Annual Gathering at the Aboyne Games

Steve Law, Slains Pursuivant John Malden, the Earl of Erroll and Jane MacRae

The Annual Gathering of Clan Hay took place over the long weekend of 4th and 5th August, centred on the Aboyne Highland Games, following the pattern of the last 38 years.

Festivities began on Friday 2nd August at historic Crathes Castle, near Banchory on Royal Deeside, seat of the Clan Burnett.  Hays from far and near were welcomed with a croquet match on the lawns that form part of Crathes's beautiful gardens.  Later, we adjourned for supper at Banchory's Cowshed Restaurant, a delightfully informal way for members who had travelled from as far as North America and New Zealand to get to know each other.

The centrepiece of the weekend was the Aboyne Games on Saturday 3rd August, when we hosted our customary tent in the Clan Village, taking our place with Gordons, Farquharsons, Frasers, Burnetts, Leasks, Strachans and others of the main families of North East Scotland.    The Chief and his lady, the Earl and Countess of Erroll, were on hand throughout the day to welcome visitors, accompanied by their son and heir, Lord Hay, and his wife Clemmie, making her first visit to the Gathering.  Members are able to enjoy the hospitality of the tent, whilst taking in the experience of one of the major events of the Highland Games circuit, including piping, Highland dancing, and the heavy athletic events, including tossing the caber, throwing the hammer and much else besides.  This year, a record 11 pipe bands participated, and the sight and sound of the massed bands on parade was truly thrilling.

Croquet on the lawn at Crathes Castle

On the Saturday evening, our good friend Jonathan Sayers, Pincerna to the Chief, hosted a dinner in nearby Ballater for his 60th birthday, to which he generously welcomed all members and guests who were able to attend.

Sunday 5th August saw our usual clan lunch at Delgatie Castle, the Clan Hay Centre situated near the Aberdeenshire town of Turriff.  After lunch, a convoy of vehicles transported guests to the Aberdeenshire coast to visit the two castles - the old and the new - of Slains, the seat of the Earls of Erroll almost continuously since the days of Robert the Bruce.  Once again, an informal supper was held, this time in the Kilmarnock Arms Hotel in Cruden Bay, an establishment which itself has close Hay connections.

Jane MacRae, editor of the Clan Hay Journal, generously welcomed members to her home at the Place of Tillyfoure for a barbecue on Monday 6th.  Five days of events ended on Tuesday 7th August at Ballater with Tartan on the Green, a showcase of Scotland's cultural heritage aimed at residents and visitors alike, organised by the Clan Hay Society and funded by Visit Scotland.  A truly memorable programme of events for which we owe a debt of gratitude to the principal organiser, Pam Rotheroe-Hay.