Lady Mary Maclean|
Lady Mary Maclean, Patron of Clan Maclean Atlantic (Canada) and wife of
our Chief, Sir Lachlan Maclean, passed away on Sunday, December 30th,
2007 in Scotland.
Lady Mary was born Mary Helen Gordon, the eldest daughter of William
(Sandy) and Helen Gordon of Lude, Blair Atholl, Perthshire on October
31, 1943. She married Lachlan Hector Charles Maclean in November of
1966. Upon the death of his father in 1990, he became Sir Lachlan
Maclean, 28th Chief of Clan Maclean and she became Lady Mary Helen
Maclean. Their eldest daughter Emma (Maid of Morvern) was born in 1967;
Malcolm (The Younger of Duart) was born in 1972; Alexandra (born in 1975);
and Andrew (born in 1979). She was proud grandmother to her eight
grandchildren, Cosimo, Alberto, Francesco, Cecilia, Oscar, Fergus, Betsy
She was very involved in the operations at Duart Castle, in particular
"Lady Mary's Gift Shop and Tea Room". Her other community involvements
included the Red Cross, the Cub Scouts, Children First (i.e. National
Society for Prevention of Cruelty of Children), her own Nursery School
at Arngask, the Old Folks Association, and the Community Council of Glenfarg.
The Service of Thanksgiving will be held at St John's Episcopal Church,
Princes Street, Perth, on Wednesday 9th January. Messages of condolence
can be mailed to Sir Lachlan Maclean, Arngask House, Glenfarg, Perthshire,
PH2 9QA, Scotland.
At the request of the family, there are to be no flowers or wreaths, apart
from the family flowers. As a fitting tribute to our Patron, our Association
will be making a donation to the Clan Maclean Heritage Trust in Lady Mary's
name. If individual association members wish to contribute to this donation,
they may send their contributions to Nancy MacGregor (our Treasurer) at
44 Meadow Park Drive, R.R. #4, Amherst, Nova Scotia, B4H 3Y2. Deadline date
for such submissions will be January 25, 2008.
Sir Lachlan was instrumental in creating the Clan Maclean Heritage Trust
(and is now the Chairman.) The Trust is an organization whose purpose is
to preserve and commemorate Maclean historical sites, notable Maclean
individuals, and generally to guard and promote the heritage of the clan
around the world. (Our members will recall that the Trust was heavily
involved in the MacLean Kilties plaque, and the restoration of hatchment
for General Francis MacLean at St. Paul's Church, Halifax.)
THE PRESIDENT'S PENCIL
It is with great sadness that we heard the news of Lady Mary's passing.
This was a sad ending to a great year for Clan Maclean Atlantic (Canada),
especially since our Association has a unique relationship with Lady Mary,
as she has been our Patron since 2005.
It was a great pleasure for Betty and I, along with members of Clan Maclean
Atlantic, when we had the opportunity to meet Lady Mary at a luncheon in her
honor this past spring in Tobermory. I believe that she fully enjoyed her
time with us, as we did with her, since she remained rather late in the day
considering she had so much to do for the Gathering which was going on that
On behalf of all Clan Maclean Atlantic members, I send our condolences to
our Chief, Sir Lachlan, and all his family at this time.
Murray MacLean, President, Clan Maclean Atlantic (Canada)
The first time that I met Lady Mary was at the Maclean Clan gathering on Mull
this spring. Our Clan Association had extended an invitation for a luncheon
to her and Sir Lachlan which they both graciously accepted. Right away you
feel at ease. The warmth and genuine interest in each one that was in
attendance was evident. I know that she had many things that needed her
attention for the gathering and planning a wedding at Duart Castle that week,
but you would have never known that as she provided us with her undivided
attention. It was nice to meet her and know that she was as down to earth
as you and I.
Betty MacLean, Secretary, Clan Maclean Atlantic (Canada)
MARY MACLEAN - TRULY A LADY
It is with great sadness that we learned that our Patron, Lady Mary Maclean
has died. Her husband, and our Chief, Sir Lachlan asked Colonel Donald
Maclean (Scotland) to personally inform our Association of the sad news, as
he was very aware of our special relationship with her. She died on 30th
December at her daughter, Emma's, home. Lady Mary and the Chief had spent
Christmas with Emma and, fortunately all her immediate family were with her
at the end.
Lady Mary had been courageously battling cancer since the summer of 2006,
and had endured two separate rounds of chemo. The first round seemed to
be working, but the cancer returned. Experimental chemo was then tried,
but unfortunately it was both extremely hard on her, and was not helping.
At Lady Mary's direction this chemotherapy was discontinued. She learned,
just before the Gathering, that her cancer had returned. She requested that
Sir Lachlan let those of us (from our Association) who were hosting her for
lunch in Tobermory, know that this was the case and that she did not want
us to be asking her about her health. She wanted to, AND DID, keep the
luncheon upbeat. He also suggested that perhaps she might only stay a short
while as she tired easily. They stayed for over three hours, and Sir Lachlan
told us subsequently that she decided to stay because she was having so much
fun. We were so lucky to have had this chance to really interact with her,
and I know it is a luncheon that none of us will ever forget.
