The Clan Donald Society of Edinburgh 1891-1991 By the Editor

The Clan Donald Society of Edinburgh was formed on 24th April 1891 and is the oldest continuing Clan Donald Society in existence. This article tracing the history of the Society during its first hundred years has been compiled largely from the Minute Books of the Society.

On the 24th April 1891 a preliminary general meeting was held in Dowell’s Rooms, 18 George Street, Edinburgh, for the purpose of forming a clan society in that city. The Chairman was Mr Alex MacDonald, member of the Council of the Glasgow Society. The meeting resolved:

(1)   to appoint Mr J.J. MacDonald as Interim Secretary

(2)   to appoint six gentlemen as an acting Council

(3)   to authorise the acting Council to secure a gentleman as Vice President of the Edinburgh Society. Mr Aeneas R. MacDonell of Morar accepted the position.

The Acting Council subsequently met on 13th May 1891 and resolved:

(1)   to remit to a sub-committee of three the drawing-up of a constitution; this was to include other surnames of the Clan Donald besides those of MacDonald and MacDonell.

(2)   to insert four advertisements in the “Evening News” and “Evening Dispatch” newspapers, stating that application for membership should be made to the Secretary.

At a meeting of the Acting Council on 28th May, it was resolved to hold a public meeting on 16th June and to request the Lord Justice Clerk to preside. A meeting of 8th June resolved that the first general meeting should be held in the Freemasons Hall, George Street, with the Rt. Hon. JHA Macdonald CB LLD, Lord Justice Clerk of Scotland, as Chairman. Prior to this, a circular would be issued to all members of Clan Donald, names being taken from the Valuation Roll or the Directory; a slip should he enclosed for the purpose of making application for membership to the Secretary.

The Acting Council, at a meeting on 10th July 1891, resolved:

(1)   that the Secretary should arrange with the Secretary of the Glasgow Society for a mutually satisfactory constitution. The Glasgow Society was asked to put their views in the form of a proof print of a revised constitution, a few copies of which should be sent to the Edinburgh Society for perusal.

(2)   that the Secretary should procure a minute hook, write up meetings held and have the same signed by the Vice President and himself.

On 16th October 1891, the Acting Council arranged for the Society’s first social meeting to he held on 29th October; the meeting was to be informal with music; an invitation was to he sent to the Glasgow Society and intimation should he made to members by postcard.

At their last meeting of the year, on 21st December, the Council appointed Mr Kenneth MacDonald, Town Clerk of Inverness, a Vice-President. In the absence of the Secretary, the Treasurer was to write to Miss Alice Claire MacDonell of London, requesting her to take the position of bard to the Society. Mr James MacDonald, late Pipe Major, Seaforth Highlanders was to be invited to accept appointment as piper to the Society.

In April 1892, a letter was sent to the Glasgow Society offering to send a deputation of three to confer with a similar number on the constitution. Various differences were subsequently discussed and some difficulty arose over the name of the Edinburgh Society. Glasgow preferring “Clan Macdonald Society”, while Edinburgh favoured “Clan Donald Society”.

In April 1895, a committee was formed to confer with the Glasgow Society “regarding uniformity of regulations and a joint Council”. An “At Home” was held in November and the first charitable act of the Society took place. viz.. “the paying of a young lad’s railway fare home to Skye (17/6), he being unable to secure work here”. The Society also considered the awarding of Bronze medals to boys of the various branches of the Clan, who took the highest position in Edinburgh schools. There was a suggestion to offer the Society’s bronze medal for the best essay on “The Life and Works of Alexander MacDonald, the poet” (Alasdair MacMhaigstir Alasdair, Jacobite bard to the Clanranalds). There were to he four medals awarded each year, and a committee was to select certain Edinburgh schools. “from which to obtain returns of the positions which boys of the clan have in the highest classes for the year”. If awards could not be satisfactorily made by this method, the Council might adopt other means. The medal was to bear the title of the Society and an inscription, and to be presented at the Annual General Meeting of the Society or such other time as the Council might arrange. Of the four schools selected (they are not named – Editor) no boy was worthy of the medal. The Headmaster of Gorgie School recommended a girl, and it was remitted to the committee to decide if girls were eligible!

At the Annual General Meeting of 10th May 1897, a letter was read from the Glasgow Society concerning the raising of a “Clan MacDonald Bursary Fund”: £100 had been offered from Mrs MacDonald of Largie. It was decided that a committee should meet with members of the Glasgow Society: the Edinburgh Society promised £5 towards the fund. There was a proposal “to consider admitting lady members on special terms”. The following Council meeting decided that the syllabus should he planned and that a membership card should he introduced. By the meeting of 15th October, the first volume of the Clan Donald history had been received and members might “have the perusal of same for any time (not exceeding two weeks) whenever desired”.

