Messages of Greetings From The Chiefs

From the Rt. Hon. Lord Macdonald.

Kinloch Lodge
Isle of Skye.

Once again it gives me very great pleasure to send my greetings to all my clansmen and clanswomen throughout the world. Since I last had an opportunity to communicate with you, several things have happened to our family which are worthy of note. Last year Claire and I celebrated our Silver Wedding, our eldest daughter Alexandra married Magnus Gunn and it is now also twenty five years since I became High Chief of Clan Donald.

To mark this quarter century as your chief, and also to remember the 250th anniversary of the battle of Culloden, I am proposing to establish a memorial garden here at Kinloch on the Isle of Skye. This garden will be a place of great peace and beauty, and space will also be made available to any member of Clan Donald and others of Highland descent who might wish to erect a stone or plaque in memory of a loved one or to commemorate a special event. Do please write to me here at Kinloch if you would like further details of this very special and personal project.

Claire and I are busier than ever, but we do endeavour to involve ourselves in as many clan orientated events as our time permits. Of course, we are more than pleased to welcome any visitors to our home at Kinloch, but I do urge you to communicate with us in advance of an arrival in Skye, as we do have to be away at certain times.

Clan Donald is very important to me, and I will do my best to be a credit to you all for the next twenty five years. I feel I have now served my apprenticeship; learnt many things about many people, both good and bad, experienced periods of joy and despair, anger and serenity, but on balance it has been a most rewarding and remarkable period of my life.

I wish you all well


From Sir Ian Macdonald of Sleat Bt. FRICS MRSH.

Thorpe Hall, Rudston,
Driffield, East Yorkshire.

Juliet and I have recently returned from Atlanta, Georgia where we were ‘The Honored Guests’ of The Stone Mountain Highland Games. The friendliness of our hosts and the hospitality that we received has left a lasting impression on us, and despite the rain, I believe that The Games was a financial success. The only bad mistake that I made was to accept Sir Crispin Agnew of Lochnaw’s challenge to run in The Kilted Mile. He crossed the finishing line ahead of me but more importantly, Clan Donald won the Clan Cup getting the most runners home in under twelve minutes. Three Cheers for Clan Donald – We are still the biggest and best!

It is such a shame that the enthusiasm for all things ‘Scottish’ that we experienced in Atlanta cannot somehow be transported back to Scotland. Perhaps ‘Distance makes the heart grow fonder’ really is true and accepting this, it cannot be right for the Scottish Tourist Board to consider playing down The Tartan and The Clans’ attraction to over-seas visitors.

Referring briefly to our family: Deborah (21 yrs) is a Montessori Teacher in London; Somerled (18 yrs), the Younger of Sleat, has left school and has taken a ‘Gap Year’ before going to Newcastle University next October; and Isabel (11 yrs) started Boarding School this September which has left us rattling around in much too large a house with no-one to talk to but ourselves or the dogs!

With best wishes to you all,

Ian and Juliet Macdonald of Sleat.

From Air Commodore Donald MacDonell of Glengarry CB DFC.


It is always an honour to be invited to write a message to the Clan for inclusion in the Clan Donald Magazine and, on this occasion as the Editor is also the President of the Clan Donald Society of Edinburgh, I must mind my words and be reminded that our High Chief and other Chiefs of our great Clan will have their say: I must not be thought to speak for all, though in my 81st year and with 53 years behind me as the 22nd Chief of Glengarry, I may perhaps be permitted a mite of indulgence in this message to you all.

While I acknowledge that this excellent Magazine is the work of Norman MacDonald the President of the Clan Donald Society of Edinburgh, I do not address this message to that society alone. Indeed, in defiance of several clansmen who have suggested that Clan Donald has become fragmented by the emergence of Societies whose interests are self-centred and do not really know, or wish to know very much about the others, I say and will continue to say that Clan Donald is a world-wide family constituting the blood relationship of the greatest grouping of Highlanders in the history of Scotland. That our Clan has spread not only nation-wide, but world wide is old history but, as one of your Chiefs may I assure you that the many letters, ‘phone calls and personal visits from our Clansfolk from the Antipodes, Canada, Europe and the United States confirm me in my belief that the Clan grows stronger as the years go by.

