Clan Donald Visitor Reception Centre Opening Ceremony

The opening ceremony of the new Clan Donald Visitor Reception Centre in the former Armadale Castle Stables building, in Sleat, on the Isle of Skye, took place on Saturday, 26th May, 1984, in bright sunshine. Approximately 400 clansfolk and well-wishers from Scotland and overseas, notably the United States of America, gathered for this historic event which was attended by the High Chief, Lord Macdonald of Macdonald and the Chiefs of Glengarry and Clanranald, with their ladies and families. The opening remarks were made by Robert McDonald Parker, International Director of the Clan Donald Lands Trust, who introduced Mr Douglas G. MacDonald, current Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Trust. In his speech, Mr MacDonald began by presenting the Chiefs, Lord Macdonald, Glengarry and Clanranald and then went on to stress the fact that Clan Donald had created by its own efforts, assisted by several official bodies in Scotland, a visitor centre and facilities which were unrivalled among all the other clans at the present time. In conclusion, he praised the efforts made by the Clan Donald Lands Trust and its staff; The Glencoe Foundation; The Highlands and Islands Development Board and many others. Mr and Mrs Ellice McDonald Jr. were especially thanked for the important part they had played in the creation of the Reception Centre.

The opening ceremony was then performed by six clansmen representing the Clan throughout the world, namely Ellice McDonald, Jr; Douglas G. MacDonald; Guy Magdonelle; Mrs Nan McDonald; Judge Ronald A. MacDonald; and Robert McDonald Parker, who wielded two double-handed claymores to cut a MacDonald tartan ribbon and unveil a commemorative stone bearing the inscription: “The Stables, 1822, re-opened 1984 by Clansmen.” After the conclusion of the ceremony the Drums and Pipes of the Queen’s Own Highlanders, specially flown over from Northern Ireland to attend, marched off playing, as they had done earlier in the afternoon and were to do so later in the evening when they beat retreat on the lawn of Armadale Castle in a picturesque setting with the blue water of the Sound of Sleat and the outline of the mainland hills as a fitting background. The salute was taken by Ellis McDonald, Jr.

In the evening, Mr and Mrs Ellice McDonald Jr. were the hosts at a dinner in the Armadale Stables restaurant for representatives of the Highlands and Islands Development Board, the National Trust for Scotland, the Clan Donald Societies and past and present trustees of the Clan Donald Lands Trust. Later, a grand ceilidh, organised by Robert McDonald Parker and featuring singer Alasdair Gillies, took place in a marquee erected in the grounds of the Clan Donald Centre.

The following morning, Sunday, 26th May, a memorial service, conducted by the Rev. Tom Hudson, Clan Donald USA Chaplain, was held in the memory of the late Donald J. Macdonald of Castleton, esteemed former President of the Clan Donald Society of Edinburgh. During the service, Ellice McDonald Jr. rendered a most moving eulogy. Mrs Donald J. Macdonald (Bunty to her close friends), and members of her family were present as they had been during the events of the previous day.

Those clansmen who had taken the Clan Donald Tour were entertained by the members of the Clan Donald Society of Edinburgh (as they had been by the Clan Donald Society of Glasgow at the commencement of the tour) at a farewell dinner in the Royal Scot Hotel, Edinburgh, when the entertainment provided by Tom Spiers (pipes); Tom Selvester (Fiddle); Ella McConnell (Scots Songs); May Macdonald (piano   accompanist); Alan McDonald (Selkirk Grace) and Norman H. MacDonald (Gaelic and Scots song) was supervised by the President of the Clan Donald Society of Edinburgh,  Donald M. Macdonald, who on behalf of the Society welcomed the visiting Clansfolk. Votes of thanks were proposed by  Major Alan H Donald OBE of Bexhill-on-Sea and a book entitled “Australia’s Heritage Watch”, signed by all the Australian Society members present was presented by them to the President for the Society as a token of appreciation and friendship.