The Opening of the Clan Donald Centre, 12th May 1976 by Major John E.B. Hills.

Major Hills is the Director of The Clan Donald Lands Trust.

The Opening of the Clan Donald Centre took place on 12th May 1976. This was a tremendous occasion, for not only the Trust but for the many Clan Donald Societies and individuals all over the world who have believed in the project and given it their support throughout some fairly stormy times.

The restoration of the building was made possible through the tremendous generosity of Colonel David MacDonald Stewart of Canada. A plaque to commemorate this fact and to mark the occasion has been installed on the wall in the courtyard.

However, such a project could not have gone ahead had it not been for the numerous large and small donations which went to secure the land in the first place. In addition to Colonel David MacDonald Stewart, three people must take much of the credit, and therefore, unbeknown to them, it was agreed that various rooms within the Centre should be named after them. They are of course: Mr. Ellice McDonald Jr. Mr. Nestor J. MacDonald and Donald J. Macdonald of Castleton.

Regrettably Colonel Stewart was unable to be present at the opening which was attended by about two hundred and fifty people. Lord Macdonald gave the first address welcoming everyone to this historic occasion and Major Andrew MacDonald of Blarour, Chairman of the Executive Committee, replied on behalf of all Clansmen.

The actual “opening of the door” was then performed jointly by Mr. Nestor MacDonald and Mr. Ellice McDonald Jr.

The Centre now includes a genealogical display, most excellently prepared by Mr. Donald J. Macdonald, a main room containing a pictorial display of the History of Clan Donald up to 1745; a Tartan Display erected by Dr. M. MacDonald of the Tartan Society; a Craft Shop selling top quality Highland goods and a Tea-room.

The Centre is situated in the cottage attached to the north end of the Castle and although this only forms a small part of the building as a whole, it is of course the oldest part. Various people have written the history of Armadale, but during the recent restoration, yet further facts have come to light and once these have been sifted yet another history may be written.

The main two storey part of the building was probably the mansion house built around 1798, the Castle being added in 1815. However, there are signs that the cottage incorporates a much earlier building which may well have been part of the factor’s house occupied by Hugh Macdonald of Kingsburgh at the time of Flora Macdonald’s marriage in 1750.

Now the cottage is fitted out with an entrance Hall in which are displayed the genealogies of Clan Donald together with a display of the history of Clan Donald up to 1745 and a small craft shop. On the first floor are the curator’s office and space for the library and curator’s flat, both of which it is hoped will be fitted out during 1976/77. In the single storey wing – possibly the oldest part of the building, is a small tearoom.

It is very much hoped that we will be able to continue our expansion during the next two years and that the shop and tearoom will be moved to new premises allowing room for the Museum to expand throughout the whole building.

Photograph: Opening of the Clan Donald Centre, Armadale Castle. L to R: Maj. Andrew MacDonald of Blarour, Ellice McDonald Jr., Nester J. MacDonald, Lord Macdonald.