In Memory of Chris McGuire 1959-2020

A tribute to Chris, who was a dedicated RBSF Festival Secretary & Promoter for many years.

Eulogy from Norman Macdonald

Before I begin, as many of you may not know me, I should first introduce myself.   I am Norman Macdonald, the current President of the Victorian Scottish Union, an Umbrella organisation of Scottish Clan, dancing and historical societies within Victoria.   But, how do my wife Jan and I come to know Chris and Christine Maguire as very good friends.

To be honest, I can not recall the very first time I met Chris, but believe it to be around 2012, when we were looking at holding an annual conference of the Victorian Scottish Union, as well visiting the Robert Burns festivities. within the Camperdown area.   In the following years, it was if he had always been a part of the Victorian Scottish arena, participating in the events, and giving helpful advice, and liaisons.

For a few years, I saw Chris in his Farquarson kilt, more than in his every day wear.   Given that Maguire is a well known Irish name, and the most common surname in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, many people, not knowing the clanships between Ireland and Scotland would wonder at Chris’ alliances.   The Maguires now have their own very colourful tartan, and Clan Societies.

Chris very quickly, combined his Camperdown Tourist Information Bureau, with his role in Victorian Scottish Union, and as Secretary of the Robert Burns Club Camperdown.   He originally started the rounds of the Highland Gatherings around Victoria, and Bundanoon, New South Wales, as well as visiting Canberra, in an effort to promote the Robert Burns Camperdown Festivities, but rapidly changed those to assisting at the VSU and Clan Donald tents.   He became a very valued member, with his wealth of knowledge of Burns, Highland cattle, Scottish weapons, culture, music, and whisky.   His ability to remember names, faces, and networking within the Scottish community was second to none.

Chris’ control was obvious on one occasion, when a particular attendee at a Scottish Festival, believing he himself was a popular Scottish actor, attempting to woo the public with his looks and someone else’s well-earned charms.   The attendee had acquired a wooden sword, and challenged Chris to a sword fight.   Chris produced his own claymore, spoke no threats, just a few well chosen words, causing us not to see the opponent for a considerable time after.

Similarly, Chris started to take Highland Cattle hides around to the gatherings to display at the tents.   It was amusing to see his face, first when someone offered him a mere $100 for a beautiful hide. But then to see his face light up when a man, of obvious South East Asian extraction and language, barter with Chris for the same hide to a mutual agreement.

Not just at the festivals, but in person and online, Chris liaised with many of the Celtic artists, and bands throughout the world, some of whom may not have attended Camperdown but for him.

Such was his attraction, that in 2014, the VSU conference was held in Camperdown; in 2016 the Australian New Zealand Clan Donald Forum visited Camperdown; and in 2018 the Robert Burns Pacifica forum was also held in Camperdown.   He was very much a promoter of Scottish Highland Dancing within Victoria, irrespective of the dance society’s dance code, inviting them to participate in Camperdown’s festivities.

Although, obviously not a dancer himself, Chris and Christine attended the Warnambool and District Caledonian Society socials. The Clans and Societies Balls, to keep abreast of the Scottish Country Dancing, and networking.   He was also present at the annual Robert Burns of Melbourne supper where Camperdown’s local Dr John Menzies gave the Toast to the Lassies, with the reply given by Carolyn Menzies.

Chris’ constant computer research meant that he often knew, and relayed information, before many of the parent Victorian Scottish Societies were aware.   His skills earned him the respect of his peers, such that in 2018 he became the District Vice President for the South Western District, a liaison role, within the VSU.

Prior to finishing, I believe it is well known that Chris had an educated knowledge of Scotch Whiskies.   Indeed, he hosted the Scotch Whisky tastings for the Robert Burns Camperdown Festival.   He and I enjoyed many a critique of Scotch together, on the nights of several of the festivals, solving, as one does, all the troubles of the world.  On one occasion, we had enjoyed a couple of beautiful, flavoursome whiskies, when Chris was required to negotiate a narrow, Feng Shui, paving stone path to his bedroom.   Due to the unsteady pavers, Chris ended up, on his back, in the bamboo, laughing merrily, proudly holding the Scotch whisky bottles aloft, intact.  

