Message from the Chief
Summer 2001

Reported in Roslin O Roslin, Summer (Vol 3 No 24).

by Malcolm Caithness

July 29th 2001

Dear all

Berrie collected me at Inverness on Friday and we drove north for the Halkirk Games and, as last year, we encountered a sea har. That cleared for Games yesterday that were a great success. As before in the 'quiet' years we shared a tent, which soon became a good watering hole, with the Clan Gunn and there was a lot of reminiscing about the great events of last year. We missed you all. Ian of Noss, Ron and Leslie, Ruby, Kay and Euan were all there to meet and greet any Sinclairs who called in. Margaret Thurso was Chieftain and John was Hon. President.

Life has settled down after the General Election, which saw the election of John Thurso as MP in Westminster for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross. As you know John did not stand for election as an Hereditary Peer as he always wanted to follow what many of his ancestors have done and become MP for the County. In a strongly fought contest, particularly with the Labour and Scottish Nationalist parties, John not only emerged the victor but also slightly increased the majority of his predecessor Bob Maclennan. It is good that the Sinclairs are now represented in both Houses of Parliament.

There is good news from our family too. Iona has finished at Edinburgh University and graduated with a 2:1 (Hons) in Zoology. She is now applying for a job in London and wants to become an Investment Manager. Berrie has passed nearly all his theory exams in the first stage to becoming a pilot. He also spends a lot of time helping at the Wick Heritage Centre where he has renovated some of the old engines and got them running again. One is an old mechanised plough that is going to be used in a video about crofting.

Niven is currently on the eastern seaboard of the USA meeting with Laura Zola and also pursuing more Sinclair work at Westford. He then flies west for Andrew and Amy's wedding in California - almost exactly a year after they got engaged at the Clan Banquet in Thurso at the end of last year's gathering. We all wish them years of health and happiness.

Plans for next year's gathering are firming up well and there is more about this in a separate article. Details are also on www.clansinclair.org and will be updated as necessary. You can register either with your clan secretary or on the Internet through which secure payments can also be made.

Andrew Sinclair has finished his mighty tome about the Sinclairs called Blood and Kin. It is a four part factional book about a family taking them from their emigration during the Clearances to the present day where they meet up at the Halkirk Games last year. It has received a fantastic write-up from The Times Literary Supplement and is "liquid history, history as a river, that will either sweep you forward, like the Scots, or submerge you like Crazy Horse and his Sioux".

This epic saga will be launched in Edinburgh on 5th November and can be ordered and purchased on the U.K. clan website. Being a story of a Scottish family, and how they created new lives for themselves around the world especially in Canada and South Africa, it will be a good read for all.

After a sedentary first part of the year the travelling season has arrived. I will be going to Norway again to join up with Iain Laird and his family for the Pillarguri celebrations at Otta at the end of August. Berrie will be at Loon Mountain Highland Games in middle of September and I am looking forward to the Stone Mountain Games in October. We hope to meet as many Sinclairs, those in the septs and friends as possible for we must never forget we are a wider family than just those who have Sinclair as a surname. At Stone Mountain there will also be the opportunity to meet a number of Commissioners from the USA and officers from the Canadian Association to continue the discussion as to the direction of the clan.

It has been a quiet summer so far as visible work on Girnigoe has been concerned but a lot has been happening "behind the scenes". A revised application has been submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund so far as the Conservation Plan for the whole site is concerned. Together with Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise we will be undertaking a tourism survey of visitors later in August and early September who will be asked to fill out a short questionnaire. However I cannot yet tell you about the really good news, as this will be announced to the world on October 11th. It is something I have been working on for some time and takes the project a quantum leap forward. Full details will be in the next newsletter!

Best wishes to you all.

Malcolm Caithness


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