Our Society

The Clan MacDougall Society of North America, Inc. was founded in 1964 with the full approval of our late chief, Madam MacDougall of MacDougall, thirtieth Chief of the Clan. The Society has continued to grow with the formation of chapters in Canada and the United States. Clan MacDougall Society of North America is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a charitable organization under Sec. 501(c)(3). Contributions and gifts to the Society are tax-deductible for U.S. taxpayers. Recently the work of the Society was expanded through the creation of the Clan MacDougall Foundation and the appointment of Regional Commissioners. Together we are moving into the twenty-first century, bringing to our increasing circle of members a joy of belonging and of growing pride in a goodly heritage.

Through the efforts of Society members, the following activities are in constant development:

  • Computerized, family genealogical information.
  • Preservation and sharing of our heritage – music, oral history, folklore and crafts.
  • Involvement of our youth through athletic, creative and exchange experiences.
  • Publication of The Tartan, our Clan Society’s communicator and supplementary newsletters.
  • Support to our Chief in maintaining Dunollie as well as the preserving of historical records.
  • Making available books, manuscripts and other sources to libraries and centers of Scottish studies.
  • Awarding prizes and trophies which encourage excellence in performance within the Scottish community.
  • Maintaining contact with our Clanspeople around the world.

Castle Restoration

GYLEN CASTLE DEDICATION On Friday, May 12, 2006 an event took place which was of great interest and significance to all MacDougall clan folk who are concerned with clan history and treasures. Chief Morag MacDougall of MacDougall cut the ribbon officially reopening Gylen Castle to visitors. It has been 11 years since the mother and aunt of Chief Morag created the Gylen Castle Repair Fund and commenced the process of applying for grants and making plans for the careful reconstruction and repair of this beautiful clan treasure. It has suffered from more than 350 years of ravage and deterioration from weather, at its high perch on the southern end of Kerrera Island in Oban Bay, on the northwestern shore of Scotland.

I am greatly indebted to Chief Morag, her husband, Richard Morley, our good friend Hamish MacDougall of Appin and Bridge of Weir, and friends at the Oban Times for providing us with details of the dedication ceremony. More than 80 interested clan folk and media attended the dedication – some of whom walked and some of whom rode the two miles from the ferry dock to the castle. Prior to and after the official ribbon cutting at the castle, there were interesting and informative speeches back at the Gylen Teahouse by a number of the official representatives, most of whom are well known to many of you: Mike Robertson ( Factor of the MacDougall estates and interests), Catherine Gillies (of the Friends of MacDougall Collection), Dr. John Raven of Historic Scotland, Martin Hadlington (Chief architect of the Gylen Repair Project), and, of course, the official speech of Chief Morag herself. Unavoidable conflicts kept me from going over to represent our NA Society, but we were ably represented by Mr. Gary MacDougall of Chicago, who gave an excellent speech on our behalf. There was very good coverage by local and national Scottish news agencies.

To put the significance of the completion of this extensive repair work in historical context, let me fill you in on some of the history of this architectural treasure.
Gylen Castle was built during ca. 1582-1587 by Duncan MacDougall, who was either the brother or the son of the chief at that time. It was clearly constructed as a fortified residence. Its design is obviously defensive, with heavy walls, guarded entrances, gun loops and ports, and observation outlooks on all sides. However its design was not entirely for utility or defense. Not only is it surrounded by glorious scenery on all sides, but, clearly, great care, artistry and craftsmanship went into its construction. You will see many interesting features such as: crowstep gables, corbled cornices, romanesque carvings, and sculptures of faces and figures.
Sadly, no amount of repair work or money will restore Gylen to its original condition, because in 1647 (after only 60 years) a detachment of the army of the fanatic Covenanters captured and burned the castle and killed all who resided and defended therein, either on the spot or taken to Inverary Castle and hanged. To add to this tragedy, it was on this occasion that the great family treasure, the Brooch of Lorne, disappeared. It had been captured by MacDougalls from Robert the Bruce in 1306. The brooch of Lorne has since been returned to the MacDougalls and remains in the possession of the Chief. Gylen Castle was returned to the Chief of the MacDougalls in 1660, after the restoration.

Even though the repair work on Gylen is finished, important planning continues for repair and preservation of Clan MacDougall treasures: Dunollie Castle and Dunollie House and estates, in the interests of visiting Clan folks. The “Gylen Castle Repair Fund” was some time ago converted into the “MacDougall of Dunollie Preservation Trust”, and this continues to be a primary vehicle for funding continuing preservation work. Donations to this fund can be made through the Clan Society Treasurer or directly to Scotland. In addition, I will continue to sell copies of Bill MacDougall’s clan history “Kings in the West, and Beyond the Seas”, with proceeds going to the Preservation Trust.

Respectfully submitted, June, 2006
Richard MacDougal, Past President
Chairman, International Relations Committee
If you wish to donate to the fund, your contribution by check should be made out to “MacDougall of Dunollie Preservation Trust” and given or mailed to your regional commissioner of the Clan MacDougall Society.

Report from the architect:

GYLEN CASTLE: CONSOLIDATION AND REPAIR WORK
Gylen Castle is currently undergoing extensive repair and consolidation works, which will take a number of years to complete. The work is funded by the MacDougall family and clan members, and is grant aided by Historic Scotland. The work involves the careful consolidation of the fabric and repointing with lime mortars. The work so far has been limited to the interior and wallhead areas, and the next phases of the work will concentrate on the exterior walls. The building was constructed in 1587, and has been roofless since 1640. It has received minor repairs in the past (1913), however this is the first major repair and consolidation of this very important castle.
I hope that you will appreciate that the building is currently inaccessible to the public for safety reasons. I also hope you will visit the castle again once the work is complete in a few years time.

Martin Hadlington, Architect

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