River love flows to words
GAELIC is a language rarely spo- ken in the Clarence Valley today, its rich historical origins all but forgotten by the descendants of the Scots who brought it to Aust- ralia in the 19th Century. One man who kept it alive was Duncan McFarlane, a former mayor of Grafton, who arrived with his family as a 12-year-old to settle on the Clarence River in 1861. During his long life, Mr McFarlane gained an intimate understanding of the Clarence River's history and of the towns that dotted the Valley, through his many roles in the communi- ty. His mayoralty was comple- mented by a position on the com- mittee of the Grafton Hospital and as chairman of the Grafton Water Board. For 29 years he was an elder
of St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, and for most of that time a session clerk, representing the church in federal and state assemblies. It was with this ex- haustive knowledge in the affairs of the Clarence Valley that Mr McFarlane began writing his His- tory of the Clarence in 1924. Reminiscences of the Clarence followed and was penned by an 89-year-old Mr McFarlane in 1938. When asked to speak on ABC radio during the jubilee celebra- tions in Grafton, Mr McFarlane presented an entire segment in fluent Gaelic for the last remain- ing Scots-born people on the Clarence. Edited and compiled by his granddaughter Esma Job, Mr McFarlane's prized accounts of local history are now available for purchase from the Clarence River Historical Society.