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Gathering of Clan Cameron - Achnacarry Castle
by Donald J. Cameron
from The Piper (newsletter of Clan Cameron Association, Grandfather Mountain Branch)
Winter 1995

The 1995 Worldwide Gathering of Camerons is over.  Its success can be measured in several ways.  In terms of attendance, over 700, (I'd venture to say closer to 1000), attended on Saturday.  Lochiel's estimate was 400 from Great Britain, 300 plus from overseas.  Based on reports before the Gathering, I'd say there were 150 or so from North America.  Judging from comments from other visitors, the programme and events were well received.

Partly because of the Camerons, but also because Scotland is enjoying a BIG tourist season, there was "no room at the inn."  Anyone arriving in the Highland in late afternoon without reservations was in for a real scavenger hunt.  While everyone seemed to get bedded down, it was unusually crowded.  Most accommodations that we heard about were always clean if not spacious, hospitable and, almost without exception, with great food; that is, all but the inn where we stayed.  The Letterfinlay Hotel did have small rooms, almost clean, with mediocre food, all of which was surpassed by rude and obnoxious treatment from the management.  Taken in its entirety, I could heartily recommend that you never stay there!

The hospitality was much better at the Estate.  I thought the tour of the grounds, along with the tour guide's comments, made for an interesting trip.  As you know, the waterfalls and bridge (Caig Falls) were used in the movie Rob Roy and, in my letter to Lochiel I asked if someone could write a little article about its production, the people involved and the actors and actresses.  I would be interested in how they reacted to Achnacarry, its beauty and history.

Weather-wise, only a dry drizzle on Saturday afternoon; other than that, a rather warm, sunny day.  The falconry display, which we sponsored, came off quite well.  Many of us never have the opportunity to see these magnificent birds of prey up close, much less see them work.  The handlers did a nice job of handling and explaining the bird's hunting habits.

In the marquee, both the food and items for sale were of high quality, and enjoyed a good "run."  While I am not a salmon lover, others said it was some of the best they ever tasted, fresh from the fisheries located on Loch Arkaig.  All the events went off well; the March Past, Pipe band, Tug-o-War, even the helicopter ride (which I plan to take in my next lifetime!)

One of the highlights from the Saturday night Ceilidh was the musical renditions of "The Crooked Noses."  This group, fresh from engagements in the far reaches of Achnacarry Estate, could have turned the tide at Culloden with their harmonious "Donald, Put Your Trews On."  There were three Donalds plus Johnny and a guitar, and really, they were quite entertaining.

On Sunday the church was packed, and people spilled out into the parking lot.  The minister, a McLean, gave a wonderful and meaningful homily for the group.  Immediately after church, Lochiel hosted a luncheon for his family (Lochiel; Lady Cameron; Donald, the Younger and Lady Cecil; Charlie, his brother and his wife, Witchy) plus the Chieftains: Ian and Beth from Australia; Harold and Betty from New Zealand; Don and Bev, plus Larry and Rosemary.  Because of the tour schedule, Ian from Nova Scotia was unable to attend.  Ian's wife, Evelyn, was unable to make the trip because of health problems.  Johnny, (Lochiel's second son) and his wife, Julia, came in for a few minutes before the luncheon to greet everyone before they left for London.  Since time was short, there was not enough time for a meeting of the Chieftains to discuss clan activities in other parts of the world.