The whir of a wheel sounds with determination as Ian MacLean practices for an event near and dear to his heart. Ian is a descendant of the famous Maclean clan from Scotland, a group that spans the world. They all have a symbol in common: the majestic Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull, just off the west coast of Scotland. It’s listed by Historic Scotland as a category A building – of national and international importance, the highest category they have! It symbolizes what a clan chief’s castle should look like: proud, defiant, but not palatial.
This ancient structure has been the seat of the Maclean Clan since the 14th century. Sadly, the castle was abandoned and became derelict for almost 100 years.
That changed when Sir Fitzroy Maclean, 26th Chief, purchased the castle back in 1910 with the intent of restoring it to its former grandeur. He held the first modern gathering of Clan Maclean in 1912.
At the centenary gathering in 2012 Sir Lachlan, the current Chief, asked the clan if they would be willing to help with the much needed repairs to the castle. The Clan Congress unanimously supported his request.
This restoration is a massive project and luckily Sir Lachlan is not alone. One of his strongest supporters is the selfsame Ian MacLean – former president of Clan Maclean Atlantic Canada, twice president of Clan Maclean International, a trustee on the Scotland-based Clan Maclean Heritage Trust, secretary for the Duart Restoration Board, and sometime bicyclist.
From June 13 to 19, 2019, Ian will take a 400 km cycle along secondary highways from Tidnish, Nova Scotia, (just across the border with New Brunswick) to Washabuck, Cape Breton to raise awareness for the Clan’s castle. He will stop along the Sunrise Trail, Route 6, at various locations to visit Maclean- and Scottish-related monuments and communities.
Duart is but one of two castles still owned by a clan chief. It was enough to inspire Ian to make the trip to Scotland himself. He remembers the pride he felt as he walked on the very stones on which his Maclean ancestors once stepped. That feeling contributed to his steadfastness in ensuring that his sons, his grandchildren, along with any persons with a keen interest in history and castles, always have the opportunity to visit this historic place.
However, Duart Castle still needs extensive renovations. Ian intends to raise enough money to make a difference and he is excited at the enthusiasm shown so far.
When asked what clan chief Sir Lachlan thinks of his upcoming expedition, Ian laughs, “I think he thinks I’m nuts. But to quote my doctor, after he put me through the paces to see if I was able to make this trip: ‘You’re in great shape for an overweight 73-year-old. Go for it!’ “.
For every kilometer Ian pedals, he plans to remind himself of the old Maclean war cry: “Fear eile airson Eachuinn” (Another for Hector). This Hector refers to the 18th Chieftain of Clan MacLean (1620-1651)
Follow Ian MacLean’s Ride For Duart:
Ride for Duart Blog: https://portcityspaces.ca/rideforduart/blog-2