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Visit to Canada - Fergus Games, 2000
Head of MacLennan clan drops by Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games

Games warm clan chief’s heart
By Andrew Bruce for The Guelph Mercury

In Scotland, you’re unlikely to find a piper wearing Foster Grants, but then again the highland sun doesn’t shine like it does in Canada. “It’s funny to see the pipers wearing shades, but you’ve got to don’t you?” says Ruairidh MacLennan, the chief of the clan MacLennan who was at the Scottish Festival in Fergus Saturday. In fact, the top MacLennan spotted a few no-nos with traditional Scottish dress, but they didn’t mean overly much to him. “That’s not the point,” he said. “Everybody makes a great effort (at the Games). As a clan chief, that makes me proud.”

The MacLennans are one of two clans being honoured at this year’s Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games, the other being Clan MacLeod. The MacLennan chief was invited to the Games this year along with his sisters, 25 year-old Lorna and 27 –year-old Kirsteen.

MacLennan, a bagpiper who lives in Dores by Loch Ness, is the youngest chief of a clan at age 23. He took over the job at age 12 when his father passed away in 1989.
“It was scary,” he said. “When you are that young it doesn’t really sink in but as you get older you understand what you are doing, speaking in front of a lot of people, and it makes you nervous.”

The MacLennans are an old Scottish clan, descending from the Royal Celtic families of Scotland and Ireland. But at the Battle of Auldearn in 1645, the clan failed to receive an order to retreat and were isolated and cut down, including the chief. The chiefship fell into abeyance until 1969 when Ronald George MacLennan was instrumental in promoting many branches of the clan association in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Holland and Canada. As clan chief, Ruairidh MacLennan (who came to the Fergus Games in 1987 with his father) has a ceremonial role, corresponding with clan members around the globe, attending clan events and highland games, which he noted are never as big and ambitious as the Fergus Games.

People make a bigger deal over the Games in Canada and elsewhere than people in Scotland, where all the culture, food and history is around people all the time, said MacLennan “It’s sometimes hard for people (in Scotland) to get into it,” he said. “It’s all out their front door.” 

At the Games yesterday, MacLennan and his sisters attended the opening ceremony, and he had a chance to speak. He teased the MacLeods lined up in the field with the MacLennans and other clans, suggesting his clan meet them to settle some old scores in the forest behind the Fergus community centre grounds where the Games are being held. 

MacLennan said in a world of globalization and an eroding sense of roots, keeping ties with the clan is a way of feeling like you belong to something important. “It’s vital you know where you came from,” he said. 

The festival and Games continue today.
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Guelph Mercury - Sunday August 13, 2000

 

 

 

 

Chief Ruairidh MacLennan 
at his home looking over 
Loch Ness