The history:
The undecked galley – referred to as a Nyvaig or Birlinn – was the vessel developed from Viking lines which enabled Somerled, the founder of Clan Donald to break the power of the Vikings in the Western Isles during the twelfth century.

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Almost 30 years ago, the bold initiative was embarked upon to build a birlinn or galley which would, as far as surviving knowledge allowed, replicate the vessels which plied the west coast of Scotland and beyond during the 12th-15th century heyday of the Lordship of the Isles.

Ever since, the galley – named Aileach after a Scottish princess who sailed across to Ireland to marry – has sailed proudly, contributing to the education and enjoyment of many, before reaching its final destination in South Uist, home to the Macdonalds of Clanranald since the 13th century.

Now the time has come to create a permanent home for the Aileach, where it will become the centerpiece of long overdue inquiry and research into the maritime history of that turbulent period. We know a great deal about what happened on land; too little about how the sea served as the lifeblood of far-scattered communities.

To achieve this outcome, an ideal partnership has been formed between the award-winning Kildonan Museum/Taigh Tasgaidh Chill Donnain in South Uist and the Lord of the Isles Galley Trust which currently owns the Aileach.

Working together, these two charitable organisations have the shared aim of raising sufficient funds to build a basic structure which will ensure the long-term preservation of the Aileach, both as an attraction and source of interest in its own right and also as a bridge to deeper understanding of a formative era in Hebridean history.

Aileach Building Appeal Summary Image
The galley today at the museum.

The presence of the Aileach in an adjacent building will enhance the excellent Kildonan Museum collection of 10,000 South Uist artefacts, built up over the past half century, as well as allowing for the expansion of its educational and research roles.
The objective is to raise £75,000 in order to deliver upon these objectives, in time for the 31st birthday of the Aileach in 2022. Donations of any size will be most welcome and will, unless otherwise stipulated, be publicly acknowledged.
This a great project for all with an interest in Hebridean and maritime history to support and we look forward to keeping you informed of its progress over the coming months.

It is with regret that the High Council of Clan Donald announces the death at the age of 77 of William (Bill) McDaniel, of Charleston, South Carolina, USA, in his sleep Thursday morning, October 21, 2021.  Bill was a Past High Commissioner for Clan Donald USA, and a former Trustee of the Clan Donald Lands Trust, and a faithful clansman.

More details will be provided as they become available.

It is with regret that the High Council of Clan Donald announces the death at the age of 81 of Forrest Lee Piver, former High Commissioner, Clan Donald USA from 2010 to 2014.

Forrest Lee was born in Wilmington on September 23, 1940, to the late Robert McDonald Piver, Sr., and Juanita Harper Piver. He was preceded in death by his former wife, Lynda Rogers Piver, brother Robert McDonald Piver, Jr., and two sisters, Betty Ann Piver Sheppard and Mary Nell Piver Bowden.

Forrest Lee was a graduate of New Hanover High School and attended Wilmington College. He was an active Presbyterian and past member of Wesleyan Chapel United Methodist Church in Scotts Hill; a member of Wilmington Lodge #319 A.F. & A.M.; Sudan Shrine Temple; and the Wilmington Shrine Club. He was a proud veteran of the US Army. He had a career as a Professional Safety Manager in Construction.

Forrest Lee was a Past President of the Azalea City Kiwanis Club, and Past President of the Moores Creek Battleground Association. He was actively involved in Scottish Heritage organizations including the Wilmington Scottish Society.

Forrest Lee is survived by his wife, Betty Bateman Piver; one daughter, Harper Piver, and husband Robert Dean Lurie; two grandchildren, Dolly Lee Lurie and Dean Durant Lurie; one brother, E. Snow Piver, Sr., and wife Dorothy of Scotts Hill; along with nieces, nephews, and extended family members.

A memorial service will be held at Wesleyan Chapel United Methodist Church in Scotts Hill, North Carolina, USA. The date and time are pending. 

We are excited to announce the addition of this new scholarly paper written by Peter MacDonald.

Read it here.

Anyone who knew Rob knew he had four loves in his life: his family, his football (i.e., soccer), his singing, and Clan Donald.

