By: Phillip Beane
The 23rd hereditary Chief of Clan MacBean was installed by the Lord Lyon at MacBain Park near Inverness in August and a memorial was dedicated to the memory of Alan Bean, the astronaut who took a piece of MacBean tartan to the moon. The Chief of Clan MacIntosh was present along with clansmen from both sides of the Atlantic as US reader Phillip Beane explains.
August 6, 2022, was going to be a big day for Clan MacBean, and for my wife Jennifer and me. We had planned to go to the Alan Bean Memorial ceremony when it was originally scheduled back in August 2020. We paid for the tickets and added a tour of Scotland and were to spend some time in the Inverness area. COVID, canceled those plans but instead of a refund, I did get a credit towards a future tour, which we decided to use this summer. The sad deaths of Chief James MacBain and his wife Peggy in the past year now meant that a new Chief of Clan MacBean/MacBain had to be put in place. My own Mother and Father had known MacBain and his wife since meeting them in the 1980’s. I had met him when I was President of the Clan MacBean and when he came to the Sumter and Greenville, SC games, I acted as sort of an aide for both. But now, their son Richard was going to be inaugurated as the new Chief of Clan MacBean and we had the chance to be present for that historic occasion.
We wanted to be in Inverness a few days before the ceremony so we could explore the area where the MacBean Clan had lived so long ago. Of note, the standing stones made famous in the Outlander TV series are just outside of Inverness at the Clava Cairns. Jennifer ran up to the big stone that Claire Randall had touched. Claire had then been transported in time back to Scotland of the 1740’s, but thankfully Jennifer is still here with us today. The MacBain Park is not on a regular tour route, so I paid a driver extra to take us to the park. We were the only visitors and we wondered around and took pictures, the Alan Bean Memorial was very well done. We drove on down to Dores for dinner and signed the Clan MacBean guest book. At the dinner, Jennifer and I were seated at a table with 8 members of Clan MacBean. I do believe that our Clan had maybe 40 people present for the dinner and our new Chief, Richard McBain of McBain was a guest and speaker.
At our table, was John MacBain, brother of Allan MacBain who will become the “chieftain” of Clan MacBean for the UK. After the work on the Alan Bean Memorial was stopped by COVID in March 2020, John was asked by Richard to be the local representative to deal with the stone masons and other workmen to get the project completed. After the original masons did not work for 1 year, John approached some masons who were very expensive and couldn’t guarantee a finish before October 2022. John then found a local stone mason and he and that gentleman finished the Memorial, two benches and worked on the older Chief’s Memorial further up the hill. John was instrumental in getting the Alan Bean Memorial finished within budget and on time. For that our entire Clan should be thankful. Our new Chief made a few comments at the dinner, and it should be noted that the Lord Lyon presented Clan Chattan with its very own Coat of Arms. This heraldry is for the organization of Clan Chattan and every member is entitled to wear the special Coat of Arms. It doesn’t belong to just any one individual, like the Coat of Arms of a Clan Chief.
The day of the inauguration was a beautiful day, blue skies with some white clouds. Although Loch Ness was very close, it was not visible from the park then due to the summer foliage. The City of Inverness also sent a representative to this very important regional event. Local cyclists rode by, and some paused to watch the very colorful proceedings. Mr. Phillip Beddows of the UK was doing a great job as MC for this event. He is also a Clan Historian and the Seanachaidh to the Chief. I am glad I am writing that title and don’t have to pronounce it. The dignitaries marched in behind the official Clan MacBean piper, Stewart McBain who played a special pipe tune that was made especially for the Chief of Clan MacBean. First was the dedication of the Memorial to Astronaut Alan Bean who took the Clan MacBean tartan to the moon and back. A truly notable achievement, if you ask me. They played a recording of Alan Bean’s daughter, Amy, who talked about her Father and his connections to Clan MacBean. The Chief gave formal recognition to John MacBain and others who gave of their time and efforts to have the Memorial completed on time.
23rd Hereditary Chief of Clan MacBain
Next the Lord Lyon, Joseph Morrow, gave a talk about the importance of the ceremony inaugurating the new Chief of Clan MacBean. I talked with the Lord Lyon afterwards about the significance of our Chief living in Arizona. The Lord Lyon stated that adhering to all the requirements and duties of the office was much more important than where the Chief lived. He pointed out that over the centuries so many Clansmen had gone to other parts of the world and that it would be expected that some Chiefs would also live away from Scotland. The Lord Lyon, told me that inaugurations, like the one that day, were important and that he was there representing the Scottish Community. He felt strongly about the Clan and family system that exists in Scotland. He feels that it gives so many a sense of identity, a sense of belonging, and a word he used…rootedness. Clans were original formed for safety and community. They can still fulfill a role today in giving one a Scottish community they can belong to. We moved on to the actual inauguration of our new 23rd Hereditary Chief of Clan MacBain. The Lord Lyon spoke about the history of these events. Phillip Beddows gave the genealogy of our line of Clan MacBean chiefs and presented Richard with a special and elaborately made “Cromach”. Money from many Clan members went towards the purchase of this special Shepherds Crook.
The Chief talked about the future of the Clan and the history of the MacBain Memorial Park. Whisky was passed out and a toast was given to the new Chief of Clan MacBean. It was a wonderful and moving ceremony. Later, the Chief talked to me about how pleased he was about how well the whole thing had come together, and explained that the four main organizers of the event all lived in different locations on both sides of the pond (most had met for the first time only on the day of the Clan Chattan Annual Meeting that week). The Chief discussed his wish that Allan MacBain assume the role of Clan Chieftain and represent him at events where he can’t attend, particularly in the UK. There is some discussion by the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs about the role of Clan Chieftains but our Chief feels strongly about the position. Richard also told the story of finding a penned tune for a piper in his father’s papers. The tune had apparently been authorized by his grandfather back in the 70’s for a pipe band in Calgary. Phillip Beddows posted the tune on Facebook and a man named Stewart McBain had copied it and learned to play the tune. He volunteered to travel hundreds of miles to MacBain Park and play the tune for this ceremony. The Chief appointed him the Clan Piper for the UK. The Chief also discussed the YouTube sites for Clan MacBean and Clan Chattan. With 100 subscribers, YouTube gives page holders a lot of privileges, to include live streaming. This could be used for future events such as the Clan Gatherings, etc. This trip was certainly a bucket list for myself and the whole adventure exceeded all my expectations. The Scottish people, the weather and the countryside were wonderful and made the trip one I will remember always.
Main photo: Richard McBain of McBain. Photo: Scott McElvain.