Prior to my retirement from full time employment, my wife Jan and I were looking for a tree change, viewing properties within the Colac Otway, and Corangamite Shires.   One dark night, during our search, we appeared on the doorstep of a particular house in Carpendeit, and I can only say that our friendship has grown from there.

Chris and Christine were responsible for us finding our current residence, and have supported us selflessly throughout our transition.   They have been regular attendees at Clan Donald weekends, and events held within the area, prior to Covid.  It is my prayer, that we, including the Victorian Scottish Union, and the Robert Burns Camperdown may support Chris’ family as well as the future.

Norman Macdonald
Victorian Scottish Union

Eulogy from Sarah

Christopher Arthur Maguire, now before I begin I must share a little story, if Chris were here today and heard me call him that, I would of copped a rather loud sigh of disappointment for calling him Christopher, and possibly been told what a family member was, just after he had laid his mother Betty to rest, “there’s only one person that calls me Christopher, and she’s gone now”, so to pay my respect, I will now refer to him as Chris. 

Born on the 13th of July 1959, at Colac Hospital, Chris was the first son of Arthur and Betty Maguire, the following year in October, his only sibling, Brian was born.

He started his primary education at Barwon Downs, and finished at Birregurra.

Chris was a troublesome child, always keeping Betty on her toes, she would often share a story of how she had to take dad into the doctors as a child, because he shoved a crayon up his nose so far that she couldn’t get it out. 

In 1972 Chris commenced his secondary education at Colac high school, it was here that he met our mum, Christine. After graduating in 1977, Chris would move on to marry mum on the 20th of October 1979, the following January, Adam was born. In 1980 he started working for Colac Dairying Company which would later become Bonlac, starting in casein processing and moving on to cheese processing, it was here he gained the nickname Cam or Cammie.

Now not everyone got along with Chris, the thing with him was, a spade was a spade, there was no sugar coating things, he was blunt and you always knew where you stood, characteristics too profound for the sensitive. He did try his best to get along with most, apart from the odd vegan or Geelong supporter.

January 1984, their second child Rhiannon was born, the following year as a family of four, they made the trip across to WA via Ayers Rock, visiting Aunty Jan in Esperance and cousin Greg White in Perth, 4 years later, along came Sarah. It was this year, 1989, that Chris would move the family to Werribee, to commence studying at Gilbert Chandler for the next four years, returning to Carpendeit in between study. He completed his certificate in applied science – Dairy food Technician, returning to Bonlac full time and moving into the dryers where he would work 12 hour shift work.

Chris was heavily involved in the Carpendeit primary school where the kids attended, he was a member of the school council and volunteered in many areas when the school closed down. After Carpendeits’ closure, he then served on the School council at Simpson where Sarah had transferred to, also volunteering his time at working bees, school sports and the cross country. Chris would also attend the school in his own time to help with the grounds upkeep, his presence never went unnoticed by the students, with his signature mullet hairstyle and moustache, comments like “hey, there’s Billy Connolly” were constantly yelled out by the kids, a comparison he was quite chuffed by. 

In 1996 Chris and Christine purchased their own 30 acres at Carpendeit, a clean up commenced making room for a large orchard and vegetable garden where Chris would end up spending a lot of time pottering around during days off. In 1997, with his passion for Scottish heritage and highland cows, they purchased 2 cows and a bull, the following year, another 4 cows would be bought and their little heard would start to grow. All the cows had names, and most would come when called with a “come on toots” or “here you go mcbull” as a wad of hay was thrown over the fence, occasionally snagging a horn.

