Clans and Families
of Ireland and Scotland VIII. The Laigin
The Clann Dhomhnuill or MacDonalds (Mac
Dhomhnuill) descend from Dhomnuill, or Donald, son of Reginald (or Ranald) mac Somerled,
King of the Isles and Lord of Argyle and Kintyre (1164—1207). Ranald’s mother
was the daughter of Olav, Norse King of Man and the Isles. It was from her that he derived
his titles in the Isles, his paternal grandfather Somerled being already Lord of Argyle
(the Lordship of the Isles was under the control of the King of Norway until 1266).
The Clann Dhomhnuill includes the families of MacDonald of Clan Donald
and Islay, the MacDonells of Keppoch and MacDonnells of Antrim, the MacIans, MacAlisters,
MacSheehys, and the Clan Ranald. The MacDonalds of Clan Donald, or Clann Uistein, the
chief family of the clan (now represented by MacDonald of MacDonald, and his cadet,
MacDonald of Sleat, both of Skye), were the leaders of the most powerful tribal
organization in Scotland, and were long vested in the Lordship of the Isles (the last Lord
of the Isles died in 1503, the title being taken over by a jealous House of Stewart, see
Chapter IV). They descend from Donald, son of John, first Lord of the Isles (from 1354)
and his second wife, a daughter of Robert II of the House of Stewart.
The MacDonalds of Islay and MacDonnells of the Glens of Antrim, the
Clan Ian Vor, descend from lain Mor, or "Big John" the Tanist, a younger full
brother of Donald, second lord of the Isles who married the MacEoin or Bissett heiress of
Antrim about 1400, thus inheriting lands in Antrim, which were settled by them in ernest
during the first part of the sixteenth century. The Clan Ranald of Lochaber, or MacDonells
of Keppoch, (between Loch Lochy and Loch Spean in Lochaber, or southern inverness-shire)
descend from Alasdair, another younger full brother of Donald.
The Conns, an old Aberdeenshire
family, traditionally descend from William Con, son of Donald of the Isles, chief of Clan
Donald in the first part of the sixteenth century. They took the name of Conn from the
traditional ancestor of the Clan Donald (see above under Oirghialla). The Conns appear
under the appellation "of Auchry" before 1539, and appear in the district from
1522. They were a prominent Roman Catholic family in the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries, but were driven into exile soon after 1642 (George Con was the Pope’s
agent at the court of the Queen of Charles I).
The MacDonalds of Clanranald, captains of
the great Clan Ranald "proper," descend from Ranald, son of John, first Lord of
the Isles and his first wife, the heiress of the MacRuaris of Uist Isle and Garmoran, the
mainland district between Skye and Argyle (from Loch Hourn to Loch Sunart), both of which
they inherited (the MacRuaris descended from another son of Reginald mac Somerled). Their
younger branch, the MacDonells of Glengarry (just east of Garmoran) descend from Donald,
himself the son of Ranald, ancestor of the Clan Ranald.
The Clann an tSaoir, or Maclntyres (Mac an tSaoir) are also a branch of
the Clan Ranald. They settled in Loin, or North Argyle, sometime during the
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