The Royal Celtic Society was represented for the first time at Lonach on Saturday 25th August, with a hospitality tent on the games field where we were delighted to welcome members, friends, guests and potential members. This was the 177th Lonach Gathering since the foundation of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society by local laird Sir Charles Forbes of Newe in 1823.
Despite its growing international reputation - demonstrated by the large number of visitors from North America and Europe who called on us throughout the day - Lonach has managed to preserve its integrity as a local event, run for and by the local community in the Aberdeenshire village of Strathdon.
Although there is intense activity from the early morning, although competition officially begins with piobaireachd at 10.30 am and continues until Beating Retreat at 5.30 pm. All of the traditional Highland Games events are in evidence: piping, dancing light events and, of course, the heavy athletics for which the Highland Games are unique. The key difference here, though, is that only local pipe bands are invited to attend, and the professional athletes compete separately to local, open competitors, thereby preserving the true character of a local Games event.
The world-famous march of the Lonach Highlanders, parading in the ring at 1.00 pm and 3.00 pm, is an eagerly awaited event. The Lonachmen begin their march at 8.00 am, taking in eight "dram stops" at the castles and mansion houses in the vicinity, before returning to the Lonach Hall for a well earned lunch. Made up of the Forbes Men and the Wallace Men, and under the command of their Colonel, Sir James Forbes of Newe, a direct descendant of the founder, they are led by three of their number wielding Lochaber axes, followed by their own pipe band.
The Society enjoyed a most successful day there and the Chairman is grateful to our members Jane MacRae and John Mackay for their work in manning the tent.