No. 4, June 1992
'The time by the goodness of God will come, when the Catholic religion will again flourish in Scotland; and then, when posterity shall enquire, with a laudable curiosity, by what means any sparks of the true faith were preserved in these dismal times of darkness and error, Scalan and the other colleges will be mentioned with veneration, and all that can be recorded concerning them will be recorded with care ... ' (Rev. John Geddes, Rector of Scalan 1762 to65)
again and the sun shines on Scalan. This is a chance to invite as many of you as can make
it to the Annual Pilgrimage
All the news is good. We have a contractor, Mike Taitt, who has a reputation for restoring old castles and he responded eagerly to the prospect of working on this humbler building. He has joined the Association and promises to write an account of his project for the next Scalan News. The AGM took place on Tuesday 2 June, and the twenty or so members who were at Scalan then were heartened to find the Taitt digger already on site.
Colonel Taitt is an ex Gordon Highlander, now in the TA and not in the least blimpish. His tender was good enough to beat off other local builders and now that Moray District Council is clear that our committee does things properly a grant of £4,000 has come our way. This sum, on top of the other grants and donations, takes the funds to £21,000. Eighteen months ago the first newsletter registered the target of £20,000 with the comment, 'sounds like a lot for 162 members', so you see how far and fast we've come together. And membership is just about to break the 300 mark.
Scalan has been transformed from a leaking and dangerous building into something more
like its 18th century self, what will members want the committee to do with their money?
The question will become more urgent membership continues to climb, and a thousand
subscribers by the year 2000 does not seem unlikely. The final part of David McNamee's '
answer may be
that the Scalan Association should be concerned with more than Scalan itself. It would
need an AGM to agree, and perhaps a change in the constitution. The committee has
discussed the possibility of a Catholic heritage trail, and the long one that has been
President Mgr. Copland was interviewed on 'MacGregor's Gathering' in February and did
very well, despite being addressed anonymously as 'John' throughout in a way which implied
that the Scottish public was not yet ready to hear a priest speaking on radio. Perhaps you
saw STV's Gaelic programmes (with subtitles) about
Innes Review Members
may be interested to know that the editor of Scalan News is
now also the post1560 editor of the Scottish Catholic Historical Association's journal
which is named after the historian Thomas Innes. Newsletters are newsy, so if the idea of
another membership at the cost £14 a year appeals to you be warned! The Innes Review is
serious historical business (not the sort of thing you can read over breakfast) but very
good value for money at 80 pages every spring and autumn. Plans are afoot to make it still
larger with a wider range of short articles. If you found it a little dry in the past you
might like to try again. [Cheques to SCHA, c /
0 The Treasurer,
highly successful SCRA conference on 500 years of the Archdiocese of Glasgow took place in
that city's municipal building on 30 May, and the chance was taken to publicise Scalan.
All the leaflets went. Fr Peter Moran of Blairs will have contributions in both of the
based on his recent visits to
of the last students at the Scots College Douai was Andrew Carruthers, a future bishop of
the Lowland and Eastern Districts: 'He entered in the sixteenth year of his age the
Gordon (the future 'Priest' Gordon of Aberdeen over half a century) also transferred to
the Glenlivet seminary but he, by way of contrast, was the butt of school masterly jokes
about 'want of quickness and accuracy'. Sarcasm came his way from the Rector after a
correct repetition of the Lord's Prayer: young Gordon gave the credit to his 'mither'. He
later became vicar general of
The Rev. Charles Farquharson had cause, as rector, to be irritable in the summer of 1790: 'Since the middle of May we are fairly at the mercy of the military: they hold courtsmartial, dismiss whom they please, insult openly their officers and clergy.' New laws passed by the Paris Assembly threatened Church institutions of all sorts.
students, who had traditionally attended
By July 1792 they could not leave the building unless in secular dress and sporting the tricouleur of the republican party. Andrew Scott (another bright student, who became Glasgow's first bishop) wrote home to the Braes of Enzie about 'the extraordinary expenses laid out in procuring us a new kind of dress, the Ecclesiastical habit which we formerly wore being now proscribed ... The king has as yet protected the unhappy clergy and hindered them from falling a prey to their enemies; but when he is no more they will be hunted like wild beasts and butchered wherever they are found.'
weeks later hundreds of clergy were massacred in their
16th June Mr Farquharson and his four remaining students were ordered out of the house and
also disappeared for two months, paying a visit to Alexander Innes, rector of the
From Our Readers
pleased beyond measure that at last some effective steps are being taken to preserve this
lovely and holy place. While living for many years at Clochan in the Enzie, within a few
hundred yards of Preshome, I spent much effort in trying to arouse interest in Scalan and
in getting Preshome restored and brought back into use. Praise God the latter is now
accomplished, and I am so very delighted that you are tackling the problem of Scalan. Judith Scott,
[Briefly, the Catholic population of upper Banffshire in particular was rising in the early 1800s because of whisky, distilled in the Braes and smuggled to the cities until the excise officers and a lower price for grain whisky put a stop to it. Land cleared for barley was then abandoned and the population fell steadly. The second Duchess of Gordon took her children to the Protestant service within days of her husband's death in 1728, although the future third Duke had served mass at St Ninian's, Braes of Enzie, shortly before it. The ducal family continued to protect their Catholic tenants, and a tolerant, intermarrying style of Catholicism became a feature of the area. Ed.]
