Thanksgiving for Gilleasbeag Maclellan

At The Church

We gather in God’s House to worship Him and to offer a dignified thanksgiving for the life gifted to Gilleasbeag Maclellan.  Gilleasbeag died within Hairmyres Hospital on Saturday 18th May with family around him; he was 90 years old.

Gilleasbeag was a fit strong man for his years, still very active and independent.  The suddenness with which significant ill health reared its head and the rapid decline that followed has left us bewildered and shocked.  Even now it is hard to take in that he is gone from us.

Today will be a day for grieving together, for remembering fondly the truly wonderful man Gilleasbeag was, and as we remember him, we will express gratitude for knowing him, for him being our friend and neighbour, for him being  such a central figure in family life.  Gilleasbeag brought joy into our lives, a sense of calm dignity and graciousness that we have been blessed to know and which now offers us strength and comfort for the journey ahead.

Today will be a day of giving thanks for Gilleasbeag’s faith in God and in His Son Jesus Christ.  Gilleasbeag trusted in God’s promises of eternal life and we know that God our Heavenly Father will not break his word of promise to Gilleasbeag, nor to us.

Then let’s remind ourselves of the promises our Heavenly Father has made to all His children:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who in his great mercy gave us a new birth into a living hope by his resurrection from the dead.

I have come from heaven, not to do my will but the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of what he has given me but raise it up at the last day.

Hymn – The Lord’s my Shepherd


God our Father, here in your presence we coming seeking a place of shelter; hold us within your arms, be our refuge and our strength.  Be the one to lift us from out of the darkness and turmoil of grief into the brightness and peacefulness of your presence. Turning to your eternal words of promise may we find our trust and hope renewed, that we might live each day in the faith that we shall see our loved ones again in your eternal kingdom. AMEN.


Psalm 90

1 Corinthians 15: 12 – 20


Donald and Morag Maclellan were blessed with five children the eldest of whom was Gilleasbeag born on 19 June 1933 and raised, at least in his youngest years in Partick.  Gilleasbeag was soon joined by his brother Dolic and sister Margaret.  Gilleasbeag would have been about 5 years old when the family moved to Lochportain, North Uist.  Gilleasbeag was then blessed with two more siblings Donald-Alex and Marina both born in Lochportain.  Margaret is now the sole custodian of memories from those childhood years.

Lochportain is a remote place even by Island standards.  There was back then no electricity, no TV, not even a road to connect it to anywhere else.  Travel was by boat to Loch Maddy when provisions were needed or on foot across the open landscapes.  Just as Gilleasbeag was taken out in the boat by his dad so he continued that tradition with the next generation.  Donald and the “Monty’s” will fondly remember those days.

For the main part the Maclellan family were self-sufficient on their croft but if Gilleasbeag’s mum should need flour he was sent off to the Post Office with meat or veg to barter for some flour.  It was a hard life, but also a beautiful life with time to look, to see and appreciate the beauty of nature.  It goes without saying that church and codes of conduct around the Sabbath Day played a big part in Gilleasbeag’s young life.

School years began for Gilleasbeag in Lochportain Primary, then to Trumisgarry Primary when the family moved to Newton Ferry in 1945.  This may have made life easier but it was still a mile and a half walk to Trumisgarry Primary.

At age 12, Gilleasbeag started High School in Portree, Isle of Skye, he became a boarding pupil only returning home during the summer holidays and maybe at Easter and Christmas too.  Gilleasbeag became very aware of the language barrier where many of the children only spoke Gaelic while the teachers spoke English.  Gilleasbeag was one of the lucky ones fluent in both languages.

I imagine that Gilleasbeag’s artistic talent was beginning to shine through during his school years but art seldom pays the bills.  On completing his secondary education, he still helped work the croft and worked for a local builder.  In 1955, age 22, he began at Glasgow School of Art to study Sculpture and a whole new chapter in life began to open up for him.  Combing two scholarships he had won, Gilleasbeag travelled to Italy to see first-hand numerous classical art works.  It was quite an adventure for a young man, in his early twenties, travelling on his own when had never travelled further than Glasgow; even crossing the border into England felt like a being in a foreign land.  Venice, Florence, Milan, Rome, Pompeii and Naples made a huge impression upon him.  Apart from the journal he kept of his travels he was also inspired to create his own sculpture based on David and the Ram; it turned out to be an award winning piece.  Gilleasbeag had become an artist.

