Being a MacLean – My Scottish Clan Story

To be Scottish and to grow up in an area like Culloden, it’s impossible to not feel a strong affinity towards your Scottish heritage. Being from a hot spot of Scottish history, sometimes you’re intrinsically aware of the golden thread tying you to the area and in most cases your clan.

The Ashmosphere  - Pale girl with green eyes and dark hair wearing the Ancient MacLean tartan scarf

What’s in a name?

In Scotland, we have the unique situation where often our surnames don’t just connect us to our families but a larger network, now spanning the globe. Your clan is a kinship with others and a shared identity. Recently, ScotlandShop got in touch with me, asking me to be part of their MacLean clan celebrations.

I have always identified as Scottish above anything else. This is largely down to a number of factors: My family hail from the remote Scottish Hebrides, both my primary & secondary education was steeped in Scottish history and I grew up in the heart of the Scottish Highlands. Where I lived (and my parents still do) is a stone’s throw away from Culloden Battlefield, the location of the last battle on British soil. Much busier now due to, the global hit, Outlander but even now it’s a solemn and atmospheric place to visit.

When I was approached by The Scotland Shop I took that opportunity to really reflect on what it means to me to be Scottish and part of the MacLean clan. Read my MacLean Clan interview here.

The Ashmosphere - Pale girl with green eyes,  dark hair and red lips smiling wearing a scarf made of Ancient Hunting MacLean tartan

Being a MacLean

I always appreciated my Scottish-ness but I can’t say I truly my clan kinship until I moved abroad for six months to study abroad. In 2015, I moved across the other side of the world to the sunny state of California. Despite being in another English speaking country, I still felt the culture shock and the near-constant pangs of homesickness. My Hawaiian roommate must’ve been giving me some serious side-eye as I Facetimed at ridiculous hours to beat the time difference and watched Still Game reruns on the days I really needed to hear another Scottish accent.

One day I came across an advert for the annual Californian Highland Games taking place at The Queen Mary ocean liner. I hadn’t been to a Highland Games since I was a wee girl but it was there I felt the kinship between clans for the first time. Those whose families had emigrated at one point of time or another, generations later were still connected to the idea of their clan and keeping traditions alive thousands of miles away from where they began.

This is the moment I can pinpoint where I began to appreciate belonging to a clan. Being part of a clan, whether it be MacLean or one of the countless others gives you a sense of pride that is unique to Scotland and its people. We have a feeling of belonging and history, which goes beyond your immediate family tree and ancestry.

Thank you to ScotlandShop for giving me the opportunity to reflect on my heritage. You can read my MacLean Clan Interview here.

Until next time, 

Ashleigh x


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