Do you know the origins of the team they called ‘Carnival Celtic’?

In the late 1800’s there was a showman called George Green. He came up to Glasgow and bought a site on Vinegar Hill Street, just off the Gallowgate and he opened a fair there. He had his family, think he had five kids, his daughter was called Veronica and they operated the fair. That’s where James McGrory meets her. She was born in a caravan on Vinegar Hill. – Jason Lawson 

There’s going to be a show

Those, like me, who were born in small mining villages will remember the ‘shows’ coming to their village for Gala Day. The Travelling Showpeople would arrive in a convoy, bringing neon lights, goldfish in bags, ghost-trains, candy-floss, toffee apples, tarot readers, and a buzz to the conversations on the way to school. ‘Are you going to the shows tonight?‘ was the most-asked question during those days.

The shows were crammed into the smallest available space and the chosen pitch would act like a portal into a world of fantasy, becoming the centre of your universe for a few days. The colour, the noise, the smells and the crowd. You would live on burgers, fizzy juice and pop-corn, then hope that it would stay down after your fifth go on the Waltzers. They were almost mystical places, enveloped by stereotypes and old-wives tales. They would disappear as quickly as they arrived, moving on to give children elsewhere the same sense of great excitement.

It wasn’t just the small villages that were visited by these delights. Kirkcaldy Links was at one point the biggest fair in Europe, whilst Glasgow Green had a month-long fair in July. Over the years, Gala Days and long summer fairs are sadly in a somewhat dim and distant past and, like all businesses, the showpeople have had to adapt.

Jason Lawson comes from a long line of showpeople. The story he told A Celtic State of Mind paints a vivid picture of life on the road. Jason explained how ‘James McGrory married into show-business’ while some Celtic fans may feel he was always in show-business of an entirely different kind. Cathkin Park also plays a part in this story, as Jason describes how the annual showpeoples’ international encounter between Scotland v England was historically played at the historic ground.

Jason’s story, and his tale of a team called ‘Carnival Celtic’ is an intriguing one. You can listen in full here:




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