SCA Name & title: Lady Catherine O’Herlihy
Years in the SCA: 20
How did you find out about the SCA?
I was part of an online free-form fantasy role playing group on AOL, lo these many years ago, and we decided in mid-1998 to have an in-person banquet of sorts. Our leaders did some research and discovered that the SCA does demos, so they had the local group (Barony of Delftwood) come out to visit with us. I got to try archery, and kind of got hooked in from there.
Where did you start, what was your first event?
My first event was The Feast of the Seven Deadly Sins, in the Barony of Delftwood (about 6 months after I first started attending meetings).
What is your persona?
I am a 14th/15th century Irish Bard and Chronicler, I have of my own accord developed the means and whims to travel the world, learning, exploring, aiding those who need aid, finally settling in beloved Æthelmearc. I have been a retainer for many courts, sung for many crowds, cooked for many hungry feasters and have enjoyed every moment.
Why did you pick this persona?
My persona has developed oddly over the years, and has been strongly influenced by things I have done within the Society. It began with my name, which was the same for my online gaming group, and from there developed a geographical location, then the garb I preferred to wear (cotehardies, mostly) determined my general time period (though I say as a Bard and traveler, I have many styles to wear in order to fit with the local culture, and in the summers, I am a bit eccentric, exploring some Greek and Roman revivalism in my clothing choices.)
I am protégé to Baroness Alexandra dei Campagnella, whose wisdom guides me daily. I am also a member of House of the Blue Crane and Highrafters, both of which are affiliated with Clan Yama Kaminari. I am also a member of the Ship Bella Morte, which is part of the Pennsic Pirates.
Tell us a little bit about your life outside the SCA.
I am currently an Administrative Assistant/Clerk at the PA Office of the Attorney General (and a JoAnn Fabrics fabric cutter in the evenings/weekends), both of which I enjoy. I received my Bachelors Degree at the age of 38 in July 2015 from Kingston University of London (in the UK) in Museum & Gallery Studies and History of Art, Design & Film, which was an intensely wonderful and fulfilling experience. It’s never too late! I love to paint, mostly abstract art. Favorite artists are Van Gogh, Kandinsky and Da Vinci, though Picasso’s line drawings are also very appealing.
What SCA activities do you or have you participated in?
I have participated in retaining, archery, some thrown weapons, fencing, bardic, cooking for events, brewing and cordial making, Pennsic Hospitality area, Pennsic Water Point, Pennsic Newcomers Point. I have done a little bit of a lot of things, some more than others!
I was Chronicler for the Barony of Delftwood for about 6 years, I have been retainer and Retainer Coordinator for that same Barony for most of the sitting Baronage back to Baron Oeric Lestrange (with the exception of Baron Fergus and Baroness Helena, who led Delftwood while I was in Drachenwald). This past Pennsic I took on the duties of Water 2 at Water Point, which supplies the majority of hydration for the battlefield, woods battles and archery & thrown weapons fields. I will be taking this job on again next Pennsic, and in 2020 I should be taking the reins as Water 1.
When you started in the SCA what goals did you have?
At 21 and extremely shy, my only goal was to find a good group of people to befriend and a new hobby to enjoy.
What are your goals now?
Now I tend to keep my goals fairly simple: service, service, service! Whether retaining, performing, cooking or hydrating my goal is to give the best and most useful service to my Barony, my Kingdom and the Society.
What was the most intimidating thing you encountered in the SCA?
Peers and anyone with a crown or coronet. So fancy, so important, so knowledgeable and who was I? I know a LITTLE better now, but I still get a little nervous!
If you could accomplish only one thing in the SCA in the next year, what would it be?
Aside from the majority of my free time planning and preparing for Water Point at Pennsic, I have a couple of research projects I’d like to finally begin this year, and I’ve started the beginnings of a sort of retainer outreach project, which I’d like to develop into a communications and support network (support both for those of us as individuals and for coordinators to look for assistance for events). Currently this is solely on Facebook, but I plan to expand it over time.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and don’t worry that you’re ‘bothering’ anyone. We’re all here to learn, and often the best way to learn or expand your knowledge (especially if you’ve been in a long time) is to help someone else to discover something new.
If you magically woke up with an SCA talent you do not already have, what would it be?
Combat Archery. I’d LOVE to get involved (and know lots of people willing to help) but physical issues make it somewhat inadvisable for me to get into armor anymore.
Don’t be modest, what award or honor would you like to receive above all else and why? I think I try not to think about most awards, because if I haven’t received it by now, I haven’t earned it. Though if I’m going for total honesty, I’d love to be a Court Baroness. To know that the Crown of Æthelmearc feels I am worthy to be recognized as someone for newcomers and the populace to look up to and to come to for questions would be an immense honor. Plus I just think the entire practice is really neat!
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