Calling MacLennan descendants to Strathpeffer

The romantic Highland spa village of Strathpeffer will be the backdrop for the Clan MacLennan Gathering in July this year. Chief Ruairidh MacLennan of MacLennan says: “I hope MacLennan descendants from all parts of the world will join us at Strathpeffer for six days of fun and fellowship.” The storied origins of the Clan MacLennan focus on the area around the Five Sisters of Kintail – located in the West Coast mountains inland from Skye.

The Clan became loyal supporters of the McKenzie (later “Seaforth”) chiefs from the 1300s – including roles at their strategically located Donan’s island (Eilean Donan), Kintail. By the 1500s, the McKenzies, with McLennans and other supporters, had acquired the main route from west to east – through Strathconon, and, by 1630, controlled Lochalsh, Lochcarron, Applecross, Gairloch, the Isle of Lewis, and parts of the Black Isle. In the 1620s, the powerful Seaforths established their principal castle at Brahan near Strathpeffer. The fort on Eilean Donan was destroyed by English forces in 1719 and would remain in ruin for over 200 years. The parts mentioned above are the main districts where MacLennans were to be found in earlier times.

A highly varied program

The Matthew Maclennan Scottish Dance Band.

Neil McLennan, Chair of the Scotland committee, says: “We’ve developed a highly varied program to suit a range of interests and different ages.” Events will run from Wednesday, July 3 to Tuesday, July 9. He notes: “Due to the success of our 2018 Gathering, this year, we have found a larger venue for the 2024 Gathering – in an attempt to accommodate greater numbers than ever.”  Strathpeffer is half an hour by car west of Inverness. The historic Ben Wyvis Hotel will be the venue for many of the activities. MacLennan descendants from many countries have already committed to attending the Gathering. Usually, visitors plan to stay additional days and explore places where their ancestors lived. To help identify these places, a free eBook can be easily be found on the internet by searching ‘A guide to some MacLennan Places across Scotland’ – this resource includes map co-ordinates that enable directions straight from the book on your phone or tablet. In the past, many MacLennans lived in and around Strathpeffer and the first activity of the Gathering on Wednesday July 3 will be a guided tour to the ancient vitrified fort on Knockfarrel, above the village. From there, a Clan guide will point out places where MacLennans lived and other significant locations.

Timaru House, Strathpeffer.

On Thursday July 4 – the focus will be on Clan Genealogy with a full day activities and a wide range of speakers, including: a Member of the Scottish Parliament, an author of a book about Auldearn, a leading DNA researcher from Strathclyde University, and much more. The Clan has developed an extensive genealogy resource which consists of a database and books collection at – to be highlighted throughout the day. Many on-line talks about districts that are important to the Clan are available from Finding your Ancestors videos on the Clan Genealogy webpage. The next day – Friday July 5 – will include the key event, the Clan Parliament, to be held in the spectacular Inverness Town House. In the afternoon there’ll be a guided tour of MacLennan places around the village of Strathpeffer. And in the evening, a grand ceilidh will take place in the Strathpeffer Pavilion. The music to be provided by Matthew Maclennan from Edinburgh, an award-winning accordionist, with his professional Scottish Dance and Ceilidh band. The ceilidh is expected to be one of the most popular events.

The heart of the Highlands

Clan friendship.

Saturday July 6 will offer a tour of a distillery that was started in 1838 by a Donald McLennan (1806-1894). A visit to a nearby water-powered corn mill also as part of this event. Later this day, there’ll be an alternative tour to Castle Leod that might suit younger attendees. In the evening, there will be a formal dinner with a special guest speaker. On Sunday July 7 a church service is available, followed in the evening by lively musical entertainment. A full day of activity on the Monday July 8 – sees an opportunity to “walk in the footsteps of our ancestors” on the “McLennan Way” as described in the free eBook A guide to some MacLennan Places across Scotland. This event will take us through the beautiful Strathconon glen, and finish with lunch at a baronial lodge. En route the attendees will stop at places significant to MacLennans. On the Tuesday July 9 – a “fringe” event gives Clan members a chance to enjoy a day in the famously beautiful Tomnahuirich Cemetery on the edge of Inverness.

Neil McLennan says: “We look forward to warmly welcoming MacLennans descendants from around the world to our 2024 Gathering in the heart of the Highlands.”

Interested parties are advised to book early as some events have limited numbers. Bookings can be made via a link on the Clan MacLennan worldwide website:

Main photo: Chief Ruairidh on the shore of Loch Duich.

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