by Kevin John Tolmie
In greater numbers than for many years, and with every MacLeod Nation represented, Clan members gathered at Dunvegan in July. We were especially pleased to welcome several members of the Clan MacLeod Society of Switzerland for the first time. We also had members who had travelled from Sweden (who were Swedish) and Dubai (who were Australian). After all the worry about finding accommodation with Skye being so crowded, everyone seemed to have found a place though some were several miles/kilometres away.
The weather was the expected Skye mix of sunshine and showers though much of the time remained overcast. Not the relentless heat and sun of four years ago!
Parliament was preceded by a tour of Lewis and Harris undertaken by about fifty (see separate article) and followed by a trip to St Kilda, by exactly three (see yet another article) and a post Parliament party in Edinburgh.
An innovation for this year was the parade, behind pipers and banners, from the Kirk (church) to the Hall for the opening ceremony and lunch. A great spectacle enjoyed by the many tourists there and posted quickly on Facebook.
As well as the regular workshops, ceilidhs and morning coffees, the programme this year included a coach trip to Waternish. The Waternish peninsula, only a short drive from Dunvegan was the scene of many interesting events in MacLeod history and lore. Not least that it is the only territory that has been held by both sides of the Clan, the Siol Torquil (first) and then the Siol Tormod.
A special event was the official opening of the ‘Emigration Wall’ at Orbost. It is intended that this will feature in the entrance to the newly created Clan MacLeod Woodland.
There are of course always meetings. The very core of getting together and why Dame Flora insisted that we have a ’Parliament’ not just a ‘Gathering’ like the other clans. This year’s change of personnel at the top included Dr Donald Murdoch McLeod of Canada relinquishing the office of President to Peter Macleod of Australia. As well as a fond farewell and thanks to Dr Don, it was also goodbye and thank you to Al McLeod of England as Treasurer. Everyone recognised what a marvellous job Al has done over the past few years, battling banks to get ACMS finance in good order. For details of all the changes see ‘Yellow Pages’ in the Clan MacLeod Magazine.
Peter’s industry seemingly knows no limits and with the help of wife, Wendy, before, during and after Parliament he was engaged on another film project ‘MacLeod Battles’. On Raasay he was again taking time out to film. This time ‘The Sea Battle of Clachan Bay’. As on our previous visits to Raasay, a splendid lunch was provided in their lovely hall by the islanders.
On Thursday many made the piper’s pilgrimage to Borreraig. This was a return after an absence of eight years. On the corresponding day in 2014, we were at Dunvegan for the opening by HRH The Princess Royal of the gazebo in honour of the late Chief John. Once at the cairn the piping of Euan MacCrimmon was greatly enjoyed. Unfortunately access to the cairn remains difficult. Although we have the benefit of the right of access in Scotland, landowners are not obliged to facilitate such access. A proposed path is still being negotiated with three different landowners over a mere 500 metres. Maybe by 2022?
The conclusion of the week was Friday evening’s Ball. I don’t remember a Ball before but then this was only my third Parliament. The processional entry led by Chiefs Donald and John and their entourage was very grand but as more and more people filled the hall, it seemed to come to a less than ceremonious stop! It was a fine occasion that everyone greatly enjoyed and that I think also sums up Parliament 2018. As part of the celebrations on that last evening, Parliament organiser Rory, with the help of daughter Esme, distributed gifts and thanked those that had helped him. One of those thanked was his wife and co-coordinator Lindsey who excused herself on the very reasonable grounds of being heavily pregnant. The only person I don’t recall being thanked was Rory himself. So well done Rory and we all look forward to Parliament 2022.