Light springing footsteps of Camerons from across the world converged on their ancestral home - Achnacarry Castle - for the Clan Cameron Gathering on 8 August '81.
The night before, in the lounge of the Spean Bridge Hotel, there was an impromptu get-together as old friends recognized each other and renewed acquaintances. Donald of Lochiel The Younger and his Lady Cecil and Johnny who is so well known to our American Camerons because of his recent college days in Boston, also joined in the evening's fun.
Saturday dawned cloudy and a light rain fell, but it didn't dampen the spirits. The format for the meeting was the same as in previous years when Lochiel and Lady Margaret welcomed and received clansfolk outside Achnacarry House and then everyone was free to walk about and browse in the tents set up with displays and crafts. The tartans display was a showing of many Cameron tartans and some which had been rewoven for the display copied from early photographs - many of old colours.
The formal part of the afternoon began with Lochiel giving some opening remarks and he read a telegram of loyal greetings which he sent to Her Majesty the Queen for the occasion and also one from the Queen in which she replied with her "Good Wishes" for the Cameron Day. There was also a greeting from the MacIntoshes our old time adversaries who were also meeting at the home of their Chief.
Lochiel told the group of some 425 of the Clan Association round the world and especially of the new structure of the Clan Cameron in North America. He also gave the procedure of forming a new branch. He told of the newest branch in the UK - that of Northern England whose President is Raymond MacKenzie Cameron and he was presented with his certificate of Branch status.
Our Chief mentioned the gift of the Clan Register from Clan Cameron in North America and told of its function. He then called on Commissioner Harold Cameron to speak of the new branches in North America and who would receive their certificates.
The Branches of CCNA were:
Dan Cameron, President of Eastern U.S. Region, unable to be present, sent a cable which was read to clansmen.
Harold Cameron, Commissioner CCNA then presented to the Chief The Clan Register and so doing brought loyal greetings of all the N.A. Camerons who were unable to attend. The Clan Register is a loose leaf three ring binder bound in green Morraco and with Crest and Title on the front. The leaves are of good quality and will not easily tear.
There followed a ceremonial march past of all Clansmen with Lochiel and Lady Margaret taking the salute...and it was on with the Games.
There was Shinty (a sort of field hockey with no holes barred), a tug-of-war between the Clansmen and the Estate folk - the Clansmen being led by Johnny (and they won) while the Estate team was led by Donald the Younger.
There were sheep dog demonstrations, a children's commando course (young Colin of Stone Mountain excelled in this) Clay pigeon shooting (skeet) and best of all TEA was served! Venison sandwiches and cakes!
The main rooms at Achnacarry were open to see and the gallery of portraits held a new one of Lochiel in his Knight of the Thistle robes. And a new showcase this summer - one with the dress little Catherine wore as Bridesmaid in THE WEDDING of Prince Charles and his Diana.
Saturday evening of the 8th of August saw the crowd gathering in the ballroom of the Spean Bridge Hotel. Donald of Glen Nevis was emcee and he did a fine job of introducing the local artists - pipers, singers, dancers and some who told stories. It was a grand privilege for the N.A. folk to have the chance to speak to these Highland Scots.
Then some of the Camerons from overseas were asked to participate, and so they did. Bill Cameron from Tennessee gave a fine rendition of Harry Lauders' "Breakfast in Bed on Sunday Morning." Judith (Colin of Stone Mountain's wife) played and sang several numbers ending with "Amazing Grace." Lovely!
We heard, too, of the "new group" which appeared - "Joe Clarke's Grandkids" and they sang up a storm with "Dixie" and with some involvement of others from the deep South.
Summoned from the corners of the room were Johnny, Donald the Younger and their cousin Archie who offered "Campbelltown Loch, I Wish You Were Whisky."
The chairs were removed and dancing began with an Eighthsome Reel beautifully shown by the Chief and his family. And the balance of the evening was fun and games and although some retired to their beds, others finished the evening in the wee sma' hours with much merriment!
There is a Church of Scotland on the Achnacarry Estate to which the Clansmen were invited for Sunday morning of the weekend in Scotland. The church was built in 1910 when the estate had a greater population, but nevertheless, on Sunday, August 9, there was held a very meaningful service for the Clan. Lochiel and his family were in attendance and as well many others. Several who would like to have could not attend for they were leaving with the bus tour.
Some had seen something of the estate lands on the Friday when they arrived by bus. Others had the opportunity of doing so on Monday. Lochiel gave a short history of the house, a little of the previous house and also Tor Castle, whose ruins can still be seen, as well as something of the management of the estate. He talked of cattle feeding, the care and breeding of some 7,000 sheep, of the three deer forests which are let out complete with stalkers. But the venison that is shot is kept by the estate, butchered and sold. He also told a little of the forestry and of the Commandos of WWII who trained on Cameron lands. And then there was a tour of the estate for those who could take it.