The Council meeting of 9th November recorded the death of Mrs Mary MacPherson (nee MacDonald), (Mairi Nighean Iain Bhain), the official hard of the Clan Donald Society and authoress.

The new century began with a record of a contribution of £5 (from funds) and £5 (from donations) towards a MacDonald bed in the Scottish National Red Cross Hospital in South Africa. At this time also, the second volume of the Clan History (Clan Donald Volumes) was purchased. It was thought too that the text of the Glasgow Society’s year book was misleading in that it might he thought to be the only Clan Donald Society.

The next notable event to he recorded was the death, in 1903, of Sir Hector Macdonald. Arrangements were discussed at this and subsequent meetings to collect funds for memorials in Dean Cemetery, Edinburgh and in the North. A committee was formed to meet with other counties’ Societies. The monument, an Egyptian obelisk with life size bronze bust of Sir Hector was erected in June 1905. Lady Macdonald and her son became members of the Society in February, 1905.

The end of 1903 brought a proposal for an illustrated lecture on the MacDonald country, combined with music, as an event for that winter, later reported as successful. In April 1904, a picnic was proposed, to visit the scene of the Battle of Prestonpans which had taken place on 20th September 1745. A Council meeting in October undertook a revision of the list of members and discussed the cost of printing the Society’s rules and binding them with the illuminated cover designed by Aeneas R. MacDonell of Morar: it was suggested that the President’s signature should be lithographed thereon. In November the President, Lord Kingsburgh was offered honorary membership which he subsequently accepted.

Among the new members in March 1905 was Dr Keith Norman MacDonald, the Gaelic scholar.

At a Council meeting in November 1906, a committee was formed to plan the Annual Social Gathering to which Sir Claude MacDonald, of the Keppoch branch, British Consul at Peking during the Boxer Rising, was to be invited as speaker.

At a Council meeting on 12th February 1907, Sir Claude MacDonald was admitted to Life Membership and William Fergus McKain, son of the Rev. W.J. McKain was acknowledged as Chief of Ardnamurchan, on the recommendation of the Rev. A.J. MacDonald, Minister of Killearnan, Clan Historian.

In May 1907, the Society sent two representatives to the unveiling at Dingwall by the Marquess of Tullibardine of the Sir HectorMacdonald Memorial.

In April 1909, the issue of the chiefship of Clan Donald arose. Reference was made at a Council meeting to the death of Clanranald and the succession by his brother, Angus R. Macdonald, to whom a message was sent. At a meeting on 14th May, the Council decided to purchase Lord Kingsburgh’s book “Fifty Years Of It.”

At the Annual Business Meeting in April 1910, it was suggested that a short history of the Clan should he published. At the Council meeting of 5th May, a committee was appointed to decide the chiefship of the Clan and a meeting in October reported on correspondence with Sir Alexander Macdonald, new Chief of Sleat, and with Clanranald.

Two lectures were held, in December on “Prince Charlie in the MacDonald Country” given by Mr W.G. Blaikie (author of “The Itinerary of Prince Charles Edward Stuart. 1745-46”) and in January 1911 on “The MacDonalds and the Jacobite Rebellions” by Charles MacDonald. At the Council meeting of 12th January 1911, the Chairman, James MacDonald WS, intimated that he had ascertained the whereabouts of Glengarry and would communicate with him; a document was drafted at the meeting of 23rd March, relative to the Chiefship, to be submitted to each Chief. The January Council meeting approved, as a new member, Lady Macdonald of the Isles, Thorpe Hall, Yorkshire.

The Annual Gathering was attended by the Chief of Sleat, his wife and daughter, the first occasion on which a Chief had appeared before an Edinburgh Gathering. The Chief addressed the company on the subject of the recent litigation regarding his Chiefship of the Sleat branch.

At a Council meeting on 6th April 1911, a letter was read from the Rev. WJ McKain (of Ardnamurchan) accepting nomination as Honorary Vice-President. The Society was presented with a copy of “A Romantic Chapter in Family History” written by Lady Macdonald of the Isles.

A dinner was held jointly with the Glasgow Society at the Glasgow Exhibition on 20th September 1911, attended by Lord Kingsburgh. Sir Alexander and Lady Macdonald of the Isles and nine others representing the city. At a Council meeting on 5th October, Aeneas Ranald MacDonell, Chief of Glengarry, was proposed as a new member.

