CELT document T402566

The Book of Clanranald


The Book of Clanranald

The Book of Clanranald is found in two manuscripts, at present known respectively as the Red and the Black Books. Dr Cameron was engaged in transcribing from the Black Book of Clanranald when his last illness came upon him; and he had copied out only about a third of what is here extracted from that Book and placed before the public. He had got the MS. from Dr Skene, whose property it then was; and, on Dr Cameron's death, it was returned to Dr Skene, who, in his turn, restored it to the family of Clanranald.

The Black Book is a thick little paper MS., strongly bound in black leather boards: it could not be better described as to appearance and chief contents than in the words in which Ewan Macpherson, the coadjutor of “Ossian” Macpherson, describes its sister volume, the “Red Book” of Clanranald, viz., “A book of the size of a New Testament and of the nature of a common-place-book, which contained some accounts of the families of the Macdonalds, and the exploits of the great Montrose, together with some of the poems of Ossian.” The exact dimensions of the Black Book, a specimen page of which is herewith given in its full size, are as follows: — Length, 5 1/2 inches; breadth, 3 1/2 inches; and thickness slightly over an inch; all exclusive of the thick leather boards. It contains 232 leaves, or 464 pages, of which 36 are blank. The rest of its pages are in various hands, Irish and English, of the 17th and 18th century. Indeed, the Book appears to have been made up of some three or more separate MSS., written at different times by different persons, and ultimately bound together in one volume some time last century. The cutting of the edges in the process of binding proves this; for in the Macdonald History, the first few leaves have letters half and even almost wholly clipped away, but the reading is quite clear, and the letters can be supplied from manifest indications of their former presence. Almost all the last half of the MS. is in English, written last century, and dealing chiefly with the praises and exploits of the Marquis of Antrim, the friend of Charles I. and Montrose. The Macdonald History forms altogether less than one-sixth of the Book (some 72 pages), and the rest of the Gaelic  p.139 material extends to a like amount (74 pages), made up chiefly of poetry, with 14 pages of Irish kingly genealogies; but many of these Gaelic pages contain only disconnected jottings. A full account of the contents of the Black Book will be given further on.

The history of the Book itself is very obscure. Upwards of thirty years ago, Dr Skene disclosed his discovery of the Black Book to the present Clanranald (Admiral Sir Reginald Macdonald), informing him that he had picked it up among some old Irish MSS. at a book-stall in Dublin, when he at once bought it. Dr Skene, as already said, restored the errant volume to the representative of its ancient possessors after Dr Cameron's death, and the MS. is now safe in Clanranald's possession. By the kindness of Clanranald, who lent both the Red and the Black Book to the Bank of Scotland, Inverness, to be consulted and transcribed by Mr Macbain, we are enabled to complete Dr Cameron's transcription of the Macdonald History, with the addition of one or two heroic poems. The rest of the Gaelic, or rather, Irish material, as will be seen from our detailed account of the contents of the Book, is not of interest to Scotch readers, and abundance of similar poetry and prose exists in manuscript and print on Irish soil already. No portion of the English materials is reproduced here.

The famous Book of Clanranald is, of course, the “Red Book”, which figures prominently in the Ossianic controversy. The relationship between the Red Book and the Black Book is exceedingly close; they are both “common-place-books”, as Ewan Macpherson said, and the Black Book, as regards the Macdonald and Montrose histories, is but a curtailed form of the similar histories in the Red Book. Indeed, the former omits some of the best episodes recorded in the latter, and wherever a condensation seemed necessary or possible, it takes place in the Black Book narratives.

The writers of these books were the Mac Vurichs, the hereditary bards and historians of the family of Clanranald. They traced their descent to Muireach Albanach, circ. 1200, who was famous as a poet both in Ireland and in Scotland. They had as perquisites of their office till about the middle of last century the farm of Stailgarry, and the “four pennies” of Drimsdale in South Uist, close to one of the seats of their patron, Clanranald. The Mac Vurichs were learned in all the lore of the Gael, and it is even said that they studied in the colleges of Ireland. In any case, even to the last of the direct line, Donald of Stailgarry (floruit 1722), they were scholars of no mean repute, capable in Irish, English, and Latin. The early history of the Macdonalds down to about the year 1600 was probably composed by different and successive members of the family, but the history of the Montrose  p.140 wars and of the events thereafter is clearly the work of Niall Mac Vurich, who lived till a great age, his youthful recollections being, as he himself says, of the reign of Charles I., while his latest efforts were elegies on the death of the brave Allan of Clanranald, who fell at Sheriffmuir in 1715. The Montrose history seems to have been written before the year 1700, and the avowed object of its author is to vindicate the part which the Gael played in the brilliant escapades of Montrose's campaigns. The hero in Mac Vurich's page is Alaster Macdonald, not Montrose, and, undoubtedly, Alaster did contribute, to an extent much underestimated, to Montrose's success.

The Red Book, as, already said, figures largely in the Ossianic controversy. James Macpherson, accompanied by his clansman Ewan Macpherson, visited Clanranald in 1760, and, at Clanranald's direction, received the Red Book from Neil Mac Vurich, nephew of the last great bard, and himself described as not a “man of any note”, though capable of reading and writing Gaelic in the Irish character. But here our authorities begin to disagree. Rev. Mr Gallie in 1799 had given a graphic description of Macpherson on his return from the Isles to Badenoch wrestling with the difficult Gaelic of beautifully written and embellished MSS. on vellum, received, as he understood, from Clanranald, and written by Paul Mac Vurich, the 14th century Clanranald bard. Now, Ewan Macpherson said, in a declaration made a year after Mr Gallie's statement, that Macpherson got from Clanranald only the “common-place-book” detailing the history of the Macdonalds and Montrose (which is now extant, and known as the Red Book), but that he did not get the Red Book or Leabhar Dearg from him: Macpherson only got an order for it on a Lieutenant Donald Macdonald at Edinburgh, who then possessed it. This Leabhar Dearg contained, so Clanranald told them, some of the poems of Ossian; but Ewan Macpherson never saw it nor did he know whether James Macpherson ever got it. In the same year (1800) Lachlan Mac Vurich, son of the Neil that gave Macpherson the book, declared that his father “had a book which was called the Red Book, made of paper, which he had from his predecessors, and which, as his father informed him, contained a good deal of the history of the Highland clans, together with part of the works of Ossian ... that it was as thick as a Bible, but that it was longer and broader, though not so thick in the cover.” His father, he said, gave this Red Book to James Macpherson, and he further denied having an ancestor named Paul. Gallie, Ewan Macpherson, and Mac Vurich are in considerable disagreement, as we see, as to what book or books ps reg="James Macpherson">Macpherson received from Clanranald, and, what is very singular, the only MS. which was  p.141 recovered after Macpherson's death was the Clanranald MS. got from Neil Mac Vurich, be it the Red Book or not. Malcolm Laing in his famous dissertation on the Ossianic question says (1800): “It is in vain to deny the identity of the Red Book, when it was restored as such to the Clanranald family by Macpherson himself.” The present Clanranald believes that he has the veritable Red Book in his possession, and, considering the amount of “hard swearing” that took place over the Ossianic Reports and Dissertations, and, having regard to the further fact that the Book has been denuded of its covers, whether purposely or not, we think that he is right in so believing. The late Dr Skene, who in 1840, it would appear, 1 was inclined to believe that the Leabhar Dearg was a different MS. from the extant Red Book, calls the latter work, in the last Volume of Celtic Scotland, the Red Book of Clanranald.

The Red Book, as we will call it, after passing from the possession of James Macpherson, was much consulted, not only by the Ossianic disputants, but also by the historians of the country. The Rev. Donald Mackintosh, of Gaelic Proverb fame, made a transcript and translation of, at least, its historical portions; and this was the translation used by the various writers who quoted the book until Dr Skene's latest work on Scotland. Sir Walter Scott quoted largely from the early portion of the history of the Macdonalds in the notes to his Lord of the Isles, and Mark Napier made use of it in his Montrose to throw light upon the obscurer points of Highland conduct in the Montrose wars. Mackintosh's translation does not appear to have been very accurate, and he certainly misled both Laing and Napier in making it appear that the writer of the MS. (Niall Mac Vurich) was present at the battle of Auldearn. The translation, which with some obvious corrections we here reproduce with the Gaelic text, was made for Dr Skene by an Irish scholar (O'C.) from Mackintosh's transcript of the Red Book, corrected by the light derived from the use of the Black Book. Dr Skene himself publishes several pages of this new translation in his Celtic Scotland (Vol. III., pp. 397–409).

Character and Contents of the Red Book

The Red Book of Clanranald is, like the Black Book, a paper MS., but slightly longer and broader than the latter; its exact dimensions are 5 7/8 inches long, 3 7/8 broad, and 5/8 thick, as it stands at present. Its covers have been cut off, and it has lost the first 32 pages. How much it has lost at the end it is now impossible  p.142 to say. That it once contained Ossianic poetry is certain; it now contains none. The Rev. Donald Mackintosh, who translated it, speaks of it in the 1807 Ossian in connection with the Edinburgh MS. 48, which has been printed in Vol. I. of the Reliquiae Celticae. After remarking that the poem Se la gus an de appears in MS. 48, Mackintosh says: — ‘This poem is also in Clanranald's book; it gives a description of Fingal's palace and heroes. I have compared both this and the other poem (Cnoc an Air) with those in Clanranald's book; but the leaves on which they were written were loose and detached, five in number, and given to Dr Donald Smith, when assisting Mr Mackenzie in making out the report on Ossian, and who died before the report was quite finished; and unless the leaves are found in the possession of Dr John Smith at Campbelltown, the brother of Donald, they must be lost. These leaves contained two other short poems ascribed to Ossian. I have copied these two last some years ago; the one is a genealogy of Fingal, the other an account of the ages of the Fingalian heroes.’ ()

The leaves referred to by Mackintosh are, of course, lost; but fortunately the interesting poem on the Ages of the Feinne is preserved, along with Cnoc an Air, in the Black Book, and is printed in our present volume further on. The poem on the genealogy of Fionn is, we fear, lost.

As at present preserved, the Red Book begins at page 33, and ends with page 310. The first 32 pages, containing the history and genealogy of the Macdonalds from Milé (1700 B.C.) of Spain down to the year 1234 A.D., is lost. It is clear that the Edinburgh MS. 50, which is a congeries of several manuscript debris, has incorporated in it 6 of the lost Red Book pages, detailing events from the death of Colla Uas in 335 to the middle of the exploits of Gillebride, father of Somerled, marked as pages 11–16. Fortunately the Black Book furnishes a complete though curtailed version of all the historical portions of the Red Book, and in the earlier part it is practically as full as the latter work. The contents of the Red Book as far as page 274 deal with the history of the Macdonalds, especially of Clanranald, and with the wars of Montrose and Alaster Colkitto, interspersed with elegies of various chiefs, one or two poems of praise, and a prose description of the last Lord of the Isles' array for battle, after the fashion of the older romantic school. Pages 275 and 276 contain a satire in English on Bishop Burnet; this is the only English in the Red Book. After some blank leaves, on page 282, appears an Irish satirical medley of Rabelaisian tinge by Fergal Og Mac an Bard; it is very indistinct in some parts owing to damage done to several pages of the MS. by the action of water. The piece extends to  p.143 11 pages; we reproduce none of it. There follows on page 293 a song in praise of love, and on page 295 another by Cathal (M'Vurich) in dispraise of the same, followed by a vigorous poem by Niall Mor M'Vurich wishing the prolongment of love's long night: —

  1. Let not in the morn;
    Rise and put out the day!
These poems are printed further on. Then on page 298 there comes the first part of a poem by Diarmad M' Laoisighe M' an Bhaird on the armorial bearing of the Red Hand; this poem and the reply to it by Eogan O'Donnelly are given in full in the Black Book. Here Niall M'Vurich answers both the Irish claims for the Red Hand in two poems of 23 verses each.

There are three handwritings in the Red Book. Up till the beginning of the story of the Montrose wars is in one handwriting, both prose and poetry, possibly written, as the historian Laing said, by Cathal M'Vurich; while the Montrose wars and the rest of the history is the work, and doubtless the handwriting, of Niall M'Vurich. Cathal's handwriting reappears in the poem of O'Henna and the immediately subsequent description of the arming of the Lord of the Isles. The following poems are written in an ugly coarse hand: — Elegies on Allan of Clanranald (1715), on Norman Macleod (1705), and on Sir James Macdonald, and the poem about the exile of Ranald of Clanranald (1715–1725). The rest of the poetry is in Niall M'Vurich's handwriting. The contractions in the Red Book are comparatively few, in this contrasting strongly with the Black Book; but, when they exist, they are the same in kind in both MSS.

Contents of the Black Book

We here give a short account of the varied contents of the Black Book of Clanranald. The first 14 pages contain a mixed gathering of scraps and jottings, English and Gaelic, half of the number of pages, however, being blank. There is little connection or interest in them, and the writing is mostly of the 17th century. The 15th page abruptly begins — the first portion evidently being lost — “circles are two, viz., greater and lesser. The greater are six, &c.,” describing the zones of the earth, and proceeding to give a concise account of the globe and its divisions and, with the interruption of a blank page, a concise geography of the world ending on the 42nd page. All this is in English, and in the 17th century script. Then follows a chronology extending to 13 pages; the Age of the World when Christ was born is given as 5199,  p.144 which is the same as the date implied in the chronology of the Macdonald History, and also the same as the chronology of the Irish Annals of the Four Masters. The handwriting is like the one on the previous pages, and it is followed by 4 pages of a chronology in an 18th century hand. The chronologies are all in English. On the 69th page begin the Irish genealogies in Irish, which develop the offspring of the mythic Eber, Ir, and Eremon, the sons of Milé, through long lines of kings down to contemporary Irish chiefs like Se'an O' Neill of Tyrone and the Macdonalds of Antrim. There is also given the descent of Milé from Adam downwards. The whole extends to 14 pages. After scraps of chronology and a blank page, we light upon 12 pages of Irish poetry, forming 6 pieces in all. In the first, Diarmad mac Laoisighe mhic an Bhaird proves in 17 verses that the Red Hand belongs to Clann Rughruidhe, the descendants of Ir, and the Ulster men, citing mostly the exploits of Conall Cernach (circa year 1 of our era), who placed two thousand heads on one withe in revenge for Cuchuluin. In the second poem, of equal length, Eogan O'Donelly denies and ridicules this, claiming the Red Hand for Conn and his descendants, whereof are Clann Colla, whence, as we have it, the Macdonalds are descended. We have already noted that Niall Mc Vurich replies to both poets in the Red Book. The third poem consists of 4 (not 5) verses of advice à la Cormac's Advice to His Son in our ballads. These verses are: —

  1. No 5 rainn dhuit a Dhonnchaidh
    deuna mar adera síad
    diogha rainn ni bhfuighir uaimsi
    crainn go ttorrthaibh uaisle íad.
  2. Brath haignidh abhair beagan
    bi go réidh fo rachadh ort
    na beir breith re gáol do ghaire
    go breithe don taobh eile ort.
  3. Na hob síth na seachan cogadh
    na creach ceall gion bus beó
    na bi do gniomh tenn os tengaidh
    na dena feall no gealladh gleó.
  4. Bi go mín accríochaibh carad
    a ccrioch biodhbhadh na bi tais
    bi go cáoin re deoraidh Chriost
    a leomháin do shiol Chormaic chais.
 p.145 The fourth poem is a lament for a young lady's death, in eighteen verses, beginning —
Buan an leunsa air Leith Chuinn.

The fifth poem is ascribed to Deirdre, and we print it further on.

Then follows a poem of ten lines, an address to a flagstone, sinnt ar dháoi, over a bad person, with its underlying contingent of maggots, beetles, and mortal remains.

On the 97th page, and attached to these Irish poems by being on the same sheet, are the three pages of Macdonald History detailing, with genealogies, the Macdonald Chiefs contemporary with the writer's time, written in Allan of Clanranald's chiefship (1686–1715). This will be found printed further on, practically where the Red Book places it. Five blank pages, when we enter on a new sheet of paper, and we have the History of the Macdonalds, as hereafter printed. It extends to 63 consecutive pages. But abruptly, on the 63rd page, and in the same handwriting, there begins, with the last two lines of the page, a treatise on Gaelic grammar and prosody, thus: —
Madh aill fios dfhaghail ciunnus is cóir Gaoidheilg do sgriobhadh ⁊ do leighedh ni fular dhuit fios na guidhuidhibh ⁊ na consonuibh do bhi agad.

The latter portion discusses prosody with examples, closing with the two heroic poems of the Ages of the Feinne and Cnoc an Air, which we print. There are only four pages of this grammatical material, exclusive of the poems. Then follows the genealogies of the clans Maclean, Mackenzie, Macbeth, and Campbell, which are, with equal abruptness and in a different hand, followed, on the reverse of the page, by the genealogies of the Antrim Macdonalds, extending to six pages. All these genealogies and histories will be found in our text.

On page 187 begins a poem of forty verses on “Siol Colla” — the Descendants of Colla, which details their glory and privileges — these same being detailed with more definiteness and less obscurity in an Irish extract in Skene's Celtic Scotland, Vol. III., pp. 462–466. On pages 194 and 195 is a poem of seven verses, condoling with a Bean, or Wife, at a Grave, and conjuring all the Fenian heroic wives to her assistance. After some blank pages come seven pages, in a large coarse hand, of Gaelic proverbial philosophy, founded on Solomon's Proverbs and the Wisdom of Ben Sirach. The following is the first page and a half: — Ataid se neithe as beág ar dhia, et an seachtmadh ní as ro bheag air é . eadhon suile toileamhla ⁊ teanga cealgach, et lamha ionnalta le fuil, ⁊ cosa luath chum uilc do dheanamh, ⁊ croidhe smuaineas droch ghniomha no dhroch bhearta, agus fiadhnaisi  p.146 bhreagach, ⁊ an tí cuireas imreasuin eidir adhearbhraithreachaibh. Ataid trí neithe nach eidir shasadh et an ceathramh ní nach abair ataim sathach eadhon bean dhruiseamhail, ⁊ talamh tirim, ⁊ ní sástar iffrionn ⁊ ni faghann an tine asaith connaidh choidhche.

A taid trí neithe nach uras eolas dfagail orrtha et an ceathramh ní heidir eolas dfhaghail air .i. lorg iolar isin áer, et lorg aithreach nimhe ar carraig mar ambí na chomhnaidhe, ⁊ casan luinge isin muir et beatha dhuine attuchd oige.

On page 207 begin 31 verses on the sufferings and passions of Christ. After three blank pages there begins a poem on the history and present (17th century) state of Ireland, beginning —

  1. Nuar a smúainm ar saoithibh na h-Éirionn
    sgrios na ttíortha is díth na cléire
    díoth na ndúine is luighead agreidhthe
    bí mo chroidh im chlídh da ráoba.
There are 73 such verses, 54 of which detail the history from the Flood, and the other 29 the muster roll of Irish chiefs and the unhappy state of the country in the 17th century. Then follow five pages of odds and ends in Irish, mostly verse. From the Proverbial Philosophy to page 242 is all in the same large, coarse handwriting, slightly improving as it progresses.

At page 243 we may say that a new book begins. This is the praise of the Marquis of Antrim. The title runs: —
Antrim's Trophee
or five panegyrick speeches
Dedicated to the
Marquis of Antrimes
Excellence. Written att his excellences
arriving in Scotland anno 1646.
The first of the justice of his armes,
the second of the fortitude of his armes,
the third of his excellence true nobility,
the forth of religion and superstition,
the fifth of his lordships constancy and perseverance.

The work is by “his excellences devoted and true servant G. G.” After the five Panegyrics come accounts of the two escapes of the Marquis from Carrickfergus. The whole, which extends to 153 pages of florid English, is written in an 18th century hand, and doubtless is a copy of the original. In the same handwriting, and in English also, follows a chronology, with geography appended, extending to 33 pages. This is followed by a poem, which is the prototype of the song of the Vicar of Bray, some 20 quatrains. After eight pages of blank we find the 445th page upside down. The fact is, that from this point to the end the book is written from the last page backwards. There are only five lines of Gaelic,  p.147 which are rude and shaky. Some astronomical jottings are followed by twelve pages of a letter describing the deathbed of James VII. at St Germains (year 1701). The Book concludes by a satiric poem of twelves lines, comparing King William's conduct to Satan's rebellion against God, and entitled The Legacy. Such are the varied contents of the Black Book of Clanranald.

