Clan Donald Lands Trust marking half-century anniversary

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Over the course of 2021-22, the Clan Donald Lands Trust, the charitable organisation that cares for Armadale Castle, Gardens and Museum and the wider estate on Skye, is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

To mark the significant anniversary, over the coming year the trust will be looking back through its archives and sharing some favourite moments.

There will be special trust posts with material from the archives on social media. The trust is also marking the anniversary through its Trees for the Future programme, where it is planting the next generation of trees at Armadale through a collaboration with the International Conifer Conservation Programme.

Lord MacDonald and children planting a tree in July to mark the anniversary. Photograph: CDLT/Paddy McKay. NO F03 Lord Macdonald and children planting anniversary tree July 2021 - Paddy McKay
Lord MacDonald and children planting a tree in July to mark the anniversary. Photograph: CDLT/Paddy McKay.
NO F03 Lord Macdonald and children planting anniversary tree July 2021 – Paddy McKay

During 2022, there will also be a special exhibition and events programme which will celebrate Armadale Castle past, present and future.

One of the photographs in the exhibition, showing a family group from the 1870s-90s. Photograph: CDLT. NO F03 Family Group 1870s-90s album
One of the photographs in the exhibition, showing a family group from the 1870s-90s. Photograph: CDLT.
NO F03 Family Group 1870s-90s album

The trust will be sharing stories from people from all walks of life who have been involved in Armadale over the years.

The museum exhibition will focus on the castle in its heyday and shine a spotlight on some of those who have worked there – from Victorian gardeners to the castle’s last housekeeper. The trust will also be inviting people to share their own stories and memories.

Alex Stoddart, CEO of Clan Donald Lands Trust, told the Lochaber Times: ‘In 1971, members and supporters of Clan Donald, both local and from the migration diaspora, came together and facilitated one of Scotland’s first community land acquisitions.

‘Despite long odds, the community won through and the Clan Donald Lands Trust was born.

‘Celebrating this anniversary is not so much about looking back at an extraordinary 50 years, but looking forward to what we can accomplish for future generations.

‘The future of our young people on this magical island and the durability of our culture and heritage are inextricably entwined.’

It was on July 31, 1971, that the trust officially acquired the 20,000-acre Armadale estate.

The former home of the Macdonald clan chiefs, the state had come up for sale earlier in the year, following the death of Alexander Godfrey Macdonald, 7th Lord Macdonald.

Clan members worldwide founded the trust in order to purchase some of the last remaining lands in Clan Donald ownership and preserve this very special place for everyone to enjoy.

A cornerstone of the trust’s mission is to conserve and promote the culture and history of the Highland clans, and Clan Donald in particular.

Over the past half century this has involved a huge array of projects and activities including restoring the historic gardens, opening an award-winning museum, establishing a world-renowned programme of Gaelic performing arts competitions, and welcoming hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the globe to the ‘spiritual home of Clan Donald’.

To find out more visit the trust website and check out its page, ‘The First Five Decades’.

And to find out about the very early days of the trust, download Godfrey, Lord Macdonald’s recollections, ‘CDLT – the first steps’, also on this page.