The Council meeting of 17th December 1912, recorded the receipt of a print of the Treaty recently concluded between the Chiefs of Clanranald, Glengarry and Sleat regarding the High Chiefship of Clan Donald.

It was agreed at the Council meeting of 2nd December 1913, to send a letter of congratulations to the Chief of Glengarry on the birth in Baku, South Russia of a son and heir, Aeneas Ranald Donald MacDonell, now 22nd Chief. A letter of thanks from Glengarry was read out at the meeting held on 2nd March 1914, at which the holding of a concert for a MacCrimmon Memorial was also discussed. At this meeting the Rev. WJ McKain was recognised by the Society as Chief of Clan Iain of Ardnamurchan and a letter was read from a Mrs Dickson, Mallaig, concerning Clanranald Relics, held by her family, which she wished to dispose of. It was agreed to communicate with Clanranald to ascertain whether he wished to purchase them.

In 1914 the Glasgow Society suggested issuing a handbook giving information on their Society and invited Edinburgh to share the cost. It was decided to hold a meeting to consider a proposal for the amalgamation of the two Societies. In May the Society donated one guinea (£1.1/-) towards a tombstone on the grave of the late Alexander Mackenzie, Historian of the Clans, who compiled a History of the MacDonalds and Lords of the Isles. Plans were made for an excursion to Bannockburn on the 600th anniversary of the Battle.

In March 1915, it was decided to hold no meetings of the Society as the Secretary and other members were serving in the Armed Services. A MacDonald Regiment was suggested but it was decided that this was too late, as some clansmen had already joined other regiments. Assistance for the Royal Scots was considered. In April, the Glasgow Society agreed on amalgamation; views were invited on “headquarters, name of the society and control of funds.” A memorandum was produced containing definite proposals for discussion by a joint committee.

Those serving in the armed forces were not forgotten. In 1916, members in the services were exempted from paying subscriptions and the list of casualties suggested the compilation of a Roll of Honour “The Oban Times” was to be consulted on cost. Serving members included the three Chiefs. No special functions were held during the war and membership at this stage was 130. As the year progressed, lists of casualties were compiled from the “Scotsman” and it was decided to defer the Roll of Honour till the end of the war when it would be published in book form. Highland newspapers and tobacco were sent to the servicemen. A Highland Feill (i.e. a fete) was planned for March 1917, at which the Clan Donald Society shared a stall with the Clan Mackinnon. Some 750 circulars were issued and a committee of 18 was formed with Lady Macdonald of the Isles as Convener. The Society’s stall raised over £200. A Council meeting of 6th December arranged for the sending of parcels. Mr William Rae Macdonald FFA, Carrick Pursuivant and author of “Scottish Armorial Seals” made an offer of the three shields (Macdonald of the Isles, Clanranald and Glengarry) which had decorated the Clan Stall at the Feill. The Society accepted the gift, which was to be in the custody of the Secretary.

On a happier note, the Society recorded the birth of a grandson to Sir Alexander Macdonald of the Isles, to be named Alexander Somerled Angus Macdonald (father of the present Chief of Sleat).

The year 1919 began with the setting up of the Clan Donald Roll of Honour, which was to be a comprehensive roll of the names of all clansmen who had served in the army and navy. At the suggestion of the Glasgow Society, a committee of three was to submit recommendations to the two Societies.

At the same meeting, the Society recorded with sadness the death of the President, Lord Kingsburgh. James Macdonald WS, was suggested as the new President and subsequently accepted. The Glasgow Society had meantime appointed J.R.M. Macdonald of Largie to succeed Lord Kingsburgh as their President.

On 2nd November 1920, the Society agreed to contribute £5 from the Special Fund towards the Flora MacDonald Monument at Kilmuir in Skye.

In June 1921, John L. McDonald, father of the immediate past President, Alan McDonald, became Secretary, a post which he was to hold with great distinction.

Vocal and instrumental music as well as recitation featured at the Annual Gathering, held in the Royal Arch Halls in January 1922 and the Society again visited Bannockburn with the Scottish Society.

Controversy arose in February 1923 over the new title being used by Lord Leverhulme, viz.. “of the Western Isles”. The Society discussed correspondence from Sir Alexander Macdonald of the Isles and passed a resolution that Lord Leverhulme should relinquish this designation; copies were sent to interested parties and the Press. A letter was sent to Lord Leverhulme who later replied.

