Newsletter: February 2005

Chief John at Clan Dinner

Chief John MacLeod of MacLeod was guest of honour at the Society's Dinner at the Murrayfield Hotel, Edinburgh, on 19th February. There was a full house, with 50 diners, including Ian MacLeod, President of the CMS of Canada; Bill C. MacLeod, President of the CMS of USA; Albrecht Kurbjuhn, President of the CMS of Germany. Also present were Bill MacLeod, Texas, Business Manager for ACMS, and Sandy and Sarah MacLeod from Minnesota. And Leonard MacLeod, of France and South Africa.

It was a delight to welcome Ursel and Alexandra MacLeod Beins from Essen, in Germany, who were attending a Society dinner for the first time.

The largest group of MacLeods came from Washington, County Durham, to celebrate the 60th birthday of Bill McLeod. His wife Christine and six of the family were there, all decked out in tartan. Bill's birthday was on 27th January, which he celebrated in Skye, but this was a surprise addition to an extended celebration. Happy birthday was sung !

The President proposed a toast to Chief John who replied by saying how the death of Norman MacLeod of Suardal was on everyone's mind. Chief John said that he had planned a speech but had torn up his notes and had decided to say what he felt, the great affection that he had held for Norman MacLeod of Suardal, a devoted and faithful clansman.

The President said that Suardal would have hated to spoil a good party. At the North American Gathering in Guelph, in 2000, when Suardal was 80 years old, he and several clansfolk had been partying into the night and had to curtail their merry making when the hotel neighbours complained of the noise.

John Davidson Kelly spoke lovingly of his uncle, telling stories of his days in Skye and the strange procession which accompanied him on his swimming expeditions in Loch Dunvegan, at the Castle jetty. Suardal had an outstanding ability to make the person to whom he was speaking feel like the most important person in the world and above all he was a great story teller. Many of Suardal's stories are preserved on tape and CD. The company drank a Toast to Suardal.

Suardal always had a good rapport with the young and Emma, who had emailed her network of young MacLeods, received some heartfelt messages remembering Suardal. Emma recalled that at the last Parliament a bunch of high spirited young lads were always being noisy until Suardal appeared to tell stories and, miraculously, they were quiet.

In the summer a group of young MacLeods had worked at Suardal House rebuilding some of the stone dykes and installing a place where Suardal could shave outside. Derek, the Society's Honorary Violer, gave the world premier of a tune he had composed 'Suardal's Shaving Shelf' which he dedicated to Norman MacLeod of Suardal.

Bill, of Chicago, President of CMS of USA, Anne, Chief John and Ruari, President of CMS of Scotland,  at the dinner.
3 CMS Presidents at Crail Harbour, Fife.

Norman MacLeod of Suardal 1920-2005

Norman attended the Universities at Edinburgh and Oxford and served in the Royal Navy. In 1950 he went to teach at Durham School, where he retired in 1985. He married Sheila Gorrie and had four sons and a

Norman was granted Suardal, in Skye, the ancient family home, and was a life long member of the Society.

Durham, 22nd February

On a wintry day, a group of Clansfolk took the train from Edinburgh down
to Durham. The President was accompanied by his wife, Anne, and
daughter, Emma. Stella Henderson, Nancy Nicol and Rose Fleming were
there from Edinburgh. Donald of Glendale, down from Skye, travelled
with his son, Rev Rory from St Andrews. Bill C, President of the USA
Society, stayed over in Scotland four extra days so that he could
travel down to Durham. Also present, amongst a church full of folk
were Bill Richmond, Suardal House, Mike Stewart, Edinburgh - Chief
Norman Magnus's great-grandson; Angus, past President of ACMS,
with his wife Julia and son Andrew.

was a beautiful crisp morning, after overnight snow, as the throng
climbed up the steep hill in Durham School to the chapel. There was a
magnificent view of Durham Cathedral towering over the city as John
Davidson Kelly, well wrapped up in his plaid, greeted folk with some
tunes on the pipes.

The coffin was piped in to 'Flowers of the Forest'. The service was conducted by Suardal's son Rev Angus, and Rt Rev
Nigel Stock, Bishop of Stockport, a former pupil. 'The Eriskay Love Lilt' was played on the clarsach and the 'The Skye
Boat Song
' on the flute by two granddaughters and the Adagio from Mozart's Sonata in F, K332, by a grand niece. The
eulogy was given by Suardal's sons Donald and Torquil and Janet
and Rev Rory read stories about Norman. It was an emotional
experience but a great tribute to the life of a dearly loved man.