There are four hand-writings presented in the Gaelic portions of the Black Book, none of which can be identified with any of the three scripts in the Red Book, though there is a strong family resemblance between Niall Mc Vurich's writing in the Red Book and the chief scribe's of the Black Book, who wrote the Macdonald and Montrose histories; it is this writer's hand-writing that is reproduced in our facsimile. The genealogies — Irish and Scotch — present a hand-writing of their own; so do the Irish poems, the two sets, that which begins with Diarmad Mc Laoisige and that which begins with Siol Cholla. The fourth script is the coarse, large one already noticed as characterising the Proverbs and subsequent poetry. It may be mentioned that Neil, father of the illiterate testimony-giver of the Ossianic reports, could write the Irish character, while his uncle, Donald, who may be looked on as the last of the Mc Vurich bards, was the son of the Niall Mc Vurich to whom we owe the most of the Red Book. The genealogy runs thus: — Donald (floruit 1722 and later), son of Niall, son of Donald, son of Lachlan, son of Niall Mor Mc Vurich, who sings the praises of the famous Sir Rory Mor Macleod (chief from 1590 to 1626), his contemporary.

The Printed Text

The text of the Macdonald and Montrose histories here printed is primarily that of the Black Book; but the omissions in it, which are numerous in the Montrose portions, are supplied from the Red Book. The text is therefore continuous and full. There is only one historical poem in the Black Book — that of O'Henna. The Red Book text, on the other hand, is interspersed with elegies and eulogies, which have been here reserved to the end of the historical parts of the text.

The contractions are shown by the use of italics, and the character of these contractions may be understood by a reference to the facsimile and the printed page. The Red Book, as already said, has the same class of contractions as the other, but it uses them more sparingly. There is practically no punctuation in the Red Book, but the Black Book is well punctuated. The real difficulty in this matter is with the capital letters; it is almost impossible to say when t, d, c, g, p, b, and l are capital, while the only vowel that presents a capital form is a. Size alone must decide in such cases.

Unknown author

English translation

Edited by Alexander Cameron; Alexander Macbain; John Kennedy


The Book of Clanranald

Translation of the Black and Red Books

1. [The Macdonald History]

The Age of the World at the time the Sons of Milé came into Ireland 3500 [1700 B.C.]

Here are the names of the sons of Milé of Spain, viz., Ir and Eremon and Eber the Fair, Arannan, Colpan of the Sword, and Emergin White-knee, the poet; he was poet and historian and judge to them, and the first Gaelic author. We do not find descendants but of three of them, viz., Ir and Eremon and Eber the Fair, the fourth race being that of Ith son of Breogan, viz. uncle of the children of Milé. The descendants of these four obtained the sovereignty of Ireland, but only three or four of the race of Lugaid, son of Ith, obtained the sovereignty of Ireland. The race of Ir, son of Milé, are called Ultonians and Clan Rugraid; the race of Eber the Fair are called Momonians (Munster-men) and the men of the south, such as the Clan Carthy and the race of Brian (O'Briens); from the race of Eremon are the Connaught-men, the Lagenians (Leinster-men) and the Scottish kings.

Irial Prophet, son of Eremon, was king; Ethrial, son of Irial, it was through whom the race of Eremon continued one tribe till the time of the reign of Ugainé, the Great, who was son of Eochaid the Victorious, son of Duach Lagrach, son of Fiacha Tolgrach, son of Muredach Bolgrach, son of Simeon the Freckled, son Aedan the Grey, son of Nuada Finnfáil, son of Giallcad, son of Olill All-fair, son of Sirna Long-lived, son of Dian, son of Deman, son of Rothectach, son of Maen, son of Angus Much-swined, son of 'Fiach Labranne, son of Smirgall, son of Enboth, son of Tigernmas (Death-lord), son of Follach, son of Ethrial, son of Irial Prophet, son of Eremon. And two tribes were made of the tribe of Eremon from the time of Ugainé the Great, that is, the tribe of Cobach Cael m-breg and the tribe of Loegaire Lorc. And although Ugainé the Great had 25 sons, none of them had crown or kingdom save the race of two of them, viz., the descendants of Cobach Cael m-breg and the race of Loegaire Lorc. Of the race of Loegaire Lorc was the first King Fergus that came to Scotland, that is, Fergus, son of Ferchar, son of Feradach, son of Loegaire Lorc, son of Ugainé the Great. That was the first king that came over Scotland of the Scots or Gaels. There was but one king over the Gaels until Fergus came to Scotland about 300 years before the Birth of Christ, and others say it was four hundred.

The greater number of the kings of Scotland and Ireland are of the race of Cobach Cael m-breg: two tribes were made of the  p.151 race of Cobach Cael m-breg in the case of Angus Turmech of Tara, son of Eochaid Broad-joint, son of Olill Bent-teeth, son of Connla Hard-wiled, son of Iron Bright-wise, son of Melge Praise-worthy, son of Cobach Cael m-breg. Angus Turmech had two sons, viz., Enna Aignech and Fiacha Sea-man. Of the race of Enna Aigneach are the descendants of Conn the Hundred-battled; of the race of Fiacha Sea-man are the kings of Scotland. Conn the Hundred battled was the son of Felim Law-some, son of Tuathal the Legitimate, son of Fiacha Finnola, son of (Feradach Fionnfectnaigh or F. Fair-righteous, son of) Crimthan Nianair, son of Lugaid of the Red Stripes, son of the Three Finns (Fair-ones) of Emania, sons of Eochaid Feidlech, son of (Finn, son of Finnlogha, son of) Roignen the Red, son of Esamin of Emania, son of Blathact, son of Labrad Lore, son of Enna Aignech.

Conn had a son, to wit, Art; Art had a son Cormac; Cormac had a son Cairbre. The two sons of Cairbre Liffeachuir (of the Liffey) were Fiacha Fire-shower and Eochaid Dublen. The race of Fiacha Fire-shower were Muredach Tirech and Eochaid Muigmedon (Slave-middled). Eochaid Muigmedon had five sons, who had descendants, viz.: — Niall of the Nine Hostages, Brian, and Fiachra. Of Niall Nine-hostaged are descended the Clan Neill (O'Neills) of Ireland; from Brian, son of Eochaid Muigmedon, are many of the men of Connaught; from Fiacha, father of Dathi mac Fiachra, are sprung many tribes in Connaught and Ulster.

The children of Eochaid Dublen, son of Cairbre Liffeachuir, son of Cormac, were three sons, who were called the three Collas — Colla Uais, Colla Da crioch, and Colla Meann; 2 their baptismal names were Caireall, Aodh, and Muredach, as says the poet —

  1. Caireall, the first name of Colla Uais;
    Aodh, of Colla Meann of great vigour;
    Muredach, of Colla Da chrioch;
    They were imposed on them from rebelling.

Colla Uais, son of Eochaid Dublein, assumed the sovereignty of Ireland in the year of the age of Christ 322; and he was four years in the sovereignty of Ireland when Muredach Tirech opposed him with a powerful army, and gave battle to the three Collas, and expelled them to Scotland, where they obtained extensive lands, for Oilech, daughter of the king of Scotland, was their mother. In the time when Cormac Finn was in the sovereignty over Scotland, 362 (326), they spent some time in Scotland, until a war broke out between Muredach Tirech, king of Ireland, and the Ultonians, viz., the Clanna Rughruidhe; and he invited the  p.153 sons of his father's brother, that is, the three Collas, to Ireland to assist him against the Clann Rughruidhe and the adjoining districts. They responded to the king of Ireland, and waged a fierce war against the Clanna Rughruidhe; and Fergus Foga, king of Ulster, and his three sons, fell by them; and they took possession of the province of Ulster, and of the Oilltrian (Full-third) of the province of Connaught, and many other possessions which were inherited by their race in succession from the kings of Ireland.

As to Colla Uais, after he had terminated that war he returned back to Scotland, and left all those possessions to his brothers; and having spent fifteen years there, he went on a free visit to Ireland, and died at Tara of the kings, anno Domini 335.

Colla Uais had four good sons, namely Eochuid and Fiachra Tort, and Feradach and Maine. All the Clann Donald in Scotland and in Ireland are of the race of Eochuid. The Turtruighe and Fir Luirg are of the race of Fiachra Tort. The Fir Li and Fir Lacha are of the race of Feradach. The race of Maine is not known to us.

A goodly race, descended from Colla Da chrioch, flourished in Ireland, namely Maguire, chief over the country of Fermanagh; Mac Mahon, chief over the country of Monaghan; O'Hanlon, and O'Kelly, and many others.

I have seen nothing written of the race of Colla Meann, except such holy men of them as went into the Church. Many of the holy people of Scotland and Ireland were descended from the three Collas.

Here is the direct line of descent from Colla Uais. Eochaid was begotten of Colla Uais; Carran was begotten of Eochaid; Erc was begotten of Carran; Maine was begotten of Erc; Fergus was begotten of Maine; Godfrey was begotton of Fergus; Niallgus was begotten, of Godfrey. The genealogy of Macdonald of Clann Cellach; Flannagan, son of Tadhg, son of Fermara, son of Tadhg, son of Lochlann, son of Art, son of Fianacht, son of Donald, from whom are the Clann Donald of Clann Cellach, son of Colgan, son of Cellach, son of Tuathal, son of Maolduin, son of Tuadan, son of Tuathal, son of Daiminn, son of Carbre, son of Dom Airgid, son of Niallgus. Suibne was begotten of Niallgus; Mergach was begotten of Suibne; Solomon was begotten of Mergach; Gill-Adamnan was begotten of Solomon. It is from this Gill-Adamnan descended the Clann Donald of Ros Laogh, from a brother of Giolla Bride, son of Gill-Adamnan; and it was Gill-Adamnan who erected Mainistir-na-Sgrine, in Tir Iarach, in the county of Sligo, in the province of Connaught, and his name is there. (And be it known to you that the constant title borne by the clann of this tribe, from Ragnall, son of Somerled, up to Colla Uais, was  p.155 O'Colla and Thane of Eargaoidheal). Giolla Bride, son of Gill-Adamnan, son of —— , and from him, the Thanes of Argyle, having been among his kindred in Ireland, that is, from the Clann Colla, which are the Manchuidh and Mathdamnaidh, viz., the tribes of Macguire and Macmahon, it happened that this tribe held a meeting and conference in Fermanagh, on the estate of Macguire, and among the matters to be transacted was that Giolla Bride should get some estate of his own country, since he had been in banishment from his inheritance, by the power of the Danes and Norwegians. When Giolla Bride saw a large host of young robust people in the assembly, and that they were favourable to himself, the favour he asked of his friends was that so many persons as the adjacent fort in the place could hold should be allowed to go to Scotland with him, in the hope that he might obtain possession of his own inheritance and portion of it.

Giolla Bride proceeded with that party to Scotland, where they landed. They made frequent onsets and attacks on their enemies during this time of trouble, for their enemies were powerful and numerous at that time. All the islands from Man to Orkneys, and all the border land from Dumbarton to Caithness, in the north, were in the possession of the Danes; and such of the Gael of those lands as remained were protecting themselves in the woods and mountains; and at the end of that time Giolla Bride had a good son, who had come to maturity and renown.

It happened that the small party who were followers of Giolla Bride and Somerled were in the mountains and woods of Ardgour and of Morven, and they were surprised there by a large force of Danes and Norwegians. All the soldiers and plundering parties which Somerled had gathered round him, and he arranged them front and rear. Somerled put them in battle order, and made a great display of them to his enemies. He marched them three times before them in one company, so that they supposed there were three companies there. After that he attacked them, and they were defeated by Somerled and his party, and he did not halt in the pursuit till he drove them northward across the river Sheil, and a part escaped with their king to the Isles; and he did not cease from that work till he cleared the western side of Scotland of the Danes, except the islands of the Norwegians, called Innsigall; and he gained victory over his enemies in every field of battle. He spent part of his time in war and part in peace, until he marched with an army to the vicinity of Glasgow, when he was slain by his page, who took his head to the king in the year of our Lord 1180 (1164). His own people assert that it was not to make war against the king that he went on that expedition, but to obtain peace, for he did more in subduing the king's enemies than any war he waged against him.


Somerled had a good family, viz., Dugal and Ranald, and the Gall mac Sgillin, this man being so named from whom are descended the Clann Gall in the Glens. Bethog, daughter of Somerled, was a religious woman and a Black Nun. It is she that erected Teampall Chairinis, or the Church of Cairinis, in Uist. Dugal, son of Somerled, took the chiefship of Argyll and Lorn. Ranald and his race went to the Hebrides and Kintyre, where his posterity succeeded him.

Ranald, king of the Isles and Argyll, was the most distinguished of the Foreigners or Gael for prosperity, sway of generosity, and feats of arms. Three monasteries were erected by him, viz., a monastery of Black Monks (Benedictines) in Iona, in honour of God and Columba; a monastery of Black Nuns in the same place, and a monastery of Gray Friars at Saddle in Kintyre, and it is he also who founded the monastic order of Molaise.

Be it known to you that Ranald with his force was the greatest power which King Alexander had against the King of Norway at the time he took the Islands from the Norse, and after having received a cross from Jerusalem, partaken of the Body of Christ, and received unction, he died, and was buried at Reilic Oran in Iona in the year of our Lord 1207. And it was some time after this that Ranald, son of Godfrey, king of the Norwegians, was treacherously killed by Olave, son of Godfrey, in the year of our Lord 1229. From this forth the rightful inheritance of the Isles came to Ranald, and his race after him, for the daughter of Olave the Red, son of Godfrey, was the mother of Ranald, son of Somerled. This daughter of Olave was the lawful heir of her father and of her two brothers, viz., Ranald and Olave the Black.

Messages came from Tara in Ireland that Donald, son of Ranald, should take the government of Innsigall and of the greater part of the Gael. He had good children, viz., Angus Mor, the heir, and Alexander, from whom descended the Clann Domhnaill Renna, Mac William of the province of Connanght, and the Clann Sheehy of Munster, who are sprung from Siothach an Dornan, son of Eachuin, son of Alexander.

Angus Mor, son of Donald, son of Ranald, took the place of his father, and it was in his time that the war of the Baliols and the Bruces broke out. The tribe of Dugald, son of Somerled, took the side of the Baliols, and the race of Ranald, son of Somerled, the side of Robert Bruce, and all the garrisons from Dingwall in Ross to the Mull of Kintyre were in the possession of MacDugald during that time, while the tribe of Ranald were under the yoke of their enemies.

Angus Mor had good children, viz., Angus Og, the heir, and John, from whom sprang the Clann Eoin of Ardnamurchan, and  p.159 Alexander, from whom descended the Clann Alasdair; and Angus na Conluighe, from whom are sprung the Clann Donchaidh and Robertsons; and much may be written about this Angus Mor which is not here. He died in Isla in the year of our Lord 1234 (1294).

Angus Og, son of Angus Mor, son of Donald, son of Ranald, son of Somerled, the noble and renowned high chief of Innsigall. He married the daughter of Cuinnbhuighe O'Cathan. She was the mother of John, son of Angus, and it is with her came the unusual retinue from Ireland, viz., four-and-twenty sons of clan families, from whom sprang four-and twenty families in Scotland. Angus had another son, viz., John Og an Fhraoich, from whom descended the Clann Eoin of Glencoe, who are called the Clann Domhnall an Fhraoich (of the heather). This Angus Og died in Isla, and his body was interred in Iona in the year of our Lord 1306 (1326).

John, son of Angus Og, succeeded his father in the chief government of the Isles. He had good children, viz., three sons by Anna, daughter of Rorie, son of Ailin, high chief of Lorn, and one daughter Mary, and that Mary was the wedded wife of Hector Maclean, Lord of Duart; and Lachlan was his brother, the laird of Coll, and she was interred in Iona, in the church of the Black Nuns.

The eldest sons of John were Ranald, Godfrey, and Angus; however, he did not marry the mother of these men from the altar, but came to the resolution of marrying her at the time of her death, for she was a sufficient wife for him; but his advisers opposed him regarding it, for it appeared to them that he could get no suitable match if an heir was made from his first progeny, although he was young and vigorous. Therefore he made a provision for his son Ranald, and that was all the land which extended from Fort-Augustus in Abertarff to the river Sheil, and from the river Sheil to the Belleith in the north, Eig and Rum, and the two Uists. And after that he proceeded to the mouth of the river of Glasgow, and had threescore long-ships with him, and he married Margaret, the daughter of Robert Stuart, whom we call King of Scotland, but the real person was Robert, Earl of Fife, that is the brother-german of old Robert Fearingiora, that is the king, and he was governor of Scotland. And she bore to John three good sons, viz., Donald of Isla, the heir, and John Mor the Tanist, and Alaster Carrach, the third son. John had another son, viz., Marcus, from whom descended the Clann Donald of Cnoic-an-chluith in Tirone in Ireland. This John enjoyed a long life. It is he that made donations to Iona in his own time, and it is he also that covered the chapel of Isle Eorsag and the Chapel of Isle Finlagan, and the Chapel of Isle Suibne (island in Loch  p.161 Sween), with all their appropriate instruments for order and mass and the service of God, for the better upholding of the monks and priests this lord kept in his company; and it is he that erected the monastery of the Holy Cross a long time before his death; and he died in his own castle of Ardtornish, while monks and priests were over his body, he having received the body of Christ, and having been anointed, his fair body was brought to Iona, and the abbot and the monks and vicars came to meet him, as it was the custom to meet the body of the king of the Hebrides, and his service and waking were honourably performed during eight days and eight nights, and he was laid in the same grave with his father in the church of Oran in the year of our Lord 1380.

Ranald, the son of John, was High Steward over the Isles at the time of his father's death, being in advanced age and ruling over them. On the death of his father he called a meeting of the nobles of the Isles and of his brethren at one place, and he gave the sceptre to his brother at Cill Donan in Eigg, and he was nominated Macdonald and Donald of Isla, contrary to the opinion of the men of the Isles. A man of augmenting churches and monasteries was this Ranald, son of John, son of Angus Og, from whom the name of Clann Ranald has been applied to this race. He bestowed an Unciata of land in Uist on the monastery of Iona for ever, in honour of God and of Columba. He was governor of the whole of the Northern Coastland and of the Isles, until he died in the year of the age of Christ 1386, in his own manor of Castle Tirim, having left a family of five sons.

We shall now treat of Donald of Isla, son of John, son of Angus Og, the brother of Ranald, how he took the lordship with the consent of his brethren and the nobles of the Isles, all other persons being obedient to him, and he married Mary, daughter of the Earl of Ross, and it is through her that the earldom of Ross came to the Macdonalds. He was styled Earl of Ross and Macdonald, and High Chief of the Isles. There are many exploits and deeds written of him in other places. He fought the battle of Garrioch or Harlaw against Duke Murdoch in defence of his own right and of the earldom of Ross, and on the return of King James the First from the captivity of the King of England, Donald of Isla obtained the king's goodwill and confirmation of Ross and the rest of his inheritance, and Duke Murdoch and his two sons were beheaded.

He (Donald) was an entertainer of clerics and priests and monks in his companionship, and he gave lands in Mull and in Isla to the monastery of Iona, and every immunity which the monastery of Iona had from his ancestors before him; and he made a covering of gold and silver for the relic of the hand of  p.163 Columba, and he himself took the brotherhood of the order, having left a lawful and suitable heir in the government of the Isles and of Ross, viz., Alexander, son of Donald. He afterwards died in Isla, and his full noble body was interred on the south side of the church of Oran.

Alexander, his son, succeeded his father in the earldom of Ross and lordship of the Isles. He married Margaret Livingston, daughter of the Earl of Linlithgow; she was mother of John, who was called John of Isla, son of Alexander of Isla, son of Donald of Isla.

Angus Og, son of John, who was called the heir of John, married the daughter of the Earl of Argyll, and a disagreement arose between him and his father about the division of his territory and land, in consequence of which a war broke out between the chiefs of the Isles and the tribe of Macdonald, the tribe having joined Angus, and the chiefs having joined John. And the affair having been thus carried on, John went to Argyll and gave him all that lay between the river Add and Altna Sionnach at Braigh Chinntire (that is, the lands of Knapdale), for going with him before the king to complain of his son. Shortly afterwards this Angus Og had a large entertainment with the men of the North at Inverness, when he was murdered by Mac I Caibre, his own harper, who cut his throat with a long knife.

His father lived a year after him, and all the territories submitted to him, but, however, he restored many of them to the king. The daughter of Argyll, the wife of Angus, was pregnant at the time he was killed; and she was kept in custody until she was confined, and she bore a son, and Donald was given as a name to him, and he was kept in custody until he arrived at the age of thirty years, when the men of Glencoe brought him out by a Fenian exploit. On his coming out of custody he came to the Isles, and the nobles of the Isles rallied round him.

