Clans chief: Bannockburn events ‘watered down’
Sir Malcolm MacGregor of MacGregor said that plans to re-enact Robert the Bruce’s victory over the English would not prove as popular with the Scottish diaspora as an international clan gathering.
Giving evidence to Holyrood, the convener of the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs criticised the “watered-down” plans to celebrate Bannockburn next year.
Sir Malcolm was referring to a decision by Stirling Council and the Scottish Government to cancel a clan gathering event similar to the one that was the centrepiece of the controversial 2009 Homecoming celebrations.
The clan chief said the cancellation of the Clans 2014 event that would have coincided with the 700th anniversary was a “huge disappointment” nationally and internationally.
In written evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s economy, energy and tourism committee, Sir Malcolm said: “The vast majority of the diaspora who attend these events cannot afford to take the time off, or make an expensive visit to Scotland more than occasionally.
“They tend to arrange these visits to coincide with clan activities, and short notice of major changes of plan has a disproportionately negative effect.”
He added: “Some clans which had made travel arrangements and booked accommodation had to cancel them. Some lost money.”
Appearing in front of the committee yesterday, Sir Malcolm then said that plans to recreate the battle over three days using the Clanranald re-enactment group were “superb”.
He said clan chiefs would do all they could to encourage overseas Scots to come to the event, but warned that without the clan gathering there would be fewer people.
Sir Malcolm added: “You have to look back to 2009, which succeeded in bringing a lot of people from overseas. The international gathering of 2009 was regarded overseas as a great success, and most of the diaspora of overseas Scots wanted to do the whole thing again.
“A battle re-enactment with a clan element does not have the same attraction to overseas Scots as an international clan gathering. There is no doubt about that.”
According to Sir Malcolm, 17,000 expat Scots travelled to The Gathering in 2009. He said most members of the American diaspora need two years’ notice to plan their journeys to Scotland.
Clans 2014 was cancelled last October amid projected losses of £250,000. Fears over losses followed the controversy that engulfed the 2009 Gathering, which it was modelled on.
Despite being seen as a huge success by the diaspora, the 2009 Gathering was viewed less favourably at home. The company responsible for the event, Gathering 2009 Ltd, was liquidated with debts of £726,000.
• SEE ALSO: £250k bail out for Battle of Bannockburn event