Mary Maclean was an exceptional woman. She was beautiful, spunky, bright,
and gracious. The Chief was always the first to say that he was a very lucky
man to have such a partner. And partner she was. Although born into the
proud Highland Gordon Clan, she shouldered many of the onerous duties of
maintaining, and improving Duart. Visitors, and even Clan members often do
not realize that maintaining Duart Castle is a costly, and never-ending
struggle. In 1990 Sir Lachlan became the 28th Chief, and he and Lady Mary
assumed these responsibilities with all their considerable energies. Right
from the beginning Lady Mary took on her share and more. Sir Lachlan said
in an interview at that time that "We have already changed the display
at the top of the Keep... - and in this connection, Mary has done a
magnificent job going through old papers and albums we discovered at
Duart". We are fortunate to have this wonderful example of an intact,
historic, clan castle that Sir Lachlan and Lady Mary work/worked so hard to
keep for us. Lady Mary herself directed the operation of the Gift shop,
the tearoom, and also was heavily involved in updating exhibits, and
arranging special events. All this to the benefit of our clan family!
Despite being a person who was essentially shy, she graciously hosted
many Clan events, and association meetings. She also ably assisted Sir
Lachlan in providing the unique atmosphere that Duart is famous for. In
a recent article in SCOTS magazine, Bruce MacWilliams says, "The
presence of Sir Lachlan and Lady Maclean ensures that Duart Castle is one
of the friendliest and most welcoming of all the castles in Scotland".
I was privileged to have met Lady Mary on a number of occasions going back
over a decade. During my tenure as President I had occasion to talk with
her in person, and on the phone, on quite a few occasions. She was always
gracious and self-effacing; with a wonderful dry sense of humour. I remember
particularly when I called to ask her if she would be our Patron. I first
talked to Sir Lachlan to see if he thought this was a good idea. His quite
typical response was, "Well I don't know if she would want to take this
on as she does not like the limelight, but you will just have to ask her
yourself!" She actually wondered why we would want her to be Patron,
thinking there must surely be more important people to have! When assured
that we would be most deeply honoured if she would accept, she did so without
any hesitation. We were fortunate indeed. I was also very proud when she
described our new Clan flag - that we had worked so hard on - as
"brilliant". She always paid attention to what we were up to.
The Clan, and Duart, while important, did not match the importance she
placed on family. She was a fine wife, mother and grandmother. She will
be terribly missed by Sir Lachlan, their four children, Emma, Malcolm,
Alexandra, and Andrew, and their eight grandchildren, Cosimo, Alberto,
Francesco, Cecilia, Oscar, Fergus, Archie and Betsy.
I know we all want to join Murray in extending our most sincere condolences
to our beloved Chief and his family. She will be greatly missed.
Ian MacLean, Past President, Clan Maclean Atlantic Canada
MEMORIES OF LADY MARY
There are times when someone enters your life for a short period of time,
yet they make a great impression and leave behind cherished memories. You
feel sadness when you realize they will no longer be here. That is how I
feel with the passing of Lady Mary.
My first impression on meeting Lady Mary are the same as at our last meeting.
She was very gracious and helpful, going out of her way because I am a MacLean
(like her, by marriage). In May 1997 while visiting Duart Castle we met Sir
Lachlan and spent time chatting with him. The next day we were leaving early
but my husband, Ian, wanted to buy something from the Gift Shop at the castle
that he had forgotten to get. He called the castle and spoke with Sir
Lachlan who said Lady Mary would open early and for us to come. She met us
at the Gift Shop and after conducting the business, we chatted and then went
on up to the castle with her as the Chief was going to sign a book for Ian as
well. She and I had a chance to chat about a number of topics, one of which
was the tartan drapes in the castle. I had a number of questions and since
she did not have that information at hand said she would write. I thought
that was a kind thought but did not expect that I would hear from her. After
all, thousands of people go through the castle and we were just two of many.
She and Sir Lachlan graciously saw us off to the ferry leaving Mull. We were
thrilled to have had the chance meeting and enjoyed our time with them.
A month later I received a letter from Lady Mary. What a delightful
In 2002 we returned to the Isle of Mull for the International Gathering of
Clan Maclean (our first such gathering). One of the special events was a
reception at the castle for Friends of the MacLean Trust. I was astonished
when Lady Mary came over, said my name, chatted for a few minutes and then
asked how I had gotten along with my drapes. My husband at that time was
President of Clan MacLean Atlantic and as such was invited to a get-together,
with other Presidents, at the castle. It was at this get-together we found
a number of "likes" in common, and I enjoyed passing time with her,
which was all too short. Over the next year there was communication between
my husband and Sir Lachlan as he was coming to visit with our members in 2003.
Since we were hosting Sir Lachlan in our home, I communicated with Lady Mary
to find out his likes and dislikes, as any host would. She was so easy with
regard to my inquiries and indeed at times quite funny in her responses.