During the time that Donald Dubh had been in custody there was a great struggle among the Gael for power, so that Mac Ceaain of Ardnamurchan almost destroyed the race of John Mor, son of John of Isla, and of Kintyre. John Cathanach, son of John, son of Donald Balloch, son of John Mor, son of John, son of Angus Og, Lord of the race of John Mor, and John Mor, son of John Cathanach, and John Og, son of John Cathanach, and Donald Balloch, son of John Cathanach, were treacherously taken prisoners by Mac Ceaain on the island of Fionnlagan in Isla; and he conveyed them to Edinburgh, and a gallows was erected for them at that place which is called Boroughmuir, and they were executed, and their bodies buried in the church of Saint Francis, which is called New Church at the time. There were none left  p.165 of the children of John Cathanach but Alexander, son of John Cathanach, and Angus of Isla, who were hiding in the Glens in Ireland. And it is related of Mac Ceaain that he expended much wealth of gold and silver in making axes for the purpose of cutting down the woods of the Glens, in the hope that he might be able to banish Alexander, son of John Cathanach, out of the Glens and out of the world. It happened at length that Mac Ceaain and Alexander made an agreement and a marriage contract with each other. Alexander married his daughter, and she bore a good family to him.

In a similar manner a misfortune came over the Clann Donald of the north side, for after the death of John of Isla, Earl of Ross, and the killing of Angus, Alexander son of Gillespie, son of Alexander of Isla, took possession of the Earldom of Ross and of the northern Oirir entirely, and married the daughter of the Earl of Moray. However, some of the men of the northern side came, when the Mackenzies and others rose up in opposition to Alexander, and fought a battle against him, which they call Blar na Pairce.

Alexander had no men left but such as he had of the men of Ross. Alexander came to the coast after that to seek for a force in the Isles, and he embarked in a long-ship to the southern coastland to see if he could find a few remaining of the race of John Mor. Mac Ceaain observed him, and followed him on his track to Oransay of Colonsay, and entered the house upon him, where Alexander, son of Gillespie, was killed by Mac Ceaain and by Alexander, son of John Cathanach.

This matter remained so for a space of time, until Donald Gallda, son of Alexander, son of Gillespie, came of age; and he came from the Lowlands by the direction of the Earl of Moray, until he came to the Isles; and he brought Macleod of Lewis with him, and a good number of the nobles of the Isles. They went out on the Point of Ardnamurchan, and there they met Alexander, son of John Cathanach, and he and Donald, son of Alexander, made a compact and agreement with each other; and they together attacked Mac Ceaain at a place called Creagan Airgid, and he and his three sons and many of his people were slain there.

Donald Gallda was nominated Mac Donald of this side of the Point of Ardnamurchan, and the men of the Isles submitted to him; but he did not live after that but seven or eight weeks. He died at Cearnabog in Mull, leaving no family or heir; but three sisters he had, viz., the three daughters of Alexander, son of Gillespie. A settlement was made on those daughters in the northern coastland, but they gave up Ross. Alexander, son of Gillespie, had a natural sou, of whose descendants there is some  p.167 account, viz., John Cam, son of Alexander, from whom are sprung the men of Achnacochine in Brae Lochaber, and Donald Gorm, son of Ranald, son of Alexander Dubh, son of John Cam.

With regard to Donald Dubh, son of Angus, son of John of Isla, son of Alexander of Isla, son of Donald of Isla, son of John of Isla, son of Angus Og, viz., the lineal lawful heir of the Isles and of Ross, on his release from confinement he came to the Isles, and the men of the Isles gathered about him; and he and the Earl of Lennox made an agreement to raise a large army for the purpose of his getting into possession of his own property; and a ship came to them from England to the Sound of Mull, with money to help them in the war. The money was given to Mac Lean of Duart to divide among the leaders of the army; they did not get as much as they desired, and therefore the army broke up. When the Earl of Lennox heard that, he dispersed his own army, and made an agreement with the king. Macdonald then proceeded to Ireland to request a force to carry on the war, and on his way to Dublin he died at Drogheda of a fever of five nights, without leaving a son or daughter as his offspring.

Race of Ranald, son of John, son of Angus Og.

Allan, son of Ranald, the heir; and his mother was the daughter of the Earl of Athole. From this Allan the race of Allan are called; and from Donald, son of Ranald the Tanist, the race of Donald, son of Ranald, are named; John, from whom are called the race of John, son of Ranald. Angus Riach (Brindled), from whom are descended the race of Angus Riach; and from Dugall are sprung the race of Dugall.

The age of the Lord the year that this Allan, son of Ranald, died, in the Castle Tirim, was 1419; and his body was interred in the same grave with his father, in the Cemetery of Oran in Iona.

The age of the Lord 1420 was the year in which Donald, son of Ranald, deceased. He was steward of Lochaber, and died in Lochaber, and his body was brought to Iona, and was interred in the same grave with his father and his brother in Relig Oran.

Rory, son of Allan, son of Ranald, assumed the lordship of his father, and of his grandfather, and the daughter of Stuart of Appin was his mother. Allan had another son named John, from whom are descended the race of John, son of Allan.

Anno domini 1440. Angus Riach, son of Ranald, died. He was Lord of the Garbhthrian of Clanranald, having taken upon him a Friarship of the Order of Mary in the church of Iona. He was buried in the same grave with his father in Relig Oran, anno domini 1481. This is the year in which Rory, son of Allan, laird of Clanranald, died. His body was brought to Iona, and he was buried in the same grave with his father. A.D. 1426, Dugall, son of Ranald,  p.169 died at his manor in Reispoll; and his body was brought to Iona, and was buried along with his brothers in Relig Oran; A.D. 1460; in this year died a powerful, bold-warlike lord of the Clanranald, viz., Alexander, son of Donald, son of Ranald, on the island of Abas; and his body was brought to Iona, and was buried in the same bed with his father in Relig Oran. In the same year the King of Scotland died by the shot of a big gun which broke his leg, while he was directing it on the Castle of Roxburgh — that is, James the Second. In the same year died Alexander, son of Alexander, son of Godfrey, son of Ranald, son of John, laird of the northern end of Uist. In the same year Orkney was plundered by Hugh, grandson of Donald. In the same year John, son of Lachlan Maclean, was killed by the Clan Chattan in Ardgour.

Rory had a good son named Allan, son of Rory, and the daughter of Macdonald of the South Oirir was his mother, namely, Margaret, daughter of Donald Ballach, son of John Mor. Rory had other sons, namely, Duncan Garbh, and the daughter of the Laird of Coll was his mother; he had other illegitimate children, viz., Farquhar and John.

Allan assumed lordship, and well worthy of a property was that Allan, for he put his terror and fear over enemies and over many of this part of Scotland. He enjoyed a long life, and left a good progeny after him, Ranald Ban, the heir, and Alexander, who were the two sons of the daughter of Mc Ian of Ardnamurchan. Another family, namely, Allan Riach, son of Allan, John Beag, son of Allan, John Bronnach, son of Allan, John Molach, son of Donald, son of Allan; James, son of Allan; and Ranald Gallda, son of Allan, son of Rory, the youngest son that Allan had, and the daughter of Fraser of Lovat was his mother. This Allan, after having been before the King, and having received a settlement of his estate from King James the Fourth, A.D.1509, died at Blair-Athole, and his body was interred in the monastery of that town:

  1. A thousand years and nine added to it
    Five hundred years to be related
    From the time of Him who redeemed every country
    To the death of Allan, son of Rory.

Ranald Ban, son of Allan, assumed the lordship after his father, and he was good in it; for exalted was his position and great was his sway, and good were the laws and regulations of his country during the short time he lived. But having gone before the King to settle finally the affairs which his father was not able to effect, he died in the town of Perth, A.D. 1514, the year that King James  p.171 the Fourth was killed in battle. Ranald left his son in the lordship, namely, Dugall, son of Ranald. But I shall leave it to another certain man to relate how he spent and ended his life.

[Follows in Red Book an elegy on Allan and Ranald].

Alexander, son of Allan, assumed the lordship after the death of Dugald, son of Ranald. He spent his own turn; he died at Castle Tirim. Alexander had a good family, viz., John Moydartach (of Moydart), Angus, Rory Roy, and Donald of Lochan, the first children he had by Dorothy: John Ard and Allan Oyar and Rory Parson were the children he had by the daughter of Norman Mac Gillipatrick: Farquhar, the son of Alexander, had for his mother the daughter of Farquhar Mackintosh.

John Moydartach, son of Alexander, assumed the lordship. He was a fortunate man in war and in peace, in so much that he often spread terror over the territories through fear of him upon Lowlanders and upon Gaels. He gained a battle over Fraser of Lovat at Loch Lochy Head, which is called Blar Lenie (Battle of the Shirts), about the year of the age of Christ 1545. This John Moydartach enjoyed a long life, and there was a troubled time in his period, for the kingdom of Scotland was divided into factions amongst themselves, and the writers find it easy to speak heavily of every person who was not of the same faction with themselves; and I hear that they are so treating of John Moydartach, and particularly Buchanan; but ask Sir George how he likes to speak of the Princess to whom John Moydartach should be loyal; but whoever dispraises the head, it is not usual for him to praise the members. But concerning John Moydartach, he spent the end of his life godly and mercifully. He erected a church at Kilmarie in Arasaig, and a church at Kildonan in Eig; and he left funds to erect a chapel at Howmore in Uist, where his body was buried in the year of the age of Christ 1574.

Allan, son of John Moydartach, assumed the lordship. He was a generous, open-hearted, hospitable man, and was affable, sensible, and desirous to establish and maintain a good name. It is he that pledged his word that he would not promise anything in his inebriety which he would not also promise in his sobriety; therefore it was customary with him after a drinking or potation, in order to keep his word of promise with his servant men and attendants, to ask them if they remembered he had promised to give anything that he did not fulfil.

These are the other sons that John Moydartach had, namely, John Og, Donald Gorm, and Rory Og, the children of the daughter of the laird of Knoydart. Rory Dubh, Ranald, John Dubh, and Angus, the children of the daughter of Niall, son of Charles. Age of the Lord the year that Allan, son of John Moydartach,  p.173 died, i.e., 1590. His body was interred in the island of Fionan.

Allan had a good family, viz., Allan Og, and the daughter of Macleod of Harris was his mother; he was his first son. After her he took unto him the daughter of Maclean of Duart, and had a good family by her, viz., John of Strome. He was accidentally killed by his own servant man with a stone, while they were at play, shooting with a sling at Strome, Lochcarron, for it is there he was being fostered with the laird of Strome and of Glengarry. Angus, son of Allan, who assumed the lordship after the death of his father, did not live but a short time, he having been put to death by Angus Og, son of James, while he was a prisoner with him at Dunyveg. Donald, son of Allan, assumed the lordship after him, and there was every goodness during his time; and he died at Castle Tirim, in the year of the age of Christ 1617, and Ranald, son of Allan, died in Canna in the year 1636; his body was interred at Howmore. In the same year Ranald Og, son of Donald, son of Allan, died, and his body was brought to the island of Fionan in this year. John, son of Allan, departed this life at Canna, and his body was brought to Uist, and was buried at Howmore. In the same year Donald Gorm, son of Angus, son of Allan, died in Uist, and his body was buried at Howmore; excessive the number of nobles of Clan Ranald who died in that year.

John Moydartach, son of Donald, son of Allan, assumed the lordship after the death of his; and his mother was Mary, daughter of Angus, son of James, viz., the head chief of Iona and Kintyre, governor of Gigha and Colonsay. The other two sons of Donald were Ranald Og, whom we have mentioned before, and Alexander Og; they died without issue.

[Follow Elegies, which see section 9ff].

There you have the elegy for those four noblemen, namely, Ranald, son of Allan; Ranald, son of Donald, son of Allan; Donald Gorm, son of Angus, son of Allan; and John, son of Allan. Each of these men left issue, except Ranald Og, son of Donald, son of Allan.

Ranald, son of Allan, a good man according to the times in which he lived; he was hospitable and generous, thrifty and friendly. He took unto him as his first wife the daughter of Ranald, son of James, i.e., Tanist of South Oirear, and she bore him a good son, Angus Mor, son of Ranald. He put her away, and she was afterwards married to Coll Mac Gillespie. She was the mother of the Clann Coll, namely, Gillespie, Ranald and Alaster, and a good family of daughters, who were married to good gentlemen. Ranald, son of Allan, after having put away the daughter of Ranald, took Fionnsgoth Burke, a lady of the Burkes of the Province of Connaught, in the County Mayo, and she  p.175 bore three sons for him, namely, Alexander, Rory, and Farquhar. He put away Fionnsgoth, and married Margaret, the daughter of Norman Macleod of Harris, the wife whom Norman Og Macleod of Lewis had. She bore a family to the son of Allan, namely, Allan Og, son of Ranald. That good wife died from him. After her he took Mary, the daughter of Gillespie of Medhe Connaill, and she bore a son to him, namely, Donald Gorm, son of Ranald, and he put her away. After all these he married Margaret, the daughter of Angus, son of James, and her issue were made heirs of Benbecula and of Ardnish. She bore him a good family, namely, Ranald Og, the heir, and John Og, Angus, Ranald, and Rory.

Donald, son of Angus, son of Allan, had a family; Donald, who was killed at Philiphaugh in the army of the Marquis of Montrose, and Alexander, whose mother was Janet, the daughter of Donald, son of Allan. He himself, his wife, and household were drowned while coming from Coll to Muck. Donald, son of Angus, had another natural family.

John, son of Allan, had a good family by Julia, the daughter of Norman Og Macleod of Lewis, namely, Donald, who was drowned on the coast of Uist the year after his father's death. Alexander assumed the heirship after him; John Dubh and Rory and other natural children. Rory, son of Allan, had a family, namely, John Og, who succeeded him, and other children.

I treat of certain affairs which have happened during my own time. Charles I., son of James VI. of the Stuart family, was King at my earliest recollection. Here are some of the Chiefs who were over the Gael, under the King at that time, viz., Ranald Og, son of Ranald of Arran, Marquis of Antrim, over the Route, and over the Glinns, in Ireland; and Archibald Caoch, son of Archibald Gruamach, son of Archibald Dun, viz. Marquis of Argyll. Sir Lachlan Maclean, laird of Duart. John Moydartach, son of Donald, son of Allan, Captain of the Clanranald, and laird of Moydart and Uist. John, son of Rory Mor Mac Leod of Harris. Sir Donald Gorm, son of Gillespie Macdonald, lord of Sleat and Troterness, a great courtier with King Charles; and Niall of the Castle, Mac Neill of Barra. Lachlan, son of John Balbh Mackinnon of the Strath. John Garbh, son of Gilliecalum of Raasay; John Garbh, son of John Abrach, laird of Coll; Murdoch Maclean of Lochbuy. Donald of Strome, son of Angus, son of Alaster, laird of Glengarry and Knoydart, who was an old hero at the time of my earliest recollection, and his grandson a young man in confinement at Edinburgh, and after that was Lord Macdonald, namely, Angus, son of Alaster, son of Donald. And Allan, son of Donald Dubh, was Chief over Clan Cameron, and his grandson was a young man, namely, Ewan, son of John, son of Allan, who lives yet. And  p.177 George Donn Mackenzie Og, Earl of Seaforth and Chief of the Mackenzies. And Donald Dubhail Mackay, grandson of Magnus, viz., Lord Reay, and Chief of the Mackays; and many other good men who were chieftains at that time. But nothing is here written except of the people whom I have seen myself, and from my own recollection am acquainted with a part of their deeds.

It is easy for you, however, to obtain information about the troubles of the times from the common language in which they are writing in the kingdom. But this, however, I remember that the Scots were the soonest to begin this war of the three kingdoms, and not the English or Irish. For after having made a Covenant or Union against the King and English for the purpose of setting aside the bishops and appointing presbyters in their stead, they sent for all the Scottish officers in the other kingdoms beyond the sea, and they made commander in chief of Alexander Leslie, an old soldier, who had been for a long time fighting in foreign countries. That army marched into England; it was the first army set on foot in the time of King Charles, and it is against him it was. The kingdoms were put into commotion from that out, which happened, according to date, in the year 1639. And in the heat of these transactions the Marquis of Antrim, Ranald Og, son of Ranald of Arran, sent a party of armed men from Ireland to Scotland by order of the King, and gentlemen of his own kin along with them, namely, Alaster, son of Colla, son of Gillespie, Colonel James, son of Somerled, son of James of the Bann, and other gentlemen. They took shipping at the town of Hac, in the month of July, in the year 1644. They did not take harbour or land until they came to the Sound of Mull, and they laid siege to the Castle of Kinloch Alan, took it, and left a garrison in it. They proceeded from thence to the Castle of Mingarry, which they took after great trouble, and a party of his people were left in it. Alaster, son of Colla, and the party marched on foot to Kyle-rea. The ships sailed to Loch Eiseord, in the Strath, to Sir Donald, for the King and the Marquis of Antrim's orders were for him to take the command of the army, and to take every man who would rise with them, but Sir Donald died half a year before that.

Alaster, son of Colla, offered the command of the army to Sir James Macdonald, but Sir James refused it, for he thought the army too small, since the whole kingdom was against him, they having only fifteen hundred men, so that Alaster came to the resolution of returning back to Ireland, since the King's orders were not obeyed by them. At that time, three large ships of war belonging to the Scottish Parliament sailed round from Leith, and came to the mouth of Loch Eiseord, while Alaster's ships lay in the loch; they fought them, but Alaster's ships were taken, which  p.179 obliged Alaster to remain in the kingdom into which he had come, whether he liked it or not.

He marched off from thence over Kyle-rea and over the mountains of Cuaich, from thence they proceeded to Glengarry and encamped in it, where they got plenty of beef for their army, but few of the people joined them. From thence they went to Badenoch, encamped in it, and threatened the men of that country that if they did not join the King's army they would burn and spoil the country. The order was shown to them, and by the order they were joined by Clan Vurich of Badenoch, who were led by a captain and good chieftain of their own blood, namely, Ewan Og, son of Andrew, son of Ewan, who brought 300 men of his own kin with him into the King's army, who were very steadfast in the army while the war continued. They were joined by Clan Finlay of Braemar with a chief of their own kin, namely, Donald Og, son of Donald, son of Finlay. From thence they marched to Athole, and the Earl of Montrose met them at Blair-Athole, in the character of a timber merchant, and a little bag hanging from his neck, having come from England with the King's commission of general of the army, and Alaster, son of Colla, to be his major general, and they received him joyfully. The most of the men of Athole joined them, the Clan Duncan, and the Stewarts of Athole; that was in the beginning of harvest. From thence they marched to the Lowlands, where a great army of Covenanters met them near Perth, consisting of eight thousand men, while their own army consisted only of two thousand foot; but, however, they gained a victory over them; none of them escaped but such as the swiftness of horses carried away from them. They took Perth, and they were wealthy and rich after that battle of Perth. Fifteen days only intervened between the fighting of that battle and another battle which was fought at Aberdeen against the Covenanters, where they received a severe repulse and a forcible and fiercely clamorous fight. The success of those two battles raised the courage and spirit of the Gael from that forth, in so much that they did not turn their backs to the enemy, either on even terms or under a disadvantage.

Mac Cailin, Earl of Argyle, happened to have been a leader of the Presbyterian faction and a great supporter of the Covenanters against the king; he came to Ardnamurchan, and laid siege to the Castle of Mingarry, but did not succeed in taking it.

John Moydartach came from Castle Tirim to that camp of Mac Cailin, at the request of Mac Cailin, for Mac Cailin hoped that John Moydartach and the Clanranald would join him in his own army against the king's army. He did not remain long in the camp when he returned, and raised all the men of Uist, Eig,  p.181 Moydart, and Arasaig, and the first thing they did was the spoiling of Suinart, leaving neither cow nor sheep in it that they did not carry away to the plains of Castle Tirim; and he sent his son Donald with a part of that prey to the garrison who were in Castle Mingarry. Meantime Alaster Mac Colla came down from Montrose to give relief to Castle Mingarry; and Alaster and Donald, son of John Moydartach, met each other there, and they were glad to see each other, for that was their first acquaintance with one another. From thence they came to Castle Tirim, and after having left an exchange of garrison in Castle Mingarry, John Moydartach and themselves proceeded to Arasaig and to Morar, and they sent a message to Macleod requesting him to come and join the king's army according to his law, but he refused them; and they came to Knoydart, where they met Angus, the grandson of Alaster, and they requested him to join them, but he did not join them at that time. However, Donald Gorm, his father's brother, joined them, and the greater part of the men of Knoydart and of Glengarry. They went forth from the head of Loch Nevis by Clachard to Lochaber and to the Brae, and Donald Glas, the grandson of Ranald, and the men of the Brae joined them, and the Stewarts of Appin came to them there, and the Clan Ian of Glencoe, and the men of Glen Nevis, and all those to the east of Lochy of the Clan Cameron. From thence they went to Badenoch, and over the range of Drumachter, and to Blair in Athole, where they met the Marquis of Montrose, who was very thankful for that collected army sent to him by John Moydartach to do service for their earthly king. A council was held in that place in order to consider where they should spend the winter. The general supposed that they should spend the winter in the Lowlands, but all of them thought the country of the Gael the best place for the safety of the army. Montrose consented to that, on the assurance that the army would get victuals and accommodation in it, for which purpose Angus, son of Allan Dubh, was invited before the council; he was a gentleman of the men of Glencoe. Montrose put the question to Angus. Was he not acquainted with the countries of Mac Cailin, or could the army get victuals or encampment in them in winter? Angus answered his lordship, and said that there was not a town under the lordship of Mac Cailin but was known to him, and that if stanch horses, and fat cattle as victuals to feed upon, in them would answer their purpose, that they would procure them for them. That answer pleased the Marquis, and they unanimously prepared to go to Argyle. The army marched from the Brae of Athole, and they went to the Menzies in Appin, which they burnt, and from thence they went to the head of Loch Tay, and burnt both  p.183 sides of it. The Clans Gregor and Mac Nab came to them to assist the king's army. John Moydartach and his own party and the men of the Brae were sent in a separate direction from the other part of the army to make a preying throughout the country, so that Montrose did not meet him until they came to Killmartin in Glassary. From that single preying expedition they brought in a thousand cows to the camp of Montrose. In short, all the territories of Mac Cailin were spoiled and burnt on that occasion, and eight hundred four score and fifteen men were killed in those countries without battle or skirmish having taken place in them. The army marched from Argyle over Connel of Lorn, traversing every country until they came to Inverlochy in Lochaber.