stage from Tomintoul to Braemar is described by Sir Edward Peck (in his Avonside Explored) in
lyrical terms: 'This incomparable section of the
Tomintoul by the road to the southwest at the high end of the village. There will shortly
be a choice between following the road down to the river or taking the track which
maintains height until Delavorar. The high road is better unless you want to explore the
Ailnack gorge. After the confluence of the Builg Burn and the
Anyone with the usual Scottish education (meagre, in terms of our Catholic heritage) is likely to associate Braemar with nothing more than highland games and royalty. It comes as a surprise to discover the strong Catholic tradition of the area. Christian missionaries came to the Braes of Mar in the 5th century, and the first church was built during the reign of the Pictish king Angus MacFergus. Its ruins are in the burial ground of Camusnakist near Braemar Castle, marked on OS 1:25 000 Pathfinder 255 and shown on OS 43 as a small enclosure on the left of the A93 just as it begins to swing right. With the spread of Christianity a number of chapels were built in the area, including the Chapel of the Seven Maidens at Inverey.
faith sown during those centuries survived through penal times to the present day.
Priestly ministry was intermittent and secret: . a fluteplaying shepherd could well have
been a missionary in disguise. From 1671 to 1788 Jesuits made the mission their own. Even
within a strong Catholic community, priests chose discreet locations to live and
celebrate public mass, until in 1795 it became possible to build a church in the
there are Catholics and other Christians who think otherwise. They believe that there
are moral issues about which it is necessary to be militant; they are willing to be
imprisoned by a legal system which has no moral principles which cannot be changed by an
Act of Parliament. These people know that they will be subject to physical violence from
the political Hard Left, without protection of the law, and yet they persevere. If you
walk up Chapel Brae to the
Leave Braemar by the Inverey road. About 3 km from the village between the road and the river, facing the Quoich Water where it
to the Linn of Dee and continue along the northern bank, crossing the river by the
The next stage is to Dalwhinnie, through the hills. From the bothy go on to the bridge and memorial and then double back, using the paths shown leading to the edge of OS 43 at NN 800 886; then transfer to OS 42. Cross the AUt Bhran at the weir and the River Tromie by the bridge. The route moves anticlockwise around Boghacloiche to pick up a track at NN 719 867 which, following the aqueduct, leads down to the A9 and Dalwhinnie.
lt might be a good idea to have a parcel waiting for you there with fresh clothing, fresh maps, and any little treats you enjoy at the end of a hard day. Poste Restante (Dalwhinnie PO, Invernessshire PRI9 lAB) is a reliable means of sending gear on ahead, but post offices tend to be closed more than they are open. A hotel, on the other hand, is open from early morning to late at night seven days a week. There are going to be no opportunities to reprovision between Dalwhinnie and Appin, and only one possible hotel, Kingshouse in Glencoe.
route along the west
Kinlochleven Dam will convey more meaning if you know Patrick MacGill's Children
of the Dead End. This
is the story of an Irish labourer from Donegal who helped to build the dam. When MacGill
laboured it was not as a diverting interlude from a literary career; it was his life, from
which he escaped by writing. MacGill's talent took him to
most direct route for the next stage is southwest to Altnafeadh (on the A8) across boggy
ground. If you prefer a drier and more historic route then take the track to
Kinlochleven until it meets the
'Twas there I reared my first house
Loving its woods on rising;
A fold for sunshine is Loch Etive.
Gualachulain turn northwest up the hill for about 300m following the boundary of the
wood until it swings to the north. From that point head for Glen Ure and continue down to
Glenure House: you will find easier going on the south bank of the river. Follow the path
from there and track round to the A828 by way of Taravocan. Follow the main road around
the north bank of Loch Creran on OS 49, past the inn at Creagan and then left on to the
quieter road which meanders round to Port Appin. This ferry port has a hotel, post office
and shops which will give the pilgrim a chance to buy supplies for the island. Walking
through the mountains of
must surprise the firsttime visitor. The ground cover is fine turf on limestone rock;
the view of Lochaber and Glencoe is dramatic; the history is long in the ecclesiastical
There was a monastery on the island for many centuries with the Bishop of Argyll intermittently in residence. The cathedral of the Isles was founded around 1189; part of it survives in the structure of the parish church, which is 4 km down the spine of the island from the ferry. The former manse beside the church is now a guesthouse. An iron age broch, Castle
can be reached by a pleasant walk over the turf. You can then follow the coast down to
Achnacroish, where there is a CalMac ferry to
end of the pilgrimage is a final 2 km further on. At the farm of Kilcheran you will find
the graves of the eponymous Chisholm brothers. [Dr McNamee's '
two 19th century Catholic bishops (and brothers) came to be buried here should interest
readers of this newsletter. When Scalan's. masters and boys came down from the hills to
Aquhorthies the college of the Highland District at Samala man in l\1oidart was also
closed. A merger was considered, but the two Districts (Gaelic and Scotsspeaking)
nltained their own seminaries a while longer. The ary until 1828, when a merger was achieved at
ary until 1828, when a merger was achieved at Blairs.
three decades the Gaelicspeaking college for the Highlands and
Subscriptions: Mrs Jane McEwan, Ogilvie Cottage, Gallowhill, Glenlivet, Banffshire AB3 9DL. If you would like copies of the threefold brochure or of old newsletters, to spread the word in your locality, she now has them in abundance.
Correspondence: If you have a thought, a letter, a question, or even an article for this newsletter send it to Alasdair Roberts, Northern College, Aberdeen ABl 2RY.
If you would like to walk over to Scalan from the Well of the Lecht on 5th July be there by 1 p.m ..