The second object of the Association was ‘the cultivation of social intercourse among the Members’ and from the beginning the main life of the Association has been the annual Gatherings in Glasgow in the autumn of each year. The form of these gatherings has been remarkably consistent, with an evening of refreshment [or dinner], entertainment [in 1897 Harry Lauder ‘versatile Scottish comedian’ was one of the artistes; 4th name listed out of 4], and dancing, which usually went on until 2.00 am [now stops soon after 12 midnight].
The numbers attending have usually been about 100. The venues have ranged from the Waterloo Rooms in 1897, the Charing Cross Halls, to HMS Carrick, the Royal Automobile Club, the Piping Centre and more recently hotels in Renfrew. It is interesting that they generally have always been on the knife-edge of financial viability.
It must be recorded that the Chief and his family have supported these annual Gatherings consistently over 125 years, being attended by old Sir Fitzroy even in his older age, supported or represented later by his sons Hector yr of Duart and Capt Charles, when he was too old to attend himself. Each year there has been a special speech about the clan and the chiefs i family. Our present chief has only missed two [due to illnesses] in the last 27 years.
The Clan has been represented at each of the International Gathering of the Clans, including memorably that of 1951, which included the march of 1000 pipers down Princes Street in Edinburgh. The most successful, including those of 1977 and 2009, have been centred in Edinburgh, but others have been in Glasgow and Inverness, with the Macleans always represented.
A special feature of the Association has been arranging gatherings at Duart, or expeditions to visit the chief there. These included one for the Chief’s hundredth birthday in 1935. While an organised tour of the clan lands was arranged in 1973 and again in 1977, it was the gatherings at Duart and Mull that have consistently been highlights of the Association’s activities. In 1986, to mark Lord Maclean’s 50th anniversary as chief, a Gathering was called by Sir Fitzroy for two nights, based at Craignure. This developed, with the enthusiastic support of Sir Lachlan, into much larger week-long Gatherings centred on Tobermory, and with expeditions ranging over the clan lands from trips to Coll, Morvern, and Ardgour, to Iona, Carnaburg and Inchkenneth, but always with a Gathering at Duart. These have been held over the next 25 years, every 5 years from 1992, when the Association celebrated its 100th anniversary.
In 2012, over 1000 people attended for the Great Gathering, the Centenary of the first Gathering in 1912. Similar numbers were at the 2017 Gathering and were expected again 2022, now pushed back to 2023.