Final orders on Glenbarr Abbey’s Christmas cheer

Want to read more?

We value our content and our journalists, so to get full access to all your local news updated 7-days-a-week – PLUS an e-edition of the Campbeltown Couirer – subscribe today for as little as 56 pence per week.

Already a subscriber?
Subscribe Now

A light dusting of sparkling snow set the scene for the last ever Glenbarr Abbey Christmas open day.

Jeanne Macalister, 89, originally from Rhode Island, greeted more visitors than ever before at the Kintyre tourist attraction last Sunday.

Mrs Macalister has held special Christmas parties for more than 30 years and in the year 2000 the present format evolved.

Visitors tour the rooms full of seasonal antiques including a stuffed reindeer and two Christmas trees with 3D lights, which have to viewed through special glasses, before heading to the giftshop and tea room.

Many of the items were collected by the late laird, Angus, 5th of Glenbarr, who passed away, aged 70, a decade ago.

Mrs Macalister, the late laird’s second wife, known as Dowager Madam Glenbarr, supported by a small group of volunteers manages the clan centre for the Clan MacAlister Charitable Trust (USA).

Since the winter of 2008-2009 she has resided in the adjoining coach house, which belongs to her, and is easier to run as living accommodation.

When the abbey is open for visitors, such as on the two Christmas special days, the volunteers take donations at the door which pay for the building’s basic upkeep.

On Sunday Mrs Macalister said: ‘The funds from donations are used to pay for ongoing bills such as electricity, insurance and lawyers.

‘There is nothing left for heating. The roof leaks and it would cost at least £3 million to restore the abbey.’

Some of the Mairi Semple volunteers from left were: Linda McLean, Margaret Sinclair, Pauline Simson, Jill Lines, Kathleen McGougan, Helen Steel and Elizabeth Young.
Some of the Mairi Semple volunteers from left were: Linda McLean, Margaret Sinclair, Pauline Simson, Jill Lines, Kathleen McGougan, Helen Steel and Elizabeth Young.
Jeanne Macalister in the abbey's hall.
Jeanne Macalister in the abbey’s hall.
Amelia, 3, and her dad Donald McLean.
Amelia, 3, and her dad Donald McLean.
A Christmassy windowsill at Glenbarr Abbey.
A Christmassy windowsill at Glenbarr Abbey.
Ava, 7, with a model of Santa Claus.
Ava, 7, with a model of Santa Claus.
11-month-old Mirren Dickson meets Santa Claus.
11-month-old Mirren Dickson meets Santa Claus.
Maggie Wilkieson with her grandson Finlay, 4 and granddaughter Robyn 3.
Maggie Wilkieson with her grandson Finlay, 4 and granddaughter Robyn 3.
Another Christmas window scene at Glenbarr Abbey.
Another Christmas window scene at Glenbarr Abbey.
Accordionist Alec MacKinnon plays for Angus Fee, 10 months and his dad Daniel Fee.
Accordionist Alec MacKinnon plays for Angus Fee, 10 months and his dad Daniel Fee.

 

Many come to the Christmas open days to sample the Mairi Semple Fund for Cancer Relief and Research member’s home baking and special soups which, on Sunday, caused bottle necks in the tea room.

Mairi Semple volunteers have provided fare at the abbey’s Christmas open days for 17 years. The fund’s chair, Pauline Simson, said that the final weekend was its busiest ever with more than £1,000 collected.

Mrs Simson said: ‘Sunday was the busiest ever I cannot remeber running out of food before.

‘Since the year 2000 the fund has raised more than £16,000 at this event.’

It is the passing of an era and many Kintyre children’s first experience of Santa Claus may have been in the abbey hall in front of a blazing log fire.

Last Sunday was no different, some cried in fear, while others were only too keen to see what the strange man with the big beard was all about.

 

11-month-old Mirren Dickson meets Santa Claus. 25_c50glenbarr06_Mirren_Dickson_11_months

Maggie Wilkieson with her grandson Finlay, 4 and granddaughter Robyn 3. 25_c50glenbarr07_Maggie_Wilkieson_Finlay_4_Robyn_3

Some of the Mairi Semple volunteers from left were: Linda McLean, Margaret Sinclair, Pauline Simson, Jill Lines, Kathleen McGougan, Helen Steel and Elizabeth Young.. 25_c50glenbarr01_Mairi_Semple_caterers

Jeanne Macalister in Glenbarr Abbey’s hall. 25_c50glenbarr02_Jeanne_Macalister

Ava, 7, with a model of Santa Claus. 25_c50glenbarr05_Ava_7

Accordionist Alec MacKinnon plays for Angus Fee, 10 months and his dad Daniel Fee.  25_c50glenbarr09_Alec_MacKinnon_Angus_10months_daniel_fee

Skye, 10, and Callum, 9 tell Santa Claus their wishes for Christmas. 25_c50glenbarr10_Skye_10_Callum_9