During his time in Art School Gilleasbeag stayed with his cousin Ann.  And it was during that time that he met Jean whom he was later to marry; they married in Halfway in 1961.

It was then, and is now, very difficult to make a living by being an artist.  Gilleasbeag took the decision to go into teaching, gaining his teaching certificate at Jordanhill in 1958 and starting his teaching career at St Roch’s High School, Glasgow.  By 1965 Gilleasbeag and Jean were settled in East Kilbride in the house in Hastings; they were raising their son Donald and Gilleasbeag was teaching at Hunter High School.  Gilleasbeag moved on to Redhurst High School in 1974 from which he took his retirement aged 60.  Sadly, the beginning of Gilleasbeag’s retirement coincided with Jean’s passing. When I first came to know Gilleasbeag some 2 or 3 years after Jean had passed away,  he was still trying to come to terms with his loss and grief; thankfully, he found his way through.

Gilleasbeag never forgot his roots on North Uist.  The longer summer holidays in his teaching career gave him and Jean and their son Donald the opportunity to return to the croft on North Uist.  Gilleasbeag’s nephew Glenn and nieces Marina and Marion-May would go with them too.  I think they would say these were the best summer holidays ever. It wasn’t just the island surroundings or the stream they all played in making boats from Iris leaves; it was the kindness and patience and gentleness Gilleasbeag had for them.  He could nurture and teach and inspire, he could laugh with you, be genuinely interested in you, care about you and never for a moment did you think any of that was false.

Family meant so much to Gilleasbeag.  He loved his trip to Ayr for afternoon tea with family, he loved it when grand-niece Shannon moved to East Kilbride, he took interest and pride in all his nephews and nieces, of whom there are many.  He was on the phone with Etti and Anella in Uist every Sunday evening.  He held a special place in his heart for Glenn’s son Daniel.  And of course, he held his daughter-in-law Tracey in deepest affection and grandchildren Connor and Maya were a delight to him.

I could indicate to you some of the many things that Gilleasbeag so skilfully crafted; from the rocking horses he made to creating a design for the church’s stain glass window (how I now wish it was his design that we were allowed to use) art work for Easter Festivals and signwriting on our church noticeboard, Christmas decorations and repairs; so much of that work completed in his lock-up, an Aladdin’s Cave of tools and materials.  He loved his garden which in itself became an expression of his artistic abilities.  Everything and everyone he touched was blessed by his touch.

And this is the thing about Gilleasbeag; it didn’t matter who you were or how you came to know him, through the church, a neighbour in Hastings, Probus Club, the Wood Working class at Red Deer, he was always the same person, gently spoken, kindly, first in line to offer help, bright, intelligent, well informed, sincere, talented, humble; to put it simply the most wonderful man, a prince among men.

My Grandad. A humble man. A wise man. A well-respected man. An inspirational man. A wonderfully talented man. Above all, a man, with an incredibly strong, caring and loving heart.

My Scottish heritage is something I have always been proud of. I represented Scotland Rugby League in Glasgow on Sunday 11th September 2011. The badge on my chest represented my Dad, my Grandad and Grandma, and everyone else who has stood before me. My Grandad watched on in Glasgow that day. A proud Scotsman and Maclellan, I am sure.

I shared my tears by your bedside, and in return, you gave me all the strength you had. I’m stronger than ever before, ready to make a difference to this world, just like you did.

When I walk along certain paths during the low periods of my life; when I’m suffering from anguish, sorrow, or defeat, I may only be able to see one set of footprints beneath me. When I need someone the most; I may feel that no one is there for me.
But I must always remember, that during the most trying periods of my life; I may only be able to see one set of footprints, but that, is when my Grandad, is carrying me.

My Grandad. Who may have left our world; but never our hearts.