Mac Cailin was not idle, for he sent to the laird of Auchinbreck to come to him from Ireland, for that man had been in Ireland since the beginning of the war, on the Earl of Antrim's estate, and having its large towns in his possession, with a standing army in them. The Marquis [Mac Cailin] himself went to Edinburgh to complain to the Council of Scotland that Montrose or Alaster did not wait for him to give them battle, upon which they sent with him a regiment of five hundred soldiers as an assistance and force. The laird of Auchinbreck came from Ireland to them, and he was seized with fury and rage on finding his estate burnt and plundered before him. He gathered the Clan Campbell numerously and extensively mustered, and they went in the track of that army of Montrose and of Alister, son of Colla. When Montrose arrived at Inverlochy, Sir Lachlan Maclean came to them there, and Angus, son of the son of Alister, laird of Glengarry; but the men of Mac Alister's son were always in that army. Having marched from Inverlochy, they had not gone far when news came to them that Mac Cailin and his large army had ccme to Inverlochy, and that they had burnt the Braes of Lochaber. The army of King Charles returned from Fort-Augustus in Abertarff, at that time commanded by the Marquis of Montrose, their general, and Alister, son of Colla, son of Gillespie, major-general, and these nobles of Clanranald and Macdonalds, namely, John Moydartach, son of Donald, son of Allan, and his son Donald, and Angus, son of Alaster, son of Donald, son of Angus, laird of Glengarry, along with their own kindred and friends, and the three Irish regiments of the true men of the people of the Earl of Antrim, led on by their own commanders, namely, Colonel James, son of Somerled, son of James of the Bann, son of Somerled Buighe, and Ranald Og, son of Alexander, son of Alexander, son of Angus the Proud, and Magnus, son of the Giolla Dubh Mac Cathan, foster brother to the Earl of Antrim. Maclean, Sir Lachlan, had only about twelve men of his people to attend him. There was a good man there of the nobles  p.185 of Scotland, namely, Lord Ogilvie, and his son, a good man, i.e., Sir Thomas. They marched from Fort-Angustus over Laircthuirard, and into Glenroy and over the Spean, where they were met by a party of the enemy, and they killed the most of them, and such of them as escaped brought intelligence to the camp. Saturday evening was coming on them when they arrived before their enemy. Mac Cailin's army went on their guard, and the sentries of both armies were firing at each other during the night. Mac Cailin himself took to his ship, and he left the laird of Auchinbreck to face the fight. At the very beginning of morning the battalions were put into arrangement and order, being Sunday, the Festival day of Bridget, and the first day of Spring, A.D. 1645. A party was sent out from the King's army, headed by Magnus, son of the Giolla Dubh O'Cathan, and another party was sent from Mac Cailin's army to oppose them, headed by Gillespie, son of Gillespie Og, laird of the Bingingeadhs. The two parties having given fight to each other, it was not long until that part of the army of Mac Cailin gave way; having been forcibly driven back on its own main body, the main army became confused, they were roughly handled and defeated. The greater part of the army were killed, and a very great number of them were drowned at Bun Nevis. The laird of Auchinbreck, the laird of Caradale, and the Provost of Kilmun were killed. The laird of Barrbreck, the young laird of Caradale, [and] Mac Iomhair of the Pingin Mor were taken prisoners. All those of the kindred of Mac Cailin that were not killed on that day were taken prisoners. The loss of the King's army was Thomas Lord Ogilvie, Captain Brain, and six soldiers.

Montrose marched to the north with the King's army, and Mackenzie, Earl of Seaforth, came to them and pledged his word that he himself and his people along with him would join the King's army to aid it; he collected and gathered his people from Lewis and from every other country which he possessed. As to Montrose, he spent the spring in the north strengthening his own army; and the Gordons, with Lord Gordon, the son of the Marquis of Huntly, came to congratulate them, and they were pleased with it. About that time the army of the Scottish Parliament came from the south, and Mackenzie, with his own army came from the Coast of the men of Lewis and the northern borders. What Mackenzie himself and his people did was to join the army of the Parliament and break his word with Montrose and the King's army.

While Montrose and the King's army lay at Auldearn, Lord Gordon with his good force of horse and foot being with him, Nathaniel Gordon came to them from the advanced guards and  p.187 informed them that the enemy were near them: that man was a good knight and a fortunate warrior; Gordonach Caoch was another name for him. The trained and well-armed battalions of the Gael were arranged in order opposite the enemy, and the right hand side was given to the dread knight Gordon and to his lord, and the command of the body of the battalion to the active, arrogant Marquis Montrose. Sir Alaster, the red-armed horseknight, i.e., the brave and courageous son of Colla Ciotach, son of Gillespie, son of Colla, son of Alaster, son of John Cathanach, took the left wing of the army to him against the right of the enemy, and while Alaster was arranging his party, a gentleman from Lord Gordon came with a message to him, and spoke in this manner: —
“Mac Donald, we have heard that there was an agreement and friendship between our ancestors, and that they did not strike a blow against one another, whatever strife might have been between the other Scots and them; neither was the fame of any other tribe for valour greater than theirs; therefore, by way of renewing the agreement, I would wish to receive a favour from you, and that is an exchange of foot on the first day of my service to my earthly King, viz., you taking my foot forces and you sending me your foot.”

That affair was quickly performed by Alaster, son of Colla. He sent ten and four score of the veteran soldiers, who were often tested in great dangers in many places; and there came in their stead three hundred foot of the men of Bog of Gight, Strathbogy, and the Braes, who were not accustomed to skirmishing, hard conflict, or the loud, harsh noise of battle. Although that was a bad exchange for Alaster, it was good for his men, for they were never in an battle or skirmish which was cheaper [safer] for them than it. It seemed to them that the cavalry of the Gordons had no duty to perform but to defend the foot from every danger. Alaster drew up his men at the place where they had come to, and found that there remained with him of his own men but ten and two score of his gentlemen; he put five and twenty of these in the first rank, and five and twenty of them in the last rank, and drew up his three hundred foot of the Gordons in their midst, and marched before them. The men who opposed them were the regiment of the laird of Lawers, well trained men, and the gentlemen of Lewis along with them. The clamour of the fight began as is usual in every field of battle, which the foot who were behind Alaster, son of Colla, could not well endure, for some of them would not hear the sough of an arrow or the whistling of a ball without bowing their heads or flying about. Alaster's defence then was to go backward, beckoning to his party with his hand to be of good courage and march quickly, while his gentlemen were  p.189 entirely engaged in keeping their companies in their order, but they failed to do so; I knew men who killed some of the Gordons' foot to prevent their flight, which when the enemy perceived they prepared to attack them and to make the charge. Alaster ordered them to gain the enclosure which they had forsaken before, but they were attacked with pikes and arrows, and many were slain on every side of the enclosure before the party got into it. Alaster's sword broke, and he got another sword into his hand, and he did not himself remember who gave it to him, but some persons supposed that it was his brother-in-law, Davidson of Ardnacross, that gave him his own sword. Davidson, Fear Doirche Mackay, and other good gentlemen, fell at that time at the entrance of the enclosure, who were waiting to have Alaster in before them. As soon as Alaster got into the garden, he set all those in it in fighting order to give relief to those of his party who were outside; one of them was Ranald, son of Donald, son of Angus Mac Ceanain of Mull. I do not omit to set down this small part of his deeds. He happened to have been walking among the Gordons, and it was not the same side of the garden that he took and the other party of Alaster's gentlemen who were walking among the Gordons, when he felt the Teapar having been put on his shoulders. He turned his face to the enemy, his sword was at his breast, his shield on his left hand, and a hand-gun in his right hand. He pointed the gun at them, and a party of pike men who were after him halted. There happened to be a narrow passage before them, and on that account there was not one of his own party that had been after him but went before him; there was a great slaughter made among the Gordons' foot by the bowmen. It happened at that time that a bowman was running past Ranald and he shooting at the Gordons; he looked over his shoulder and saw the halt which Ranald brought the pikemen to, and he turned his hand from the man who was before him, and aimed his arrow at Ranald, which struck him on the cheek, and he drove a fist's length of it out through the other cheek. Then Ranald fired the shot but not at the bowman; he threw the gun away and put the hand to his sword, while his shield arm was stretched out to defend himself against the pikes; he made an effort to get the sword, but it would not draw, for the cross hilt whirled about and the sword did not come out; he tried it the second time, but it did not come; he tried it the third time by holding the scabbard of the sword with the hand of the shield which he put under his arm, and it was drawn out, but five pikes pierced him between the breast and the chin on account of that process; however, not one of the wounds they then inflicted on him was an inch deep. Having been engaged for some time cutting  p.191 off the pikes, some of which stuck in the boss of the shield, he set his back to the garden to defend himself, and he was forcibly eudeavouring to go to the door. The pikemen became deterred on account of the great number of them that were being cut off, except one man, who was striking at him desperately and severely, for it seemed to that man that if he conld preserve his pike from being cut off, his combatant man should fall by him. Ranald was then listening to Alaster complaining of the Gordons for the bad exertion they were making to rescue himself out of the place in which he was; but he (Ranald) was advancing towards the garden door, step by step, and when he considered to be near the door he gave a high quick spring away from the pikeman, he turned his back to him, with his face to the door, and stooped his head; the pikeman followed him, and stooped his own head under the door. Alaster was at that time watching them; he gave the pikeman a stroke, and although he might have been inclined to return back again quickly, what happened was that the young man's head was knocked against Ranald's shins from the stroke which Alaster gave him; his body fell in the door and his head in the garden. When Ranald straightened his back and looked behind him at the door, it was then he saw his companion. The arrow which was stuck in Ranald was cut and pulled out of him, and he got the use of his tongue and power of speech, which he did not expect.

It may be easily conjectured that the rest of the king's army was not idle all this time, viz., the active, intellectual, and courageous Marquis of Montrose; the brave, heroic, active, gallant, warlike Lord Gordon, along with his gentlemen; and others of the bold and warlike Clan of the Mac Donalds, and of the truly fierce, very brave, powerfully spirited band of the Clanranald, and they faced the enemy manfully and bravely without the fear or terror of strokes or shots. Montrose their general, being with his army, stood on a high hill, and saw the great danger and jeopardy in which Alaster was, and what he did was to call out loudly to encourage the gentlemen and the army who were within hearing of him, and said, “It is a great shame for us that one man should always carry off our fame from us by conquering every enemy before us: there is Alaster gaining the victory over the party that were opposed to him in the battle; therefore lead on this army in good order, zealously and quickly.” This order of the chief general was carefully responded to, so that every horseman pressed his heels to the flanks of his horse, and every footman's step moved on vigorously, light-footedly, anxiously, and nimbly; and in that charge they went among the enemy, when the enemy's forces were routed and were driven among the foot.


As to Alaster, he perceived the great standard of the king advancing to the rear of the regiment who were fighting against him there. He put his party in order to bring them out of the garden to fight, and a horseman came from Montrose to him concerning that. Alaster brought his men out of the garden as many as were serviceable, for seventeen of his gentlemen were disabled, who could not come out, besides those of them that were killed. He set his men in fighting order, and attacked the enemy the second time, and Montrose attacked them on the other hand, and that regiment of the laird of Lawers fell, and the greater part of the men of Lewis along with them in their ranks. They were pursued in the rout, and such of them as escaped were saved at Inverness, and it was with difficulty that Mackenzie escaped on horseback after losing his men and his honour.

Many were the warlike feats performed on that battlefield by the Macdonalds and the Gordons, without mentioning its casualties and great slaughter, as Montrose had stated in treating of that day in another place, that he himself saw the greatest feats performed and the greatest slaughter by six men that he had ever seen performed by himself or by any other person since; and of these six were Nathaniel Gordon, Ranald Og, son of Alaster, son of Alaster, son of Angus Uaibhreach, and Lord Gordon himself, and three others whoever they are. It was in the beginning of summer this battle of Auldearn was fought, in the year 1645. After fighting the battle they rested for some time in the estate of the Lord Marischal, who was a Covenanter and an enemy of theirs.

Alaster, son of Colla, came to the Coast to raise men among the Gael, and to seek for Maclean and John Moydartach there. The Scottish Parliament raised an army, commanded by General Baillie, and accompanied by Mac Cailin. They had intelligence that Alaster was at the Coast, and they resolved to give Montrose battle before Alaster and the rest of the Gael should come to aid him, and so it happened. They met at Alford, namely, General Baillie and Mac Cailin, and the army of the Scottish Parliament numerously and completely mustered. And those of the king's army along with Montrose were Lord Gordon, with his excellent and well-equipped cavalry of the Gordons; and Angus, the grand-son of Alaster, laird of Glengarry at that time; and such of the Clanranald as were with him, and the men of Badenoch, and a party of the men of Athole. When the armies came in sight of each other, both sides put themselves into a defiant and very active position of fighting. A party of the men of Badenoch were sent from the king's army to give a warning of the skirmish, and to begin the fight; and another party was sent against them  p.195 from the army of the Parliament. Then one of the Covenanters spoke to his own army and said —
“It is customary with the men who are opposed to you to begin the attack before you; let them not have that lead to-day, but attack them briskly and courageously.” Another man in the king's army, namely. Lord Gordon, said — “Let none of you be afraid that I shall not bring you Baillie by the neck from the midst of his party.” It was then that these two armies made a strong and very violent rush directly against each other, and their march was so quick that the forces of the two armies encountered each other, before the parties who had been sent out from them to skirmish fired a shot at each other. And what they did was to turn the muzzles of their guns against the main forces of their armies, and give them the contents that were in them; and from them came the unlucky shot by which Lord Gordon fell, while he was putting his hand in the sword belt which was round General Baillie. By this time the armies were in close conflict with each other, the cavalry seizing each others' heads with their left hands and striking one another on the heads with their pistols, and the foot forces did not know what to do for the raging of the horse. Alaster, son of Ranald, son of Allan, is a witness to that, for he and Allan Og, the grandson of Alaster, were the officers of the Clanranald in that battle, and the grandson of Alaster himself was in the troop guarding Montrose. Alaster, son of Ranald, says that he himself was for a time and the point of his sword to earth, not knowing on whom he would strike a blow, not knowing a friend from a foe. They continued in that manner until the active officer Major Lidas called out in the English language to withdraw all the horse, and every horseman who heard that command brought out his own horse from among the foot. From that forth every man was at liberty to use his hand and his blade as best suited him, and the cavalry of the Covenanters were not allowed to return to the charge, but were closely pursued and continuedly killed; they were so mortified at the fall of Lord Gordon that they ordered that no quarter should be given to any man that day. Not a man of Montrose's cavalry returned from the chase until their horses became fatigued; and the laird of Glengarry was in pursuit of the Marquis of Argyle until his horse became fatigued under him, and always within seeing distance of him, and the Marquis changed three horses that day fleeing from him, and escaped by the swiftness of his steeds.

As to Alaster, son of Colla, he came from the Coast and from the Rough Bounds with a great number of men, namely, all the young men that John Moydartach had at home of his country and kin, and commanded by Donald his son: and the Clan Maclean  p.197 from Mull, and the Stewarts of Appin, and the Clan Gregor and others. When they reached Montrose's camp they were joyfully and gladly welcomed by Montrose and all the rest. Each party of them were separately presented to the general, and the party of the son of John Moydartach, i.e., Donald, was brought forward. That man was a harmless, bashful, affable, unpresuming man in the presence of his friends, but powerful and undaunted before his enemies, and was in the twentieth year of his age at that time. A conversation happened that night in the general's tent between the general and the major-general, namely, Alaster, son of Colla; and Montrose said that it was not much help for the Captain of Clanranald without having brought in a large prey to the King's army, which should have been sent with his son to him; Alaster answered that he had sent that with him. Alaster went out of the tent, and came to the lodging in which Donald was, and said unto him — “Donald, my son,” said he, “make ready your men to bring a spoil to the camp, and have them prepared to proceed tomorrow morning, and none shall go with you but your own men and those to guide you to the country to which you will be ordered.” They received their orders the following morning, and they brought great spoils to the camp in a short time, which pleased Montrose and all the army, and Donald and his men made more preys than any others in the entire army. Some of the reasons why those spoils fell to his lot more than other people were that many of the other Gael who were sent to collect spoils carried away the spoils they raised to their own country without the permission of the general. The son of John Moydartach would not do any such thing, nor would he allow indeed any of his men to go away from him with a prey or spoil; another reason is that it was not easy for the men of Isles that belonged to his party to come with spoils to their own country from the Low Country. On these accounts it fell to his lot to send the great bulk of the spoils to the camp during the quarter of that summer, for he carried away a great spoil from the estate of Lord Marischal, from Angus, and it is he that preyed the Mearns.

When they were engaged on that spoil they met an honourable old man who was telling them stories and historical affairs, and along with the other stories he told them, he said that the Mearns had not been spoiled since the time it was spoiled by Donald of Isla, the year he fought the battle of Garioch or Harlaw against Duke Murdoch; “and I suppose, young man, that you are descended of him, if you be the captain of Clanranald.”

About this time the Parliament of Scotland met together, and they observed that it was a shame and a scandal to them that a small armed party of Gaels should harass the kingdom. They  p.199 therefore collected the whole forces of the kingdom, as many as were fit to bear arms, and that large army of Scotland marched after Montrose and the Gael; their nobles and their officers, their marching kerns and their marines, so that there were five thousand mariners along with them who never fought on land before that time. When the small army of the King of Britain and of the Gael knew that, they formed a means of watching for themselves to protect them from country to country, and a retreat on them every day; and escaping with difficulty perseveringly and stealthily.

One day as they were urgently retreating and escaping with difficulty from Methven Wood was the day on which the greatest army they ever saw was pursuing them; John Moydartach's son and his men happened to be in the rear, the major general being at his post along with them, constantly skirmishing with the enemy. There was one bold horseman before the rest who constantly attacked them, so that there was not a ford or river they came to but that horseman gave them great trouble, and it seemed to his men and to himself that he was the chief champion of Scotland; Colonel was his name and his office; he took three or four baggage horses from them that day. Angus, the son of Allan Dubh, was in the rear of his own party, on horseback without a pillion or saddle, having a long gun across his lap before him; it was not on horseback he was accustomed to fight but on foot. He thought he heard the horseman coming once or twice, and at one time that he came after him. Angus dismounted, and let his own horse go away from him. He quickly set his gun on a stone and fired a shot, and the man of the red coat fell under his horse's feet, with satin trappings and silver lace; his men gave a great cry lamenting him; he was stripped and left there, and the enemy did not press them more boldly than that on that day or the day following. They continued in that state for thirteen or fourteen days without any rest, but always retreating, Montrose using his best ingeniuity to see if he could weary out the great army which pursued him, hoping that by some of them separating from them he would be enabled to give them battle, but the soldiers were fatigued from want of food and sleep. Coming nigh to Kilsyth, after a night's march, they pitched a camp and stronghold in that place. At early morning of the following day what should they see but the great army, both horse and foot. The king's army had no choice but to leave the camp without eating flesh or bread, if they had them, and prepare themselves for fighting or retreat. Having marshalled the army, their nobles and officers held a council to determine whether they should give battle or retreat. Montrose requested to have the  p.201 opinion of the soldiers and of the whole army on the case. The whole army unanimously replied that it would be better to give battle, even with the greatness of its danger, than to be constantly pursued by day and night. Montrose sent a trumpeter to the great army to inform them that they should have a field of battle to fight with them. When the great army heard that their gladness was so great that they gave loud shouts of delight and joy, and they were dressed into rank and order. Three thousand pike and musket men were placed on three bulwarks in the front, and eleven thousand men were drawn up in battalions in the rear of these, and you may suppose what a hardship it was for a small force to encounter them at that time. The defending, hard-hearted, clean armed army of the Gael were arranged, and their numbers were four thousand foot and five hundred horsemen, appearing barefooted, every one of them having his tunic between his legs, and the cavalry having white shirts over their garments.

