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The Ellen Payne Odom Genealogy Library Family Tree
The Family Tree - June/July 2003
The Long Journey Home
Clan MacFarlane sets out to Reclaim their past in Loch Lomond


For 559 years the Clan MacFarlane held legal sway over the Parish of Arrochar, Scotland, from the tip of the sea loch Loch Long, down to Glen Douglas and north to the upper reaches of Loch Lomond, Its an area of great natural beauty but very meagre resources. The Macfarlanes, therefore had to cling tenaciously to their very existence by supplementing these meagre rations with ill-gotten gains from their richer neighbours to the south. That they became the best in the business at the Highland art of Cattle rustling is underlined with the well documented local nickname for the Moon, "MacFarlanes Lantern".
 
 With our present day outlook this type of behaviour in the modern world would be totally unacceptable, However in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries in Scotland the ritual of cattle stealing from each other  was commonplace. The MacFarlanes were unfortunate that their skill emphasised their notoriety and led to the inevitable attention of the authorities. Despite this their pride in their skill is shown in the name of their Clan Pipe Pibroch "Thogail nam bo theid sinn" (to Lifting the cattle we shall go) written by their 12th chief, Andrew the Wizard.
 
 The Macfarlanes too engaged in more edifying activities down through these 5 centuries. Always in defence of the Scottish Crown as is evidenced by their Coat of Arms with imperial crown and Motto of This I'll Defend. They had strong participation at Bannockburn in 1314, Flodden, in 1513, Pinkie in 1547, Most notably at Langside in 1568 and Bothwell Bridge in 1679, when their ferocious Highland charges won the  day. They also supported the great Marquis of Montrose in the campaigns in the 1640's. Their defence of the crown in fact led to the destruction of their Island castles in Loch Lomond at Eilean-a-Bhuth and  Inveruglas by Cromwellian forces led by General Monck during the Imperialist English invasions in the 1650's.
 
In 1767 Walter MacFarlane,who was their 20th Chief being a respected Antiquary and Scholar and original Friend of Loch Lomond who planted most of the magnificent Oaks trees in the area, he died leaving debt. This was made worse by his brother William 21st chief, to settle them he had to sell the lands of Arrochar in 1784, leading to all Macfarlane people being evicted and scattered around the globe. The last Chief died in 1866 in America.
 
 Today however fortunes are looking up for the Clan. Under their imaginative leadership through the international Clan MacFarlane Society, Inc. (Originally founded in 1911 in Glasgow and London and re-established at Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina, USA in 1973.) They were granted Arms by The Lord Lyon King of Arms making them the only chiefless Armigerous society and they are thriving and striving  to take the descendants of MacFarlane back where they belong. They are currently fund-raising to set up the Clan MacFarlane Heritage Centre and Museum of Highland Life in Tarbet, Loch Lomond, The target they require is $400,000 US, and they have in a few months collected $100,000 US. So they are well on their way.
 
The heritage centre will be located on the Main road between Tarbet and Arrochar in the old Free Church at Ballyhennan. This building is currently known as the "Black Sheep" and houses a viable Craft Shop and Licensed Restaurant. There is an upper level that will house the Museum and Archive. The Churchyard holds mainly MacFarlane Graves, including certainly one MacFarlane Chief. The Clan MacFarlane Society seeks to create a focal point for all Macfarlanes world-wide and create a permanent institution so future generations will be able to enjoy their heritage. The Society is also working on regaining Islands of Inveruglas and Eilean-a-Bhuth (I Vow) in Loch Lomond that house the ruins of their ancestral Castles with a view to future restoration.
 
The Museum will include not only information and artefacts from the Clan Macfarlane but will also tell the story of how life was for people throughout the West Highlands. Local Schools will enjoy free access
to the Museum and future excavations, with the hope that children in Scotland will be able to learn more about their heritage. It will also include a genealogy database on the Clan Macfarlane and will also support Archaeological surveys and excavations and restorations of Historical Macfarlane sites like the castles in Loch Lomond and the more than 50 ancient settlements in their ancestral homelands.
 
The Clan MacFarlane Society urgently needs the Support of all Macfarlanes and the Scottish Community worldwide to bring this to fruition. To find out how you can help or join CMSI please visit: http://www.macfarlane.org
 
 Michael MacFarlane, International President
 Clan MacFarlane Society Inc.


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