Prayers of Thanksgiving lead by Ann McNab

Hymn – How Great thou art

The Grace

The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all, now and forever more. AMEN.

At the Crematorium

The Lord says: Do not be afraid, I am the first and the last, and I am the living one; for I was dead but now I am alive for evermore, and I hold the keys of death and death’s domain.

Jesus said; I am the Resurrection and the Life, he who believes in me though he die yet, shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.

Taking strength from God’s promises of eternal life we turn to Him and give thanks for the life gifted to Gilleasbeag.  Gilleasbeag died peacefully within Hairmyres Hospital on Saturday 18th May with family at his side.


We thank you Father in Heaven for loving us enough to send your son Jesus Christ to this earth for us. He lived his life for us knowing all the pains and pleasures of human life. Yet despite him having done no wrong we sent him to the cross to die. There he gave his life for the forgiveness of our wrongs that we might enjoy life everlasting as the reward of faith in him. We thank God for the faith he has given us assuring us of the gift of eternal life. Trusting in God’s promises we turn to thank him for the life he gave to Gilleasbeag.

Father in Heaven, we thank you for Gilleasbeag’s young life in Partick and North Uist.  At times a hard life that required perseverance and stamina, a life that required reliance on family, a life filled with beauty and love and faith.

We thank you for his school years and the independence he learned as a boarding pupil at Portree High School.  We thank you for a young boy full of promise, a talented, gifted artist who was able to pursue that gift through Art School and inspire others to take time to look and see and express the world around us.

We thank you for married life with Jean and the joy of raising their son Donald together.  We remember Gilleasbeag as a dad, his infinite patience, his calm tolerance never lifting his voice in anger.  We think on those summers on Uist along with the wider family, when there was time for adventure, to play, explore, learn and be free.

We thank you for his enduring love for all his family – his daughter-in-law Tracey, nephews and nieces, cousins and grandchildren; we thank you for the warmth of his love and the tenderness of his care.

We thank you for an intelligent and engaging man, who gladly gave of himself, there to help, be a friend, a good neighbour.

We thank you for his deep and enduring faith in Christ which now reassures us he is safe within God’s everlasting arms.

Father in Heaven, our memories of Gilleasbeag are simply without number. We cannot recount them all today but you know them all and hear them all and you know the love and sorrow that now embraces our hearts.  Bring us reassurance through faith in Christ that one day we will be with those whom we have loved and lost.

We thank you Father for graciously hearing our prayers. AMEN


Romans 8: 35 and following

A time for Reflection – Ann MacNab

The Crematorium Committal

We have entrusted Gilleasbeag Maclellan into the hands of God, and now we commit his body to be cremated, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; having our whole trust and confidence in the mercy of our Heavenly Father and in the victory of his son Jesus Christ the Lord, who died, was buried, and rose again for us and is alive and reigns for ever and ever.  AMEN

Prayers for the Bereaved

Lord Jesus Christ, we have taken time this day to say our goodbyes, yet, we know that our journey with grief is far from over. Grant us forbearance with each other and with ourselves as we travel through the ups and downs of grieving.  

Send to us the comfort of your Spirit to heal our wounds and wipe away our tears.  In times of darkness bring a new dawning light reassuring us that your words are true and can be trusted that you shall watch over Gilleasbeag, guard him and protect him until that day we are reunited in Heaven.

So now may the peace of God, which passes our utmost understanding keep guard over our hearts and thoughts in Jesus Christ the Lord; and the blessing of God, Father Son and Holy Spirit, be with us all.  AMEN.

One Reply to “Thanksgiving for Gilleasbeag Maclellan”

  1. C Arnott

    John McInall (Jean’s brother) and Catherine Arnott are sad to hear of Gils passing and send our thoughts & prayers. In 2018 we made our first of three trips over to Scotland, East Kilbride to stay with Gil. I walked with him in the morning to get our breakfast buns & a paper. He gave me a dictionary to learn Gaelic, and,Sent him emails using whT I learnt I am a Potter and thus we shared many a conversation. I, Catherine and John miss him.

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