The Clan Donald Society of Edinburgh

The Annual Gathering of the Society, held as planned, once again in the comfortable atmosphere of the Carlton Hotel, on Saturday 29th October 1983, proved to be a most enjoyable and homely affair. The clashing of dates and an unusually high ratio of illness prevented a number of familiar figures from being present but for those who were fortunate enough to attend there was a fair measure of entertainment to please most tastes. There was a special welcome for the return of the Chief and Lady of Glengarry after an unavoidable absence from last year’s gathering, and the head table party which, in addition to the said Chief and his Lady, included Miss Margaret Cuninghame of Balgownie, descendant of the old line of Glengarry chiefs, Rob McDonald Parker, International Director of the Clan Donald Lands Trust and his wife Deanne, Angus MacDonald, President of our Glasgow Society and his wife Elizabeth, our President Donald M. Macdonald and his wife May, and your Hon. Secretary, Norman M. MacDonald, was piped into dinner by Torn Spiers. The Chief of Glengarry’s banner was carried by Norman H. MacDonald.

The Society’s new President, Donald M. Macdonald, after welcoming members and guests, called on Angus MacDonald, President of the Clan Donald Society of Glasgow, to say grace in Gaelic. After dinner, Tom Spiers, who had the distinction at the Northern Meeting in Inverness earlier in the year of adding a clasp to his gold medal for piobaireachd playing, delighted the company with a splendid rendering of his winning piece, the MacKenzie piobaireachd: Tulloch Ard. The President then read apologies from Lord Macdonald, Sir Ian Macdonald of Sleat, Clanranald, Ellice McDonald Jr. Hon. High Commissioner, Clan Donald USA, Douglas Murdock, High Commissioner, Clan Donald USA, Ronald Kelly, Hon. Secretary, Clan Donald Society of London, Donald J. Macdonald of Castleton, Jeffrey Kelly (Glasgow), Colonel Charles B. Macdonald, OBE (Bamford), Miss Elizabeth I. MacDonald (Edinburgh), Miss Mary McDonald (Edinburgh), Mrs Sarah McDonald (Leicester), Douglas Park (Norwich), Albert Phillipson (Wick) and Clarence von Philp (Stockholm).

The principal speaker was Mac ‘ic Alasdair, the Chief of Glengarry, who stressed the close knit relationship which existed between clansmen the world over through the numerous Clan Donald Societies that had sprung up over the years and referred to his own visits to North America and Australia, where that feeling had been clearly demonstrated. A clan chief in the twentieth century still had an important role in that he was the focus, the fatherly figure and represented the founder of the clan but, as in the old days, he had to be acceptable to the clan. When the direct line of the Chiefs of Glengarry terminated in the person of Charles MacDonell, 18th of Glengarry, the present Chief’s great grandfather, Aeneas Ranald Westrop MacDonell of Scotus, matriculated in the Lyon Court in 1860, the arms of MacDonell of Glengarry and thereafter dropped his family’s territorial designation of Scotus. Twice in history, therefore, had the family of Scotus succeeded to the representation of the chiefship of Glengarry. It was with great pleasure, said the Chief, due to his long and close links with the Clan Donald Society of Edinburgh, that he had chosen the occasion of the Society’s Annual Gathering to announce in public, for the first time, that the family of Scotus was again represented in the person of his nine-year-old youngest son, James Donald MacDonell, in whose name the arms of MacDonell of Scotus had been matriculated by the Lord Lyon. Glengarry wound up his speech by proposing the toast to Clan Donald and the Edinburgh Society.

The reply on behalf of the Clan and the Society was made by the President, Donald M. Macdonald, who described Clan Donald as one great extended family; extended by reason of economic necessity but, nevertheless, successful in spite of adversity. There had always been present in the Scot a bond of name and kinship. That was a legacy from history which would always be with us and was a legacy to be retained and fostered.

The reply on behalf of the guests was made by Rob McDonald Parker, International Director of the Clan Donald Lands Trust, who thanked the Clan Donald Societies of Edinburgh and Glasgow for carrying the torch and keeping the Clan alive particularly in the early years, and went onto describe some of the ambitious projects which were being undertaken by the Clan Donald Lands Trust at the Clan Donald Centre and Museum of the Isles at Armadale in Skye.

After the conclusion of the formal part of the evening, a short programme of musical items ensued which was sustained by Ella McConnell in Scots songs and Norman H MacDonald in Gaelic and Scots songs, including the well-loved Mhairead Og (Mull Fisher’s Love Song), arranged by Marjory Kennedy-Fraser but originally a composition of Donald Donn MacDonald of the Keppoch cadet family of Bohuntine. Both singers were well served by May Macdonald, the President’s wife, who acted as accompanist. Tom Selvester delighted everyone with a wide variety of Gaelic airs on his fiddle, and Tom Spiers played the pipes during the Grand March and eightsome reel which set the tone for the evening of dancing which followed until the sma’ hours.