Scottish Clan Tours
Researching your family tree is a voyage of discovery. Full of intrigue, exotic names and fascinating histories. It is a pastime that rewards again and again. But those who simply trace their family tree from the comfort of their own home are missing out on the real story of their heritage.
For the whole exciting picture, you need to visit the places you read about. And that means a trip to Scotland. To help you plan your trip, we've compiled a number of clan-themed touring itineraries . So if you see your clan name, just follow the trail and walk in your ancestors' footsteps.
Originating from Ireland, the Clan Kennedy is mainly associated with the far
south of Scotland, particularly the Carrick district in Ayrshire. They were
kinsmen of the Bruce Clan and were staunch supporters of Robert the Bruce at
his victorious battle of Bannockburn. Over time the Kennedys settled worldwide
and played an important part in many historical events, including in the US
where they remain an important name in US politics.
This itinerary highlights just a few of the stories and places where the Kennedy Clan have left their mark in Scotland, taking you to the attractive Clyde coast with its many ancient castles and ruins, superb country parks and gardens, and to more northerly places including the ancient religious centre of Scotland at Dunkeld. You can experience the peace and tranquility of the inspiring Scottish landscapes, the evocative splendour of ancient castles, the hospitality of the local people and much more.
Arrive in the cosmopolitan city of Glasgow, Scotland's largest urban centre and a popular destination for a short break. Glasgow's fine museums and galleries are complemented by the Mitchell Library, one of the largest public reference libraries in Europe and home of the city archives.
Travel south to Maybole, the ancient capital of Carrick. John Kennedy of Dunure and Cassillis married the heiress of the Carrick earldom in the mid 1300's. Maybole has many fine buildings which are proof of its lengthy history and it is surrounded by many sites of interest. The 16th century Maybole Castle was the Earls of Cassillis' town house and is still in occupation today, being looked after by the Maybole Historical Society. The castle has a square tower and round turrets typical of this period's architecture. Two miles south is Crossraguel Abbey, which was founded by the Earl of Carrick in 1244. It is one of the best preserved abbey ruins in Scotland. Nearby on the road towards Kirkoswald is Baltersan Castle, built by John Kennedy in 1584. Although now ruinous it was once a fine example of a Scottish mansion.
Set in a majestic landscape, to the west on the coast, is Culzean Castle. Originally built in the 13th century as a defensive castle it was restored by the 10th Earl of Cassillis in the late 1700s. It houses a fine collection of paintings, furniture and armour. If you have time Castle Kennedy is 40 or so miles south near Stranraer. The original castle was burnt down in 1716 but the site is now the home for Lochinch Castle and the very beautiful Castle Kennedy Gardens. North from Maybole and along the coast is Dunure, a small fishing village and harbour built by the Kennedy clan. Once a Kennedy stronghold, Dunure Castle is a crumbling ruin and is being gradually washed into the sea. It was built by "Good Sir John Kennedy" but is notorious for the activities of Gilbert, the 3rd Earl of Cassillis who tried to encourage the Commendator of Crossraguel Abbey to sign over lands to him by roasting him over a fire in the dungeon. Fortunately for him, the Commendator escaped and greedy Gilbert did not get the land he wanted.
Today travel north to Stirling and visit the very impressive Stirling Castle, a favoured royal retreat and the childhood home of Mary, Queen of Scots. Then journey a mile or so southwest of the city to visit the very poignant site of the Battle of Bannockburn (1314). Following the vanquishing of his rivals in Dumfries, Robert the Bruce was crowned King of Scotland and began a long and arduous campaign to secure his title, finally achieving success at this battle, supported by the Kennedy clan.
James Kennedy, brother of the first Lord Kennedy, was one of Scotland's most respected bishops; he was Bishop of Dunkeld which can be found north east of Stirling. King David I made Dunkeld the centre of Christianity in Scotland. There have been religious settlements here since 730AD and now the narrow winding streets of the picturesque village lead to the ornate gates of the magnificent Dunkeld Cathedral set beside the River Tay with rolling hills beyond. If you now drive east and follow the coast north enjoying the scenery, wild life and castle monuments on the way, you will arrive in Aberdeen. Spend a few hours exploring the distinctive grey-stoned architecture that gives the place its nickname of the Granite City. The Kennedys of Kermuck were hereditary constables of Aberdeen from 1413. Little remains of their time here because in 1652 the family was outlawed following a fight where John Forbes of Watertown was mortally wounded. The family moved north to Orkney and later some family members travelled to Canada as employees of the Hudson's Bay Company.
Now head south towards Edinburgh. If time allows take a detour to the historic city of St Andrews. James Kennedy the Bishop of Dunkeld also became the Archbishop of St Andrews. He founded St. Salvator College in 1455 and was buried in the college chapel in a magnificent tomb. Ruins of the chapel are still visible today. Travel on to Edinburgh, Scotland's magnificent historic capital.
In Edinburgh you will be spoilt for things to do and places to visit. A good starting point is the National Museum of Scotland in Chambers Street. Here, you'll find the history of Scotland from early geological times through to the present day. At the nearby Scottish Genealogical Society library in Victoria Terrace you'll find plenty of fellow travellers and enthusiastic researchers, as well as a wealth of genealogical information and guidance. No appointment is necessary but there is a small charge for non-members.
You can visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse at the end of the Royal Mile. The new Scottish Parliament building lies nearby. At the other end of the Royal Mile is Edinburgh Castle . In 1460 James III was 9 years old when he inherited the throne from his father. Gilbert the first Lord Kennedy was one of the six regents who ruled Scotland until James III came of age. James was very generous to his favourites, but this made him many enemies and at one time he was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle.
Travel back to Glasgow where you can enjoy more of the city's many attractions before leaving for home.
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