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The Ellen Payne Odom Genealogy Library Family Tree
The Family Tree - October/November 2005
Clan Sinclair International Gathering


CLAN SINCLAIR INTERNATIONAL GATHERING IN THE ORKNEY ISLANDS AND CAITHNESS – July 22 - 31

The Orkney Islands and Scotland’s northernmost county, Caithness, played host to nearly 200 Sinclairs from around the world celebrating their clan’s 2nd International Gathering which was sponsored by the Right Honorable Malcolm Sinclair, Earl of Caithness and Hereditary Chief of Clan Sinclair, and the Clan Sinclair Society of Caithness.   Orkney and Caithness are the ancestral lands of the Sinclairs (St Clairs), and it is fitting, therefore, that Sinclair cousins from the USA (nearly 100), United Kingdom (48), Canada (26), Australia (8), New Zealand (3) and Norway (2) assembled for ten days in these places to celebrate their kinship.  For most attendees, the Gathering provided the first opportunity to meet the Chief’s wife, the Countess of Caithness.      

            The first three days of the Gathering were held on Orkney, highlighted by a special church service at St. Magnus Cathedral where clan piper Rory Sinclair inspired all with his spine-tingling rendition of “Highland Cathedral.”  Orkney offered many sightseeing opportunities, including visits to Skara Brae, Maes Howe, Ring of Brodgar, the Standing Stones of Stenness, Brough of Birsay, Italian Chapel and last but not least, the Highland Park Distillery.  By special arrangement, Sinclairs were invited to Kirkwall Lodge to view the Kirkwall Scroll.

             The remainder of the Gathering in Caithness was eventful, as described in the following snippets.  Attendees visited Castle Sinclair Girnigoe twice – once at night to enjoy a fireworks display and a day time tour which was highlighted with the raising of the banner of the Earl of Caithness above the castle for the first time in 350 years.  Gathering attendees were also treated to a family fun day hosted by Ian Sinclair at Noss Head Light House which is a short walk from the castle along the cliff tops.  At the Halkirk Highland Games, a Sinclair contingent of two hundred strong paraded onto the field led by their Clan Chief and the Games Chieftain, Viscountess Margaret Thurso.  Sightseeing was also part of the agenda, and included a wild life cruise out of John o’ Groats and visits to the Grey Cairns of Camster; Achavanich with its standing stones; Spittal quarry, home to the famous Caithness flagstone; Laidhay Croft Museum; Dunbeath Heritage Centre and picturesque Lybster Harbour.  Enjoyed by all was an early evening reception hosted by Viscount Thurso on the grounds of his estate at Thurso East.  At a special Sinclair church service in Thurso, the Reverend Dr. Malcolm Sinclair of Toronto delivered an inspiring sermon.  The Gathering ended on a festive note with a reception and banquet, followed by dancing, at the Weigh Inn in Thurso. 

            At a meeting of the American Sinclairs, Mel Sinclair, Commissioner of South Carolina, was elected President of Clan Sinclair USA, effective January 1, 2006.  In Wick at a General Meeting of the Clan, the Chief’s Commendation for Exceptional Service to the Clan was awarded to Gary Sinclair, Western Vice President of Clan Sinclair USA, Mac Sinclair of Toronto, Canada and Ian Sinclair of Noss Head, Scotland.  Plans are already under way for the next International Gathering to be held in 2010.


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