The Secretary’s report for 1922-1923 referred to a lecture in January on “The Highlands before and after the Rebellion” and to good attendances and increased Membership. A Gaelic concert, under the auspices of the Edinburgh Gaelic Choir, in December 1923, and a “Grand Highland Ball” for February 1924, (which was becoming a regular annual event) were scheduled. The New Year had begun with a message of congratulations to the Rt. Hon. J. Ramsay MacDonald on becoming Prime Minister, who later replied.

Sir Alexander and Lady Macdonald of the Isles attended the Annual Gathering on 25th February 1926, which took the form of a concert, with vocal and clarsach music, and dancing by members of the Highland Reel and Strathspey Society. Lady Macdonald of the Isles entertained the company with two songs. Sir Alexander playing her accompaniment.

On 27th March 1926, the Society considered a letter from Miss M.E.M. Donaldson, requesting assistance to defray the expense of a stone over the grave of the famous bard of Clanranald, Alasdair MacMhaighstir Alasdair: a donation of £5 was to he sent. The monument was to take the form of re-erecting a bronze tablet to the bard in Arisaig, to he unveiled by the Very Rev. Canon W.J. McKain of Ardnamurchan. The Society approved the design and representa­tives attended the ceremony on 8th October 1927.

The Annual Gathering of 1928 was notable for the “tossing of the coin” for precedence by the three Chiefs present: a photograph was taken to mark the event. At the Council meeting of 8th June, a letter was read from Glengarry asking for subscriptions towards purchasing a stand of Glengarry bagpipes to he forwarded to the Alberta Clan Donald Colony, Edmonton. Alberta, which had been founded by Father Andrew MacDonell OSB. A donation of £2.2/- was made, which was later acknowledged by Glengarry.

The Annual Gathering on 5th February 1929 included an address by the Chief of Sleat on “The Scottish War of Independence” and the presentation of an engraving of Flora MacDonald to Lady Macdonald.

In June 1931, the Society had a meeting with Father Andrew MacDonell, leader of the migration to Western Canada and in October an “At Home” was held in honour of the Very Rev. Canon William James McKain of Ardnamurchan, who became a Life member: the Lord Lyon was present at this function. Another distinguished new member was the Most Rev. Andrew Joseph MacDonald, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh. Guests for the Annual Gathering were to include the Lord Provost and Sir John Lorne MacLeod. The event took place in the Egyptian and Royal Arch Halls. A new life member was the Rev. J.A.D.F. Macdonald of Castleton (father of Donald J. Macdonald of Castleton).

In 1932, Professor WJ Watson MA LL.D was made an Honorary Vice-President of the Society. The Secretary, in his Annual report for 1931-32, referred to Professor Watson’s lecture in January on “The Poets of the Clan”, a typed copy of which was presented to the Clan to be kept among the records. In October, a letter was received from Mr W.M. Macintosh of Kilearnan, regarding a memorial to the late Rev. A.J. Macdonald DD, of Killearnan, the Clan Historian, to which the Society agreed to donate £5.

On 16th January 1934, the Lord Lyon, King of Arms, Sir Francis James Grant CVO, lectured on “The Heraldry of Clan Donald and Designations of Highland Chiefs”. In April, the Lord Lyon was invited to become an Honorary Vice-President. The Annual Gathering on 16th February had been attended by Sir Godfrey Macdonald, the new Chief of Sleat and Lady Macdonald.

At the Annual Gathering on 7th February 1935, three Chiefs were present. The “tossing of the coin” for precedence resulted in the election of Glengarry as supreme Chief for the evening. The year 1935 began with a letter from a member regarding Flora MacDonald’s birth-place at Milton, South Uist, and the state of the house. It was decided to send a letter to the factor of South Uist and to invite the Glasgow Society to collaborate. A reply was received from the factor: no action was taken. In May 1936 a suggestion came from a Mr McLellan of Church Stretton that the “traditional site” of the house should be marked. At a meeting, it was suggested that the two societies should join in appealing for funds to erect a cairn to mark the birth-place of Flora MacDonald: an estimate should he obtained before advertising an appeal.

In 1937, a letter was received from a Mrs Cruichan, Australia, enclosing a press cutting regarding the alleged search for the Red Book of Clanranald, which, she stated, had been for many years in the possession of her family. The letter was sent to Clanranald, for perusal. According to the Society’s records, both the Red Book and Black Book of Clanranald were included in the Collection which the Chief had gifted to Scotland a few years earlier and were in the Museum of Antiquities. Clanranald had suggested that the manuscript owned by Mrs Cruichan might he a copy, as the books in his collection were originals. A reply had accordingly been written to Mrs Cruichan, enquiring how the book she referred to had come into the possession of her family.

