Grant Maclean can trace his family’s Scottish heritage back to the very first Clan Maclean chief in 1200 and is passionate about keeping the clan’s history alive.
The Bundaberg man is President of Clan Maclean Association Australia and honours his family heritage with his wife Judy, children Susan, Kate and Nick and his grandchildren, through various traditional events throughout Australia and Scotland.
This year was an extra special time for Grant, who hosted the annual Chief's Birthday Banquet event in Bundaberg last week, with more than 100 members of the clan visiting the region to celebrate.
He said its was the ultimate example of the clan's strong connection.
“There are 11 Clan Maclean Associations worldwide who work together to promote the clan and Scottish heritage,” Grant said.
“Being a member of a Scottish clan gives a great sense of belonging and for many an opportunity to trace their roots back centuries.
“For Clan Maclean, the history of clan chiefs is fairly well documented and if a Maclean person can find a chief or chieftain in their family tree then the ability to progress up the tree improves remarkedly.”
Grant said he was able to trace back his own family tree to the medieval period.
“The depth of history is amazing,” he said.
“With my family tree, I can trace my Maclean link back to the very first chief, Gilliean of the Battle Axe, born in 1200.
“I know broadly where every family lived over that time. It’s pretty special.”
Clan Maclean Chief's Birthday Banquet a first in Queensland
The Chief's Birthday Banquet held last weekend garnered support from Clan Maclean members throughout Australia.
The annual tradition commemorates and honours Scottish heritage and is hosted by a clan member from a different region of Australia each year.
Grant said the Bundaberg event, which was the first to ever be held in Queensland, was a huge success for members and the community as a whole.
“The three-day event started on Friday night with a welcome dinner at Grunskes by the River, which was made extra-special when a lone piper appeared out on the wharf to perform to the crowd,” he said.
“Activities followed on Saturday with our council meeting in the afternoon before the festivities of the Chief’s Birthday Banquet began at the Bundaberg Services Club.”
Grant said the dinner featured many Scottish traditions including Highland dancing, performances by the Bundaberg Caledonian Pipe Band and, of course, a serving of Haggis for attendees.
He said on Sunday members attended the Bundaberg Uniting Church as part of a Kirkin O' the Tartan Ceremony.
“Kirkin O' the Tartan is a ceremony where families dress to present their clan tartan and are blessed by the minister in church,” Grant said.
“The tradition is traced back to Presbyterian roots when the English banned the Scottish from wearing tartan.
“The Scots sewed tartan on the insides of their jackets (hidden away) and at some point in the service, the Presbyterian minister would bless the families represented knowing that everyone would be standing with their hand secretly touching the family tartan.”
Grant said with many visitors coming from around Australia, the weekend presented an opportunity to promote the region’s high quality and locally produced products.
“Bundaberg producers were overwhelming with their support in providing items to auction and as raffle prizes at the Chief’s Birthday Banquet,” he said.
“There were also plenty of opportunities for guests to explore the region, with many staying in various accommodation sites around the area.”
Clan Maclean fundraises for Duart Castle
Grant said the three-day weekend doubled as a fundraiser to assist with the restoration of Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull in Scotland.
Parts of the castle are from the mid-13th century with the first restoration of the historic structure dating back to 1911.
Now, work is needed to make the castle watertight which has been underway since 2014.
Grant said clans from all over the world treated the castle as a home and were welcomed with open arms when visiting the Chief.
“The Castle is Clan Maclean’s ancestral home for clans people worldwide and is occupied by the 28th Clan Chief Sir Lachlan Maclean,” he said.
“Macleans gather at Duart Castle every five years.
“We are very fortunate to have a Chief who not only lives in the family castle that is open to the public, but also welcomes clans’ people and other visitors from around the world.
“Following the holding of the Chief’s Birthday Banquet in Bundaberg, I am certain that Sir Lachlan will be particularly keen to welcome people from Bundaberg if they decide to visit Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull when they are touring Scotland.”
Find out about the history of Clan Maclean or the Duart Castle Restoration Appeal here.