The Island at Blairsville

Blairsville Island

Clan Forrester routinely attends the Blairsville Scottish Festival and Highland Games. Directly behind the Clan Forrester site is a natural Island in the midst of the clear mountain stream. A tradition of claiming the Island was started by the ladies of Clan MacNeil. They first claimed the island as Colonsay; the ancestral home of Clan Chief Archibald MacNeil. Colonsay house was completed by the MacNeil family in 1722. Of Course Clan Forrester disputed this claim citing all of Scotland, Ireland and Great Britain were after all islands – hence the British Isles.

Nathan E. Forrister, of Clan Forrester, especially has a claim since his autosomal composition is over 95% Orcadian according to Eurogenes v2 K15. Clan Forrester furthers the claim through the marriage of Jean St. Clair to Sir John Forrester. Jean St. Clair was of course from the Earl line of Orkney. Also one of our lineages is closely related to the Sinclair Herdmanston group form Lothian Scotland – just a day’s sailing excursion from Orkney. A compromise was reached – the northeast portion would be Orkney and the southwest portion would be Colonsay.

Sole Ownership

We love the MacNeil ladies at Clan Forrester. We consider them great friends and spirited Clansmen. However, they have not been in attendance for the past 2 years. Clan Forrester claimed sole ownership of the island due to abandonment by the MacNeil’s. Clan Forrester took undisputed possession of the island in 2017.  Clan Forrester now pays for two sites at the Blairsville Festival – this of course includes the Island.  This history must be understood to continue the tale.

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Island Interloper

We noticed a new castle on our island upon arrival Friday afternoon. Beth Terry came by and informed us Clan MacCallum / Malcolm had erected the edifice on the island. Building on a property you don’t own has been frowned upon for centuries. We were certain Clan MacCallum could produce no title, rent receipt or sasine writ to support their claim. We knew they had not contacted us concerning ground lease for the erection of a structure.

Inspectors Tax Appraisers and Collectors

These were among the official duties of Forresters of the Crown. Coincidently, Nathan E. Forrister is a building inspector and Nathan W. Forrister is a tax appraiser. Nathan E. conducted a thorough inspection of the edifice and found it non compliant with 2015 International Building Codes Standards. The following violations were noted:
1] The three story structure was not sprinkled and clearly in violation of the 75 foot ingress / egress code.
2] A building of such scale must have divided zones with 2 hour fire rating.
3] The environmental impact was far more egregious since no sanitary sewer or septic system was evident and no health department permit was found.
4] No level three soil analysis was conducted to ascertain adequate support of the building or if the ground would percolate.
5] No footing / pier inspections were ordered during the excavation phase of construction either.
6] No attachments of engineered drawings concerning width and depth of excavations was found on site.
With so many violations stacking up, Nathan E. had no choice but to find the building unfit for human habitation, shut it down and condemn the structure in accordance with guidelines set forth by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

Since proper permits were not obtained by MacCallum, Nathan W. had no way of knowing how long the structure had been completed. A fair market value was determined and Clan MacCallum was found in arrears of taxes for the year 2017 and 2018. This further complicated matters as a lien and levy could now be placed on the structure and sold to the highest bidder on the Union County Courthouse steps. Three other Clans approached the Forrister’s for information concerning the upcoming tax sale. Beth Terry acted as liaison and informed Clan MacCallum of the problems and possibilities. Beth was most helpful as she taped off the surrounding area to keep the public from harm while a remedy was reached.

Discussion and Agreement

Negotiations opened and as suspected, Clan MacCallum could produce no sasine or title. Duntrune Castle is located on the shores of Loch Crinan in Argyll, Scotland. Therefore claim to Island property was not historically accurate. Since Loch Crinan is a saltwater Loch, Clan Forrester allowed a compromise for a proper scale model of Duntrune Castle to be erected on the Blairsville Island which would comply with State of Georgia construction standards while maintaining the scale of the category B listed structure. The following list contains the highlights of agreement between Clan Forrester and Clan MacCallum / Malcolm:

1] Clan MacCallum would remove the deficient structure at their expense.
2] Permits were issued for a new structure four times the size of the previous attempt.
3] Fair market value of the proposed new structure was estimated at four times higher than the first attempt – so four times the annual tax would be collected.
4] Taxes on the new structure would be assessed at 60 merks per annum or a bottle of McCallum’s blended Scotch
5] Ground lease signing rights and penalty interest on back taxes would include a bottle of McCallum’s 18 year old single malt Scotch.
6] Clan Forrester agrees to aide Clan MacCallum / Malcolm in defense of Duntrune Castle against possible invasion by Clan MacDougal who built the Castle in the 12th century – or Clan Campbell who took it from MacDougal in 1644.
7] The story of the handless piper of Duntrune must be told every year at the Blairsville games. 

Clan Forrester Friend for Life

The Forresters have long been businessmen holding a pragmatic world view and a knack for solving problems. David Curran of Clan MacCallum is such a man as well. Everyone involved had a great attitude and a big laugh as the “dispute” was argued and a settlement was achieved. Best of all a friendship between Clan Forrester and Clan MacCallum / Malcolm emerged.

David is a friend of Clan Forrester for life and is welcome in our tent wherever we may travel. He is also one of the best story tellers of Clan history I’ve encountered in quite some time. Preserving and relating Clan history to another generation is what the games are about. David is a great asset to Clan MacCallum / Malcolm and to the Scots Clans community as a whole. We are honored to call him friend.

Nathan E. Forrister
Clan Forrester Society
Council Member
DNA Consultant