In 1938, the Annual Gathering on 24th February was graced with the presence of Sir Godfrey Macdonald, Chief of Sleat and his son Somerled, and the Chief of Glengarry with his younger son, Peter. In June, the Society had an outing to Glasgow with tea at the Clachan. The forthcoming Empire Exhibition at Bellahouston was the venue and suggested an opportunity to place copies of the Roll of Honour as well as Glengarry’s book “And Nothing Long…”

Congratulations were sent in October 1940 to Squadron Leader A.R.D. MacDonell, Younger of Glengarry on gaining the DFC and on his recent marriage. In May 1941, the Society sent condolences on the death of the Chief of Glengarry and expressed hopes that the new Chief would soon be back in Britain: a reply was received from his younger brother, Peter MacDonell. The new Chief was soon to he congratulated on the birth in January 1942 of a son and heir: a letter of thanks was received from his wife. In October 1941, a letter had been sent to Mr R.E. MacDonald of Texas who had asked for assistance in forming a Society there. Similar advice was given in January 1942 to the Clan Donald Society being formed in the London area.

On 25th March 1944, the Society recorded the death on 17th March of Angus R. Macdonald. Captain and Chief of Clanranald. A letter of thanks was received from Mrs Macdonald of Clanranald and the President, Donald S. Macdonald WS, referred to earlier communications which he had received from Clanranald “in reference to the succession to him as Captain and Chief of Clanranald” and stated “that these had been deposited for reference with the Lord Lyon, King of Arms”. The Council noted that, unless someone could come forward with a good claim to the title, which seemed unlikely, the position of Captain and Chief of Clanranald had now fallen into abeyance.

In March 1946, the Society offered congratulations to Somerled Macdonald, Younger of Sleat, on his engagement. The Society’s first newsletter came out in March 1948, written by the Secretary, Gilbert McWhannell and a Roll of Honour for victims of World War II was proposed. At a meeting on 29th November, it was decided to limit newsletters to four or five a year. The Secretary’s report requested voluntary helpers for the 1951 Gathering of the Clans. Meetings were held to make plans and lapel crest pins were offered for sale. The “Clan Donald Week” was to begin on 13th August and a marquee for the use of the Clan would he available at Murrayfield on 18th August.

From March 1950, the Society was again involved, along with the Glasgow Society in the discussion and correspondence on the Flora MacDonald Fund. In April 1951, it was suggested that a suitable memorial at Milton in South Uist would be either a cairn, or the rebuilding of a section of the wall and the placing of a plaque for which the wording was considered. In July 1957, the Council approved the wording of the plaque and the final plan. By October 1951, it was decided to erect a cairn and to have a local committee. Donald S. Macdonald WS, became Hon. Secretary of the fund with Ian A. Macdonald as Treasurer; an appeal was drafted and the order was put in hand for the building of the cairn. The 28th April 1953 was fixed for the unveiling of the memorial by Lord Macdonald. The Society considered chartering a plane to attend. From the funds there was provided a cup for piping at the South Uist Games and this was sent in 1956. In March of that year, £300 was invested, the interest on which would provide book prizes yearly from the pupils of Daliburgh Junior Secondary School: book plates were chosen.

On 16th October 1951, the Society recorded with sadness the death of the Chief of Sleat and in his memory donated three guineas to Rudston Church Organ Fund, in Yorkshire. A sub-committee was formed to obtain designs and estimates for a Presidential Chain of Office. In January 1952, the Society planned a visit to the Queen Street Museum to hear a lecture on the Clanranald Collection: an invitation was sent to Lord Macdonald. In March 1953, the membership stood at 271.

In October 1953, the Society took part in an unveiling ceremony at Edinburgh Castle by Angus L. MacDonald, Premier of Nova Scotia, to commemorate the creation of the baronetcies of Nova Scotia. Among those present was Sir Somerled Macdonald of Sleat, senior Baronet of Nova Scotia.

At the Annual Gathering, Lord Macdonald of Macdonald, Chief of the Name and Arms of Macdonald and Sir Somerled Macdonald Bt. MC, Chief of Sleat, were both present. At the Annual General Meeting, Donald J. Macdonald became Secretary, and membership was given at nearly 280. The sub­committee discussing the President’s chain of office offered two designs; one of which was submitted to the Lord Lyon. Past Presidents were to pay for the addition of their own names but a donation of £50 was received from Miss Agnes MacDonald of Hatton Place. The chain was formally presented at the Annual Gathering on 26th October 1956 by the Countess of Errol, who attended with her husband, Captain Ian Moncreiffe of Easter Moncreiffe. A brooch presented by Major Reginald H. Macdonald of Kingshurgh was to be given to the President’s wife.

