New Zealand Branch


Celts, Art and Identity

On a recent trip to London I was fortunate enough to visit an exhibition "Celts, Art and Identity" at the British Museum organised with National Museums Scotland. The exhibition was an attempt to tell the story of the celts from 500BC to the present day. The director, The British Museum Neil MacGregor writes "While the Celts were not a distinct race or genetic group that can be traced through time, the word 'Celtic' still resonates powerfully today, all the more so because it has been continually redefined to echo contemporary concerns over politics, religion and identity. The word continues to strike a resonant chord both nationally and globally, along with populations of Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and this diaspora communities around the world.

Of interest to the Macpherson clan was the highlighting of controversial figure James Macpherson, the 18th century writer poet "translator" of the Ossian cycle of poems. Timely mention with the recent marking near Kingussie of the 220th anniversary of his death.

In conjunction with the Exhbition was the publishing of a book of the same name 'Celts, Art and Identity', edited by Judith Farley & Frase Hunter. High quality illustration and photos of art, artifacts tracing the origins and developments of Celts over 2500 years.

Clan Macpherson DNA Project

The Macpherson Clan DNA project is a CMA initiative for those seeking trace their genealogy within the Clan, Tim McPherson past Chair of Clan Macpherson Association New Zealand has forward his results and experience of entering into this project, Thanks Tim

"The Clan McPherson family tree DNA project has shown up that there were several parsons who gave rise to the surname. Just as there were several Donalds who gave rise to the McDONALD surname when they were adopted 700 to 800 years ago. Our branch appear to be descended from a medieval Celtic priest possibly from the Kilmodan church at the clachan of Glendaruel in the Cowal peninsula in Argyllshire. This is where my great-grandfather Archibald who came to NZs, grandfather Donald was born in 1780. He married Janet Blair at Dunoon and great-great-grandfather John was born in 1804 when they were farming on Ardentraive farm overlooking the crossing to the Isle of Bute where the cattle were swum across. John farmed at Gobegrennan up in the hills from Campbelltown in Kintyre. A brother Alexander went to America and Thomas to Australia. 5 of the 200 Mcpherson men so far DNA tested match us in the time frame of surnames. Closest match is a Canadian whose ancestor Hugh was born at Loch Awe in 1832. He was married at Kilmartin where they have a tradition of stone carving, particularly grave slabs as they do in Kilmodan in Glendaruel which I had a look at when I was over there. More distant matches were further up the coast to Arisaig opposite the Isle of Skye where a lot of people were sent to Canada during the l and clearances. Originally I thought we might descend from the red headed parson on Skye but the DNA detectives say we are not related and that because we are distantly connected to Maclachlans whose clan territory is further up the glen from my ancestor that this is where we were living 700 years ago when we adopted the MacPherson name. The MacLachlans and related clans such as the Lamonts claim descent from an Irish prince of the O'Neill dynasty. Glendaruel got its name about this time as the Gaels that came over from Ireland fought the Norwegian occupiers and threw so many of their bodies into the river it turned blood red.

Regards Tim

PS We do have distant MacPherson relations in the Spey valley as 3x great-grandmother Janet's niece Mary married Donald father of John, Thomas & Andrew MacPherson in the mid 1800s".

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