Folk made their way down the steps, in a shower of spitting hail, to Old
School, where there were refreshments. The family rejoined the
company: Donald and Barbara; Torquil and Sue; Rory and Carolyn; Janet
and Graham and Angus, with their respective children; John and Tom
and Kim Davidson Kelly with their respective children and
grandchildren. There was a tangible feeling of love and support for
the family, though they all must have felt sorrow at this parting.

email from Ian MacLeod, Perth, WA, aptly summarised all the
Clansfolk's thoughts. Ian had been with his wife Ruth and John
and Liz Macleod of Raasay.

"On a personal issue, as we drove
home today from a lovely three day excursion to our wine growing
region of Margaret River, we listened to the Suardal Tapes and we
were very mindful of the dear presence of Suardal and we shed a tear
or two in the car. However his is now in the nearer presence of his
beloved Sheila and they will at last be able to converse again. May
they both rest in Peace and rise eternally. He was a most wonderful,
dear, wise, loving, kind, considerate, clever and engaging person and
a wonderful clansman".


Macleod of Suardal was a great story teller. Many of his
characteristically told stories were recorded and are available on
tape, £8.99, and CD, £11.99 plus p&p from Ruari
Halford-MacLeod, 13 High St, Auchtermuchty, Fife KY14 7AP.

Volume 1:
includes the Clan Crest, motto and horn; the White Cattle of
Gesto; Alasdair Crotach's Wedding; The Fairy Flag; Ian Dubh and
the Campbells and The Cluanie Inn.
Volume 2 & 3
includes The Fairy Flag; St Kilda; MacLeod's
Maidens; Smooring of Eigg; MacLeod's Fool; The Silver Chanter;
MacLeod's Tables; The cairns; Young Norman and the Prince's
Caption: Looking towards the Cathedral from Durham School.

Remembering Dame Flora

20 Clansfolk attended a social evening in Edinburgh to remember the late Chief, Dame Flora. Nancy Nicol and others provided a splendid supper of baked potatoes and fillings; quiche and salad.

Flora MacLeod of MacLeod was born at 10 Downing Street, on 3rd February 1878, the elder daughter of Sir Reginald MacLeod of MacLeod who, in 1929, succeeded his elder brother as 27th Chief. Flora herself succeeded her father in 1935 and was accepted as Chief of the Clan by the Clan MacLeod Society. She was very active in travelling around the world meeting MacLeods and starting Clan MacLeod Societies in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In 1953 she was honoured as a Dame of the British Empire. The first Clan MacLeod Parliament was held in 1956. Because of her inspiring leadership Clan MacLeod, though by no means the largest Clan in the world, is certainly the best organised.

Of the company only half a dozen folk has known Dame Flora. Ruari said that she had inspired him in his interest in the Clan and made him believe that she was his grandmother. Chief John picked up the point and said that she was his grandmother and had found it quite difficult to accept that others thought so too. Chief John was in relaxed mood and told several stories. Others who told stories were Nancy Nicol and her sister Noel Proven.

Thanks to everyone for attending and taking part and for the lovely supper.

For further reading:

Dame Flora by Anne Wolrige Gordon, 1974, Hodder & Stoughton.

Chief Flora, a memorial, edited by Ruari Halford-MacLeod, 1977, ACMS.

Dame Flora at Dunvegan Castle with the speckled pipes of the MacCrimmons.

St Mary's, Kilmuir Old Kirk

Access to old Kilmuir Kirk, Dunvegan has been improved. There will be information plaques giving the history of the church and the community. Five MacLeod Chiefs are buried in the church. There will be better access over the hill to the two church walk.

Spirit of Scotland Award

Congratulations to Roderick MacLeod, Director of the Piping Centre, Glasgow, for winning the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Award for Music. Roddy has done much for the piping scene with his work at the Piping Centre and in promoting the Scottish Youth Pipe Band. The competition was stiff for he beat off the rock band Franz Ferdinand !

Welcoming Visitors

Many Clansfolk have welcomed overseas Clan visitors to Scotland. Last year Juan MacLeod Chavez came all the way from Lima in Peru to visit Dunvegan. This year Alexandra and Ursel MacLeod Beins came from Essen to the Clan Dinner.

If any of the Society's overseas members, or members living in England, are planning to visit Scotland, then please contact the Society Secretary or President. You are all most welcome.


The Society is always looking for new members and the best way to recruit is by word of mouth. Why don't you give a year's membership of the Society to a friend or relation as a gift. The gift of membership will be sent with an attractive membership certificate

Dunvegan Castle, Winter 1995<br />
&copy; John C MacLeod 1995