Thursday, July 08, 2010

Mossbank Up Helly Aa

For 8 years during the 1980’s Mossbank held its own annual Up Helly Aa festival. Davey Cooper very kindly provided the following information about the festival.
The initial concept was as a fundraising event towards the building costs of the [now] Mossbank Hall. The first festival was held in [probably] 1980 with Tom Cooper (who was instrumental in the festival’s creation), the first Guizer Jarl. That first year also included a display by the Isleburgh Motorcyle Club, who drove their motorcycles through burning hoops as part of their display, an interesting addition to the concept of a fire festival.
The festival was held at the end of February/early March each year and the Guizer Jarl chosen each year alternated between a local Mossbank man and an incomer from ‘sooth’, as most of the squads were made up of workers from Sullom Voe Terminal.
Typically there were around half a dozen squads each year and a galley was constructed and burnt annually on the area of flat ground by the sea, adjacent to what was then the old Mossbank Post Office near the Jetty/Welcome Inn.
These shields from each of the years festivals were all designed by Davey Cooper, as were the excellently constructed and painted tillers from each galley which were also retained rather than burn them with the galley. The festival ended when it was decided to merge with the Delting Up Helly Aa, with the Mossbank Hall becoming one of those used during that festival.
The shields and tillers are on display in the Mossbank Public Hall, Kathleen McGrath very kindly allowed me access to the hall to photograph them.

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