Last weekend was something special at Isle of Eriska! We welcomed 45 MacLean's from America for a family reunion to have exclusive use of the island with a wide range of activities for every interest. Mr. MacLean came to Scotland 40 years ago for his first family reunion to return with the family this year - which some of you might already know is also Eriska's 40th anniversary as a hotel!
With a fully packed schedule for the weekend we had activities for both children and adults. Thursday was especially dedicated to the children, while on Friday we set out to visit some of the places that the MacLean's ancestors originally came from. On Saturday the afternoon was spent on the golf course, in the Spa and in Oban, before the family gala dinner, live music and fireworks completed a great family reunion.
Eriska Highland Games & Brave
I am sure many have seen the Pixar/Disney film Brave of princess Merida, a very determined young girl that sets out to find her own path in life, defies the Scottish customs and thereby leave her father's kingdom in chaos set in a fantasy version of medieval Scotland.
On Thursday we had some great people from Stramash to lead the highland activities for both children and adults. Activities included archery, tossing the caber, tug of war, orienteering or 'the bear hunt', crossing the bog and haggis hurling to the sound of Scottish bagpipes at the front lawn!
For the afternoon the MacLeans were divided into four teams facing various challenges together while competing for parts of the lost map to locate princess Merida's crown. In the race to find the crown only one team could win! The winning team was lead by a kilted piper when finally crowning the princess.
Although everyone passed the challeneges laid out - we were no match to the Scottish midges! A 'de-bugging' session saved the day and the activities could continue as soon as everyone had had their turn.
A day on Mull
On Friday morning we got onto the bus and left for the ferry to Mull to visit Duart Castle and Tobermory. The weather was not in our favour to begin with but it slowly dried up and the sun was out when arriving back to Eriska! Both adults and children were excited to see Duart Castle, ready and dressed in the MacLean kilts we were toured around the castle by the present chief Sir Lachlan Maclean.
The Story of the Macleans & Duart Castle on Mull
Sitting on one of the most spectacular and unique sites on the West Coast of Scotland, the position of Duart Castle was well chosen(where the panoramic picture at the top is from).The castle stands on a crag at the end of the peninsular jutting out into the Sound of Mull at the intersection of the sound of Mull.
Duart Castle is the ancestral home of the Clan Maclean. Members of the Clan are now spread throughout the world and many return to visit the homes of their ancestors and family.
The Clan lands were, and are still on the West Coast of Scotland and the islands of Mull, Coll, Tiree and Jura. The Chieftains of the Clan Maclean had and still have lands on Morvern, Ardgour, Drimnin and at Dochgarroch on the mainland as well as on the islands.
The first recorded mention of the Macleans of Duart is in a papal dispensation of 1367 which allowed their Chief Lachlan Lubanach Maclean to marry the daughter of the Lord of the Isles, Mary Macdonald.
The castle has a rich history, and was not always in the Maclean's possession. Sir Lachlan 16th Chief lost the Maclean's land to the Duke of Argyll due to other commitments. The Castle, although in a fairly ruinous condition was then used as a garrison for Government troops until 1751. Left in ruins, it was abandoned until 1910 when it was purchased and restored by Sir Fitzroy Maclean, 26th Chief.
After lunch on Duart Castle, we toured to Tobermory a fishing port built in the late 18th century. Tobermory is now the main town on the Isle of Mull and is the main departure point for whale and dolphin watching boat tours.
When we arrived in Tobermory, some visited Tobermory Distillery - which was unfortunately fully booked - however it became some of the MacLean's first meeting with the Scottish tablet (in this case infused with Scottish whisky), which was shared and enjoyed on the spot before deciding on the need to bring more tablet back to the States!
Since we were a bit unfortunate with the weather, the small cafe's along the docks offered great comforts such as homemade ice cream, caramel squares, pies and sandwiches - And of course fish and chips, which was enjoyed by the docks under a great number of umbrella's and curious seagulls. It is safe to say the experience was a success.
Gala Dinner, Live Music and Scottish Sword Dancing
On Saturday morning the MacLean family had a range of activities and excursions to choose amongst. Some went hiking on Kerrera, some went golfing at our 9 hole golf course, some booked in to the spa for the afternoon and some went to Oban to taste the famous 14 year old cask strenght whisky at Oban Distillery, before finishing off the afternoon at the Oban Chocolate Company, to the great enjoyment of both children and adults.
The gala dinner was planned with precision. Scottish sword dancers performed as the family was piped into dinner. A seven course meal cooked to perfection using the best local produce, accompanied by some of our best wines and of course Scotland's national drink. After the gala dinner, Whistlebinkies held a live performance in the drawing room. Whistlebinkies also played for the MacLean's 40 years ago when they were last in Scotland, which made it extra special.
The night was finished with a spectacular firework display and was a great family reunion worthy!
Exclusive use at Eriska means that guests can have the whole island themselves. We can help with the planning of any excursions throughout your stay, weddings, meals and dinners made from the best quality local produce and make your celebration unforgettable.