Her sense of things became even more apparent to me when Sir Lachlan arrived,
and after our first meal together he started clearing away the table. When I
mentioned he did not have to bother, he informed that Lady Mary had given him
strict instructions that he was to help out and make himself useful while
with us. I had mentioned to Sir Lachlan that I was Irish and that being
married to a MacLean that I often had to fight for space in our home, or
be overrun by all things MacLean. He laughed and told us that Lady Mary
often "suffers" from the same feeling, and that is why she often
carried a bit of Gordon tartan in her pocket when going to MacLean events.
The next time she called, I mentioned this exchange and we laughed about what
we had to do to hold on to our own roots, being married to Maclean men.
Our last encounters were at the Gathering in 2007. I was involved in
setting up the Kirkin' O' The Tartan and had left some arrangements until
I arrived on Mull. I needed a caterer and even though the Tea Room had
not done this before, Lady Mary said she would arrange it for me - again
gracious and helpful - and a load off my mind at the time. The evening
before the Association's luncheon with Lady Mary, Sir Lachlan informed Ian
and I that she had just received word that her cancer had returned. My
first thought was we would cancel the luncheon but Sir Lachlan said she
wished it to go ahead. The only thing she asked was that no one talk about
her health; as she wanted to set it aside for the week of the Gathering.
He also said that she might not stay long as it would depend on how she
felt. The next day she greeted us all with a smile thus setting the tone
for a wonderful afternoon. We all talked and above all laughed and enjoyed
one another's company. It was such a special day for all of us. The next
day over lunch with Ian and I, she expressed how delighted she was to have
had such a wonderful luncheon with us all - and she enjoyed the laughter
most. She was small in stature but strong in spirit. Despite the fact
that she was battling cancer, she never gave in to her illness and this
was just another example of that. Everyone will have their own wonderful
memories of Lady Mary - I wanted to share some of mine.
Although the news of her passing immediately brought tears to my eyes,
it soon gave over to a smile on my lips as I remembered my encounters
with her. In these brief encounters, Lady Mary has given me beautiful
memories of who she was to me. I so much enjoyed our conversations and
my time with her. I will cherish and carry them with me always.
A very great lady who stood strong beside her husband! Lady Mary had a
friendly way of making you feel so at ease and comfortable. She ran the
best tearoom and gift shop. She will be missed not only by her family,
but all Macleans around the world.
Fiona MacLean, Vice-President Nova Scotia, Clan Maclean Atlantic (Canada)
PRIDE IN OUR CLAN - PRIDE IN OUR PATRON
There is an intrinsic pride common to all men, and women, in being able to
trace and honour one's ancestors. On Sir Lachlan Maclean's visit to Nova
Scotia a few years ago, we "down home" Macleans were lucky enough
to be able to show him around. We also began to get a glimmering of how
down-to-earth this family was. He was always willing to break bread and
commune with all clan members, whatever their station, and was completely
amazed and touched by the warmth of feeling and high regard in which he and
his family were held, as well as the trouble which clansmen had gone to in
When one is able to meet with and celebrate the gathering of the present
generations of their noble past, the appreciation is all the keener. Such
was the case when we attended the International Gathering of Clan Maclean
on Mull in June of 2007. Thus when it was arranged that the Clan Maclean
Atlantic (Canada) Association would not only meet, but also dine with Lady
Mary, the patron of our association, in the company of Sir Lachlan, we could
not contain our pleasure. There is always a certain awe, reverence and
trepidation in the minds of we clan members when in the presence of the
respected Heads of our Clan, and this occasion was no exception. Although we
were acquainted with Sir Lachlan from his visit to Nova Scotia, and taken his
measure as a true gentleman, to meet our patron was to be a further privilege.
In the dining room of a charming private house which had been set up as a
truly family restaurant, we all gathered and shared in the warmth, love and
dignity of this most elegant and charming Lady. Her husband was content to
sit with his wee dram and bask in his own pride in this wonderful woman. And
share we did, ranging over every topic, and always with the feeling that we
were at the kitchen table - at home, with our family.
What was to have been one-hour luncheon extended to two, with the Landlord
turning away further clientele with the mantra "this is a Maclean
function" ...Two and a half hours, and then three... But it could
have been but five minutes, for all too soon it was over, leaving us to
wend our way back to our accommodations. We were replete from the luncheon,
the uisge-beatha, copious wine and the spiritual satisfaction of
having given birth to an everlasting memory, I am sure, for all of us.
To have been able to enjoy Lady Mary's presence was special. To have been
made to feel one of her family, even only for one visit, and albeit for a
short time, will be something we can pass down to our families. Thereby to
continue the strength and unity of the Clan wheresoever spread, whatever
their circumstances in life, throughout the generations. We will miss you,
Lady Mary. God has called one of his Angels home.
Frank and Pat MacLean
What a Great MacLean. Knowing she was sick, she still carried the torch for
all MacLeans at the gathering. I have nothing but respect for this Lady, Our
Patron, Lady Mary.
What a great Lady. Friendly, outgoing, and a great role model for me.