Great-Great-Granny and James Bond
This brief commentary was prompted by a story on National Public Radio announcing the death of Sir Fitzroy MacLean on June 17, 1995. Olin Robison eloquently recounted most of Sir Fitzroy’s accomplishments, but was unaware of his greatest feat. You can read Mr. Robinson’s NPR obituary at www.salzburgseminar.org/orcomments/template.cfm?id=192.
The following is my response, which was aired several days later. I also recommend that you do a Google search on Sir Fitzroy MacLean and Creggans Inn in Strachur, Argyll, Scotland.
I was surprised and delighted by your commentary on Sir Fitzroy MacLean, the Scotsman who reportedly was the inspiration behind Ian Fleming’s James Bond.
I knew of MacLean not only as the swashbuckling hero of legend, but also as a member of the British Parliament, an ambassador (to the Soviet Union, I believe), the author of a very fine history of Scotland, the genius behind the postwar containment of the Iron Curtain, and the lord of my family’s ancestral estate (the one described by your commentator). MacLean remodeled my great-great-grandparents’ manor in the western highlands into a beautiful bed and breakfast.
I was eager to visit Creggans Inn when I first went to Scotland fifteen years ago because my great great-grandmother — Mary Madeleine Campbell — was quite a famous ghost. She died of a broken heart in 1871 after her husband dumped her for another woman and sent their three daughters to live with poor relations in Ireland; she then returned in the wee hours of the night to stalk the earthbound with piteous cries. According to family legend, she – like Lady Macbeth — roamed the upper halls of the manor wringing her hands, moaning horrifically, and calling out for her lost babies. Her unhappy afterlife was so transparent (excuse the pun) that the homestead was included in several books about haunted houses in Scotland.
But about ten or fifteen years after MacLean took possession of the manor in the 1950’s, my dear great-great-grandmother ceased her nightly roamings. I can only suppose that MacLean, alias James Bond, used his masterful skills to good effect. I guess we will never know whether MacLean relied on his formidable undercover skills to spook the unliving daylights out of her, or whether he just charmed the poor lady into heaven. I’m sure that she’s a happier woman in any case.
Well done, 007.