From The Courting of Eileen
Source: Jenny made it from braeside wool
Significance: It marked Sean as a braeside laddie which he was, sort of.
Braesider men often wore kilts as a nod to their connection with Scotland. Sean McTavish felt himself to be in an anomalous position. He was a braeman by family; the fourth son of “Skirling” Lachlan McTavish and his wife Janet “Sweet Jenny” McTavish. His brothers were all big brawling redheads with heathered eyes but Sean was dark and green-eyed, with a pale complexion that had a tinge of green. To the braefolk he looked like a leprechaun and in his teens he manifested Shamus, who was indeed a leprechaun, as his second self. Lachlan explained Sean’s unusual looks to his brothers by telling them about Padraig, his great-grandfather, whose leprechaun blood had persisted to come out in Sean. Although loved and accepted by his family, Sean felt odd among the braesiders, who, with their love of nicknames, called him Leprechaun Sean. He liked the leprechauns of the green way, but the colleens there called him Highland Sean. Wearing the kilt was his way of reinforcing his family identity.
His three brothers were happily settled with forevers. Alister and Glengarry had braefolk wives, and Hamish had found a human, but Sean had problems. As he put it, when Eileen o’ the Mist said he didn’t look like a leprechaun;
“Then I’ll be away home to the brae, where the lassies say I’m no’ braeside and the court ladies canna make out what I am, and know only that I’m not for them.”
Eileen stopped him. She had problems of a similar nature, being far taller than her sisters and the other colleens in the green way. Like Sean she had an ancestor of different blood. After a bit of skirmishing, they decided they liked one another.
The first time they met, Sean was wearing his kilt.
Someone moved up to stand beside her, and a voice said calmly, “Top of the noon to ye, Eileen o’ the Mist.”
This greeting suggested Eileen’s visitor was a leprechaun.
Eileen’s hands went on drawing down the milk in rhythmic spurts, but she tilted her head to the side to see a pair of sturdy legs and the hem of a kilt. She followed her gaze on up. That was not her brother. The man was bigger than any leprechaun she’d ever seen. He was bigger than most humans.
“Top o’ the noon to ye, laddie,” Eileen said.
The kilt, added to the size, made Eileen greet him as a braesider.
Her impression of size had been right. He stood a head taller than she, with broad shoulders and narrow hips. Instead of the traditional britches and tunic of the gossoon, he wore a kilt in a startling red plaid with a teal-blue shirt.
He had black hair, luminous eyes and skin as pale as hers. He looked like a braefolk man to her, but the eyes were leprechaun green.
Eileen’s cow Cushy was a bit taken by the kilt.
“Best let her out. She’s putting me to the blush. Looks to me she wants a mouthful of my kilt.”
“She already had a mouthful of my skirts.” Eileen indicated the damp patch, streaked with chewed grass.
“Are you wearing your kilt?” she asked Sean.
“That depends, lovie. Do you want to be seen wid an outsized gossoon with skin like a colleen or a braefolk laddie widout heathering who’s strayed into Shamrock parts?”
“Wear what you please. I will be proud to dance with you whatever you choose.”
“Then I’ll take the kilt,” he said and in a moment, he was clad.
“You changed your shirt,” Eileen said, running her fingers along the ruffled white lawn that replaced his blue one.
He took her hand. “This is my dress shirt. Away to the céili.”