alone….this being true, we do like our grains which we 
turn into breads and cakes. Greens are a definite addition 
to our diet as well as herbs of many kinds that are used 
to season our foods and make medicines. We are a robust 
and healthy people though we are a bit war like having 
come from the Northman’s stock.

For many years, in both lands, we have endured the raids 
of the Northman with blonde and red hair. They have left a 
mark on us in many ways, some in our natures, some in 
appearance. We have been wanderers not satisfied in the 
settled life of the land locked folk. The sea has called 
to us for as long as legend would tell. There is even a 
story that makes the rounds that my ancestor was not 
descended from Noah as the Niall had his own boat.

Daily life at the castle depends very much on the season. 
In the spring the humans are awakening and starting to 
move about again to see who made the winter, which can be 
very harsh in this area, and who is to be remembered. Our 
shareholders spend much of this time setting out the 
fields for the small amounts of grain we require for use 
and trade. The wives put in the gardens that are needed to 
sustain the families, herbs and greens are a staple. The 
cattle, goats and sheep are taken to the new pastures to 
start to fatten up and to await the arrival of the newly 
born. The fowl are setting at this time also. The sheep 
are sheared and the fleeces stored for use in the winter 
as there will be time to process it into many things of 
value to us. The houses are cleaned and aired out as is 
the bedding and clothing.

In the summer we do get a bit of a rest. The men like to 
go out and fish while the seas are calm. Sometimes they 
find things and bring them back. Some times they go out 
raiding. The Northman’s blood runs strong in our race. 

In the fall we spend much time gathering in the fields and 
storing and preparing for the winter times when we will be 
shut in away from the rest of the world. There is 
slaughtering to do, smoking of meat and rendering of fat. 
Many herbs are dried and store for the coming days. It is 
a time of hurried activities because as slow as summer 
seems to move, winter is very swift and it would be very 
bad to get caught unprepared.

Winter is a time for us to hunker down. If we were bears 
we would just find nice deep dens to sleep peacefully 
through this season. But, we are not. We must tend to 
those beings who depend on us for their very survival. 
They maybe four legged, they may be two. I make it a habit 
to go on rounds about once a week and check on our 
sharemen and their families. Some are quit elderly and 
some have very young families and both will need extra 
care. 

Depending on your social standing clothing is a precious 
commodity. We womenfolk and a few of the men spend a good 
deal of time preparing to make clothe or in the actual 
tasks of spinning, weaving. Men may not dye clothe though 
as it is viewed by many women to be bad luck.  Sewing is 
also reserved for women of noble birth, therefore, all of 
the clothing that is needed in the castle is made by my 
mother, myself, and the other relations who belong to our 
clan. Foot wear is also important as no respectable person 
would be seen without shoes. Clothe is made from the hides 
and fibers of our sheep, goats, horses, and cattle. We use 
the downy feathers of our birds for padding and many other 
things. The plants and minerals and insects as well as the 
sea provide us materials for decoration and cloth making 
and dying. We are a colorful people. The brighter the 
colors we can make the happier we are. But, through the 
laws set down by our wise ones, we may only wear a certain 
number of them at one time as is proper for our station. 
We may also only own a certain number of sets of clothes.
 
I, being a woman of some rank, hold a goodly place in my 
world. My chief tasks of husbandry, management, 
manufacturing, and entertaining make me a very valuable 
catch for any man. His standing is tied to my thrift. Some 
examples of these tasks are to look after things in the 
castle, stock the goods for winter, potential sieges and 
for the well being of those who work for us. I am a healer 
and know the use of herbs to help the sick. I have little 
to do with the boat craft my father shares with the other 
men of our area. He says that I am needed to look after 
the affairs that make life good for us all. One day he 
says I may be found a suitable husband, but until that 
time, I need to learn all there is to know about running a 
home. As the daughter of a nobleman, I do have some 
privileges under the law. I do have to suffer the 
indignanty of an arranged marriage, but, my bride price is 
very high and so I will almost certainly find someone who 
will provide for me as is proper for my station. 

I will get to take my possessions with me. In fact no 
woman would dream of going to a marriage without the tools 
that allow her to be productive. These consist of the 
wares to take care of the cattle and dairying that goes 
with them, also, the wares of household maintenance such 
as buckets, brooms, bedding, dishes and so forth. I would 
also be expected to have the tools to make clothing for my 
family and home. Clothe is made from flax and wool.  There 
is the distaff and spindles and combs and beaters. Dye 
stuffs would also be brought to my new home that I would 
be able to brighten the world of my husband and make him 
proud. As I am a noble woman, I was fostered with my clan 
back in Armagh when I was 6 summers so that I may learn to 
sew and manage a home that was not mine of birth. I met 
many people during this time and learned how important it 
is for social standing that I be able to manage a home for 
my husband and Clan. 

 I am glad that I also have the right under the law to 
leave and come home under certain instances and will 
suffer no ill to my reputation. I do hope he finds me a 
husband who is from a clan that is kind. I will have to 
leave this island and live with my husband’s family. I may 
return if he dies but the bride price will have to be 
returned by his family. If they are a poor family, they 
may not have it to return. This could be very bad for them 
and unpleasant for me.