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  • Ann Brown

The Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of Clan MacGillivray Society in Australia

Bendigo was bursting with sunshine and bagpipes were booming on the afternoon of Sunday October 30 when, at the stroke of 12 pm the Golden City Pipe Band proudly paraded into the MacGillivray Hall marking an historic Scottish-Australian event which was a celebration to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Clan MacGillivray Society in Australia. The significance of this occasion was augmented further by the presence of the Commander of Clan MacGillivray, Iain Donald MacGillivray, who had travelled from Scotland to attend. Members, families and friends of Clan MacGillivray and the Confederation of Clan Chattan had come from all over Australia, to pay tribute to the clan, welcome the Commander and strengthen their connections with each other and Scotland.

Prior to the official opening there was time and opportunity for those present to relax, eat their lunches share anecdotes and information about their MacGillivray forebears. Genealogical assistance was readily available throughout the day. In addition there was non-intrusive but cheerful background music and a slide show projected onto a huge screen at one end of the hall featuring MacGillivray clan members participating in a diversity of clan activities.

A mood of festivity pervaded the afternoon but if one preferred reading there were several copies of a 2016 Australian edition of the Scottish Banner as well as the program of scheduled events on the tables. Information about Paul Howard MacGillivray after whom the hall was named was thoughtfully included on the reverse of the program.

The formal proceedings began at 2pm with the Official Arrival of the Commander of the Clan, Iain Donald MacGillivray. He was piped into MacGillivray Hall by Anna Blanch, winner of Clan MacGillivray Trophy for best Novice Piper 2016. Subsequently she played solo pieces for the Commander, with reverence, and skill that evoked poignant visions of Scotland, the beauty of which was heart-wrenching but the clarity and tunefulness of the notes became a salve to the past and restitution to the soul.

This was followed by the lithe performance of Highland Dancer, Emily Earl who executed the Highland Fling with remarkable deftness and poise as if she were dancing on thin air! The Commander was deeply touched with these accomplished performances and he congratulated Emily Earl, Anna Blanch and the Golden City Pipe Band for the high standard of their achievements.

Following on the heels of these performances, was the Official introduction of the Commander to the Gathering by the President, Jillian MacGillivray of Clan MacGillivray Society Australia. On receiving the microphone to respond to this formal introduction, the Commander’s first words were a greeting spoken in the rich, earthy tonal language of Scottish Gaelic! The listeners were spellbound. Then, as he viewed the captivated audience with a gleam in his eyes, betraying a good natured sense of humour, he promptly translated the Gaelic greeting into English! He was brimming with enthusiasm and his keen passion for Clan MacGillivray and Scotland was shining in his eyes.

With the aid of technology the Commander gave a brief but visual screen presentation which included a succinct, vital history of Clan MacGillivray and how it became part of the Clan Chattan. He could not suppress his keen desire to harness technology, invigorate the clan and increase unity between members worldwide. He wholeheartedly urged everyone in the clan both young and old, to attend the upcoming gathering of Clan MacGillivray in Scotland in 2020. His 90 day plan can be viewed on the Clan website. It is a mighty mark of his foresight, clarity and sense of purpose.

To formally acknowledge occasion, the Commander generously presented the Australian branch of the clan with several astonishing gifts. The first was an extraordinary piece of fine ceramic ware – a hand-made ceramic plater, glazed with the Clan MacGillivray tartan! It was so stunning that many people had their photographs taken, holding the platter. Another gift was a huge Scottish flag bearing Australian symbols. This certainly was a powerful and positive visual statement about our Scottish-Australian partnership! Then the Commander produced a knitted brown bear dressed in the colours of the MacGillivray tartan which a friend in Scotland had made for him. The Commander immediately donated the bear to the raffle Later the Commander drew the raffle and the winner of the Scottish bear informed the gathering that the bear was going to Queensland!

A particular highlight of the afternoon was the recitation of three poems given by Jim Millar from The Robert Burns Society. Jim introduced each poem and delivered his emotionally moving recitation in a Scottish accent with a clarity and depth of feeling that offered profound insight into the ideas that Burns a Scottish poet of renown, was trying to convey through his writing.

Another Scottish link presented itself when the Commander was interrupted as he was making the first cut in the Clan MacGillivray Australia 40th Anniversary cake. The MacGillivray tartan ribbon encircling the circumference of the cake was hindering the knife so a pause ensued while the ribbon was removed. Not wasting even a second, the Commander relished this interlude as an opportunity to share with the gathering that he had an Australian connection in his family tree and the sheer delight he had experienced in recent days travelling in country Victoria to explore this dimension of his family tree.

Iain MacGillivray cutting the anniversary cake. Photo my Mary McGillivray.

The cake was cut, sliced and served to all and was followed by a shared afternoon tea. The end of the afternoon arrived too soon. The Clan Commander was genuinely delighted with the Scottish cultural legacy that welcomed him throughout this 40th Australian Anniversary Celebration. I commend the Clan Committee members for the sterling effort they put in to the preparation, delivery and completion of this event and as a result the day was an outstanding success.

Click here to read the Secretary's Report on the 40th Anniversary Clan Gathering.


Ann Brown is a valued contributor to the Clan MacGillivray Society Australia Journal, published annually. She has written many reviews of past Clan events and Scottish cultural events around Australia.

Ann’s maternal grandmother, Mary Adeline MacGillivray was the 13th child of Charles MacGillivray (1841-1905) and Susannah Yates who had a farm at Yeungroon, near Charlton in Victoria. The parents of Charles were Christina McDonald and Donald MacGillivray (1793/1802-1853). Charles was one of 6 children who travelled on the Hercules in 1856 from Campbeltown heading to Australia. Donald contracted small pox and died, probably at sea off Birkenhead, England.

Image: Ann Brown at Culloden, Inverness.

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