As well as serving on the school councils, Chris also served on the local Carpendeit hall committee, after many years as an active committee member, he then took on the role of secretary/treasurer, applying for grants and organising fundraisers to improve the hall, During this time he was able to organise a renovation which extended the hall and provided a brand new toilet area, including amenities for the disabled which was a a huge benefit to the hall itself and the community. Chris also considered himself a bit of a trivia buff, so it wasn’t a surprise when he organised Carpendeits’ very own trivia night, another fundraiser which would would go towards upkeep and improvements.

As well as giving back to the community, Chris also loved AFL and was a one eyed Collingwood supporter, he also enjoyed cricket, which led to him organising bus trips down to the MCG, to watch Australia play its first one day match for the year, the first game of the season was always chosen as these games provided the best atmosphere, with the Mexican wave, a streaker or two, and with his good friend Jason along for the trip, there were many laughs had by all. 

In 2001 the family hosted a Chinese exchange student, Belle, who became Chris’ third daughter, in November of the same year, he would travel to china to meet Belles family and see the attractions. Belle had always told us her father was a fire engineer, upon arriving in Nanjing he soon noticed there had been some confusion during translation, he was greeted by Belle, and her father dressed in a full military uniform. He ended up having the trip of a lifetime, being assigned his own chauffeur and translator, taken to the usual attractions like the Great Wall and the city of Beijing, and then there was the attractions you only get to see when you’re the guest of a Lieutenant General. The trip lasted 2 weeks, calling home every day, informing us of the top shelf whiskeys he’d shared with belles father and friends, that even he said burnt the hairs off your chest, upon returning home, he was also greeted by an exorbitant phone bill from all the calls he’d made gloating about his special treatment.

In 2006 Chris was awarded the gold watch from Fonterra, formerly bonlac, for 25 years employment within the company.

2010, this was a huge year for Chris, not only did his beloved Collingwood win the grand final, but his first grandchild was born, Nickeya. The following year in 2011 he retired from the Cororooke milk factory, with his new role as grandad, a knee surgery to correct his dodgy “Maguire Knee”, and no more shift work, we all welcomed a softer more gentle Chris that no one had ever seen before. 

In 2011, he would welcome his second grandchild Damian, little did he know it then, but Damian would share his interests in all things war, soldiers, and even thunderbirds. In later years, visits to nan and grandads for Damian would involve watching thunderbirds dvds and also taking trips up to Ballarats Kryal castle to share their other common interest of medi evil.

After retirement, Chris threw himself into the Camperdown community, joining more organisations such as, Camperdown P@A society, Corangamite Arts and started volunteering at the Camperdown information centre, where he met Pat and Ric who would become great friends with himself and mum. As he was driven to put back into the community, he ran for the local shire however unsuccessful in the election, this drove him more to get tourists into the local townships and put Camperdown on the map so to speak. Joining yet more organisations such as Advance Camperdown, Great Ocean Road Tourism and the Robert Burns club, together with mum they also volunteered for the rotary club, and although not members, have been recognised as “friends of rotary”.

In 2015, two more grandchildren arrived, twins, Anthony and Dominic, and one years after that, another grandson, Nash. After mum retired from milking, they started to get out and enjoy themselves, having trips to the annual Port Fairy Folk festival, Echuca, South Australia and many more, catching up with friends and relatives. Highland gatherings were another huge interest, regularly attending the Maryborough highland gathering and later travelling further afield to Bundanoon and Canberra, it was attending these events they met friends Jan and Norm who developed a special friendship over the recent years.

In 2018, while sitting at the local celebrating St Patricks day, putting down a Guinness or two, Chris welcomed the news of yet another grandson, Jaeger. And just 10 short weeks ago, another grandson was born, Banjo, who unfortunately he never got to meet.

So today, we don’t just say goodbye to Chris Maguire, we say goodbye to Dad- the temperamental but proud father, Chris- the stubborn but caring husband, CAM- the blunt but loyal friend, and Granddad- the doting grandfather of 7.