|These stories are all connected in some
way with the MacIntyres. They are the source of our history because this
is how the Scots pass on their history from generation to generation in
the Gaelic and Celtic manner. As we draw nearer to the present, the
stories become closer to being authenticated, and as we go back in time,
they become draped in the mantle of legend or myth. Try to remember the
smallest detail because all of these stories because you never know when
it will come pop up in another story. So let us begin at the beginning.|
The Isle of Destiny
Long ago in Pharaoh’s Egypt, a child, named Gaodhal
Glas, was cured of a serpent’s bite by none other than Moses, the
Hebrew Prophet. Like Moses, the child’s father was not an Egyptian,
but had come to Egypt from yet another a far off land in Asia Minor
called Gaedhal or Gael.1 Moses told the boy that he and his people would
one day reach an Isle of Destiny that would be free of all
poisonous serpents.2 Goadhal Glas went back to his homeland, but in time,
his grandson, Niul, went to Egypt as a teacher or soldier. On his way,
he found a large, unusual shiny stone, on the Plains of Luz, and brought
it with him to Egypt. This stone, called the Stone of Destiny,
was later thought to be the stone that Jacob used as a pillow when he
had his dream of the ladder to heaven. Niul must have had great skill,
and perhaps royal blood, because he was allowed to marry Scota, one of
Pharaoh’s daughters. Their descendants became too rich and powerful,
causing them to be banished from Egypt. They took with them their Stone
of Destiny on which their leaders were anointed. After wandering for
many years, they eventually settled on the Iberian Peninsula.3 The
Gaels were successful in Iberia and around the Biblical time of Solomon,
they had a famous King, named Milesius, after whom they were called
Milesians. His queen was Scota, named for their first queen. Milesius
died and Queen Scota decided it was time to lead her people to the Isle
of Destiny prophesied in their legend. With her sons, followers, and
their Stone of Destiny, they arrived on the shores of Ire-land,
named after the local Queen, Eiré. The Milesians and Queen Scota were
victorious over Queen Eiré, but both queens died in battle. The Island
eventually became known as Scotia, after their dead Queen, and the new
rulers were called Scoti. The descendants of the Scoti ruled their Isle
of Destiny for almost two millennia, until the reign of Queen
Elizabeth I of England.
1. Others say his homeland was
Greece and his father was the King. Still others say it was Scythia.
These are all in the same general area.
2. This may be the source of the legend that one of the lost tribes of
Israel came to Ireland.
3. The Iberian peninsula includes what is presently Spain and Portugal.
The Stone of Destiny
Someone, who didn’t give his
name, called the police and told them they might find something they
were looking for at the Abbey of Arbroath. This is the Abbey where in
1320, King Robert Bruce, and many Scottish nobles signed the first
Declaration of Independence from England and sent to the Pope by special
courier.1 Inside the Abbey, the police found what they thought
they were looking for, a large plain block of gray sandstone with a
saltire2 on top of it. This was reputed to be the famous Stone of
Scone, the Lia Fail, the Stone of Destiny.
According to the legend, it was none other than Jacob’s
pillow, the very stone on which the biblical patriarch rested his head
as he dreamed he of angels climbing a ladder to heaven. Niul, the Celtic
Gael, found the stone on the plains of Luz,3 and brought it to Egypt.4 The
descendents of Niul took the stone with them to Iberia and much later,
their Queen Scota, brought this same stone to Ireland where it was
placed at Tara, the site where their High Kings were inaugurated.1 It was
now called the Lia Fail. In the sixth century, it went to Iona,
an island near Scotland, and then on to Dunnad, the new capitol of the
Dal Riada. For safety, it was moved to the fortress, Dunstaffnage, which
had become the capitol of Scotia Minor. Dunstaffnage is at the entrance
to Loch Etive near the Falls of Lora. In the ninth century, Viking raids
threatened Dunstaffnage and the Lia Fail or Stone of Destiny,
was moved once again, to Scone, the capitol of what had become the
Scottish Kingdom. The Lia Fail was kept in the Abbey of Scone for
the inauguration of the Scottish kings and for this reason it became
known as the Stone of Scone. In 1296, Edward I of England stole
it and placed it under the throne in Westminster Abbey where the English
kings were crowned. Some say the Scots knew Edward was coming, and hid
their precious Stone of Scone replacing it with a plain old
stone. The real stone is reputedly black marble with intricate carvings
in the shape of a seat, and is kept by a secret society somewhere in
Scotland. Scottish Nationalists say, with derision, that what Edward I
stole was a Gaelic phrase "toilet seat." Regardless,
having the real or fake stone in English hands was too much for any Scot
to take, and Edward paid for it with his life in a battle at the border
of Scotland. His son, Edward II also paid dearly when the outnumbered
Scots at the Battle of Bannockburn defeated him. Whether real or fake,
the stone is still a symbol of Scottish independence, and as long as it
was under the throne in London, it was a symbol of English domination.
