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By Kathy MacLennan
When we learned that Clan MacLennan was planning a 2014 Clan Gathering to promote our clan and to bring the global family together to celebrate customs and traditions, we decided to participate and make Scotland our primary vacation destination in July 2014. Ancestral research flipped into high gear, and planning our journey kept us busy finding interesting places (and graveyards) to explore.
Clan MacLennan offered a jam-packed 4-day program of activities for which we eagerly signed up. The planning committee worked very hard to create a fun filled event. The calendar was full, with welcome drinks the first night, followed by Clan Parliament held at Town Hall Inverness the next morning.
Chief Ruairidh worked his way through the parliament agenda discussing the MacLennan museum, future gatherings, and made well-deserved leadership appointments for Canada and Australia. There was a presentation from the clan genealogist regarding the new clan database and DNA testing. The parliament last met in 2009, but it was decided the next gathering will be in four years in 2018 to coincide again with the Commonwealth Games which attracts a lot of people to Scotland for Homecoming.
Alex Graham, the Provost of Inverness (Mayor) then welcomed and addressed the clan first in Gaelic, and then in English. He most generously offered an expansive buffet lunch his staff had prepared and set out in the council board room for us.
Highland games were held in the afternoon. It was rainy, so we opted to continue our exploration of Inverness and stopped in the churchyard of the Old High Church to read the headstones, before making our way down through the raindrops to enjoy a coffee and peruse the shelves at Leakey's Secondhand Bookshop and Cafe.
Later in the day, a shuttle delivered everyone to the Dores Inn for pre-dinner drinks and socializing down by the shores of Loch Ness. Clansmen gathered with children, families, and new friends for photos, to raise a glass, and to gaze at the amazing scenery.
After an hour, Chief Ruairidh picked up his pipes and called us all to the street to march behind him and his colours to the Dores Parish Hall, where we were to partake in the traditional ceilidh.
In the great hall, we soon found ourselves at the last vacant table and were seated with wonderful new friends. The dinner began with prawns and delicious Scottish salmon appetizer. When it came time for the main course, they had run out of food for our table so there was a fair amount of teasing while we waited for the missing meals of stovies (Scottish meat stew) and cranachan, which is literally a huge container of whipped cream, honey, whisky, toasted oatmeal and fresh raspberries.
Creaky Dores provided music for dancing which inspired my husband up on the dance floor to learn a reel. He had been hiding his prowess on the dance floor all these years, so there is definitely dancing in his cards soon! There were raffles for prizes and a very cool bottle of Scottish whisky with a Clan MacLennan label and games with pitching coins. A great evening was had by all. Too soon it was midnight and time to drive back down the country roads in the moonlight to the Beaufort Hotel.
The next day the group took a bus to Eilean Donan Castle for a tour, lunch, and many photos. After driving back to the Beaufort Hotel, we dressed for the formal dinner, another evening filled with toasts, entertainment, camaraderie, great food and whisky, and most important -- our new clan family.
We met many new friends (or long lost cousins if you will) from Scotland, Wales, Australia, France, Canada, and a couple like us from the USA. We have since kept in touch with each other via Facebook. It gives us a sense of community with Clan Worldwide. We are greatly looking forward to when we meet again at the 2018 Homecoming Gathering.
Until then, our hope is to work with Clan MacLennan USA to increase the presence of Clan MacLennan in local Scots activities in the Chicago area. If any of our clan is visiting the Chicago area or wishes to keep in touch, please drop us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Warm Regards, Kathy & John MacLennan
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