These heroic, very fierce bands marched to the attack in the face of the musketry and great guns. The fight began by an excellent regiment of Irish and Scottish Gaels who were expert at shooting, and inured to fighting, and Major Lachanain before them, and Alaster, son of Colla, directing and encouraging them. There were two other regiments to give relief to Alaster and to the party that went down first, viz., the regiment of Maclean and the regiment of Donald, son of John Moydartach, but Maclean's men were nearer the fight as regarded their order than the Clanranald, but the heat of the fight was so great upon Major Lachanain that Alaster, son of Colla, ordered him immediate relief; some difference happened then to arise between Donald, son of John Moydartach, and Donald, son of Hector Og Maclean, about the precedency of engaging, but, however, the Clanranald made their way in front of the Clan Maclean, and rushed at the walls on which their enemy were. Donald, son of John Moydartach, with his men, and Patrick Caoch Mac Gregor and his men in one regiment with the Clanranald. The assault was then made simultaneously by the fortunate army of the King of Britain, and the first man of them that leaped the enemy's wall was that son of John Moydartach, followed by his men; they were driven back in a routing defeat among the great army which was behind them, and all pursued them impetuously and fiercely, and the entire of the great army were routed, and were pursued during the day, cutting them down and slaughtering them. After the battle was ended they encamped at Hamilton, and the keys of the great Castle came to them from Edinburgh, and all Scotland submitted to them.

I had many stories to write on the events of the times if I  p.203 undertook to do it, but what induced me to write even this much was, when I saw that those who treated of the affairs of the time have made no mention at all of the Gael, the men who did all the service.

As to the Marquis of Montrose, he marched with a part of his army intending to go to England to relieve the King, who was sorely pressed by the English at that time, but he was defeated at Philiphaugh, and was not able to give assistance to the King.

Alaster, son of Colla, came from the camp at Hamilton to Kintyre, and cleared it for himself, and he drove out of it the Clan Campbell, and he erected Dunaverty as a place of strength. Donald, son of John Moydartach, came from the camp of Hamilton to his own country. Montrose proceeded to the North from the defeat of Philiphaugh with all those that survived of his men, and they continued so for some time. Montrose was in the north part of Scotland, and Alaster, son of Colla, in Kintyre, spoiling Argyle and Cowal and the territories; and John Moydartach in the Rough Bounds near the shore. John Moydartach and his son Donald went to Islay, and their own forces with them, and they drove out of it all the Clan Campbell that were in it.

About this time the Earl of Antrim came from Ireland to Kintyre to enquire after the army that he himself had in it, and he sent for those that were with Montrose, and they came to him at once. In consequence of this Montrose left the kingdom to solicit assistance from other kings and princes to aid King Charles. On his return from that journey, he was dishonestly destroyed by the Parliament of Scotland by the Covenanters, together with the Marquis of Huntly, and many other nobles who were on the side of the King.

A good many of the gentry of the Hebrides flocked to the Earl of Antrim, such as the Clan Maclean and the Clanranald, intending to set an army on foot again on behalf of the King; meantime the King's order came to the Earl of Antrim to disband the army, for the King was at that time in the hands of his enemies, viz., the Parliament of England and Scotland united against him. The Earl of Antrim disbanded the army, and he himself went to Ireland.

Alaster, son of Colla, remained in Kintyre, and made a stronghold in it and in Islay. The other Gaels who were on the side of the King went about to their own lands to protect them against the enemy. They were at length surrounded by a large army. Sir David Leslie and Mac Cailin came to Kintyre, without any notice being obtained of the time they would come till they came to Largie, where Alaster and his men were separated asunder. Alaster's party were dispersed; Ranald Og, son of Alaster, son of  p.205 Angus Uaibhreach, was taken prisoner, and was put to death at Inveraray some time after that.

Alaster, son of Colla, went to Ireland, and he was killed at Cnoc-na-n-Dos, with many other gentlemen of the Clan Macdonnell, in the battle which Murchadh O'Brien gave them in the year 1647.

This great army of David Leslie, and Mac Cailin along with them, came to Islay and to Mull, and all submitted to them except John Moydartach alone and those who joined him.

[Follows Eulogy on Donald of Moydart. See Elegies, &c.]

With regard to John Moydartach, son of Donald, son of Allan, laird of Clanranald, being forsaken by all after Montrose and the Marquis of Huntly had been put to death, and such as lived of the gentry who were on the King's side had been banished to strange foreign countries, he alone stood out from the (Rulers of the) Kingdom; and the few that lived of the party on the King's side were gathering round him. Messages were constantly sent to him from the Rulers of the Kingdom requesting him to make peace with them, but he did not accept them. However, he sent his son Donald to Ireland, and all those who remained with him of the men of Ireland, and some of his Scottish gentlemen along with them, and he himself and the rest of his men remained to defend his inheritance.

As to Donald, he set off from Uist in a rigged low-country frigate which he had, and in a long Gaelic ship, with about 300 soldiers, composed of veterans, in the year 1648. From thence they went to the Sound of Mull, to Colonsay, and to the Sound of Islay, where they fell in with a large ship, which they captured with her full cargo of barley corn; they took another ship on the sea, found nothing in her, and they let her away. They sailed for Ireland, they were overtaken by a storm on the coast, so that their ships were separated. Some of them reached the harbour of Killybegs in Donegal. Donald and those who were along with him landed on the point of Magilligan in County Derry, and they sent back the ships to Scotland. He went to Achagh Dacharad, where there was a garrison favourable to them. From thence they went to the County of Cavan, where they met Philip O'Reilly, chief of that country, and a friend of theirs. They went from thence to Mullingar, and he left his men quartered in that town, and he himself went to Kilkenny, where the Council of Ireland were sitting. He received orders for himself and his men to join the Council's army under the command of General Preston. That is the army in which was Alexander, the Earl of Antrim's son, and those who lived of the Scots and Irish of the Mac Donnells and their friends, who went over with Alaster,  p.207 son of Colla, to Ireland. This regiment had not less than fifteen hundred chosen gentlemen in it, Donald, son of John Moydartach, being lieutenant-colonel of it, and Angus, son of Alexander, laird of Largie in Kintyre, being first captain.

For some time this army were esteemed and honoured for their taking of great towns from the enemy, until they broke away from the army of Preston, but were overtaken in the county Riabhach. They had a large number of Irishmen with them of the Cavenaghs, who acted as their guides, and when these came to the places they were acquainted with in their own country, and on a border of a wood which was near them, they fled and left all there, so that the enemy rushed in among them and dispersed them. Donald, laird of Clanranald, and Angus, laird of Glengarry, were taken and sent prisoners to Kilkenny; they remained there for some time in prison until the Marquis of Antrim found means to release them. The grandson of Alaster came out sooner than the son of John Moydartach, and he went over sea to the king, and left Donald in prison, where he remained for some time until more money was given for his ransom by the Duchess of Buckingham, namely, the married wife of the Marquis of Antrim. He then went to Wexford; a ship was sent for him by the Marquis of Antrim to convey him to land at Caolas Sdàlaigh in Uist, and Angus, the grandson of Alaster, laird of Largie, came along with him, and his friends were joyful at his return to them. His gentlemen soon came after him in a ship which they took on the Irish coast, namely, Murcha, son of Mac Neill of Barra, a great, handsome man, accomplished and well educated; Alexander, son John, son of Allan of Buaill Og; Donald Gorm, son of Allan; Donald Roy, son of Donald, son of Lachlan Mac Vurich; John, son of Donald of Benbecula; Angus, son of Alexander, son of Godfrey. John, son of Brian Mac Vurich, and another part of the men, came another way for themselves.

After Donald returned from that expedition he and his father spent their time in defending their country until they obtained peace from the rulers of the kingdom; their enemies, however, held them in debt which increased upon them during that time; this left themselves always in distress, and also their posterity.

Anno Domini 1670, the year in which John Moydartach died at Eriskay, in Uist, and his body was interred in Howmore, leaving one son, viz., Donald, and three daughters, Mor, Lady of Coll, Katherine, Lady of Barra, and Anna, Lady of Benbecula. Donald, son of John Moydartach, — sixteen years intervened between the death of his father and his death. He spent these sixteen years in affairs of peace, sometimes attending at Court, full of respect and honour through the excellence of his disposition  p.209 and good behaviour, and sometimes at home to pay debts. He died in Canna in the year 1686, the same year that King Charles II. died; the body of Donald was interred at Howmore, in the same grave with his father. He left two sons and three daughters, namely, Allan, the laird, and Ranald; Mor, Janet, and Mary were the daughters. Mor, the daughter of John Macleod, was their mother; and Mor, the daughter of Rory Mor Macleod, was the mother of their father, i.e., Donald. Great was the sadness and excessive gloom which the death of this good man brought over the Isles, as is shown in his elegy.

[Follow elegies on Donald and on Allan, which see].

2. O'Henna made this on John of Isla.

  1. The sovereignty of the Gael to the Clann Colla,
    It is right to proclaim it;
    They were again in the same battalions.
    The heroes of Fodla.
  2. The sovereignty of Ireland and of Scotland
    Of the sunny lands
    Was possessed by the sanguinary sharp-bladed tribes,
    The fighting champions.
  3. The government of the entire tribes was obtained
    By John of Isla.
    Alexander, the lord of hospitality, obtained
    The profit of kings.
  4. Donald, John, and two Angus',
    Who were hospitable and joyful,
    Four that gained tribute from kings.
    And to whom the Gael submitted.
  5. Donald and Ranald to kings
    Never did give;
    Somerled, who was not deceived by flattery,
    The chief of heroes.
  6. Four from Somarled of the blue eyes
    Up to Suibhne;
    Four whose dignity was not obscure.
    It is right to remember them.
  7. Six from Suibne before mentioned
    To king Colla;
    Wine they had on the banks of the Bann
    In angular cups.
  8. Were I to enumerate all those connected with him
    Of the nobles of the Gael,
    I might give every generation up to Adam, p.211
    Such as no other man has attained.
  9. This is a sketch of the genealogies of the Gael,
    As I have promised;
    This tribe with whom no comparison should be made,
    And to whom sovereignty was due.

Age of our Lord 1173, the year that Gillespie, son of Alexander of Isla, died, and his body was interred at Rosmarkie, viz., the brother of John of Isla, son of Alexander, and the father of Alexander, son of Gillespie, who was killed by Mac Ceaain in Oransay of Colonsay; and the daughter of Mac Phee of Lochaber was the mother of this Gillespie, son of Alexander of Isla.

Age of the Lord 1437. In this year the King of Scotland, viz., King James the First, was treacherously killed in the town of Perth by his father's brother, viz., the Earl of Athole.

At the same time died Angus, bishop of the Hebrides, son of Donald of Isla, son of John, son of Angus Og. His full noble body was buried, with his crozier and his episcopal habit, in the transept on the south side of the great choir, which he selected for himself while alive.

Donald of Isla had another son, a monk, and it was in his time that Baile-an-Mhanuidh in Uist was given to the church, anno Domini 1440.

In this year died Mary Leslie, Countess of Ross and Lady of the Hebrides, viz., the wife of Donald of Isla.

I have given you an account of everything you require to know of the descendants of the Clanns of the Collas and Clann Donald to the death of Donald Dubh at Drogheda, viz., the direct line who possessed the Hebrides, Ross, and the Rough Bounds of Scotland. This Donald was the son of Angus (that was killed by his own harper Mac I Chairbre), son of John of Isla, son of Alexander, son of Donald of Isla, son of John of Isla, son of Angus Og, and I know not which of his kindred or friends is his lawful heir. Except these five sons of John, son of Angus Og, whom I set down to you, viz., Ranald and Godfrey, the two sons of the daughter of Mac Dugall of Lorn, and Donald, and John Mor, and Alexander Carrach, the three sons of Margaret Stuart, daughter of the Earl of Fife, and governor or King of Scotland.

The race of Ranald, Lord of Clanranald, viz., the House of Oilen Tirim, and the laird of Glengarry.

Godfrey left no offspring, except a few poor people who are in north end of Uist.

The offspring of Donald of Isla, the eldest son of Margaret Stuart, was Alexander of Isla, Earl of Ross and Lord of the Islands. This Alexander married Margaret Livingston, daughter  p.213 of the Earl of Linlithgow, to whom she bore John, the earl.

Alexander had other children, viz., Hugh, by a daughter of Gilpatrick Roy, son of Rory, son of the Green Abbot, son of the Earl of Ross, whose surname was of the Rosses. He had for patrimony the third part of Lewis, and other lands upon the mainland. It is he that was killed in the parts of Garioch when along with Mac Donald, viz., Donald of Isla. For there were four that went out of the army before any part of the main force went with them, viz., Norman Macleod and Torquill his brother, Lochluinn mac Gillemhaoil and Gilpatrick mac Rory. Gilpatrick mac Rory and Lochluinn mac Gillemhaoil were killed, but Norman and Torquill escaped safe from the pursuit.

It was this Hugh, son of Alexander, that plundered Orkney, and William Macleod of Harris and the youth of the Hebrides were along with him in that expedition. Hugh had Donald Gallach, son of Hugh, by the daughter of the Coroner of Caithness, and she was of the Gunns. Hugh had other good children, viz., Donald of Harris, son of Hugh, and the daughter of Macleod of Harris was his mother; and John, son of Hugh, and the daughter of Mac Ceaain of Ardnamurchan was his mother; but that John left no issue, and Gillespie, son of Hugh possessed the lordship; and other sons who are not mentioned here. Donald Gruamach was son of Donald Gallach, and Donald Gorm, son of Donald Gruamach, and Catherine, daughter of Alexander, son of Allan, laird of Clanranald, was his mother, whose descendants still possess the lordship.

Gillespie, son of Alexander of Isla, whose mother was daughter of Mac Phee of Lochaber, and Alexander, son of Gillespie, who obtained possession of the earldom of Ross, and Donald, his son, died without issue.

John Mor, son of John, son of Angus Og, the Tanist to Mac Donald, married Mary Bisset, and it was with her the seven Tuaths of the Glens came into the possession of the Clan Donald.

Alexander Carrach, the third son, married the daughter of the Earl of Lennox, but she bore no children to him. Angus, son of Alexander, whose mother was a daughter of Mac Phee, but she was not married to him. Alexander, son of Angus, from whom are descended the race of Alexander, son of Angus in the Braes of Lochaber.

There you have the descendants of these four sons of John, son of Angus Og.

[Here in R. B. come three poems, as detailed on the opposite page].


3. [Macdonald and Macleod Chiefs contemporary with the writer, Niall Mc Vurrich.]

Reader, I shall here set down for you every one who is a landed proprietor, at this time, of the posterity of John, the son of Angus Og, who was called Macdonald and Lord of the Isles and King of Fingall.

4. The Posterity of Ranald, the first son of John as we have stated.

The Laird of Clanranald.

Allan, son of Donald, son of John of Moydart, son of Donald, son of Allan, son of John of Moydart, son of Alexander, son of Allan, son of Rory, son of Allan, of whom are named Siol Ailin or the Race of Allan, son of Ranald, of whom are named Clanranald, son of John, son of Angus Og.

5. Laird of Glengarry.

Alexander, son of Ranald, son of Donald Gorm, son of Donald, son of Angus, son of Alexander, son of John, son of Alexander, son of Donald, from whom the Siol of Domhnaill, or Race of Donald, were called, son of Ranald, son of John, son of Angus Og.

6. Laird of Morar.

Allan, son of Allan, son of Allan Mor, son of Alexander, son of Allan Mor, son of Dugald, son of Ranald Ban, son of Allan, son of Roderick, son of Allan, son of Ranald, son of John, son of Angus Og.

7. Laird of Benbecula.

Donald Gorm, son of Ranald Og, son of Ranald, son of Allan, son of John of Moydart, son of Alexander, son of Allan, son of Roderick.

I have no male descendants to set down of the race of Donald of Isla, or Donald, Lord of the Isles, who has a Lairdship, except Sir Donald, son of Donald, son of Sir James, son of Donald Gorm Og, son of Gillespie, son of Donald Gorm Sagsanach, son of Donald Gorm, who was killed at Oilen Donnain, who was son of Donald Gruamach, son of Donald Gallach, son of Hugh, from whom Siol Huistiuin, or the Race of Hugh, are called, son of Alexander of Isla, son of Donald of the Isles, viz., the first Earl of Ross of the Clann Donald or Macdonalds, son of John, son of Angus Og.


8. Marquis of Antrim

Randell Og, son of Randell of Arran, son of Sorley Buy, son of Alexander, son of John Cathanach, son of John, son of Donald Ballach [the Freckled], son of John Mor, son of John, son of Angus Og. And his brother's son being now heir to the Marquis, namely, Randell Og, son of Alexander, son of Randell.

I know none of the descendants of John Mor, who have a title, except the Earl of Antrim and the Laird of Largie in Kintyre; nor of the descendants of Ranald Ban [i.e., the Fair], son of John Mor, Laird of Pingina in Kintyre; nor of the descendants of Angus of Islay, son of John Cathanach. The heads of these families lost their possessions in the posterity of James, the son of Alexander, son of John Cathanach; and Angus his son [lost] the superiority of South Oirear entirely, except a very small portion left by the two sons of Gillespie Dubh, son of Angus, son of James, namely, Alexander, son of John, and Gillespie, the two sons of John, and Angus and James, the two sons of Hugh, and these men had noble mothers. James Og, son of Angus, son of James, the lawful heir of the race of John Mor, died in London, in the year of the age of our Lord 1626. In the same year Rory Mor Macleod died in the Chanonry of Ross. The death of James Og and the death of Macleod of Harris was greatly deplored among the Gael at that time.

Norman Og, son of John, son of John, son of, namely, Rory Mor, son of Norman, son of Alexander, son of William, son of John, son of William, son of Gilliecalum, son of Tormod, from whom are called Siol Tormod [the Race of Tormod], son of Leod, from whom are called Siol Leoid, such as Macleod of Lewis and Macleod of Harris.

We were acquainted with the five sons of that Rory Mor, namely, John the Laird, Rory, Norman, William, and Donald, Isabel, the daughter of Donald, son of Angus, being their mother, daughter of the Laird of Strome and of Glengarry.