In May 1954, the Society considered an appeal for help towards a memorial window to Flora MacDonald in Portree Episcopal Church in Skye. A suggestion came from Gilbert McWhannell that the newsletter he expanded into a magazine similar to other clan magazines.

At a meeting in April 1955, the Council discussed Invergarry Castle. A sub-committee was appointed to contact the owner with a view to making the castle safe and convenient to visit. In September 1956, a donation of £200 was made and a fund was to be opened for restoration to save the castle from further dilapidation. The estimate for repairs was given by the Ministry of Works as £400. Once the fund was opened, letters were to be sent to those (members) known to he of Glengarry descent and other interested persons. In February 1957, the Council decided that an appeal should he published with photographs, historical and other notes and a detachable subscription form at the foot. The Honorary Treasurer joined the sub-committee and there was to be publicity through the press. By June 1957, an appeal had been set up – 1000 copies had been sent out and the committee was to contact Miss Margaret Cunninghame, the owner, “to find out her wish” with regard to the setting up of a trust. By December 1958, the new proprietors of Invergarry House, the Misses Cameron of Fort William, had indicated willingness to make the castle accessible to contractors and visitors. A weekend visit by members was planned for the summer of 1959: this proved to he successful.

Other events from 1956 included further discussions on a magazine. The Glasgow and Aberdeen Societies were to be consulted. Mr George McDonald Banks was appointed Editor.

The Society agreed to send a donation of two guineas to the local Mod and a joint outing was planned with Glasgow to visit Dunblane Cathedral and Sheriffmuir. The Clan Hall was to be used during the Festival and for the rest of the summer. Clan Donald was to man the centre in the first week of September and volunteers were required. In the same month, Clanranald was made an Honorary President along with the other Chiefs.

In 1957, invitations to the Annual Gathering were sent to Brigadier J.F.M. Macdonald DSO, Chief of Staff, Scottish Command and to the Misses Cunninghame, owners of Invergarry Castle. The Society donated a guinea towards the cost of a cairn being erected by the 1745 Association at Loch nan Uamh to mark the place of arrival and departure of Prince Charles Edward Stuart in the 1745 Rising, and it was decided that the Society should contribute to the wreath to be laid on 13th February at Glencoe.

In September, the question of issuing Christmas cards was discussed and it was suggested that a picture of Castle Tioram might be inserted. Visits were to be arranged to elderly members and Miss Agnes MacDonald of Hatton Place offered a presentation to the Society. A gavel was suggested. Quotations were obtained and the gavel was presented at the Annual General Meeting on 28th March 1958.

The Annual Gathering of 1958 was cancelled as a token of respect on the death of Sir Somerled Macdonald of Sleat. The Council approved a suggestion that there should be a joint Council of Clan Donald Societies: the committee was to include all Presidents, Secretaries and Treasurers. A Council meeting of 25th September referred to the fact that the wreath-laying ceremony at Glencoe had lapsed it was suggested that the Clan Donald Societies should continue it.

In 1959, Dr I.E Grant LLD., author of “The Lordship of the Isles”, was made the Society’s first honorary member. The Christmas card would have a picture of Duntulm.

In 1962, a subcommittee, including Dr I.E Grant and Sheriff Hector McKechnie QC was set up to deal with the site at Finlaggan. A committee with office-bearers was appointed and by August work had begun. A garden party was held at the Barnton Hotel on 15th August to meet Clanranald. In October, the Finlaggan Committee considered reports from the Ministry of Works and The Royal Commission and a contractor at Lochboisdale was consulted regarding repairs to the flora MacDonald Memorial cairn at Milton.

The Society’s Chaplain, the Rev. Murdo Ewan Macdonald, was appointed to the Chair of Theology of Glasgow University and was to be invited as a guest to the Annual Gathering of 1964; this Gathering was the first to be attended by Sir Ian Godfrey Macdonald of Sleat. It was suggested that a banner be presented to the 432 Regiment whose pipe band were the only army band to wear a Clan Donald tartan. £30 was donated and the Lord Lyon approved the design – the Arms of Keppoch, in recognition of the Colonel’s branch of the Clan. An appeal was prepared for Finlaggan. whose committee had prepared a plan showing the extent of the ruins.

At the Annual General Meeting of 25th March 1965, a fund was set up for repairs to Invergarry Castle and a description of the history of the Castle was provided. The interest on the Flora MacDonald Fund was used to buy book prizes for competition in the schools of North and South Uist and Benbecula.

