Wedding date for Taynuilt love legacy

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Taynuilt’s new love memorial has had its first wedding request.

The ceremony, pencilled in for spring 2019, will bring even more romance to Deirdre’s Shieling, 1,500ft up at Beinn Ghlas overlooking Glen Etive, as it approaches one year since it was officially opened.

The memorial was the fulfilment of a promise made to Belfast-born artist Evelyn MacDonald  by her husband Sam before she died last year from cancer, as a legacy to an ancient love story that stole their hearts.

News of possible wedding bells up at The Shieling made him ‘jump for joy’, said Mr MacDonald, who lives at Barguillean, close to the site.

With the help of a small group of committee members, equally smitten by the story of two young runaways who fled from Ireland to escape an angry king and found happiness in Glen Etive, there are plans to mark The Shieling’s first anniversary over a June weekend.

Although still in the early stages, those working behind the scenes of a special weekend are plotting a remarkable line-up of events including borrowing the 12th-century Glenmasan manuscript, which has the most complete account of lovers Deirdre and Naoise’s story and was once in the possession of a Kilchrenan minister, from the National Library of Scotland to bring it to Oban.

YouTube also has a part to play in the plans after it revealed a clip of a wind instrument concerto by a Swiss composer who fell in love with Deirdre’s tale. He had been commissioned to write a piece inspired by a legendary tale when he came across the Glenmasan manuscript.

Determined to track down the composer, Mr MacDonald contacted the Swiss Embassy and his wife’s pianist cousin, who lives in Switzerland, for help. They both came up trumps. The composer was delighted at the interest and agreed to provide the full score that has so far been played in 10 countries but never in the UK.

‘We have the music and we’re talking to the director of a wind band in Glasgow. We’re hoping to have it performed for the anniversary at St John’s Cathedral in Oban,’ said Mr MacDonald. ‘We’ve also heard from the composer again who is planning on coming over for the performance and bringing his wife and children with him,’ he added.

Over this winter work should also be completed on a commissioned three-cornered Celtic knot bench to be installed at The Shieling on the same weekend.

The Celtic bell, back with a caster after a hairline fracture was discovered, will also be in place for the June celebration and marker signs are going up to help people on the scenic hike to see The Shieling for themselves.

A website, with an interactive visitor book for people to upload selfies from The Deirdre Shieling, can be found at thedeirdresheiling.co.uk.