Real Name: Maureen Payne, nee Benfer 

SCA Name & title: THL Mairin O’Cadhla registered name THL Marrin O’Kealy 

Years in the SCA: 16 glorious years 

How did you find out about the SCA?  In 2004, during my junior year in college. There was a fighting focused demo, where I met a few Scadians in the late spring semester. Which was neat, although the fighting arts were not my forte. Consequently, I was intrigued about this group and wanted to learn more.  Another demo about a month later, the local shire had an encampment in a park on the edge of a festival. At this demo, the full accompaniment of the gentle arts were on display. This time, I was better able to ask questions and see all that the SCA had to offer. For the next 16 years, it has been an inquisitive pursuit of knowledge with an insatiable appetite for learning ever since that demo. 

Where did you start, what was your first event?  My first event was Summers End in the Canton of Beau Fleuve. This was also my first kingdom level event. 

What is your persona?  My persona is a 16th century Irish woman living in Tudor England. She emigrated after the English invaded Ireland, to learn more about this strange land across the Irish sea in 1529. Marrin made her living as a needleworker doing embroidering and making accessories for the millinery arts. In addition, she has knowledge of spinning and weaving from her native land. Marrin’s social status is a middling craftswoman who is a childless widow. She makes dolls for her community’s children and is never lonely with many wee visitors. Marrin is also constantly occupied by her cats, her garden, and prospering needlework career.  

Why did you pick this persona? I wanted to explore my maternal ancestry through experimental archaeology. Marrin dresses in more of an English middling style with nuanced touches of Irish, in pattern or decoration. Touches of knots or clovers are there amongst the Tudor roses. I also have English and Welsh ancestry so this seemed a sensible way to discover them too. Each does have notable differences in language, geography, culture, and dress. Haven’t gotten bored of the Isles even after 16 years of varied research.  

Do you have any group or household affiliations? I am from the Shire of Abhainn Ciach Ghlais, a member of the Haus WeisserLowe. Apprenticed to Her Grace Mistress Illish O’Donovan. 

Tell us a little bit about your life outside the SCA.  I work in the insurance industry, after the pandemic a permanent position working from home. While I love working from home, I have the best furry office coworkers.  It’s a high stress demanding role that possesses challenges that I enjoy pursuing. Besides keeping up with any SCA related creations, I write a blog called Tudorosities that has been on the internet for 10 years, updated bimonthly. In addition, I also create videos for my YouTube channel bimonthly.  My channel topics range from vintage sewing notions, vintage sewing machines, sewing pattern book reviews, fashion doll making, fiber arts, Tudor clothing, and much more!  

What SCA activities do you or have you participated in?  I tend to be a wallflower at events, so come and say “Hi” if you see me. I attend A&S related events mostly, I have been known to enter Ice Dragon or teach a class occasionally. You can also find me at demos or events with my local shire. 

Tell us a little bit about your SCA experience (jobs, offices, duties, etc.) I was the local Chancellor Minor in my shire for 7 years. Other than that it’s random helping at events here and there. 

When you started in the SCA what goals did you have?  To learn all the needle arts, which is still ongoing but I am far better at hand sewing and clothes making than when I started in society.  One scadian pursuit led to another, I also spin, weave and create clothing out of my created cloth in addition to decorating and making accessories.  

What are your goals now? To turn my years of research into a book, on the History of Medieval Fashion Dolls through the 18th century. 

What was the most intimidating thing you encountered in the SCA? Having one’s research and requisite A&S project judged. It’s not easy to let other people look at something you worked on for a long while to critique it.  Although I find that this is much improved with other formats that now exist in the A&S community. It’s much more enjoyable to share my art and discuss it with others. 

After the unexpected shutdown ends, what is one thing you would like to accomplish in the SCA? To show my latest creation; Dorothy a ½ scale (36”) Millinery Mannequin/Doll in the flesh so to speak. Pictures might be worth a thousand words but some things you just have to see in person and Dorothy is one of those people. 

What advice would you give to a new person in the SCA, or if new yourself what question would you ask and who would you ask it of?  Pace yourself, this is a marathon not a sprint. You do not need all the things all at once, take your time to craft your persona first and you get the things over time. Get one good outfit under your belt the rest will fall together eventually.  

If you magically woke up with an SCA talent you do not already have, what would it be? I don’t really have an answer to this question, certain there is a skill or talent I am not thinking of at the moment. The one that comes to mind is not SCA specific, an eidetic memory would be useful.  

If you had to join the SCA in another “era” (1970, 1980, etc.), what “era” would you pick and why? I would have liked to have joined in the mid 90’s when Aethelmearc was just forming into a Kingdom from a Principality of the East. Change is scary at first but it’s also good because the possibilities are endless when there isn’t any set precedent. Would have been exciting times in a new kingdom. 

Don’t be modest, what award or honor would you like to receive above all else and why? Service to the kingdom in its many forms has been something I deeply admire. It’s where one gives of their time, talents and treasures. Although fortunes have not leant me to steady employment and reliable transportation to pursue this in a serious manner. A Court Barony may not seem humble from the outside. Although when I see someone wearing a circlet of pearls, I know they are one of the helpers. After all, we are to keep an eye out for the helpers in tough times. It would be a great honor to be counted amongst them.    

If you could pick one thing you would like to see more of in the SCA, what would it be? Kindness exists in good abundance in the SCA but I am talking more for a mankind type of scope. I think if we were more thoughtful, understanding and empathetic to our fellow humans and the world at large. Circumstances for all would be vastly improved. 

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