April 2013 News and Events

Consolidation Work
The final part of this phase of consolidation is underway; the gravestones in the eastern chapel are being displayed with care and the ground is being finished with a combination of slow growing grass and gravel. The wooden canopy on the western chapel is being retained and strengthened; this is essential to protect the four most significant gravestones. These have been under wraps following their preservation last summer; they are being moved into the western chapel and will be lain flat on wooden ledges on a new hardwood floor. A new stone, whose theme was chosen by Comunn Eachdraidh an Rudha and designed by Urras Eaglais na h-Aoidhe to commemorate the consolidation work will be installed on a ledge on the western gable.

On 16th March a team of 14 volunteers, ably led by Tormod Macleod, carefully removed the external wooden walkway which has been around the church since the work began to protect the gravestones and ground from scaffolding. We were very fortunate with the weather. It was exciting to see the church looking more like it's normal self.

THE FINAL PART OF A MACLEOD FAMILY PILGRIMAGE by Christopher Barker

Together Again, at Dunvegan
Our MacLeod family pilgrimage focused appropriately upon the Isle of Lewis, but it was not until we visited the stronghold at Dunvegan that we could declare the journey complete. I was keenly excited for the visit, but nothing could have prepared me for the deeply personal way in which the castle imparted a sense of place within the broader Clan MacLeod.

I could not believe I was hearing this story for the first time, but as we began our walk through the castle, my mother casually blurted, "I remember Dame Flora. I hope they have a picture of her." I assumed she meant she had seen her in pictures, but I followed-up just the same. "She used to come and visit us when she came to America. She and Aunt Jessie became fast-friends. I remember what she looked like, so I'll know her if I see her picture."

Needless to say, there is of course a large and beautiful portrait of Dame Flora hanging in the castle, and as I pictured her visiting with my great-Aunt Jessie MacLeod (my grandmother's sister), I suddenly felt a little less like a visitor, and a bit more like family. Our Aunt Jessie had herself visited Scotland sometime in the late 1940s or early 1950s. Had she and Dame Flora met first at Dunvegan, or during one of Flora's U.S. visits? Perhaps Aunt Jessie had been inspired to make the journey by an impactful encounter. As always, one stone overturned reveals a fresh path for inquiry.

Learning of Dame Flora's valiant efforts to inspire a worldwide unification of the MacLeod-clan diaspora, I became inspired to understand my MacLeod family heritage through a wide-angle lens of kinship and community, well beyond the scope of my personal and immediate family history.

I am a proud member of the Clan MacLeod Society, and I look forward to meeting as many members of my enormous extended family as my good fortune will permit.
Hold fast
Christopher S. Barker.

This article was first published in the Autumn 2010 edition of the New England Regional Newsletter of the Clan MacLeod Society USA and is included here with permission.

FORTHCOMING EVENTS

Friday 19th April - Family Concert in Aird Community Centre - at 7.30pm. This major fund raising event promises to provide an excellent evening's entertainment. The MC will be Tom Maciver; Coisir Og an Rubha, Coisir nan Loch, Oidhche Chiadaoin and many more musicians will perform and light refreshments will be available. Tickets will be available at the door - everyone is welcome; come along to enjoy a great event.

Friday 7th June - the Eaglais na H-Aoidhe Annual Lecture will be at 7.30pm in Sgoil an Rubha, Garrabost. The speaker this year will be Malcolm Maclean. The focus of his talk will be on St Columba and his travels between Ireland and Scotland because this year is 1450 years since Columba first came to Scotland.

Guided Tours - Urras Eaglais na h-Aoidhe is training a group of people to be Tour Guides with partial funding from the Outer Hebrides Small Business Assistance Scheme. It is anticipated that we will be able to offer tours on specific dates as well as to cruise ships and bus tours.

April 2013 - we have been assured that Eaglais na h-Aoidhe will be open to the public from the beginning of April this year. We are planning to have an opening and re-dedication ceremony in the very near future.