Glen­finnan Gath­er­ing

The Oban Times - - News -

THIS year’s Glen­finnan games paid homage to one of the lo­cal greats who orig­i­nally founded the an­nual event and the tra­di­tion be­hind the suc­cess­ful day.

Sec­re­tary of 69 years, Ron­nie MacKel­laig, is son of late High­land dancer and founder, Archie MacKel­laig.

And The Oban Times heard how his fa­ther’s legacy lives on at the games.

In 1969, com­pe­ti­tion judge, Archie, pre­sented a young Mairi Ill­s­ley with his danc­ing sword. He made her prom­ise to al­ways bring it to the games and for 46 years she has lived up to her word.

Mairi said: ‘My danc­ing sword was given to me by Archie. I was a dancer and he was too. He gave me his danc­ing sword on the con­di­tion that I al­ways brought it to the games.

‘He was one of the founders of the Glen­finnan games. In 1945, a group got to­gether for the 200th an­niver­sary of the Ja­co­bite ris­ing on Au­gust 19, 1745. He thought it would be nice if they could make it an an­nual event to com­mem­o­rate the ris­ing.’

Changes in health and safety now mean that orig­i­nal swords can­not be used any­more, but that has not stopped Mairi from stick­ing to the pact she made as a 13 year- old.

Mairi said: ‘The sword is a very im­por­tant part of the games, as is the history and why the games be­gan. These are what makes this such a very spe­cial event, so although we can­not use it, I al­ways bring the sword with me.’

Archie was not only the founder of the games, but he chore­ographed a unique dance called the High­land Schot­tisch - sim­i­lar to the High­land Fling, but danced with a part­ner. The dance can only be found at the games and by those com­pet­ing in the adult cat­e­gory.

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Eva Col­lis­ter, from Lar­bert Chief­tan of Glen­finnan Games, Tommy McEachran, 79, threw the


Ron­nie MacKel­laig and Mairi Ill­s­ley hold the sword that be­longed to Ron­nie’s fa­ther Molly Smith, nine, from Falkirk won

the un­der 12 over­all

Frank Cousins throws the 22lb weight for dis­tance

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Lochaber pipe band

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Euan Gillies, nine, in the kids’ high jump com­pe­ti­tion

Con­sis­tent com­peti­tor, Don­ald Mac­Don­ald 21_f34games05

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Ni­amh, four, and Erin Camp­bell, five, watched the High­land dancers

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Aimee Sned­don and Jamie Lee Laverty won joint first place in the

lo­cal com­pe­ti­tion

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