Alas, I can no longer travel but to those of you who are able, I would ask you go no further than you can, but make contact with clansfolk outwith our Society or geographic boundary, for you will find thus untold interest and affinity in what we represent. A great Clan and a family bond which knows no limits either nationally or geographically.

My very best wishes, together with those of Lois my wife. You have my support and strength for as long as I am able.

God bless you all.


From Ranald A. MacDonald of Clanranald KM.

Sutton Bonnington Hall,

I am always so pleased when Norman asks me to contribute for a forthcoming magazine, as I so much look forward to reading the interesting and original articles he gathers together. Firstly my most sincere greetings to all of you particularly the many special friends I have made over the years. It is now nearly 40 years ago that I was first introduced to a gathering in Edinburgh by Donald and Bunty Castleton.

What amazing events and achievements have followed. 40 years ago there were virtually no Clan activities outside those societies founded in Britain particularly Edinburgh. Nor was there any form of Clan Headquarters. Perhaps we now rather take the Centre in Skye for granted. In its earliest inception had the Chiefs of Clan Donald decided not to unite, things could have turned out very differently. Particularly as the Clan Donald Clans have had no great history of acquiescence, very much making their own way in the turmoil of the centuries following the ending of the Lordship of the Isles. In forming the High Council of Clan Donald the Chiefs recognized Godfrey, Lord MacDonald as first among equals. The first decision to found the Clan Donald Lands Trust was taken unanimously. There is an old Royalist story about the breaking of Clan Donald strength; a bundle of sticks could not be broken, but one by one they snap. With this unity we have certainly achieved far more than each individual clan within Clan Donald on its own.

Each of the main Clans of Clan Donald were a match in power with any of the individual ancient Vassal Clans of the Lordship even the McLeans and McLeods. Standing together Clan Donald is quite formidable as can be seen at our great Clan Centre at Armadale, Skye.

My own family are thriving. My elder son happily with his wife Kate run the now famous Boisdale restaurant in London and have a girl Alice(2) and a baby boy Ranald. Andrew of Boisdale is currently practising his Management Consultancy in Chile while daughter Kate has her own studio in fashionable London’s Limehouse and is preparing for her second art exhibition.

The Clanranalds held great sea strength by virtue of their lands stretching across the centre of the west from Glen Finnan through the Small Isles to South Uist in the Outer Isles. The formidable Highland galley wielded this power, so it was appropriate, as little is known of these vessels, that my friend Wallace Clark and my son Andrew and other good friends formed a trust and built such a vessel, Aileach, 40 feet, 16 oars, an attractive and authentic much researched vessel, which has many successful voyages to its name including Eire to Stornoway; Castle Tioram to the Faroes (in an open Atlantic gale) down the Clyde, up Loch Long and overland in the old galley manner to the fresh water of Loch Lomond; even down the Forth from Alloa to Port Edgar and on show in London on the Thames. We all much enjoyed the great memorable voyage of clansmen to mark (the 500 anniversary of ending the Lordship last year which opened a new understanding for many. A fine film has been made “Storm Voyage” and Wallace Clark wrote a most interesting book “The Lord of the Isles Galley” obtainable from Calum Robertson, Eilean Iarmain, Isle Ornsay, Skye where the galley presently is berthed and exhibited during the season.

As a result of putting our clan in place again there have been so many happy limes where clansmen have gathered frequently over the years throughout the world. I am indeed proud to be a Macdonald and prouder still to be Clanranald.

Good health and happy greetings to you all.

Ranald Macdonald of Clanranald.

From William McAlester of Loup

Dunskeig, Burton
Christchurch, Dorset

At the time of writing this I am watching my son learn to use his legs and with help take a few shaky steps. This reminds me of my first visit to Glenfinnan and my own first faltering steps in Clan Societies. I look back to those days and remember the help that I was given by the MacDonalds that were there.

Since those early days both clans have had their problems. I hope that yours have not been as bad as the ones that I have had to sort out. As one person said to me “We must be one of the only countries that spend so much time trying to attack ourselves.” I think that it is all part of our rich history myself.

For the future I hope that we will continue to forge a stronger bond between our clans. I personally hope to meet more of you at games and gatherings in the future. I look forward to seeing you at Glenfinnan. This has a special place in my life and I try to make it every year. In 1994 I missed it due to personal commitments. I will make sure that this does not happen again.

W. McAlester of Loup.