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August 10, 1989 speech given by
Colonel Sir Donald Hamish Cameron of Lochiel, K.T. XXVI Chief of Clan Cameron
at the 1989 Worldwide Gathering of Clan Cameron at Achnacarry

Fellow clansmen and clanswomen, crofters, estate staff and our friends, welcome to Achnacarry, on a typical Achnacarry day.  Achnacarry, the seat of the clan chief.  Before I thank you for all these wonderful presents, which my wife and I have been given on the occasion of our Golden Wedding, there's a few general remarks I would like to make.

What a splendid Gathering that we have here.  I'm particularly glad to see so many from overseas and also from the North of England, the nice gang from Northumberland we shook hands with and from many other places.  I'm pleased to see many crofters and others associated with the Lochiel Estate joining with the clan in today's Gathering.  This year happens to be a great year for anniversaries.  Many of them are of interest to us.

Three hundred years ago the Battle of Killiecrankie took place.  The Royalists were under Dundee and they gathered at Gairlochy, on the fields of Mucomir; Bonnie Dundee stayed at Strone and under the guidance and with the support Sir Ewen they stayed and prayed for a little bit here and then marched south quickly to intercept General MacKay, who was in charge of the Government force, and curiously enough in his army Lochiel's second son was fighting.  The battle was fought and won by the Highlanders, that's contrary to what you sometimes see in the press today.  It was quite definitely a victory for the Highlanders, and they won it with Lochiel leading his clan into the battle.  Story has it he threw off his boots and led them barefooted into the battle.  He must have put them on afterwards, because they're now in the museum here.  Sadly Dundee was killed at the moment of victory, and his successor was incompetent and many of the Highlanders left and came home and the victorious army was then, two days later, defeated at the Battle of Dunkeld.  Lochiel luckily survived that battle (Killiecrankie) because the son of his foster-brother saw an enemy arrow and took the arrow in his chest, which was aimed for Lochiel - that's the second time he was saved by his loyal clansmen.

Then, a hundred years ago, two events of interest took place.  One was the passing of the West Highland Railway Act, which brought the railway to Fort William and so opened up the whole of the West Highlands to trade and to travel.  What a difference to our lives that has made, and there's an exhibition celebrating this starting in Fort William on Monday, which commemorates this occasion.  I've been asked to open it, because of the strong Cameron connection with the railways in Scotland, which persists to this day.

The other notable event was the formation of the Clan Cameron Association in 1889, 100 years ago.  Inspired by that great poetess Mary McKellar, who was born a Cameron, an association was formed that year called The Clan Cameron, in Glasgow, and my grandfather was the chief.  The object of the association, which continues the same to this day, and are so well maintained both home and abroad, were "the reviving, conserving, and promoting of the interests, sentiments and associations of the clan, the confirmation of social intercourse among members, preservation and collection of clan records and traditions," and so on.

So here we are today, celebrating the centenary of our clan association.  And it's an appropriate moment I think to say a sincere thank you to all my commissioners overseas and at home, presidents and officials of the clan everywhere.  For without their enthusiastic and dedicated leadership the branches would wither and the unity of the clan, worldwide, which we all treasure, would be lost.  So thank you one and all for the support you give.  So please keep the branches growing and there are over 20 of them today and be assured how much I and my family appreciate the great work you are doing.

Coming here to home, 50 years ago my wife and I were married, and what a wonderful day that was for me.  And what a marvelously happy life we've had together over 50 years.  Thank you all for the lovely presents you have given us, for all the good wishes we have received from so many people and for being so kind to us on this memorable day for my wife and myself.  When we meet you today, forgive us if we don't instantly recognize you when we meet, because as one gets older it does get a little harder to fit names to faces sometimes.

This year was also a notable year for the clan, because in May the clan museum, which so many of you have supported so generously from the start, was officially opened.  It's been a great success, I think, with far more visitors than expected, and a lot of complimentary comments on it from visitors this year.  To date, that is from the 10th of May to the 10th of August, we have had 5,020 visitors, which is remarkable.  Yes, a marvelous start, and great praise is due to my son and daughter-in-law, Donald and Cecil, whose brainchild it was and who planned it all, with help from my wife and myself, and from many others.  I hope that many of you have already visited this museum and others will do so while you are here.  We have a splendid team of helpers who will answer your questions if they can, and show you around.

And now today we have this great Gathering of the clan, and I would like to thank particularly my brother Charles who kindly agreed to organize it and has done such a magnificent job.  With the help of Colin Cameron, our Association Secretary, Glasgow; Donald Cameron, our Lochaber Representative; Ron Cameron; and Richard Sedgwick, of the West Highlands Estates Office, and many others.  Thank you all.

Finally, thank you again for all these lovely presents, most of which will be on show in the house, which is open from right now.  And so please do go into the house if you want, and also do wander as you like through the gardens and the grounds of the house.

Donald Cameron, who presented this beautiful silver stag to us, from the clan, is I believe retiring from being president (Scotland Branch) this year.  And we do owe him a great debt of thanks for carrying on so ably after Alex Cameron, and holding the fort for so long.  Best wishes for the future Donald, and thank you for all you have done for the clan.  There isn't time to thank you all individually for the other presents, but my wife and I are immensely grateful to all of you who have contributed to these presents.  The crofters have given us a magnificent check, saying choose something appropriate, as a present from them - we are thinking possibly another stag, to match the one given to us by the clan.  And the estate staff has given us a seat, which we will place in the front of the house, that we can enjoy sitting in the sun on it.

I can't express to you properly how pleased and grateful we are for all these gifts to us, which will always be a reminder of this memorable day and your wonderful generosity.

Thank you very much indeed.