Royal Celtic Society ArmsThe Royal Celtic Society

For nearly 200 years, the Royal Celtic Society has been at the cutting edge of activity to support the language, literature, music and culture of the Highlands and Western Islands of Scotland. The Society holds regular events for members, awards medals for excellence in music and literature and sponsors a wide range of organisations dedicated to the traditions, language and arts of the Highlands and Islands.

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The Highland Folk Museum at Newtonmore

Sunday 10th July will see Royal Celtic Society members and their guests foregather at Newtonmore in Inverness-shire to visit, among other things, a new exhibition at the Clan Macpherson Museum.

The museum, which the Royal Celtic Society supports with an annual grant, has opened an exhibition on the remarkable life of Sir Tommy Macpherson, father of Royal Celtic Society council member Angus Macpherson of Biallid.

Sir Tommy came from a remarkable family.  His older brothers included the famous G.P.S 'Phil' Macpherson, who captained Scotland's rugby team to its first ever grand slam victory, Niall Macpherson, first Lord Drumalbyn, and Archie Macpherson, a distinguished Edinburgh surgeon who was Vice President of the Royal Celtic Society for many years.

Sir Tommy left school just as the Second World War began.  Commissioned into the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, an exceptional war record saw him win the Military Cross no fewer than three times, as well as the Croix de Guerre and the Legion d'Honneur.  His daring behind-the-lines missions varied between triumph and disaster and included being taken prisoner during an audatious, but failed, attempt to capture Field Marshal Rommel.  However, a German concentration camp couldn't hold him for long; following his escape he returned to active service, landing behind enemy lines in occupied France, when French Resistance fighters were astonished to see him descend by parachute dressed in his Cameron Highlanders kilt.

After the war he went to Oxford University, graduating with a first class degree and further distinguishing himself with a variety of sporting achievements.  He went on to have a varied business career, principally in the timber industry and as a non-executive director of several companies, and also served as an Equerry in the Royal Household.  Sir Tommy died in 2014, aged 94.

Details will be circulated to members this week of the Society's Newtonmore visit, which will include visits to the Highland Folk Museum - the oldest open air museum in the world - and the Coffin Road, as well as to the Clan Macpherson Museum.  The Coffin Road is the ancient route connecting the Newtonmore community with the medieval cemetery, which was built on the site of a very early Christian cell.  The Royal Celtic Society funded new signage for the Coffin Road in 2014.

We are grateful to council member Angus Macpherson of Biallid and his wife Valerie, who are generously providing us with lunch at their home on July 10th.

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