Two events of the summer of 1966 were the unveiling of a plaque at Auldearn by the Earl of Antrim in June, and, in July, a ceremony at the Clan Donald Grave at Culloden: a donation of twenty guineas was made. The Society arranged to take a tent at the Gathering of the Clans in Inverness costs were to be shared with Glasgow and Aberdeen. Protests were made over the setting up of a caravan site at Glencoe. Surplus funds from the Society were donated to the Finlaggan Fund, and a brooch was donated to the Society by Sheriff McKechnie’s sister.

In March 1967, Miss Barbara Fairweather of Invercoe House, Glencoe, was made an Honorary Member of the Society. The Coming-of-Age of the Hon. Godfrey, heir to Lord Macdonald, and the chief of Sleat was marked by gifts to these young men.

At the Council Meeting of 12th March 1969, there was a proposal for preserving the knowledge invested in Donald J Macdonald, the President about our clan and its history and traditions. The matter of funds to cover costs was discussed. There should be two volumes, one historical and one genealogical. Later in the year a visitors’ book was presented for use at Invercoe House.

The AGM of 24th March 1970 discussed the opening of a “Clan House Account” with the bank, for the purpose of establishing “a rallying point for all MacDonalds. The Finlaggan Account was discussed with a view to restoration of the site. In August the Society visited Glencoe and sent a gift to the Chief of Sleat on the occasion of his marriage.

The Flora MacDonald Fund being oversubscribed, it was decided to use the residue to provide a piping trophy and to use the interest to provide essay prizes annually. Finlaggan was listed as an Ancient Monument an account was set up for the maintenance of the Glencoe Memorial and it was decided that the restoration of Invergarry Castle was not possible and that only preservation could be considered.

In March 1971, Norman H. MacDonald was appointed Secretary, with immediate effect, on the resignation of Mrs Sheila Chalmers, who was willing to continue as Assistant Secretary.

At this time a trust was set up for the acquisition of the estates of the late Lord Macdonald. A donation was made to the new Chief and there was support from overseas. At the AGM of 29th April 1971, at which the Chief of Sleat was present, it was intimated that the Clan Donald Lands Trust would be 6’formally launched on 5th May 1971. In October 1971, Lord Macdonald gave an illustrated talk on his fund-raising tour of North America and showed slides of Skye. It was further suggested that the President’s historical knowledge be recorded on tape.

Preparations were made for entertaining the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders of Canada on their visit to Edinburgh in July 1972 and volunteers were invited for manning a tent at the Gathering of the Clans at Ingliston. In September the President talked on his tour of Canada and the USA.

In May 1973, a dinner of welcome was arranged for Mr & Mrs Ellice McDonald Jr., who had gifted to the Society an album of photographs of the visit of the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders. A crystal decanter was gifted to Glengarry on the occasion of his second marriage.

Repairs were needed to the steps of the Glencoe memorial; Glasgow and Aberdeen were invited to contribute. A subscription list was opened for tree-planting at Inverigan, Glencoe, scene of an episode of the Massacre of 1692.

In February 1974, Donald J. Macdonald of Castleton (President) and Norman H. MacDonald (Hon. Secretary ) were appointed joint Editors of “Clan Donald Magazine No. 6”. On 26th March 1974 Alan McDonald became President. On 16th May 1974, the Society held a function to welcome Mr & Mrs Ellice McDonald Jr., and a dinner and ceilidh were held on 6th July for the Grand River Valley Branch of the Clan Donald Society of Canada.

A donation of £75,000 to the Clan Donald Lands Trust was received from “two American Clansmen”, The Trust’s debts were cleared and progress was made with the building of the Clan Donald Centre and Museum at Armadale Castle, Sleat, Isle of Skye.

In March 1975, there was a proposal to design a banner fbr the Society and the Grand River Valley Branch in Canada offered hospitality for up to twelve members for the Scottish Toronto Festival in August. In May, the Society was asked to send a representative to a meeting of the trustees of the Clan Donald Lands Trust in Skye: it was decided that the President, Alan McDonald would attend. The Clan Donald Lands Trust was in a serious financial position and it was possible that “control might he taken out of Scotland by 1976”: the President was asked to write to Major Hills and Lord Macdonald. The Clan Museum in Skye was to be opened on 13th May 1976.

A beating of the retreat by 432 Squadron in 1976 attended by Ellice McDonald Jr.resulted in a donation from the Society of £25 to regimental funds. A “Clan Donald Society in Europe” was proposed by Guy Magdonelle of Belgium in June 1976; support was requested from the Chiefs. The Clan Donald Society of Belgium was formally constituted on 12th September 1976. In August, Mr & Mrs Ellice McDonald were entertained to a buffet and presented two pewter quaichs to the Society.

