Equinox….. John Rae’s Birthday…..

by Bernie Bell - 08:41 on 23 September 2022


By Mike Bell

Wind blows through the Ring of Brodgar,

Stones are blessed again by driven rain drops

As they mark off the wheeling of another year.

And here we are, feeling the warmth:



John Rae’s Birthday……

I’ve previously written lots about John Rae and the Hall of Clestrain…. https://theorkneynews.scot/page/3/?s=John+Rae+Society+Bernie+Bell  and so received info. about the events which have been planned to celebrate the good doctor’s 209th birthday.  Here it is……

Two public events are planned to mark the 209th birthday of Orphir-born Arctic Explorer John Rae on Friday September 30th..

At noon, a piper will lead celebrants from the St Magnus graveyard gates up to John Rae’s burial place where John Rae expert Bryce Wilson will give an address, and a small libation of Highland Park whisky will be poured on John Rae’s grave to honour his memory.

In the evening collectors of whisky, original art and books and others interested in supporting the society are invited to a birthday auction celebration at Skaill House from 7pm.  The evening begins with a smoked salmon and fizz reception before the official draw of the John Rae Big Birthday Raffle for which more than 2000 tickets have been sold over the last few months. Raffle prizes include a weekend stay for two at Skaill House, a bottle of the now sold-out special edition Highland Park John Rae Whisky, and items by local artists and craftspeople including jewellery from Malcolm Appleby and Sheila Fleet and artworks by Ingrid Grieve and Jeanne Bouza Rose.

After the excitement of the draw, with wine and whisky tastings of Highland Park whisky, Orkney’s expert auctioneer John Copland will call a fundraising auction with lots including signed specialist books, original artworks, and a rare special edition Highland Park Whisky.

President of the John Rae Society Andrew Appleby says: “As we mark the 209th anniversary of the birth of one of Orkney’s most famous sons, who displayed remarkable courage and resilience in the face of Arctic adversity on his explorations, we extend a warm welcome to his fellow Orcadians to join us to remember him at his graveside and in the evening to celebrate with appropriate fanfare and fizz that will raise vital funds to create a fitting legacy to John Rae’s achievements.”

The John Rae Society is working to restore John Rae’s derelict Grade A listed family home and create an International Arctic Visitor Centre in Orphir.

“Our aim is to welcome the world to Orkney to celebrate John Rae’s pioneering work in the Arctic at his restored home and centre where we can work in partnership to grow and share an understanding of the Arctic through education, research, knowledge transfer and cultural awareness,” added Andrew.

The public are requested to turn up at St Magnus Graveyard for noon on September 30th.

Those wanting to attend the Birthday Charity Auction, which is free, should register on Eventbrite here: John Rae Charity Auction and Reception Tickets, Fri 30 Sep 2022 at 19:00 | Eventbrite  or email Cheryl Chapman: chapman611@btinternet.com.

The aim of the John Rae Society is to advance the public understanding of the life and achievements of John Rae as the discoverer of the final navigable link of the Northwest Passage and one of the greatest Arctic explorers.

John Rae (1813-1893) was an Orcadian surgeon who signed up for service in the Hudson's Bay Company. He spent time learning the skills of indigenous people around his post at Moose Factory. Due to his skill and renown, Rae was chosen to search for fellow Arctic explorer, Sir John Franklin and his missing party, which he did in 1854, after making four long explorations of the Canadian Arctic from 1846.

The Society’s vision is to raise funds for the Hall of Clestrain Community Regeneration Project, creating an internationally renowned visitor centre by 2026, sharing the true story and ethos of John Rae and Orkney’s key role in Scotland’s past, present and future connection with Arctic exploration and discovery.

The Hall was built in 1769 and is a grade A listed Palladian Villa, the first to be built in Orkney of that design. It has a long history involving pirates, poets and explorers.

The John Rae Society is supported by OSCR, LEADER, Historic Environment Scotland, The Architectural Heritage Fund, Orkney Islands Council - Community Development Fund, The Cuminga Charitable Trust, Edrington Trust, the Co-op, The Pilgrim Trust and Birsay Energy.”

Further info. can be found on the John Rae Society Website: www.johnraesociety.com


As usual – here’s one I made earlier….. https://theorkneynews.scot/2018/07/23/thinking-about-things/

Comment from Jeanne Rose at 23:53 on 23 September 2022.
Walking the Ring of Brodgar...your poem captures it all. It was a better morning today, but each day, the differences are special. And Yeah...to John Rae!!!
Comment from Bernie Bell at 09:47 on 24 September 2022.

Jeanne knows about walking the stones.....check out The Orkney News - article entitled 'Walking The Stones' - I'm not allowed to put weblinks in here!

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