The Elegy of Allan and Ranald, Mc Vurich composed it. 3

  1. Alba is without protection after Allan,
    The heir of Ranald of the blue eyes;
    My disposition since the death of these two men is such
    That the greatest wealth is not coveted by me.
  2.  p.219
  3. A hero by whom the board of monks (?) was maintained,
    The son of Margaret of the greatest renown;
    No loss more lamentable could be told,
    Although it is the final lot of every heir to die.
  4. Allan by whom the plain of the Fingalls was defended,
    Of the race of Colla of smooth skin;
    Until the death of the heir of O'Eachadh occurred
    All that departed from us did not concern us.
  5. Ranald departed from the same power,
    He assumed the leadership of the Gael,
    He received, through death, the respect of every man,
    He was a branch of that bountiful wood.
  6. The lamentation for Ranald of the purple blades
    Is not an agreeable course for my heart's disposition;
    Whatever day he is regretted least,
    Our grief for him is a sickness to us.
  7. I am not better off after Allan,
    The heir of Ranald, not a pleasing comparison;
    The leaders of our forces, our chieftain clan of warriors.
    My sorrow for the family is equal.
  8. The lament for the two is an equal proportion.
    It is a trouble for us to treat of their jewels;
    It is not the departure of relatives from her high plains,
    But the united branches of the valour of Alba that have died.
  9. The fame of Ranald has gone to decay
    After the death of Allan whose manner was noble;
    He spent his time with us in fervor.
    Pity it were not we that died first.
  10. Had Ranald departed after Allan,
    But in the death of any man I have no liking;
    His fame excelled the deeds of the Gaels,
    No man after him is of any concern to them.
  11. In the judgment of death there is no even decision
    Over the Clann Colla who took no refusal;
    His death and that of his heir also.
    The branch of Moirne is without perfect sight.
  12. Let me sing of you in silence like the swan,
    Thou descendant of Rory of the blue blades,
    My affection be with thee of the white coloured teeth,
    Though thy death now reproves me for it.
  13.  p.221
  14. Your fame shall ever be in remembrance,
    The comparison of thy hospitality shall attend that fame;
    Death will be a friend to us since the death of Allan,
    Thou art a branch never blamed.
  15. Thou head tree of the Clann Cobhadh,
    My career has terminated, great was the destruction
    You inflicted upon them by preying,
    But more severe than that to Scotland is thy death.
  16. The land is without corn in consequence of his death,
    The inheritance of Ranald is not a small portion;
    Nuts, if on their trees, are without kernels.
    The woods are decaying, every tree is bare.
  17. The sun has indicated thy deep mourning,
    It has not put blossom on the tops of branches;
    The seasons are stormy without a change,
    Superior signs that his death was supremely lamented.
  18. In his time impressive was the song of the Gaels,
    It was not a harsh tone on that account
    That thy death is a consequence
    Is false, as thou art away from the country.
  19. In the territory of the Fingall in the time of Allan
    Noble to all was the dignity he bore.
    He obtained during his time of all its products.
    It seems to me that it is not the earth that gave him.
  20. A little story I have about Cuchullain
    And of Cathfadh the Druid, intense the woe.
    The like of it everyone has not received,
    I give good information by relating their story.
  21. Cuchullain the beloved of the Ulstermen;
    The Ollamh of Tara on whom sorrow fell;
    Death separated them both asunder,
    It could not subdue the love of Cathfadh.
  22. The excessive grief of the learned man for Cuchullain,
    The end of their sorrow is no trifling question;
    It is not remembered, though long it is since he flourished,
    That any champion ever excelled him in fame.
  23. The grief of Cathfadh was not to be wondered at
    For the death of the Cu whose skin was like a wave:
    But the greatness of my sorrow exceeds it
    For the death of the two of this race of Conn.
  24.  p.223
  25. The grief of Cathfadh for Cuchullain,
    In comparing it with our case it is no degree of envy;
    His deep sorrow for his mighty Fenian hero,
    That any man should die is no object to us.
  26. The like of the grief which was on Cathfadh
    Is the extreme of the grief which has fallen on us;
    Grief goes beyond settled sense,
    And our grief is not less painful.
  27. Beyond the grief of all persons, that of Cathfadh exceeded
    A degree above every sorrow, intense was his love,
    It became our lot to bear with such a grief;
    His anguish for Cuchullain was excessive.
  28. Cuchullain was not better towards Cathfadh
    Than the friendship of Ranald of the blue eyes was;
    Our pleasance from this clan of the blood of Fiachadh,
    It has compelled me to be sad.
  29. Cuchullain who did not refuse a combat —
    The learned man of Fodla — 'tis sooth —
    Cathfadh died of sad grief for him,
    He died as one of the flock of the hill, he did not forsake him.
  30. Were we to judge by the loss of one man,
    The death of two is a painful woe;
    The grief of Cathfadh would be exceeded,
    It is a fit time to leave off his story.
  31. There has been no forgetfulness of mourning after them;
    The relations of the story are remembered by us.
    It is oppressive to us to hear them lamented,
    The two brilliant stars of the valour of the Grecial Gaels.
  32. Cuchullain, the guardian of Fodla,
    A noble champion when he lived.
    The defence of his tribe against all in fighting
    He took upon him every time as his bounden duty.
  33. This Cu defending Scotland,
    The mighty-deeded Allan, prodigious the loss,
    Protecting her hospitality and high plains
    His death is a melancholy case for Scotland.
  34. Ranald died after his father;
    Dressed in a fine coat of mail,
    He protected the territory of the Plain of the Collas,
    They could not find a better chieftain.
  35.  p.225
  36. Allan was dexterous like Cuchullain;
    The valour of Ranald of the vehement pursuits;
    The severest death for every man is that of his heir,
    This is the saddest case of all.
  37. A remembrance of him endureth for everlasting,
    He is the grief of his friend, it is a sad affair;
    Those two men of the blood of Eimhear died,
    On which account we feel not the loss of any other man.
  38. For now, Ranald, I have lamented
    For thy society, thou fair skinned like the blossom;
    My grief does not put an end to their loss;
    The grief for all others is only feigned.
  39. There exists a fame after every man,
    Allan who wast not harmless in the conflict;
    Although thy death is true, thou art not dead,
    Behold thy fame shall endure henceforth after thee.
  40. Many battalions, always attending him, marched
    Around Allan of the old arms
    A wonder he should be alone in a grave
    Since he spent his life as he did.

10. Cathal Mc Vurich composed this for Donald, son of Allan. 4

  1. Ye antiquaries of the learned men of the Hebrides,
    The best nobleman shall not be forgotten;
    We must record his death after all that was bestowed
    By him over the land of the fair Gaels.
  2. The son of Allan of the north Tiormfhonn,
    His prosperous career is no easy subject;
    He made his way to the house of the Three
    With a fairy spear wielded in his hand.
  3. Keen pursuings from strand to strand,
    On the days of the chase in the woods of the coast.
    As he had come from shooting birds,
    And accompanied with music on his departure.
  4.  p.227
  5. The number of his forces on coming to land,
    All hands being hard at work,
    In making of golden garment for his people,
    The time he went out of sight of shore.
  6. Thousands find fault with a wife
    For the connections that arise about her;
    The cause of his not championing the girl was
    That he and she occasionally played together.
  7. The race of the Collas by whom the battle raged,
    The hilt of the sword was grasped by their hands;
    They were the seal of the regal law
    Until the coming of the race of Enna from the battle.
  8. Valiant heroes that an asseveration would not deceive,
    Ploughers of the sea on which they are,
    On the dark front of the wave they rise
    Through which an inferior ship could not pass.
  9. The Clanranald are ready to march into every country,
    For whom the sun produces every splendour,
    'They seek affection from afar off
    In their own plains without a guide.
  10. Heroes to be compared to the hosts of Troy
    Accompanied Donald to the battles in which he engaged;
    All that had been plundered from him
    He afterwards recovered the flocks.
  11. Be not erecting lime houses,
    Let grass huts be your dwelling at the shore,
    Let your spears be stacked on the cold field,
    These are your abodes of rest after the battle.
  12. Be like men in a proper order of quietness,
    Rising up together like a swarm on the field,
    With a furious wind on a ford,
    And the threads torn from the smooth standard.
  13. Let feather beds be given up by you.
    Prepared for your march, and not wishing for peace;
    Be like the huntsman, watching his opportunity
    At the proper banks of the calm streams.
  14. The salmon swims sometimes with a slow motion,
    He leaves the pools when he bends;
    Let the regal rule be followed by you,
    A net for trout of the fibres of branches.
  15.  p.229
  16. A spark flew from thy sharp blue sword,
    O Donald, at the fort's gate;
    The moon is hidden above the banks of the coasts.
    The smoke of the plunder rose to it.
  17. The cheeks are usually red in their natural colour
    Not by danger for which they seek,
    That is not the cause which reddened thy cheeks.
    But all thy prowess in battle.
  18. A spoiling host from the poops of ships
    Into the country which they visit,
    The burning force which came to oppose thee
    Received their wounds from thy preying parties.
  19. A queen whose weaving harness cannot be arranged
    By the great numbers who attend her;
    The blood of her fingers on the web of silk,
    Which is set in proper order by the girls.
  20. The end of it is not a prospect of peace for those
    Of the territories heated by fire;
    Again shall be carried along the shore
    Your own preys with smouldering fires.
  21. The prosperity of the race of Allan has quickly increased,
    It is necessary to state that they have been ennobled;
    All those he left of them in his own country have been free,
    Not having been made hostages by any other forces.
  22. The branches of trees are bent by the fruit,
    Although it is upwards the source of it goeth;
    Man could not wish for better music from chords
    Than that of a narrow stream flowing through a shrubbery.
  23. The rain of honey of the northern country
    Has caused its grass to bend;
    Out of it, by flying, could not rise
    The birds by expanding their wings.
  24. In the form of boughs usually are
    All the branches of the wood which increases in density;
    Its united branches at the top are as jewels
    There are nuts on the natural hazel tree from the beginning.
  25. A very straight wand of sound body
    Was the son of Allan who repelled every onset;
    It is a proof of the usefulness of O'Erc of the cave,
    Tearing the plumes from the golden helm.
  26.  p.231
  27. The knowledge of the disposition of a king's daughter
    Is contemplated by the sparkling of her eyes;
    Thou mayest select a woman accordingly without enquiring about her,
    The blush of her cheeks discloses her love.
  28. When a herd of cattle is secured, they are kept in confinement,
    Just as soldiers are who do not observe justice;
    That enables a king to rule;
    Take the chord out of the chain of gold.
  29. Women who were accustomed to livelihood
    From exploits on the sea,
    A woman who daily sets her house in order,
    The maiden appearance has left her.
  30. A host of brown heroes, to whom every science yielded,
    Accompanied Donald wherever he marched;
    Why should the flush of his countenance cause
    A rest from the shore, which he might do in the end?
  31. Until deeds-doing soldiers were satisfied with conflicts
    He did not withdraw from his large forces;
    The hostages of enemies did not salute them;
    Golden wares are a wonder to a woman.
  32. They were not balked in a nocturnal incursion,
    Although it were dark and pouring sleet or snow.
    The light equal that of the star is emitted by the horse-shoe;
    The horse-shoe requires not a better light.
  33. Is not Donald full equal to rings of gold
    Whose lips are generally ruby?
    The sword-blade is driven in at the pursuit,
    And the golden hilt following it.
  34. The enforcing of judgments under which they were;
    The dart of a person by which terror is disclosed;
    His finger goes into her side;
    It is a slender spear effective 5 in the battle.
  35. That is a web of straw by Anna for John,
    Which is stitched near the sea-shore;
    A couple of charges while with an army.
    It is a house of repose, a pay in his hand.
  36. Brown shields by which the conflict is made close,
    Through the descent from Colla is proper;
    Having been called from the northern countries
    These descendants received their golden arms.
  37.  p.233
  38. Invoke the mother of God to protect us
    That he may send a host to the battle-field;
    Sufficient is the greatness of his miracles to us,
    A new branch of the original parest seed.
  39. The daughter of Angus, whose eye is like an icicle,
    With slender hands that excelled all others in every coast;
    She put warmth along every strand,
    By which kindred and every house talked of her.
  40. Sufficient for her to have drunk enough
    From the beast, rather than milk from the udder;
    Youthful hair of very great beauty,
    A white firm set of teeth most evenly set.
  41. The blood of Conn flows in her cheeks,
    The waves are without storm like wine;
    It appertains to the clergy to relate stories,
    One tree is her origin in the regal line.
  42. She lives through the clergy without a particle of imperfection,
    Having a tendency to the earth from which she sprang;
    She acquired no blemish from it,
    A seal of the raspberry is on her fair cheek.

11. The same Cathal sang: 6

  1. The grief for four hath confused me,
    My eyes do not conceal my weeping,
    Still the grief is more oppressive in my breast,
    Which becomes more intense every day.
  2. It is on account of four who have been taken away for ever,
    And I every day lamenting them;
    The continued testimony of grief is torturing me,
    My health in future will decline.
  3. The loss of those good men is felt by their kindred,
    Four who could not be taken prisoners in the battle;
    Since their bodies have been interred in the earth
    It will be bad for us not to follow them.
  4. They were the sons of princes who took the hold;
    From spring no payment is made to the people;
    Summer gave us no hand (i. e., relief);
    We are sorrowful, we are pained for the clan.
  5.  p.235
  6. Thou art badly off after
    The four that lie under the tombstone;
    We have not incitement to battle, pledges or conflicts;
    But we are only alive without gaining fame.
  7. After the two Ranalds had departed from us,
    Without being sent to learn of a prophet,
    The death of Donald was melancholy at the time,
    We are equally grieved for John.
  8. The four falcons of the land of Conn
    Are stretched under stones in the church;
    The wood has not yielded so much fruit
    Since the death of the noble descendants of Fionn.
  9. Four scions of the greenwood
    From Teamhair of the pure robes at the Boyne;
    The pure ones of Ile having gone to their graves
    The hosts of our country are in excessive sorrow.
  10. The four lions of the territory of Brigia
    Who were supporters of the strangers at our schools;
    Beautiful trees overshading in our close woods,
    A wood of trees in which the cattle were protected.
  11. The water is frozen despite of our summer's sun,
    Through Ranald's death, which is a part of our misfortune;
    Too manifest is every pleasure declining,
    The harp bewails the son of Allan.
  12. Our heroes are never silent.
    Their grief is reducing their size;
    The gem of our military weapons is under the sod,
    On account of Ranald Og having died from amongst us.
  13. No fruit is found in the wood,
    No produce is driven in by the wave;
    On account of the son of Angus having departed from us,
    It has put dry blisters on every slender hand.
  14. John, son of Allan, departed this life from us,
    A very ready hand who was powerful in the pursuit,
    And we followed him in every step.
    In close conflict, we are now in a demented state of sorrow.
  15. No time was allowed to pass without making known
    The death to all persons as soon as they heard it,
    Our hosts conveyed it as a message.
    Around the grave they clapped their hands.
  16.  p.237
  17. The generous men have departed from ourselves,
    The learned men receive no rewards after them,
    They brought the hospitality with them into the grave,
    The victory of battle, and the sway of the good sense of all.
  18. Tears on their account come in floods,
    We are unwilling to compose their elegy,
    Very little obedience is yielded by the people after them;
    Our beautiful wood in the earth in the church-yard.
  19. After the sadness of the excited sorrow
    No one is called to the chase;
    My tribute of grief attends me to beguile me,
    As if it were now I went to my trade.
  20. A cluster of carbuncles of precious stones —
    Illiberality about gold they did not practise;
    In every part of Scotland, alas!
    A pen-drop of my lamentation is not decreased.
  21. Such sorrow as this which has taken root
    Should now be stated by us,
    A ship having met with a stumbling wave at Banba,
    That concerning the sons uf Uisneach, wondrous, fair.
  22. They were killed by Conchobar, the mild, the free,
    Through rude jealousy in drinking;
    The sons of Uisneach, the powerful heirs presumptive,
    A story by which Banba acquired her sorrow.
  23. Naoisi, Ainli, and Ardan the generous,
    Were slain in the thick of the battle;
    That brought a great deal of pain and anguish
    Unto Ireland both east and west.
  24. To-day throughout the Hebrides
    There is much of this lamentation of the plain of the Fians;
    Every day in its full entirety increases
    Our deep melancholy by a degree.
  25. Without the aid of chords in musical harps
    The grief which is in our country is expressed;
    With deep sorrow the clergy remember
    In a degree exceeding that of the bond maid of Ireland.
  26. The death of the sons of Ranald is melancholy.
    On which account our opposition at the shore is feeble;
    Like the moaning of a flood towards the strand
    Is our lamentation because they have all fled from us.
  27.  p.239
  28. The balsam which brought healing over the land
    Oh! that we had it, alas!
    From the bountiful wood in which the learned got it,
    That a drop might be in the mouth of every good man of them.
  29. The Daghda having fled to every quarter,
    Brought cures into all places along in his track;
    Unto us it was not so, without deception.
    To covet the art of fierce wounding hand.
  30. The heroes of the Clann of Conn have departed.
    With severe grief we lament them in our breasts.
    After them we cannot be longlived.
    It is dangerous for us to be separated from the party.
  31. Their garments were not refused to the clergy,
    Their steeds or chains of gold;
    Having abandoned their feathers they are under earth,
    To be after them is lasting sorrow.
  32. They were lightly covered in the earth,
    Without an expectation of produce by the people;
    In like manner the woods are unproductive at top,
    The fruit does not bend the united branches.
  33. By their death the strand is not productive,
    The storm moans with grating tones;
    There is little pleasure while drinking at
    The feast of sorrow which has happened in our country.
  34. There is a sound of wailing in the mountain rivers,
    A voice of crying in the notes of birds,
    The net derives no profit from the pool,
    The storm has destroyed the corn and grass.
  35. Dry weather is not known in our country,
    The grief is depriving me of my senses;
    The lamentation of the schools has gone beyond concealment
    Since the clergy have assumed their mourning garments.
  36. Our rivers are without profitable fishing,
    We are without hunting in the winding glens
    There is little produce in all the land,
    The wave has stripped it bare to the bases of the bens.
  37. The waves never cease roaring on the shore,
    Every sea is without driving its produce on its strand;
    When taking wine at the time of drinking,
    The warriors grieve more than the women.
  38.  p.241
  39. The cold of the Invers is enough to wound us,
    The gray birds have no opportunity of feeding;
    Every river is fordable being full of ice-flags,
    The trout does not attempt to swim on account of the frost.
  40. The wolves are truly ill-disposed,
    The notes of the cuckoo are not heard,
    The wind has assumed a maddened force,
    The rivers run over the heath carrying away the banks.
  41. On account of the Clann Ranald having departed from us
    We cannot pursue our studies;
    it is time for the Ollamh (doctor) to go after them,
    Making presents will be discontinued.
  42. The end of our converse is away from us under the sod,
    Our organs and our echoing sounds;
    A party who freely bestowed jewels,
    They were a flock that sprang from one seed.
  43. From us departed unto God
    Our pillars of valour in the fight,
    They were always good men as you know,
    Their fame liveth for ever.
  44. May the grace of the father from the abode beyond
    Convey me over to heaven,
    He is a personage difficult of access,
    The will of the Lord is best to guide me.
    The grief for four, &c.

12. Cathal Mc Vurich cecinit (sang):  7

  1. It is right to welcome a man of thy news,
    man with whom it has come from the shore;
    I have news privately from him
    Over which my pride should excel all.
  2. Sweeter than music of harps thy tale,
    Young man without wound, without blemish;
    Thou art like organs when we are over wine,
    If true be the statement of thy lips.
  3. It is most agreeable to me during my life to hear
    That news with which you have come;
    Justice has more abounded every day with me,
    Powerful is my strength to-day.
  4.  p.243
  5. I delight in thy coming, in my condition,
    To listen to thy words attentively;
    From thy story of peace I do not dissent,
    Through it I sleep rightly to-night.
  6. Thou hast brought with thee thy recent news,
    Young man of the most skilful countenance;
    A seal by which my breast is confirmed,
    News from the personage by which I have been gladdened.
  7. Donald, son of John, the defender of the trenches,
    Is the secret of the excellent news which you have,
    The safe arrival of the hero over the sea,
    Love to tell it is due from me.
  8. His safe arrival armed and young
    Is a cause of increase to my pleasure;
    A scion of the united house, a tree that does not bend,
    I will take delight in him unto my death.
  9. To visit him I go at once
    By the rule if I follow custom;
    I am in haste to his society without restraint,
    His beauty will bloom in accordance with my expectation.
  10. I behold him opening his eyes,
    The personage by whom my substance was bestowed;
    I recognise him at a distance beyond the sea,
    His countenance flushed with blood like wine.
  11. Why should I not know his ringleted hair
    Corresponding with my expectation as I judged?
    The deeply beloved of the daughters of the queens of Ross,
    With round hands and beautiful brown nails.
  12. I will know the words of his mouth.
    And his teeth like pearls in brightness,
    Which are not disclosed uncivilly to us,
    And the cheerful eye of mild lustre.
  13. I know, though a gun-shot from me,
    His eyebrow neat, shapely, narrow;
    A free young man with whom it is difficult to contend,
    And his smooth side like the floating of lime.
  14. I would know the steps of his feet
    While leaping nimbly over the fence;
    The heart of him of the victorious bands has taken away
    The lock of my mind from me secretly.
  15.  p.245
  16. Donald, thou art my great courage,
    My supporter in combat when at my back;
    My jewel in whom I take delight,
    Thou art my full star and my new apple.
  17. My victorious tree who art esteemed,
    My own heart is that elegant man with curled hair;
    The son of a prince from whom knowledge was not concealed,
    My battle belt is that intrepid fair drop.
  18. Our water fountain that never runs dry,
    Our arms of war to subdue,
    The cause of our mirth, our freedom of joy.
    The precious ale which is drunk out of gold [goblets].
  19. He is my sword and my rare slender spear,
    My choice of the Gael and the Gall;
    He has in keeping a good disposition towards me,
    And the desire of my eyes is to see him there.
  20. By hereditary descent we have been with his people,
    We have done our best endeavours through hope;
    I deny not that my strength is from thine ancestry,
    Through thee I obtain right and justice.
    It is right to welcome a man of thy news.