Plans were made for participation in the 1977 International Gathering of the Clans, with a hall for reception of visitors – the Royal Arch Halls being the venue: an “At Home” of which commissioners overseas would be informed, and a ceilidh to follow the “At Home” on 3rd May; the Chiefs were to be invited to the “At Home”. A grand Ceilidh at the Ross Bandstand, Princes Street, was planned for 2nd May. There would be a booth at the Assembly Halls, and a bus outing to Rammerscales. The Edinburgh and Glasgow Societies each contributed half the cost of a gold medal for the winner of a piobaireachd competition to be held on board the cruise ship “Calypso” when in Skye.

In June 1977, the Society donated £10 to the maintenance of the Duncan Ban MacIntyre gravestone in Greyfriars Churchyard, Edinburgh and considered a proposal for a permanent memorial exhibition to Sir Hector Macdonald in Dingwall.

The Council meeting of 28th September intimated the reconstitution of the executive committee of the Clan Donald Lands Trust: the Trust was losing money and reconstitution was the only alternative to winding up.

Donations were invited towards the cost of improvements to the memorial cairn at Rogart, in Sutherland, to Sir John A. Macdonald, first Prime Minister of Canada.

In March 1980, the Society suggested hiring a tent for the Glenfinnan Games. In the event, the Glasgow Society and the Clan Donald Lands Trust shared in this. Plans were made for the Society to participate in the International Gathering of the Clans in 1981, with an “At Home” and a ceilidh: a booth was reserved in the Freemasons Hall for the whole week.

In April 1980, the Society agreed to the purchase for the Library of one copy each of “Clan Donald” by Donald J. Macdonald of Castleton and “The Clan Ranald of Knoydart and Glengarry” by Norman H. MacDonald.

In June 1983, a letter was received from the Clerk of the Court of the Lord Lyon regarding the Society’s crest: a sketch was approved for a new crest badge. It was suggested that for the winter programme a talk on heraldry might he given by the Lyon Clerk; (other societies might be invited); this took place in November. Plans were also in hand for the opening of the Clan Donald Reception Centre in May 1983: the Society decided in September to meet with the tour operator regarding entertainment to visitors on the Clan Donald tour. In May 1984, the Society joined with and entertained the Clan Donald Tour Party at a dinner in the Royal Scot Hotel.

In August 1985, the Society entertained a group of MacDonalds from Utah and in September donated £50 to the Glencoe Boat Appeal. In the same month, the Society made a donation of £50 to the Cille Choirill Church (Brae Lochaber) Restoration Fund and in December donated £100 to the restoration of the Well of the Heads Monument in Invergarry, work for this being completed by August 1987. At this time a substantial donation was received for Invergarry Castle and a survey was proposed with a view to preserving the ruins from further deterioration: there was support from an appeal and the cost of a survey was considered.

At the beginning of 1988, the Society began to plan for its own centenary in 1991: a project, rather than a social event, was suggested. In September 1988, a wedding gift was discussed for Ranald Og Angus, Yr. of Clanranald; this was presented at the Annual Gathering in November and later acknowledged by Mrs Macdonald, Yr. of Clanranald.

In May 1989, a donation of £50 was sent to the Islay Gaelic Playgroup. There were, by now, plans to reconstitute the Invergarry Castle Trust, the trust deed having been found. Funds held by the society were to be released as required. A report from the Chief of Glengarry was discussed in May 1990. In July 1990, Glencoe St. Munda Parish Church of Scotland celebrated its centenary.

The Society had by then made plans to commemorate its centenary. A civic reception by the Lord Provost and the City of Edinburgh had been granted which at time of “going to press” will take place on Friday, 10th May 1991. This is to he followed, the same evening, by a finger buffet and on the following evening a dinner/ dance.

Presidents of the Society

1891-1919        The Rt. Hon. Lord Kingsburgh GCB.

1920-1923        James Macdonald WS.

1924-1937        Sheriff James Macdonald KC.

1938-1945        Donald S. Macdonald WS.

1946-1948        Sheriff Hector McKechnie KC.

1949-1951        T.P. McDonald KC.

1952-1953        Sir Peter G. Macdonald WS.

1954-1955        Sheriff T.P. McDonald QC.

1956-1958        Charles B. Laird.

1959-1961        Murray Donald.

1962-1965        Norman Macdonald.

1966-1974        Donald J. Macdonald of Castleton.

1975-1983        Alan McDonald.

1984-              Donald M. Macdonald.