CHIEF OF CLAN MAC COLIN
Steven Gillan, known to his kinsmen as Stiofan Ui Giollain Maccaolinn, is the Chief of Clan MacColin of Glenderry. After many years spent pursuing an interest in Gaelic culture and Clan participation, he was named to the Chiefship by his predecessor, as is customary.
Born in Los Angeles in 1946, Mr. Gillan was raised in Whittier, where he spent 12 years in the Catholic parochial school system. Active in dramatics throughout his high school and college years, Stevens's grandmothers and the Franciscan Brothers of Galway were the first to interest the young man in Irish art and language. Soon he was also introduced to Irish musical tradition, particularly the then very popular Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem group.
In 1963, one of his high school English teachers suggested to Steven that he attend the Renaissance Faire; this, though not apparently directly related to his Irish studies, has proven to be a profound influence in Mr. Gillan's life. He has attended every Southern California Renaissance Faire since then, with the exception of those held from 1966 through 1969, when he was in the United States Army.
Through the Renaissance Faire, Steven met and became a member of "Clan Colin", a group who had formed a virtual Clan under the leadership of their Chief, Eoin MacKenzie, a Scots-Canadian, military veteran and nautical historical researcher. Steven and his wife, Christal, were married in a historically accurate ceremony at the Renaissance Faire in May of 1976.
In 1977 the Southern California branch of Clan Colin, MacColin of Glenderry, became quite active, and Steven Gillan was great contributor of time, resources and expertise during the Clan's growth. Holding a number of positions in the Clan, including Chief Medic, Sergeant and Lieutenant, he was also a prolific Clan artisan, producing beautiful carvings in the "insular" interlace style, as well as exquisite drawings and fine hand lettering. Steven, his wife and their daughter, Jessica, formed one of the most accurately costumed, picturesque family groups in the Clan. Extensive readings in Irish and Scottish history made Steven one of the best-informed and oft consulted member on questions of historical precedent and accuracy.
By 1979, when the Southern California branch of the Clan was established as a separate jurisdiction with its own Chief, Stephen Flannagan, Mr. Gillan looked to as a leader within the group. In 1981, at Hogmanay, he was appointed Ceann Cath (Military Leader), and in June of 1982 he was named Tanist (heir apparent to the Chiefship).
In July of 1982, on the retirement of the first Chief of Clan MacColin, Mr. Gillan assumed the office of Chief. Concerned with every Clan members' well-being, both in and away from Clan activities, he continues to provide leadership in Gaelic historical and cultural studies, and has encouraged a level of professionalism among his folk that has brought Clan MacColin great notice at Irish and Scottish community activities where cultural displays and shows are presented.
Since his retirement from Mental Health Nursing, Steven has further developed his historical skills to encompass interactive education for public and private school enrichment programs throughout California. Since 1992 he has taught at Workshop-in-the-Woods, an outdoor field trip program where students in grades 5 through 12 "step back" into the past to experience first hand the daily activities of 16th Century life. Most recently he has been developing presentations using 19th Century woodworking technologies to illustrate life in the era of the Californios. He enjoys his interests in history, art history, drawing & painting and metalworking. As they grow, he looks forward to expanding the participation of his grandchildren in his family's reenactment activities.