13. Elegy on Donald of Moydart, who died 1686. 8

  1. There is an end to the pleasures of the Isles,
    The death of one man causes a burning bare;
    It is, however, but the beginning of sorrow,
    Causing melancholy throughout the bounds.
  2. Since the death of the champion of the blood of Conn
    There is no heart without a sore wound,
    Without honour from others for the clan,
    Easy ever to accept their pledge.
  3. The son of John of Moydart, the great, the active;
    The shortness of his life is my bitter pain:
    Sad is my condition after the man,
    'Tis that has consumed my flesh and blood.
  4. I have not seen one like him
    In affability, in purity of nature, p.247
    In hospitality, in practical goodness —
    The favourite of our king is, alas! in the earth.
  5. He was a fosterer and patron of our schools,
    Our grievous loss, God, is his departure,
    His life commanded my esteem,
    There is but the usual casualty in our death.
  6. A lion in the fierceness of his exploits,
    But he would approach to nothing base;
    He was a leading man in making for peace —
    My beloved was the protection of strangers and friends. 9
  7. There is a wound in my breast lamenting him,
    A pilgrim am I and a man without substance;
    I am mad whatever I am,
    God, it is about my chief and king.
  8. Active was his mind on the field of battle,
    A leader of an army who refused not an encounter;
    A hand not feeble in the hard conflict,
    Was Donald, the victorious, the fair-handed.
  9. At the friendly request of his king,
    He carried arms from the time he could wield them;
    He was an encounterer of the fury of the battle,
    A hero was my staunch and free-born darling.
  10. A most active scion was he in every battle,
    A most liberal bestower on the poor;
    He was the heart of true affection —
    He is now laid low, the beloved of the learned.
  11. King-fish of his race, the rapid salmon,
    And the last of the princes of Ross,
    He was the prosperity of this western land of grey swords,
    I pledge myself about him, long since I heard it.
  12. Since his body has been put in the grave,
    My stay in this wan world is miserable;
    For I cannot, though his praise is my duty,
    Find the chief of the people to whom to make my song.
  13. Many a man in fair Uist
    And woman, too, are in madness of grief;
    On account of the chief that is hid in earth,
    The shield of warriors who fled not pursuit.
  14.  p.249
  15. Donald did not prevent me to visit him —
    I never boasted like a slave —
    In the gap of danger he was not feeble,
    Such was my bright sun, who spared not wealth.

Elegy of Allan of Clanranald, slain at Sheriffmuir 1715. 10

  1. There has fallen a pillar of the race of Conn;
    'Tis a misfortune to the good blood of (Clan) Donald,
    Their men are confused with anguish,
    which has completely broken the warriors of the Gael.
  2. The light of Clan Colla has been lowered,
    Which watched the course of their exploits;
    'Tis a cause of melancholy to the people,
    The death of the heir of the lords of Clanranald.
  3. The race of Conn are in heart consumption
    For the loss of the courteous presence of one man;
    There are heroes in sorrow in the towns of Brigia 11
    For the glory of the valour of the Gael.
  4. 'Tis a loss to the nobles of Ben-Brigia
    And death to the valour of the Gael —
    This death-blow to the descendant of Conn in the fight;
    Terrible it is to us and a burning bare.
  5. The death of Allan in the battle he gained
    Was a slaughter on the men of Uist;
    Through thinking on the pains of his wounds
    There is not the strength of a woman in our warriors.
  6. Our Mainland does not treat of its interest
    On account of the leader of the army of the race of Fergus;
    Every one is in pain lamenting him,
    And the call of every woman is confused.
  7. From the Mull of Kintyre to Orkney there is not
    A man that is not deprived of power from his pain;
    Every fair one enquired after has become gray
    Solely on account of the Lord of Uist.
  8. The fall of our chief in the battle
    Has deprived the Gael of bravery;
    Victory was gained for a time by the other army
    On account of his being dead in the field.
  9.  p.251
  10. 'Tis an impediment to the nobles of Scotland
    The death of Macdonald, the goodly and brave;
    To the ratification of peace or a cause of war
    Was the only leisure time they obtained.
  11. To his own blood it is a matter of pride
    To have his heroic deeds spoken of;
    Their heroes refused not kindness to the poor,
    They were like wells of comfort and humbleness.
  12. Their wisdom went behind [i.e., is lost],
    On them fortune has turned her back;
    Pure armed heroes of the Clann Colla,
    Unlively is the wail of their lament.
  13. The mountains are issuing one by one
    Snow, wind, and frozen sleet;
    And warmth shall not be in our land henceforth
    On account of the death of Allan, the ever honest.
  14. The wind blows fiercely, noisily, steeply,
    And the sea responds to it very briskly,
    The loud roaring of the waves falling,
    And pools are flooded at dry towns.
  15. Since the death of the heir of the sunny land.
    Memorable has been our condition in the bad year;
    For in it there was no fruit in woods,
    But the trees bare up to the very tops.
  16. The salmon were in the pools lying,
    In the centre of the frozen flags of ice;
    The well-sown seed [grass?] of every land without growing,
    And birds did not bring forth young through dismay.
  17. Since our chief has gone to his grave, there exists
    Highway violence, the opposition to every good act;
    And from the fruits of the bountiful land
    Little has been obtained on account of his departure.
  18. By the death of the mild Cormac, son of Art,
    Ireland was without consolation,
    Constantly lamenting him throughout the territories,
    And there was deep anguish throughout Ireland.
  19. Flathri, son of Fitheall, put on record
    The dispositions and good acts
    Of the grandson of Conn after his death,
    As he obtained a share of his Royal Bounty.
  20.  p.253
  21. By us are due the lawful debts,
    Consequent on the death of the Clanranald chief:
    We abandon music, we sleep not aright,
    And the wound in our heart cannot be comforted.
  22. More lamentable than the departure of their fathers
    Is the death of the last heirs;
    Hearing the purport of the ancient verses
    Hath set the recollections of my heart astray.
  23. The desire of Cormac of the house of Tara
    Possessed the descendant of John of good mind;
    He is remembered with great pleasure
    Exchanging jewels of singular price.
  24. Some of the wishes of the son of Moire were,
    When nobles assembled,
    That they be well worded, modest, peaceful,
    Agreeable, quiet, and well-ordered.
  25. Another desire that should neither be concealed,
    Was to be at the head of a glorious host,
    To satisfy every chief's mind,
    And his followers to have plenty battles.
  26. Playing music and inditing poems,
    Practising the order of every art,
    The attentive study of the military books of heroes,
    And dogs fully effective for deer.
  27. To us our time is not cheerful,
    Mournful is our eyes continually weeping;
    The death of Conn's descendant of the golden armour
    Hath separated from us our ruler.
  28. Every one is in the pangs of death
    Since the chief of our protection departed;
    Our beloved, the condition he is in,
    And our slain in Inverpephry.
  29. Many an act of danger and ingenuity,
    Of hospitality, nobility, and excellency,
    Are entombed in his resting-place.
    Our sure ark of the united party.
  30. Since the garment closed round the body of O' Conn,
    Our power has fallen without hope of recovery;
    The deep sorrow of the Gael of the deeds of valour,
    The like is not related for any one man.
  31.  p.255
  32. The deeds of Felim's son (Conn), the great, the active,
    We have heard the account as it is written;
    If true, they correctly resemble
    The victorious deeds of our good chieftain.
  33. At the end of ten years, it is said,
    The noble son of Felim marched
    To fight against Caithar Mor,
    Without using treachery or dissimulation.
  34. Caithar was defeated by Conn
    At Magh h-Aga of the heavy wounds,
    In which the Leinster men of Buighe fell
    Through the evil obstinacy of fighting.
  35. The son of Felim Rectmor gained
    Victory in every battle by hard fighting,
    From the first year of his life
    Through the greatness of his ruling and regal prosperity.
  36. In the reign of Conn, as I have heard,
    Ireland of the fair-green land yielded
    Full hundred fold produce of its fruits,
    Which got him praise for good effects and mercy.
  37. The sons of Milé united
    In the race of Conn fighting with sharp blades;
    The Clann Colla were in the action with valour,
    And our choice of them was the last.
  38. The heir of the race of pure streams,
    Who commanded his clan for a time;
    Justice was administered by law,
    And sensible champions controlling it.
  39. Our Conn without any mistake of fortune was he,
    Our calm chief of peace,
    And our nobility of race in bravery,
    And the ancient organiser of the free clans.
  40. The sons of Milé themselves and they not living,
    The race of Conn and Colla are equally lost,
    The Clann Donald following after them,
    Our sorrow being for the royal blood of Ranald.
  41. The race of the Gael of valourous deeds
    Have set our senses into confusion;
    They are away from us in strange countries
    Without a prospect of seeking their native land.
  42.  p.257
  43. Such of our princes as have not departed from us
    Have long since become exiles,
    Without an expectation of possessions in Scotland,
    Or to assume their paternal name.
  44. The scarcity of professors among the race of Conn
    Has awakened the want of our instruction
    Throughout the expanse of the world
    And over the blue land of the Gael.
  45. We have been without the pleasures of music or games,
    Without any opportunity of learning instruction,
    On account of the strife in our beautiful country,
    And without treating of the tribes of warriors.
  46. The want of one man above all others
    Has lost to us the knowledge of enquiry;
    For ever without the language of books
    In the usual Gaelic literature.
  47. From contemplating on the elegy
    Of the sole protector of the men of arts,
    The flow of my eyes bedims my sight;
    So our grief is insufferable.
  48. Every man with anguish in his heart,
    And there is no tribe of the choice princely line
    Living together since his body was interred
    And the last of the Fiann are without consolation.
  49. The day of judgment is coming as it has been deserved,
    No one has received a foreknowledge when it will.
    That people may receive their judgment variously,
    May want of severity characterise it for the clans of Scotland.
  50. Death has extinguished our gladness,
    Since the day our lord departed,
    When he engaged in the adverse encounter,
    Which is our grievous, unhealing wound.
  51. He is the death wound of the pure Gael,
    To his vindictive foes it is gladness;
    The time of incitement to victory for our enemies
    Has commenced the presage of our want of joy.
  52. The men of the Gaels from wave to wave [from shore to shore],
    Since the death of the Captain of Clanranald,
    Have no shepherd as a protection to them
    Since their only defending chief departed.
  53.  p.259
  54. The valorous Pride of the Clann Colla
    Is in a coffin at Inverpeffery,
    The cause of our free gifts and our lucky journeys
    Is laid to rest at the doors of Drummond.
  55. Seventeen hundred years exactly,
    And fifteen years directly close,
    From the birth of God to the death of Allan,
    Whoever should enquire.
  56. Our importuning of the Chief over heaven,
    Grant, O Mary, O Son, our request.
    That he be in heaven of the angelic orders,
    If it be the will of our Lord.
  57. To the abode of the pure angels
    Is the journey for his soul;
    It is not right to be sorrowful after him,
    It is sufficient to remember our first redemption.
  58. Such as have remained with us of his princely blood,
    May the king of the elements well direct them,
    And bring them to obtain their property by right,
    And defend them against the power of the enemy.
  59. Young Ranald, our country's chief,
    May he come with a right royal intention,
    To the patrimonial possessions of the ancients
    To awaken the spirit of the warriors.
  60. The King who redeemed all people —
    We implore Him to send prosperity in our time,
    And to send [Ranald] to our presence over the wave,
    Since the nobility of our wishes has fallen.
    There has fallen a pillar of the race of Conn

14. The Army and Arming of the Last Lord of the Isles 12

It was at that time came the warriors, the wise, glorious fighting, chose worded, well counselled, noble, highly noble, active of deeds, high spirited, gold armoured Fingalians (men of the Hebrides), namely, the badged, luckful, silk-standarded, active, fiercely lively Macleans; and the soldierly, spirited, brave  p.261 Clan Mac Ian, together with the faithful, highly hospitable tribes around their lord to instruct the powerful prince, and counsel the hero, namely, the active champion of the Red Branch; and lively, vigorous troops with purple garments; and vast, loud shouting, fierce, high spirited parties; and beautifully coloured, bold, keenly encountering, stout hearted, austere troops of a good army. And they were in well-arranged battalions, namely, the proud, luminous countenanced, finely hued, bold, right judging, goodly gifting Clan Donald; the ready, prosperous, routing, very bold, right judging Clanranald; the attacking, gold shielded Clan Alister; the protecting, firm, hardy, well enduring Macphees; the fierce, strong men, the Maclachlans; the lively, vigorous, liberally bestowing, courageous, austere, brown shielded Macdougalls; the cheerful, chief renowned, battle harnessed Camerons; the inimical, passionate, hardy Macneils; the manly, sanguinary, truly noble Mackinnons; the fierce, undaunted, great feated Macquarries; the brave, defending, foraging, valiant, heroic, ale abounding Mackenzies; the active, spirited, courteous, great bestowing Clan Morgan (or Mackay) and the men of Sutherland came as a guard to the Royal Prince; and the powerful, lively active, great numbered, arrogant Mackintoshes, in a very large, powerful force around the chief of Clan Chattan, in active, hardy battalions with their champions. There came along with these warriors earls, princely high chiefs, knights, chiefs, lords, barons, and yeomen, at one particular place, to the noble son of Alexander; and these numerous rejoicing heroes, and powerful, active, fierce sounding hosts gathered together. This is the manner in which they appointed the powerful, fierce, active, mighty deeded, white armoured, supreme King of the Gael, viz., the terror striking, leopard like, awful, sanguinary, opposing, sharp armed, fierce, attacking, ready, dexterous, powerful, steady, illustrious, full subduing, furious, well prepared, right judging earl, as he received on him the armour of conflict and strife against every tumult, that is, his fine tunic, beautifully embroidered, of fine textured satin, ingeniously woven by ladies and their daughters; and that good tunic was put on him.

A silk jerkin which was handsome, well fitting, rich, highly embroidered, beautiful, many coloured, artfully done, gusseted, corded, ornamented with the figures of foreign birds, with branches of burnished gold, with a multiplicity of all kinds of embroidery on the sides of the costly jerkin. That jerkin was put on him to guard him against dangers.

A coat of mail, which was wide, well meshed, light, of substantial steel, beautifully wrought, gold ornamented, with brilliant Danish gems. Such a mail-coat as that was possessed by  p.263 the lithe Luga of Long Arms. John received a similar one in the name of the One Father to protect him in battles against the armies of his enemies. And there was put over that battle mail-coat an encircling belt, which was battle victorious, brilliant with blue stones, powerful, showy, branchy, artificial, ridgy, hard, with good clasps made of bronze, with figures of flying birds on its borders. An artist exercised his best skill in making that excellent girdle. And there was put over that an angular cape, gold bordered, even, with blue stones, of fine material, pointed, precious, buckled, close-fine, attractive, delectable, gold bordered, corded, ornamental, that the eye in continually looking at it would be melted by the brilliancy of the powerful cape.

And there was given to the powerful warrior, at the time of the meeting, a helmet of security, which was prosperous, crested, victorious, life preserving, whitish blue, excellent, awe striking, elegantly bordered, branch stoned; a star of prosperity in conflicts was that diadem ornamented with blue stones, never subdued in battles; fury seizes the armies on beholding that precious helmet.

And there was on the noble side of that powerful man a sword which was sharp, serviceable, long, very hard, sound, straight, of smooth surface, long bladed and of equal power throughout its full length. Mac-an-Luin was the like of it, which Fionn the Fenian Chief had; or the sword of the victorious Osgur, in the celebrated battle of Ventry; or such another blade as Cuchulinn of the Red Branch had, the son of the peaceful Sualtam; or the fine slaughtering sword of the battle victorious Connal Cernach, by which was effected the Red Raid. And although celebrated were their names, John happened to have better than any of them.

And he put on his fair hands his full military gloves that they should be a protection to the palms of his hands against the impression of the white ivory hilt made by the force of many blows in striking the powerful warriors.

And he received an axe which was blue-sided, thin, light, sharp-edged, substantial, of true steel remelted (tempered), which had been possessed by a manly giant, namely, the Baron of the Piaid, with the terrible blows of which by the hero the powerful men were defeated. In the time of the rebellion this battle axe was in the possession of his lord, i.e., Macdonald, to whom it had been presented.

On concluding their Council, settling their controversies, rising of their champions, removing their difficulties, they unanimously united with the noble son of Alexander, the heroic King of Fingall, in turning their faces against foreigners, in parties, in numerous  p.265 companies, in troops, in crowds, in multitudes, in great armies, in battalions, in lines, in ranks, in kerns, in chasing parties, in defeating battalions; and there did not appear any forces equal to them from fortresses, strongholds, retreats, sequestered places, courts, cities, markets, or great towns, until the potent king obtained all the obedience granted to him; and it was to certify this that the poet sang these words:

  1. True is my praise of Macdonald,
    A champion with whom I unite;
    The hero of every conflict, the lion's heart,
    A hand that fails not, pride of the Gael;
    The champion of Ulster, the controller of Assemblies,
    The eye for causing the stopping of war.
    The sun of the Gael, the countenance of O'Colla;
    By the banks of Bann, quick sailing are his ships;
    A furious hound that checks plunders [Fodhla, Ireland?],
    A modest soul, the tree of Banba,
    The country with fire brands is red after him;
    His family ancestor came to Tara,
    Putting Meath in commotion, the leopard of Isla;
    Root of hospitality, powerful in every land;
    He refused no man, nor importunate bard;
    The bountiful branch of hospitality, of the land of Oileach,
    There did not spring from him but queens and kings.
    True are the statements.
    True is my praise.

The Elegy for Sir Norman Macleod, which Niall Mac Murnigh made. 13

  1. The pleasures of Innsigall have ceased,
    A deep felt sorrow has taken their place,
    There is anguish and affliction without concealment,
    For the awful loss of the noble.
  2. The tribe of Leod of the highest spirit.
    The royal race of Scotland are in deep sadness;
    The greatest sorrow afflicts them
    Exceeding that of any other host of the Scotch.
  3.  p.267
  4. The hospitality throughout Innsigall
    Is not so bountifully nursed,
    Yes, without the nourishing drink of metheglin;
    Dispirit rules the glory of the Gael.
  5. As a man with wounds in his troubles,
    Full of anxiety and extreme oppression,
    The hospitality finds no place of rest
    In the delightful blue land of the Gael.
  6. As a foster son is after his foster father
    Full of sadness and tribulation;
    The best of the good protecting men having departed,
    No wonder this anguish should arise.
  7. Sir Norman, who is now at the will of the worm,
    Calmed the lamenting to pleasing looks;
    And after all that, he is away from all parties,
    His repute from him without shepherd.
  8. The sway of the tribe of Leod is lessened,
    Without a chief forthcoming of equal power;
    The tribe of herds are in lasting sorrow,
    Their hereditary sway is altered.
  9. Their rulers are of short duration over them
    Compared with other tribes of the Scots;
    To them it is dangerous, be they ever so guarded,
    That he is not long lived among them.
  10. Death gains a defeat by prostrating all on their backs,
    Without war, without fighting a battle,
    Everlastingly against all tribes that have lived,
    Of the best and most powerful races.
  11. There is but a remnant of a noble clan
    By a loss sustained by the parties;
    Without disparagement to the Gael or Gall,
    He was their chief champion, but he does not live.
  12. In heaven there is no cause of jealousy,
    Heaven draws their fortunes;
    The praise is conferred on the church,
    The hour of their destiny has passed.
  13. Heroes that failed not to gain the victory,
    They passed their time in pleasures;
    Select princes of extensive lands
    Are in a fervour of grief in one hour.
  14.  p.269
  15. Too much has gone of their rightful share,
    The choice of the stock of Fionnlochlann;
    Long shall he be piously in the remembrance of all,
    The extreme of all affliction is the loss.
  16. Dearly beloved of the noble mind,
    On the death of the chief from the advantage of power,
    The truly grand clan of men selected him
    On account of his great military spirit.
  17. Every happiness came into the country
    Until the death of the Royal son of Rory;
    On it has come the grievances,
    Every misfortune since you interred him.
  18. Their excessive grief is no wonder for them,
    To the nobles of Fionngall it is death;
    The pure-armed land on which no rout pressed
    On account of the chief mustering its forces.
  19. Mournful they go from it after him
    His royal troops, his trusty forces;
    The land of division walls of the best profit,
    Deep sorrow replaces her pleasures.
  20. Every great engagement in slaughtering or fighting
    The clan of King Leod had their full share in them;
    The end of the first hospitaller of each clan,
    Lamentable is the end of his justness.
  21. The weeping at Babilon in bondage,
    It would appear to you it came into this country,
    By the greatness of the downfall of power
    Through the death of the defender of this territory.
  22. Joy was in the affliction of sorrow,
    On account of its delightfulness being changed.
    Without an expedition it was plundered.
    The territory of the Isles is in a similar condition.
  23. Our sorrowful case of anguish is similar
    To that which occurred after Conn and Conaire;
    There was daily excessive grief among the learned,
    I believe that ours is an exact type of it.
  24. A sadness which has not ebbed after him
    Is that for the son of Macleod, a cause of true sorrow;
    On everyone therefore there is a gloom,
    On account of the decease of the chief of our protection.
  25.  p.271
  26. Long will be remembered by the Clan Leod
    The death of the warrior of the blood of King Leod;
    They are preparing for heartfelt grief,
    Being full of excessive sadness and sorrow.
  27. A death of the deepest anguish it is
    To his friends and his followers;
    Over his grave as they perform a neachd
    They have their turn at the tomb which we cannot get.
  28. As I used to receive from him, while along with him,
    As much pleasure as I desired;
    Alas that I obtained so much friendship,
    Since he died in the hour of my praying.
  29. The women of every country are in sadness,
    Also their heroes and ecclesiastics;
    Their faithful freemen are in grief,
    The extremity of severe affliction is among them.
  30. The hospitality, the pure generosity,
    The joyous exclamation, the ready welcome,
    They have all gone with him into the earth,
    For an age after him there will be but lamentation.
  31. The anguish of the blood of Donald of the Isles
    Was unceasingly for a long time;
    The loss of the branch of the tribe
    Was lamentation and skin-wound to the stock.
  32. The Clan Maclean in mourning clothes,
    A degree which did not exalt their honour,
    Their sorrow is greater than any other affliction,
    Therefore they have on them their mourning.
  33. The elegies of Connor and of Conn,
    Of the grandson of Magnus of the house of Man
    Long are they in the memory of all,
    The loss will be recorded in every leaf.
  34. The Clan Leod are mournful after him,
    The hosts of the Scottish Isles are
    Without liveliness of heart for the loss that has been willed;
    Sorrow has gained a sway over them.
  35. They are in a state of expectation,
    The princes of the Macleods of the ships,
    Always under a load of sorrow,
    Good are their warriors at the time of mustering.
  36.  p.273
  37. 14The salmon of the high stream of the Barrow,
    And the Orkney Islands rising up simultaneously;
    Great softness of the heart which yielded sadness
    Amongst the heroes of Norseland.
  38. The learned were found in obscurity,
    Their protector lives not;
    They overstepped the rest,
    When they were grieved and sad.
  39. He was the chief protector of the learned men of Scotland,
    He was the knowledge of the order of sciences,
    His death has confirmed their difficulties,
    The literati are like trees without relief.
  40. He was the lamp of true history,
    Or a person in its nearest type;
    Why, God, should it not be a grievance to us
    That the earth is over his body, and I believe.
  41. We are in want of gold and cattle,
    Since the chief of Rushgarry died:
    The learned men since the hour of his death
    Have forsaken their havens of watching.
  42. Flaming troubles pervaded the stars of heaven,
    They poured forth showers of lightning;
    The hills are not illumined by day,
    Their grief for him mastered them.
  43. The rivers are rising over the woods,
    There is a scarcity of fish in the bays;
    The fruitage is not found in the land,
    The roaring of the sea is very coarse.
  44. At the last hours of his death
    Dreadful tokens appeared to us;
    Foreboding clouds which denoted grief
    Were of gold colour in the northern region.
  45.  p.275
  46. A victorious prince who did not break his word
    Was Sir Norman to the time of death;
    Except the coffin in the earth in which he lies
    There was no column raised for his monument.
  47. The death of a prince of a mighty tribe
    Is a want of honour to the learned professors;
    Woe to the poet who received attention,
    His heart is gone without recovery.
  48. Ours is greater than the lamentation for cities,
    Above the grief for the daughters of supreme kings,
    Or the death of a beloved spouse,
    You may judge the severity of our affliction.
  49. Seventeen hundred and two to be reckoned,
    And three years the age of the supreme king,
    A gold wand the purest to be seen,
    To the death of the excellent son of Rory.
  50. Were you to estimate the greatness of the anguish,
    The vastness of the sorrow would suffice,
    Among all persons, although lesser day by day.
    The grief for him the time he died.
  51. The pleasures of Innsigall have ceased.

