We were delighted to welcome leading Gaelic broadcaster Dr Hugh Dan MacLennan as our guest speaker on Thursday 11th October. This was the third in the Society's new lunchtime lecture series, taking place in the historic surroundings of the Dome Room, HM New Register House, Edinburgh.
Hugh Dan is principally known as a broadcaster in Gaelic and as a broadcaster on sport, and both formed the basis of a fascinating hour's talk. He had brought with him two seminal texts on Gaelic culture, at least as it was perceived in the early 19th century, both beautiful, rare and historic volumes. He began by taking his audience through the Book of the Club of the True Highlanders, a lavishly illustrated book compiled by Charles Niven McIntyre North on behalf of the Society of True Highlanders, founded by Alasdair Ranaldson Macdonnell of Glengarry at Inverlochy, close by the place where Hugh Dan spent his childhood.
The Book of the Club of the True Highlanders looks at the language, customs, work, pastimes and culture of the Highlands and Islands, including its sports and Highland games, and Hugh Dan's exposition of this volume led him neatly onto the Littlejohn Album, an equally impressive document compiled by Alexander Littlejohn of Invercharron.
Alexander Littlejohn came of a well known Aberdeen commercial family. Originally trained for the medical profession, he went to London where he set up in business as a stockbroker. He became fabulously wealthy and developed a deep interest in Gaeldom, returning to his homeland to purchase the estate of Invercharron in Easeter Ross.
The Littlejohn Album, the original of which is now under lock and key in Aberdeen University Library, contains extensive material on the life and culture of the Highlands, but in particular, provides us with the definitive guide to the rules, history and Gaelic terminology of shinty, that oldest and best known sport of Gaeldom, compiled on Littlejohn's behalf by Alexander MacBain. Among the widespread philanthropic activity for which Alexander Littlejohn is remembered was his extensive support for shinty, on which he spent heavily. He endowed the Littljohn Trophy, a huge piece of silverware based on the Warwick Vase in the Burrell Collection, still competed for today.
We are grateful to Hugh Dan for a most interesting and lively afternoon.