September 3, 2023 – Romance in the air on Korcula, as the granddaughter of Sir Fitzroy MacLean weds on his beloved island of Korcula. Photographs by Mario Paparela @paparelaweddings
One of the things I love about Croatia is that there are so many untold stories in all corners of the country. It has been a real pleasure over the years to make the most incredible discoveries in the most unlikely of places. Recent examples of this are the story of Josip Mikulec from Oroslavje who walked all over the globe for over 5 years collecting signatures from important people include US Presidents and British Prime Ministers and royalty, and the miracle healing creams at the Romulic Magical Forest in Baranja.
A few years ago on Korcula, I met a very pleasant Englishman who had a house on the island. Nothing so unusual about that, as the Dalmatian islands have become very popular with British buyers, EXCEPT that his family had bought the house in the late 1960s.
Which was impossible, as foreigners could not buy property. Indeed, I think I am correct in saying that this was the only foreigner who managed to buy property in former Yugoslavia during the Tito era – thanks to Tito himself, who apparently amended the Yugoslav constitution to allow the transaction to go through.
For the buyer was none other than Churchill’s man in Yugoslavia, Sir Fitzroy MacLean, who struck up a personal friendship with the Yugoslav dictator, and whose working relationship contributed greatly to the success of the war in the region.
It was during this time that Maclean first came to Korcula, as part of the war effort. It was love at first sight, a love that continued after the war, as did the friendship with Tito. When Maclean and his wife decided that Scotland was a little too miserable for living weatherwise, TIto allowed his friend to buy a house on his beloved Korcula, close to the main square in the old town, a property which remains in the family ownership today. You can read a lot more about the story of Sir Fitzroy Maclean in a feature story on TCN several years ago – Korcula’s Real-Life 007 – the Man Who Would Be Bond.
For MacLean knew Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond series, and it has been speculated that Maclean’s swashbuckling antics were a contributing factor into the Bond character (as were several others including Serbian Dusko Popov who lived in Dubrovnik.
MacLean died in 1996, but he would have surely been proud this week as the family’s ties to Korcula were strengthened, as his granddaughter tied the knot on the idyllic Dalmatian island.
Margareth MacLean married American Dustin Helgeson, a native New Yorker and a marketing expert. In addition to close family members, the happy event was attended by young artists and designers from New York who were delighted with Korcula and are already planning their return next year. The wedding was organised by Korcula Dream Weddings. Congratulations to the happy couple.