Neal Edward Redmond
Neal Edward Redmond, founder, owner and operator of Druid’s Oak (established in 1990), based out of Little Orleans, passed away quietly on September 4, 2021, after a long battle with complications from a stroke he suffered in May of 2014.
Born to William Edward Redmond (deceased) and Marjorie Elizabeth Fiona McGainey Redmond, in Baltimore, on August 23, 1950. He, sister Betty and brother Bruce grew up in working-class Baltimore neighborhoods. Neal joined the Boy Scouts in 1961 and made Eagle Scout at age 16. He graduated from Milford Mill High School in 1968.
While enrolled at Catonsville Community College, Neal worked at a local Safeway and did odd jobs at construction sites. After completing his associate’s degree, he was accepted into the Maryland Institute College of Art as a junior. He completed his degree in Art Education in 1972, staying on the Dean’s List, and graduated with absolutely no student debt.
His chief interest while in art school was pottery, and he excelled at it. He designed his own kiln and ran a production business, called Quaker Hill Pottery while teaching. Mr. Redmond taught arts and crafts in the Baltimore City school system after graduation. Though he was able to stick it out for a few years in this high-stress environment, Neal knew teaching could not be his lifelong work. He left teaching for what he thought would be a career in residential construction, as a site construction supervisor for townhouse developments, including those in Columbia. Neal did this for several construction companies in the Baltimore area, was highly sought-after, as he always brought in projects on time and on budget. This, whether unfortunately or not, meant employment was not continuous, with a guarantee he would get laid off after every project. It was at this point Neal decided to reinvent himself as an entrepreneur.
Neal possessed a life-long interest in history and did the proper research before creating clothing correct to the mid-18th century. He attended and/or participated in many 18th-century military re-enactments, and felt he could make clothing for others involved in what was known as “the hobby.” As a result, Neal started Druid’s Oak in 1990. His particular passion? Creating period-correct clothing for historical reenactors involved in the French and Indian War (1754 to 63) period, and the American Revolution (1776 to 1783). He was also well-versed in the clothing of the latter 18th century. Uniforms and small clothes (breeches, shirts and waistcoats) were meticulously researched, and historically accurate to the last detail.
The clothing was so good, one of the producers of the History Channel asked Neal to make uniforms for his brand-new upcoming series. The first installment featured George Rogers Clark. Druid’s Oak was listed as “Auxiliary Costumers.” This ensured Neal stayed on the shortlist for seven more History Channel productions. Neal was also an auxiliary clothing supplier for the 1992 movie re-make of “Last of the Mohicans,” and “The Patriot” with Mel Gibson. In almost any 18th century historical programs shown on the History Channel or PBS, you could be sure Druid’s Oak hats, coats and small clothes will be worn by the many re-enactor participants.
Neal was a designer and a maker. His keen attention to detail and almost-fanatical perseverance served him well. Everything he created had the mark and quality of a true craftsman. Whether in stone, brick, wood, metal or fabric, whatever Neal made was a work of art.
This dedication to handcrafted quality served him well years later when he bought a piece of land in Western Maryland and designed his magnum opus, a two-story log house (with full basement) in the woods. Once the 200-year-old logs were up, chinked and under the roof, Neal did the rest. He and his wife processed over 150 pieces of 200-year-old boards into floors and walls. Neal installed all framing and trims, did plumbing, wiring and much of the brickwork. During the open house, it was declared a showplace, a fine example of outstanding craftsmanship.
In the log house, Druid’s Oak flourished, making and marketing 18th-century clothing via the website, and from its mobile store (a huge marquis tent). Druid’s Oak traveled to military re-enactments and historic sites up and down the East Coast, even into Michigan, upstate New York and Ohio for indoor 18th-century trade fairs. Neal was a passionate advocate for the Fort Frederick Colonial Crafts and Trade Fair, talking up Maryland’s state park to 18th-century craftsmen/tradesmen colleagues all over the east coast. (He was at the first trade fair in 1994, and attended the twentieth fair in 2014 only a few days before his stroke.)
In 2005, Druid’s Oak set up shop, in Hancock, on Main Street. Not only did the store carry Druid’s Oak-labeled clothing and hats, but it also provided an outlet for 18th-century craftsmen, including leather bags, musket parts, baskets, Scottish pins, art prints, woven sashes, soaps, lotions and books. The store was considered a shopping destination for living history enthusiasts. This lasted until fuel prices made it too expensive to travel, and the storefront closed in 2008. But, Druid’s Oak continued to do business with mail-order and by attending events.
Neal had one other passion – the Scottish bagpipes, otherwise known as the “war pipe.” He learned to play while living in Baltimore and was in a few local pipe bands. He competed at highland games in Maryland, Georgia and North Carolina. Neal continued to get better, until he finally qualified to compete internationally, and placed third in his grade. He also wrote pipe music and played two of his pieces for a studio session that ended up on a CD.
During a holiday trip to Ireland in 2007, Neal was heard playing in a Dublin pub by the pipe major of the Irish Defence Forces pipe band, who asked Neal to join “the lads” in a practice session at Cathal Brugha, (headquarters of the Defence Forces), in Dublin. Subsequently, Neal was made an honorary member of the band, with tunic and headgear.
When he could no longer play as a result of the stroke, Neal sent his beloved pipes to Cathal Brugha, so that they would be played for many years to come. And they are.
Neal is survived by his devoted wife Margie of 29 years; his mother, Marjorie Elizabeth Fiona McGainey-Redmond-Bargtiel, of Columbia; sister, Bettie Hartley, of Baltimore; brother, Bruce Redmond, of Westminster; daughter, Maureen Flynn, of Arbutus; granddaughter, Ruby, and grandson, Sullivan.
After cremation, there will be a ceremony at St. Patrick Church, Little Orleans, date to be announced. The point of contact is the church office, Saint Peter Catholic Church, Hancock.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests a monetary gift be made to Saint Vincent de Paul Catholic Charities, in the name of Neal Redmond.