Rob was born on June 12, 1936, in Glasgow Scotland.  He was brought up there, during the second World War II, a scary time to be in Glasgow. One day at school, he heard some girls singing through the window and decided to mimic them.  The teacher must have recognized his talent because she encouraged him to continue singing.

At 15, Rob left school to get a job but by then was not only showing a talent as a singer but also as a footballer. He won a singing contest at 16 which led to him singing with a dance band on Friday and Saturday nights. He was given the opportunity to travel Europe with the dance band, but unfortunately it was during that time he received his call up papers for National Service and join the RAF. After his two years of service, he returned to Glasgow and football. In 1957 Rob won the Scottish Amateur Cup Medal with Giffnock North – a treasured possession he has til this day.

In 1958, Rob married with a child. Rob decided that there were more opportunities in the US than in post war Glasgow, so he made the decision to move his family to New York. Rob took a job working for Eastern Airlines in stores and worked his way up through the company to become the station manager at LaGuardia Airport. In between work and raising his two children, he continued to play football and sing.  He played for several different semi-professional football teams like the Yonkers Scots and the Brooklyn Celtics.  He was even honored with singing the National Anthem at both Shea Stadium and The Meadowlands.

In 1979, Rob returned to Scotland tempted by a job offer from Clan Donald. Rob was appointed to develop the land and estate around Armadale Castle on the Isle of Skye. He and his team turned a once neglected estate into a very successful visitor Centre, winning many awards, and becoming a focal point for clansfolk from Clan Donald and other West Highland clans all over the world.  He established a Ranger service that worked with local children as well as visitors, and, as Director, helped set up garden guided tours, archery competitions and sheepdog trials. The Stables restaurant became a popular venue for music concerts, and an annual piping competition. 

As busy as that all sounds, he still found time for his passions of football and singing.  He played football for a local team, Sleat & Strath, and sang at ceilidhs and dances at the Stables just for fun.

In 1999, Rob retired from Clan Donald.  He was having some mobility issues and was finally diagnosed with MS in 2001. Although he was officially retired, he still found time to serve as Chamberlain to the High Council of Clan Donald until 2012.

His retirement gave Rob more time for his most important passion, his family.  He got to spend more time with his wife Marion and their children’s families including children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. One highlight was his 80th birthday party attended by most of his family.

Unfortunately, on July 11, 2021 Rob passed away peacefully in his sleep with Marion by his side.   Having lived 85 years on this earth, with many accomplishments and achievements to his credit, the most important one being the legacy of love of which he was so proud. He earned the deepest love and respect from his wife, their children’s families, and friends.  He lived life with passion and love and he will be greatly missed.

Seventeen pipers toook part in the ‘Masters’ piping competition held yesterday at the National Piping Centre as part of Piping Live! The winner earns an invite to the Glenfiddich competition on October 30 in Blair Castle.

The ‘Masters’ competition is open to Gold Medallists and winners of ‘A’ grade light music events at Oban and Inverness.

Callum Beaumont, from Bo’ness and the piping instructor at Dollar Academy, was the overall winner on a piobaireachd preference after a tie with Craig Sutherland, winner of the MSR. Callum is pictured above with the winners’ trophy.

His winning tune was the Lament for the Earl of Antrim – appropriate given that this was the day when the 9th Earl was laid to rest in his family’s ancestral plot in Northern Ireland.

The funeral of the Rt Hon Alexander McDonnell, the Earl of Antrim, took place within the Glenarm Castle estate.

In the piobaireachd, two of the prize-winning tunes were modern compositions of Captain John MacLellan.

There was a live, but limited, audience in the main auditorium at the Piping Centre.


  • Ceòl Mòr:
  • 1 Callum Beaumont, Lament for the Earl of Antrim
  • 2 Iain Speirs, Scarce of Fishing
  • 3 Glenn Brown, Farewell to the Queen’s Ferry
  • 4 Angus MacColl, Phantom Piper of the Corrieyairack
  • Judges: P Henderson, C MacLellan; 15 competed.
*Article reproduced courtesy Robert Wallace, editor Piping Press.