  52. Without a remembrance of the time of our prosperity,
    Bountiful was he in paying for poems;
    The cause of our sorrow I behold in the love —
    The pure glory going to death.

15. Elegy on James Macdonald. 15

  1. The grief for James is wounding heroes,
    As they shall ever be without him;
    The floods of tears are flowing pitifully
    They are always speaking of him with anguish.
  2. He was the child of the heroes, a pure handsome figure,
    Sad is the deed that he has been cut off,
    The son of the King of Cratuidh is in a girdle [i.e., coffin],
    Early for him to hear the cli [? call].
  3.  p.277
  4. He was a scholar without want of letters,
    From whom we received an impulse by emulating him;
    He was well spoken and free from error,
    And his look mollient which was bountiful to me.
  5. Far away he travelled to find his knowledge,
    He was a pupil of the scrutinizers of schools;
    He proceeded from Scotland eastward by sea,
    His own free will urging him on to it.
  6. He gained renown in every College,
    As it was easy with him to acquire knowledge,
    Wisdom and intellect were side by side,
    Although not one they were united in him.
  7. France of feasts bears testimony
    To every language paid for you,
    Every thing beautiful found in the schools
    Was polished by you with true godliness.
  8. A religious man who was much respected,
    A royal foster child, which was not too great for him:
    They conferred the title of Tanaisde on him,
    And a mastership was applied to him.
  9. Although it has been a great loss to us
    Since his death will be the breaking up of a clan,
    It is a want of understanding that leaves me as I am,
    A loss to them the greatness of which cannot be estimated.
  10. Coming as on a free visit from the east by sea,
    With pleasure produced by the elegance of the man,
    Maintaining his reputation from school,
    And the love of the will being his reward.
  11. To return back is impossible for us,
    And it is not clear where information may be got;
    A damp mist fell on him of the ringleted hair,
    It is a woeful death to his kindred to hear it.
  12. The gentle scion that would not break his word,
    And the free son that was not sparing of rich presents;
    Far distant from the grave was his fame although but young,
    Hosts are on every road to hear if he died.
  13. You may gather from the wood that has produced no nuts,
    You may pluck with your hand an apple if it has grown;
    And there is not a dense tree over our heads
    Or an herb that has not become bare through their decay.
  14.  p.279
  15. To be recounting, though loth I am,
    And there is not half to recount;
    Short was the life of the valiant descendant of Colla and Conn,
    The pure protector is now a want to us.
  16. The descendant of Ranald has followed them,
    He has been put to dwell in the earth:
    It has penetrated my heart with anguish
    And my eyes are full of tears and without sleep.
  17. One comparing with him in magnanimity and esteem
    Gained nothing by it but debasement:
    He retired from the contest without protest —
    For by descent he could be reputed elegant.
  18. Often he paid our tithes
    Until he lay under a flag in the grave;
    This has sent our blood [or grievances] to the bone
    Because of our goodwill to them and their faces from us.
  19. Macdonald loved not his praises;
    On his going to be under earth,
    Every one was seized with dread
    When the King of Heaven visited him.
  20. The anguish of lamenting him was all over the lands,
    Which was not less than that expressed in my verses:
    He had the advantage of being a Gael with clear brown hair,
    Pure was his skin from the sole to the head.
  21. A man of sufficient clemency with honor,
    According to the disposition of the tribe of which he was:
    He attached himself affectionately to his kindred people
    by which he gained the good will of every man.
  22. A man who displayed superior knowledge in every cause,
    In every good science his acquirement was perfect;
    The King of Grace granted him his reward,
    And he obtained a deserving life through death.
  23. In St Mary's Churchyard they buried his coffin,
    The fair bold piece is lying there;
    His pillow is earth under a flag,
    And the frost encloses him all round.
  24. As every man must prepare to go,
    According to the rule of the King from whom we are sprung:
    Let us submit to the fate as is customary.
    Since near unto us is death that carries us away.
  25.  p.281
  26. Let our will be controlled by the law of God,
    For by Him all have been cleansed;
    The person who had been with us had, however, a termination,
    And he has been lamented by all.
  27. When we shall see the Resurrection of the Lamb,
    He and we shall be together;
    Then to be judged by the Eternal Judge,
    And we 'shall be called on the right side after him.
  28. Seventeen hundred years exactly,
    And six fives to be reckoned along with eight
    By you since the time that Mary obtained a son,
    When James died from us to be deplored.
  29. Every one shall uncover his face there,
    Consider how we shall all be gathered together,
    At an assembly where no secret can be concealed;
    Under the judgment of the Lord through whom we have been kept.
    The grief.
Septr. the 8th, 1727.

16. Exile of Ranald.

  1. There are two affairs that are wasting our minds,
    To be thinking of them makes us miserable;
    Their grip has reduced our affability by a degree,
    And our pleasures have retired back from us by a leap.
  2. Love of justice and fear of injustice,
    At every tiuie in our remembrance estimating them;
    Without being known which of them gains the sway
    Except when God gives a helping hand.
  3. The nobles of the lands of the country of Scotland
    Are deprived of their place without justice;
    Is it not a wonder while their will is to return,
    That they receive not their desire with respect?
  4. The right of the crown is with another,
    And the King of Britain has lost his rights;
    That has awakened every man to his loss,
    And the Gael are not at ease from the contest.
  5.  p.283
  6. Their relief is not to be obtained in Ulster,
    Although their people were beloved in Magh Fail;
    Since the parties have been taken,
    Leaving the King of England over sea.
  7. There is news coming with a mustered force,
    Every day arousing amongst us;
    On account of us being without them, except as a loan,
    The kingdom is not at ease by it.
  8. To us it is more rueful than to all others.
    To the race of Colla of the warlike deeds (steeds?)
    They are out of their inheritance and rank,
    The people that gave payment to the poets.
  9. The royal blood of Ranald is the chief guardian,
    They are without the possessions of the blood of Conn;
    The want of thy government lowered my pride,
    Thy arrival was the signal for our loyalty.
  10. The grandson of John not being in his ancestral inheritance.
    Our minds have decayed contemplating it;
    Nuts from a wood that bears no fruit.
    From a wood by which our hopes have been blasted.
  11. Let us give a call with a fervence of will,
    To the Heir of Mary, the Son of God,
    Should they be in danger of sustaining a loss,
    Since He is the Head of our nobility.
  12. May he come free to the rights of his kindred,
    To maintain the possessions of the ancient (house);
    Our chieftain calm and our prince hospitable,
    The guide of our nobles who would pay the troops.
  13. As Ranald is the king of our choice,
    I implore Christ to send him to protect us,
    That he may come to pay us our will,
    In the right of the princes ever before him.
  14. May the chief of our instruction come unto us,
    Who is descended from the blood of Conn and Colla Uais,
    In the government of the royal tribe of Ranald,
    His protecting clan by whom I have lived without danger.
  15. If it should be pleasing to the King of all Kings,
    To bring him to the inheritance of the blood of Conn;
    He would not refuse the most hazardous meeting,
    He would bring us safe into security.
  16.  p.285
  17. Praise be unto Him who created the world
    That the scion of our government should be freed by Him;
    As He divided the sea before Moses,
    And subdued the flood of every oppression.
  18. O, son of Donald, thou blood of my heart,
    Implore often the Son of God
    For everything that is wanting to thee,
    And he will readily grant it.
  19. Look continually on the path of Jesus,
    Since a Son came down to the Virgin Mary,
    Who took upon Him a crown to redeem us,
    Receive honor as a burden to thee.
  20. From a man descended the heir of our fathers
    To pay the tributes which fell heavy [upon us];
    How his mother was praising him
    While proceeding on the hollow earth [i.e., earth below].
  21. Since Mary's Son became incarnate,
    Until he was crucified on the tree;
    Let us implore the chief of the shoulder cross,
    The joyous plant of all pride.
  22. Go thou onward in the track of the child,
    Son of Donald of the pleasing figure;
    Although you may not find this world agreeable,
    Accept the invitation by which you shall be saved.
  23. As you may not find but sorrow and trouble,
    In submitting to the will of glorious heaven;
    Believe that the sunshine of this world is short,
    More delightful is the beauty of the everlasting life.
  24. Submit to the Father of all,
    The King from whom we shall receive the greatest goodness;
    The tribute which is not neglected in demanding it,
    Is the tribute of your mind to be paid to Him.
    Two causes.

17. Niall Mor Mc Varich for Rory Mor Macleod. 16

  1. Six nights I had been in the Dun,
    It was not a fallacious entertainment I received;
    Plenty of ale was drunk at the board,
    There was a large wine-hall and a numerous host.
  2.  p.287
  3. The attendants of the house were on every side,
    It was a cheerful great clan;
    As quietness was better for the prince's comfort
    The party of the tribe took their drink in retirement.
  4. The merriment of the harp and of the full bowls,
    With which hatred and treachery are not usually accompanied;
    The laughter of the fair-haired youngsters,
    We had inebriating ale and a blazing fire.
  5. A prince from whom a good disposition is required,
    He keeps the fellowship of all ecclesiastics;
    In his regal court drinking is not a dream,
    To his numerous company he is plentiful and hospitable.
  6. We were twenty times drunk every day
    To which we had no more objection than he had;
    our food * was in abundance which consisted of * [mead?]
    Four, three, seven along with six of varieties.
    Six nights.

18. Welcome to Allan of Clanranald.

  1. Hail to our Allan! king of the Clanranald!
    I see how learned, beauteous, blue-bladed he is;
    Neither he nor his high-stepping, wide-wandering Fingalians would shirk
    The close-fought fight. I will put in order verse right famous
    And glorious, without flaw, in honour of the Dragon of Clan Donald.
  2. Not better as leader of men was the Chief Osgar,
    Whether for spirit or bravery for each pressure that arises,
    Or for close shield-conflict in the heat of battle;
    On sea he is good at inciting; at a ford, for rousing.
    On the breast of the sea on a stormy evening he can
    Well watch the rage of the rolling waters, taking them
    Side-ways. Though shipping heavy seas, he gets,
    Despite the mounting waves, to land scatheless.

19. Niall, the son of Donald M" Vurich, sang.

  1. Old Belzebub ran the archbishop to meet,
    and thus the arch Rebell the apostate did greet. wt. a fa la la
  2. Och my Dr Doctor Burnet
    I'm pleased beyond measure
    this visite unlookt for
    gives me infinite pleasure
  3.  p.288
  4. But o my Dr Saram
    how goes things above
    Doth George hate the Toryes
    and Whiggks only love wt. a fa la a
  5. Were your highness impropriated
    in person to reign
    You coud not more bravely our party maintain
    But how doth gd. Robert?
    O perfectly well
    A .... whigg
    you had nere in hell wt. a fa la &
  6. Hugh Peter is making
    a Sneaker within
    for Luther, Buchannan, Jo. Knox, and Calvin
    but ore ye have tipled a brass of punch bowls
    yile swear you never
    Drank wt. Dishonester souls, wt. a fa
  7. This night wile caruse
    putt ane end to all pain
    goe Cromwell you dog
    King William unchaine
    and tell him at length
    yt. Sarams come down
    who just left his Mitre
    as he left his Crown, wt. a fa la la
  8. They lived as they dyed
    in our Service all spent
    they only come hear
    who never repents.
    Lett the heralds aloud,
    our victory tell
    lett George live for ever
    amen cryed all hell.

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Title (uniform): The Book of Clanranald

Title (supplementary): English translation

Editor: Alexander Cameron

Editor: Alexander Macbain

Editor: John Kennedy

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translated by: Alexander Cameron

Electronic edition compiled by: Beatrix Färber

Proof corrections by: Beatrix Färber and Janet Crawford

Funded by: School of History, University College, Cork

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1. First draft, revised and corrected.

Extent: 35980 words

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Publisher: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College, Cork

Address: College Road, Cork, Ireland — http://www.ucc.ie/celt

Date: 2013

Distributor: CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.

CELT document ID: T402566

Availability: Available with prior consent of the CELT programme for purposes of academic research and teaching only.

Source description

Manuscript source(s)

  1. Red Book of Clanranald, Royal Museum of Scotland.
  2. Black Book of Clanranald, Royal Museum of Scotland.


  • A new edition is in preparation by Prof. em. Willie Gillies with the Scottish Gaelic Texts Society. At http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/literatures-languages-cultures/celtic-scottish-studies/research-publications/research/internal-projects/clanranald an article by him about the subject is available online.


  1. Malcolm Laing, A History of Scotland, (Edinburgh 1802) [with a dissertation on the supposed authenticity of Ossian's Poems'].
  2. Malcolm Laing, The Poems of Ossian (...) with notes, Vol. 1, (Edinburgh 1805).
  3. Derick S. Thomson, 'The MacMhuirich bardic family', Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness 43 (1960–63) 276–304.
  4. Ronald Black, 'The genius of Cathal MacMhuirich', Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness 50 (1976–78) 327–66.
  5. Ronald Black, 'In search of the Red Book of Clanranald', Clan Donald Magazine 8 (1979) 43–51.
  6. William Gillies, 'The Books of Clanranald', in: Charles W. J. Withers (ed), The Companion to Gaelic Scotland (Oxford 1983).
  7. John Bannerman, The Beatons: a medical kindred in the classical Gaelic tradition (Edinburgh 1986).
  8. William Gillies, 'The Classical Tradition', in: R. D. S. Jack, (ed), The History of Scottish Literature, volume 1: Origins to 1600 (Mediaeval and Renaissance) (Aberdeen 1988) 245–262.
  9. William Gillies, Sources of the Books of Clanranald, Etudes Celtiques 29 (1992) 459–460.
  10. Anja Gunderloch, 'Eighteenth Century Literary Fraud and Oral Tradition: the 'Real' Ossian' in: Dietrich Scheunemann (ed.): Orality, Literacy and Modern Media, (Columbia 1996); 44–61.
  11. William Gillies, 'Alexander Carmichael and Clann Mhuirich', Scottish Gaelic Studies 20 (2000) 1–66.
  12. William Gillies, 'The Clanranald Histories: authorship and purpose', in: G. Evans, B. Martin and J. Wooding (eds), Origins and Revivals: Proceedings of the First Australian Conference of Celtic Studies (Sydney 2001) 315–340.
  13. John Shaw, 'What Alexander Carmichael did not print: The Cliar Sheanchain, Clanranald's Fool and related Traditions', Béaloideas: The Journal of the Folklore of Ireland Society 70 (2002) 99–126.
  14. Benjamin Hazard, 'At O'Neill's right hand: Flaithrí Ó Maoil Chonaire and the Red Hand of Ulster', History Ireland 18/1 (January to February 2010) 18–21 (available on JSTOR).

The edition used in the digital edition

‘The Book of Clanranald’ (1894). In: Reliquiae Celticae‍ 2. Ed. by M. A. Alexander Macbain and Rev. John Kennedy, pp. 149–288.

You can add this reference to your bibliographic database by copying or downloading the following:

  editor 	 = {Alexander Cameron and Alexander Macbain  and John Kennedy },
  title 	 = {The Book of Clanranald},
  journal 	 = {Reliquiae Celticae},
  editor 	 = {Alexander Macbain, M. A. and Rev. John Kennedy},
  address 	 = {Inverness},
  publisher 	 = {The Northern Counties Newspaper and Printing and Publishing Company, Limited},
  date 	 = {1894},
  volume 	 = {2},
  pages 	 = {149–288}


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Creation: The Gaelic original was compiled in the 17th to 18th century; the English translation by 1894.

Date: 1894

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  • The text and Introduction are in English. (en)
  • Many words and phrases are in early modern Scottish Gaelic. (sga)
  • An occasional word in French occurs in the Introduction. (fr)
  • An occasional word in Latin occurs in the Introduction. (la)

Keywords: history; genealogy; prose; poetry; 17c; 18c; Mac Donalds of Scotland; MacMhuirich (Mc Vurich) family; Cathal MacMhuirich (Mc Vurich); translation

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(Most recent first)

  1. 2013-29-01: Minor changes to encoding made. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  2. 2013-22-01: More corrections entered. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  3. 2013-01-07: Corrections entered; pages 140–147 of introduction re-proofed. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  4. 2012-12-19: File proofed (2), corrections communicated. (ed. Janet Crawford)
  5. 2012-12-11: Proofing (1) and encoding of main file completed; bibliographic details completed. Provisional SGML and HTML files created. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  6. 2012-11-27: Proofing (1) and encoding of main file begun. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  7. 2012-11-15: Introduction proofed (1) and encoded. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  8. 2012-11-14: Introduction scanned in. (data capture Beatrix Färber)
  9. 2012-11-13: File scanned in. (data capture Beatrix Färber)

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  1. See Preface to Mark Napier's Montrose, page ix. 🢀

  2. That is Colla the Noble, C. of the Two Bounds, and C. the Famous. 🢀

  3. See p. 170, 171, above. 🢀

  4. See above pp. 172, 173. 🢀

  5. of O'Enna? 🢀

  6. See pp. 172, 173 above. 🢀

  7. For the place of the Eulogy in R. B., see above, pp. 201, 205. 🢀

  8. See above, pp. 208, 209. 🢀

  9. Doctors? 🢀

  10. See above, pp. 208, 209. 🢀

  11. Fine Towns. 🢀

  12. For the place of this prose poem in R. P., see p. 210. 🢀

  13. For the place of this and the next two poems in R. B., see p. 212. 🢀

  14. Here at the top of page 249 — written in a different hand and much older than this elegy — are inserted these four lines, which have no connection with the rest: —
    In the town of the kings before us,
    Tell this to its historians —
    In short — to speak to us:
    Not condemnable its front of truth. 🢀

  15. Mackintosh says this is Sir James Macdonald of Sleat. He, however, died in 1723; while our James Macdonald here died in 1738. Possibly it is James Macdonald, the tanist of Benbecula and Clanranald, the half brother of Donald of Benbecula, who succeeded to the Clanranald chiefship in 1725, on the death of Ranald, brother of Allan of 1715. 🢀

  16. For the place of this poem in the MS., see above p. 216. 🢀


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