Clan Munro Gathering 2007
70th Anniversary of the Founding of the Clan Munro Association
My younger brother, John, and I took 2 days to drive up through Scotland from Scarborough, England, to attend the Gathering at Foulis with our Chief Hector, his family and kinsmen/women of the Clan Munro Association. On Friday afternoon on the 27th July, we arrived at the Kiltearn Inn in Evanton, on the shore of the Moray Firth where we were to stay during the Gathering. On arrival we were enthralled with the beauty of the Munro area overseen by Ben Wyvis, even though we both had been here several times before. I dropped my brother off to explore the local wildlife at the Novar Arms pub while I went out to Fort George to experience the Inverness Highland Tattoo.
Saturday the 28th July, we visited the surrounding area including the Kiltearn Churchyard and the Storehouse at Seal Point. Saturday evening was the night of the Association dinner where we were hosted by Erica and Ronald Munro-Ferguson and their daughter at the magnificent estate of Ardtalla. They explained that the building and courtyard were originally built by General Sir Hector Munro in 1770 upon his return from India where he was the ninth Commander in Chief. The grounds and gardens were opened at 6:00 p.m. with the 360 guests from Australia, Canada, England, France, New Zealand, Paraguay, Scotland, Switzerland and the United States appropriately greeted by the bagpiping of David Kane. Drinks were consumed in a genteel atmosphere whilst taking in the picturesque walled gardens and courtyard of Ardtalla itself. At 7:00 p.m. we were greeted in the huge marquee tent for dinner by Ronald Munro-Ferguson. The guests from all over the world enjoyed an excellent buffet dinner and mixed well. To the joy of all true Scots, there was unlimited free wine! Our Clan Chief, Hector, gave his usual informative and humorous speech after dinner. We Canadians felt very much at home when the chief’s comments received French translation for our kinsmen/women from France.
Sunday morning the 29th. July was, for a change, fine and sunny, just in time for the formal Gathering at Foulis Castle. After wandering around the grounds and castle meeting our clansmen/women, at 11:30 a.m., from the top of the famous steps to the 2nd floor of the castle, Chief Hector Munro of Foulis gave his welcome address, surrounded by his family. A Benediction Prayer was given by the Reverend James Munro. With great anticipation, my brother and I went into the Munro family dining room where the malt whisky tasting was hosted by the Glen Ord Distillery under the baleful eyes of the portraits of our illustrious ancestors. We sampled the six different single malts offered, sniffing and sipping with genteel aplomb. I noticed that after the initial six malts were consumed, most of the samplers returned to their favourites with more gusto and less decorum!
In and around the castle, there was entertainment and education to satisfy everyone. There was the golden eagle (our clan totem bird) display in the courtyard, where our Chief Hector was holding one of the eagles on his gloved hand, desperately trying to avoid having the bird creep up his left arm and sink in his talons! With an ample supply of downed trees from the Foulis grounds provided by the great storm of 2006, a talented artist used a chainsaw to create wondrous carvings. In the castle living/ballroom, George W MacPherson, a storyteller from the Isle of Skye, regaled avid listeners with stories about the Munros. In the front entrance atrium there was information about the Munro DNA Project and a display on the part played by President James Monroe in the abolition of slavery. In a large marquee tent erected on the west side of the castle, lunch and drinks were served with delightful entertainment organized by Sarah Munro, including the pipes, clarsach, bodrahn, guitar, fiddle and accordion as well as Gaelic singing and dancing. The Kiltearn Fiddlers and Feis Rois Trail Musicians led by Alpha Munro, the Chief’s wife, featured Elizabeth Munro Young from Australia, who gave an exhibition of highland dancing. Elizabeth is President of the Scottish Dancing Association of Australia and has served as a judge at many highland gatherings in Scotland. All day long, the CMA provided a shuttle bus between the castle and the Storehouse of Foulis/Clan Munro Exhibition on the north shore of the Moray Firth. In front of the castle, the Saltire Society, a medieval re-enactment group, performed an epic battle of Scotland vs. England where one of the victorious Scottish knights was none other than Finnian Munro of Foulis, the Chief’s son! The Chief’s daughter, Sarah, organised a Highland Games for the “wee’ uns”. Beside the marquee was a jumping castle and merry-go-round for those not interested in cultural activities.
Sadly, we could not go on all evening, and to the mournful lament played by the Chief’s brother, John, on the pipes, the buses left for the hotels and things wound down. The sadness was tempered by an incredible feeling of family and of belonging to something ancient and sacred: the Clan Munro.
Ian Angus Munro
President Clan Munro Association of Canada
Editor’s note: Ten members of CMAC joined with the members of CMA-USA for several activities connected with the Gathering, including: attendance at the Inverness Highland Tattoo at Fort George, a banquet in the Spa Pavilion in Strathpeffer (where we were warmly welcomed by our Chief, Hector W Munro of Foulis), the CMA-USA AGM, a luncheon in the Royal Highland Hotel in Inverness, attendance at the Piping competitions in Bught Park in Inverness, as well as the dinner at Ardtalla and the day at Foulis. We were enthusiastically welcomed by our ‘American cousins’ and thoroughly enjoyed all the events. Being part of the larger group really brought home the concept that Clan means Family! It was grrreat (said with a Scottish burr) seeing so much Munro tartan all together in one place. We look forward to the next Gathering.
Jo Ann Munro Tuskin - Editor "The Beacon"
© 2010 The Clan Munro Association of Canada