Glengarry Monument Re-Dedication by Rhondda Martin, Hon Secretary, Clan Donald Society of New Zealand (Otago Branch)

The 30th November 1990 dawned bright and clear, but as the day progressed a cool breeze sprang up.  At approximately 6.45 pm people started gathering at the Southern Cemetery in Dunedin NZ to take part in the re-dedication of the memorial to Alexander Ranaldson MacDonell, 17th Chief of Glengarry who died here on 2nd June 1862 aged 28 years.

To the skirl of the pipes, played by our Clan Piper Dr. Warwick Johnson, 100 people including clansfolk, members of the public and overseas visitors moved towards the bank of trees where a beautiful new Balmoral granite headstone stood, covered with a plaid of McDonald tartan and a garland of heath, and guarded by two naval ratings of the Royal New Zealand Naval reserve (The 17th Chief was a serving officer in the Royal Navy during the Crimean War).

The Dean of St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, the Very Rev. Robert Mills conducted a lovely service and it was a great honour for me to be asked to unveil the stone. The piper played “Glengarry’s Lament” and at that very moving moment a hush settled over the cemetery and the wind died right away. It was very uncanny and there was a feeling amongst us that perhaps the 17th Chief was indeed very delighted with his new headstone.

It was a shame that ill health prevented the present Chief of Glengarry, Air Commodore Donald MacDonell from being with us, but he sent his warmest wishes, and grateful thanks to us for our efforts on behalf of his kinsman.

The story of the new monument goes back to August 1990, when Douglas Murdock, High Commissioner Emeritus of Clan Donald USA (who I had met during a “Down Under Trip to NZ” in 1988) and myself put our heads together and came up with a workable plan to do something about renewing the head stone which had been badly weathered and cracked over the years since it was first erected in 1897.

I arranged for our local stonemason, Mr Ian Bingham to look at it and come up with a suitable sketch for replacement and the costings etc. After receiving this it was sent, along with appropriate pictures to Doug in America and he then presented it to the Annual General Meeting of Clan Donald USA in September 1990. With the very generous personal assistance of Mr Ellice McDonald Jnr. Hon. High Commissioner, Clan Donald USA we were given the funds to go ahead and erect a suitable memorial. Branches of Clan Donald in NZ also gave some monetary assistance.

We in Otago feel very honoured that we were able to put together such a worthwhile project and we feel justly proud of our efforts.

Visitors to Dunedin who would like to view this Memorial could contact me at 55 Oakland Street, Andersons Bay Dunedin NZ or Phone (03) 454-4009, and I would be only too pleased to take them to see it and give them some background history of this son of Clan Donald resting in this far country.