History of the McBain Memorial Park

Hughston McBain 21st chief of Clan McBain circa 1961. Satanding on the memorial spot of the park with the town of Dores and Loch Ness in the backgrond
Thomas Innes of Learney Lord Lyon from 1945 to 1969

It all started on September 26, 1958 when my grandfather Hughston M McBain petitioned the Lyon Court for Chiefship of the honorable “clan Mcbean”. Among the many requirements to become a Scottish chief the Lord lyon replied with an interesting suggestion:
H.M. Register House,Court of the Lord Lyon,
Edinburgh, 2, 21st October, 1958.

“…I think you should make an effort to repurchase Kinchyle, which is near Scaniport in
Yours sincerely.
Sir Thomas Inncs of Learney,
H.M. Register House
Edinburgh 2, Scotland

Hughston M McBain 21st Chief of the clan McBain

In an excerpt from An American Scottish Chief, written by Hughston, Lord Lyon states that “the Scots looked down their noses at landless chiefs”. So the the land hunt was on! My Grandfather quickly found a challenge: “I soon learned that Scots won’t sell land!”. In 1959 Scots were naturally suspicious of foreigners (Americans in particular!) believing they might “ruin” the neighborhood with honkey-tonks, etc. The exact location of the old “Kinchyle Clan Lands” were then owned by the Baroness Burton (of Bass Ale – London). All efforts were made to buy 100 or 200 acres of the old Clan Lands. For almost 2 years she refused to sell at any price! Finally she agreed to sell a “wee piece”, about 2 acres up the hill side from the town of Dores. It wasn’t until the summer of 1961 that the area, now called McBain Memorial Park, was finished. Then it took 2 more years to get permission from the road authorities to put up a directional sign on the Dores road pointing the way to the Memorial Park

History of thefts at McBain Memorial Park

The park was born in the summer of of 1960, by 1963 we had our first loss, heather. An excerpt from An American Scottish Chief tells the story.

“I engaged Mr. D.A. MacKinnon of Howden & Co., Inverness, to plant our heather. By the end of the third year we had 20 different varities and they were doing well. Then came trouble! Visitors from all over the world would not only clip the heather blossoms, but pull up whole plants! (And I’m afraid all too many were Scots!) Pondering as to a solution, I decided that the usual “Don’t touch” or “Keep off” signs would do no good. So (after a few Scotches one night)

I dreamed up signs with a lighter, friendlier touch: “McBain Memorial Park – No burial ground – no bodies around” “A thief one day, to our dismay, took plants away, he’ll rue that day!” “Please let us stay; we want to cheer you, on your way!” “Let me be, I’m just a Wee tree!” After these were installed, securely fastened, at least 80 percent of the pilfering stopped. I still believe the thieves were not professional – just clansmen who wanted “a wee bit of the Chief’s heather” to take home for planting.

The next casualty was the road sign marking the turn off to the Park from the A.862 road near Dores.  This sign was placed in service in 1963 and by 1970 this sign along with it’s replacement were gone.  As with the heather we feel these loses were due to souvenir collectors.    The last two thefts are the most hurtful.  The two defiant bronze cats, taken in 1997, and the bronze plaque taken in 2011.  Even though these items were very securely fastened we feel the melt down value of the bronze made these pieces too vulnerable.  As discussed in “Phase 1”  the replacement art  will be made out of other materials.

June 6th 2014 The New McBain Plaque

Moira Geoffrion,  recently retired head of the University of Arizona Art Department created our new plaque. There were several goals in the replacement design.  First, should the new plaque look like bronze.  Second it most be made of materials that do not have the inherent value of bronze.  Third must stand the test of time.  Well done Moira!

Thanks to Lisa McFarlane who penned a new sign to help this plaque stay in the park.








June 6th 2014 The New McBain Plaque

After the thefts ending in 2011, we as a clan did the heavy lifting that Celts are famous for to restore our Park on be behalf of our Chief James McBain of McBain 22nd hereditary Chief of the ancient clan MacBean, our forefathers and all clans people around the world.  On August 5th 2016 McBain Memorial Park hosted a rededication ceremony to celebrate the return of the cats.  Many thanks to those that donated time, skills, and funds in recognition of the importance of this wee bite of land in the Highlands of Scotland.  Peter McIllwain, Clan president, brought 22 clans people from Australia, Canada, and many parts of the United States to the celebration. In total we had fifty plus and a drone.  Also present by way of Peter McIllwain was the MacBean tartan taken to the moon by Alan Bean Nov. 20, 1969.  Yes it’s true this piece of tartan was taken to the moon, to the surface, and back to planet earth, and now back to the lands of the ancient clan MacBean in Kinchyle Scotland.  If you’re a member you can read a great article about the trip to Scotland by Peter McIllwain in the members section of this site.  If you are not you are missing out.

The journey began with an artist, Moira Marti Geoffrion, former head of the University of Arizona Art department, who accepted the request of Richard McBain Tanist to donate her skills to create the cats which stand today at McBain Memorial Park.  Her sculptures give the Park a human touch with something created by her hands only.  The cost of creating two one of a kind pieces and shipping them across the pond to Scotland, and installing, isn’t cheap.  Thanks to James McBain of McBain’s passion to support all things Celtic.  Our Chief has volunteered his time to attend all of the highland games in Arizona, some for over 38 consecutive years.  Jude Mackenzie, who runs the Flagstaff Games in Arizona, took fundraising for this project as a challenge.  As a thanks to James McBain of McBain, Jude challenged the other highland games of Arizona to match the Flagstaffs donations to the cause, and they did.

We MacBeans are part of a larger family and that family is Clan Chattan.  August 4th 2016 at the Clan Chattan AGM Piper Cindi McIntosh-Behr volunteered to Pipe at the rededication and her contribution was amazing. Thank you Celia Mackintosh of Moy Hall for hosting the Cats, the plaque, and me Richard McBain of McBain younger during the entire construction efforts.  Finally, a special thanks to Lisa McFarlane my partner… It was her idea to travel light, very light, so the Cats could be our luggage… saving hundreds.

The Road Sign Returns

In 1963, Hughston McBain of McBain 21st hereditary Chief was granted permission by the “road authorities” to place a sign on the A.862 road near Dores to mark the turn off to McBain Park.  Sadly it was taken only few years later.  By the late 1960s the second road sign installed by James McBain of McBain 22nd hereditary Chief was also removed.

Thanks to Allan MacBain, clan MacBean UK genealogist, for finding Alistair MacLeod, Principal Technician for the Highland Council Community Services, Inverness. In response to a request by Clan Tanist, Richard, for permission to replace the sign Alistair replied “We are constrained by the requirements contained within current legislation and guidance, and a modern day directional sign would need to fit within certain set standards.  As a compromise we would be content for a sign, similar to that shown in the photo supplied by you, to be erected at the rear of the verge next to the field boundary fence.”

The sign sign was installed March 7 2019

Alan Bean Memorial

Alan Bean Memorial 2022

This will be updated soon