Marcach, literally horsemen, are the most famous sportsmen and sportswomen amongst the Selkie, although their sports do not only amount to horseback riding. As in times long past, the Marcach were also mercenaries, the central authority for them was the Mercenary-Guild of Redruth until 1899, until the Marcach-Guild of Redruth was established, its residence being Crúb House near Redruth.
It comes as little of a surprise, that four of the Ambassadors of the Selkie, Marla Cróimiam of the Tribe of Cork, Leonard Lách of the Tribe of Galway Ava Coileán of the Tribe of Westmeath and Liliane Lile of the Tribe of Fermanagh, are Marcach. After her return from Sadera, Asteria Sclábhaí of the Tribe of Fermanagh joined their ranks as well.
The origins of the practices of war known as Horseriding, Horsearchery, Archery, Fencing and Sworddances reach far back as the Age of the High Kings (See Main Article: Military History of the Selkie in the Age of the High Kings), if not further, historians are not quite sure. The first well-documented full tournament, or comórtas, of Horseriders was held in 45 BCE, by Lugh the Seafarer.
Historians also assume, that the first tournaments were held long before, albeit in smaller scale and without being essentially a folk festival. It remained a way for warriors to stay in shape and to earn money even without fighting and killing. Tournament Fighters were also 'in' for a while.
The transistion from Half-Warrior-Half-Sportsman to Full-Sportsman began in earnest in 1890, when Marcach-Mercenaries encountered machine guns in battle for the first time, with predictable results.
The Own Guild (1899)
Until 1899, the Mercenary-Guild of Redruth was responsible for all things Marcach, mainly because the Marcach were still hired out by the banner to the highest bidders, but in 1899, around 400 Marcach (there is no exact number, but the most quoted number is 412) under the leadership of Finnegan Fuasteoir of the Tribe of Monaghan split off and founded their own guild, the Marcach-Guild of Redruth, which resides in Crúb House.
SworddancingSworddancing is the youngest form of these sports, usually associated with the rise of the Orders in the 4th Century and associated with High King Áed the Hunter. The light swordswomen, especially of course Enya, of Claimhteoir, the First Swordmaiden, were the foundation on which many of the Orders established themselves.
According to that theory, Sworddancing among the Selkie has its origins in acrobatic armed dances of cultic purpose, elaborate in all of its forms, specific meanings attached to every movement. With the establishment of the Orders, the meaning of a military exercise was added.
Also an often-quoted possibility of the origin of sworddances with the Selkie is the long-standing tradition of Sworddances in Kyrenaia, the Raqsat Alsyf, usually performed by specially trained Handmaidens wearing the Fustan Raqis Alsyf.
It is known, however, that one of the arts Aífe the Banshee was trained in, was Sworddancing in accordance with her homeland's traditions - this long pre-dating direct contact between Selkie and Kyrenaians.
Although not all sworddancers these days are women, most are, like Ava Coileán of the Tribe of Westmeath or Amy Laoch of the Tribe of Dundalk. While 'Sworddances' were attempted with other weapons as well, mostly lances and spears, these never really took off.
HorseridingHorseriding is a discipline usually divided into two sections, the Swordriders and the Lancers, named after their preferred weapons, the sword and the lance. It is not unusual for a rider to be proficient in both weapons.
Essentially, there are three 'Game Modes', so to speak:
- Ringing: Ringing means, that the rider has to use his or her weapon, be it a lance or a sword, to pick up rings hanging above the ground at certain heights, thus collecting points.
- Charging: Charging is a Game Mode only done by Lancers, in which they charge at a puppet resembling an armoured man, mounted on a swiveling mount so that it could turn. From one arm dangles a ring, the other holds a soft flail. The aim is to get the ring without getting hit by the flail. The contestant receives three points for getting the ring without being hit, one for getting the ring and being hit and none for not getting the ring. With each round, every Charger having the chance to obtain the ring three times, the field is halved until only a winner remains. With each round, the ring gets smaller, too.
- Comhrac or Bouting: Bouting are horse-mounted fights, where the objective is to beat the opponent by either disarming him or her or by lifting him or her out of the saddle or by attaining the Point-Maker, a piece of the armour usually seen as a killing blow (usually, this is the helmet or other headgear). The usual result is by disarming.
The highest discipline,
The Conradh - The League
The Conradh is not to be confused with the professional football league, the Sraith.
The Youth League
Starting at the Age of Ten Springs, aspiring Marcach can join the Youth League, which holds their own, particular competitions for the young Marcach, usually under the sponsorship of
Comórtas - The Full Tournament
It is usual for tournaments to be fought with blunted weapons, usually blunted by wrapping cloth around them.
The Remembrance is a small ceremony overseen by a Priest of Calib, the Goddess of Death, remembering the Marcach, who died between the last Spring Festival and Harvest Festival, both in the sports and outside, as those months are the most busy months of Marcach. Those dying in the off-season are usually implicated as well.
Ceremonial Garb is the highest form of garnment to be worn by a Marcach, his or her finest garb and decorated set of armour and weapons, only used for parade purposes and ceremonies, hence the name.
- The Adharc Cup, for Lancers.