It was all but forgotten under Edwards throne, at least by the English,
until Christmas Day 1950, when a curate at Westminster Abbey discovered
the throne was ajar and the Stone of Destiny was missing! It had
been stolen by four Scottish nationalists, who hide themselves in
Westminster Abbey the night before and had walked out with the Stone of
Scone the next morning, in broad daylight, right under the noses of the
English. This sounds like another farfetched Scoti legend, but it is an
absolute fact. The idea was to keep the stone hidden until Scotland was
once again free and then return it to the Abbey at Scone to crown a new
King of Scotland. The ringleader of this rebel group was none other than
Ian Hamilton, husband of the owner of the Falls of Lora Hotel on the
shore of Loch Etive (See Return of the MacIntyres p__). After the Stone
was moved around England for a number of days, it finally arrived in
Scotland on Hogmaney, the Scottish New Year’s Day. More than four
months later, on April 11, 1951, it was left like an orphaned child at
Arbroath Abbey draped with St. Andrew’s cross. Some say it was
Hamilton tipped off the constable. He and the three other perpetrators
were held for questioning but released. Another rumor was that they only
returned a sandstone replica of the sandstone - the "toilet
seat" that Edward I stole in ignorance, over 600 years earlier.
Only in Scotland would it make sense to steal a fake and replace it with
a fake! No one really knew what the stone looked like because it had
been gathering dust under the throne. Whether it was the real Stone or a
fake, or a fake of a fake, will not be known until the real Stone of
Destiny, the Lia Fail, the Stone of Scone surfaces one
day, perhaps on Iona, or better yet, in the ruins of Dunstaffnage
Castle, at the head of Loch Etive, next to the Falls of Lora, in the
land of the MacIntyres. A sandstone version of the "Stone of
Destiny" was returned to Scotland on November 15th, 1996
and placed in Edinburgh Castle in preparation for the 1999
re-establishment of Scottish Parliament.
1. This is perhaps the first
written Declaration of Independence in human history and predates the
American Declaration of Independence from English rule by more than 450
years! The last two sentences read, "For, so long as one hundred
remain alive, we will never in any degree be subject to the dominion of
English. Since not for glory, riches or honors do we fight, but for
freedom alone, which no good man loses but with his life … ."
Declaration of Arbroath, 1320.
2. An object that is in the form of a St. Andrew’s cross
3. A plain in what is now Israel or Palestine.
4. Note the similarity between Niall and Niul who married the Egyptian
Princess Scota. This is the origin of the Clan O’Neill or MacNeil, who
may be connected to the origin of the MacIntyres
1. This was before Christianity and the Kings were neither anointed nor
Deirdre of the Sorrows
Around the first century A.D., a daughter was born to
the storyteller of Conchobar or Conor, King of Ulster. Her name was
Deirdre, and a Druid priest prophesied that her beauty would bring
bloodshed and death. To overcome this prophecy, the King had her raised
in seclusion until she was old enough to marry him. However, she saw and
fell in love with Naisi, one of three sons of Uisnech. Deirdre and Naisi,
accompanied by Naisi’s two brothers, escaped to Loch Etive in Alba.
The four of them lived there simply but happily. There is still a place
on Lochetiveside, near Dalness that is supposed to be the site of their
hut. King Conchobar sent an emissary, whom these young people new and
trusted, to persuaded them to return to Ulster. He carried the King’s
promise of safe conduct and forgiveness. As Deirdre left the shore of
Alba, after crossing the Falls of Lora into the Irish Sea, she looked
back at Loch Etive and Ben Cruachan. This sight inspired her to compose
and sing her "Farewell to Alban". This song has survived
almost 2000 years and below are two verses translated from the Gaelic by
Angus Macintyre, in 1872:
Glen Eta (Etive), yes! Glen
garbed in radiant beams;
Where first my virgin home was proudly raised;
Thy leafy woods and Cruachan's grandeur viewing;
Flooded with sunshine rays, made glorious, my Glen
. . . .
Thou virgin glen! my beauteous green Glen-o
To sleep serene embower'd mid'st pastures quiet;
Fish, venison, with rare salted boar our fare;
Plenteous my lot was, in grand tho' lone Glen-o.
As the title of this story suggests, the ending was
not a happy one. When they arrived in Ireland, Naisi and his two
brothers were murdered and Deirdre was given to the King, as his
unwilling bride. Because her sorrow was so great at the loss of her
beloved Naisi, she threw herself onto a rock and died.
The Thumb Carpenter
As the story goes, a MacDonald of Sleat, finding his
boat about to sink because of a leak, stuck his thumb in the hole,
chopped it off and hammered it firm, so saving the boat and the loss of
the crew. For this heroic act, he was called the "thumb
carpenter" or Saor-na-h-ordaig and, according to custom, his
son was the first to be called, Mac-an-t-Saoir, Son of The
Two Brothers And One Prize
There were two brothers - one the ancestor of the
MacDonalds and the other, ancestor of the MacIntyres, who sailed in
their galleys from one of the northern islands of Skye. When in sight of
the mainland they agreed the country should be named and owned by the
one who should first touch it. They were pretty well matched sailing
side by side. When about to get to shore first, Donald's boat was sprung
a leak. In order to win he stuck his finger in the hole and cut it off
with his dirk. Upon seeing that he was about to lose, the other brother,
the Soar or Wright, cut off his left hand and threw it on the land,
thereby claiming first possession.
A Viking’s Magic
Tradition has it that while in
Sleat, a distant ancestor of the MacIntyre chiefs was given a stone by a
wounded Viking raider. Normally, no prisoners were taken, but this
person (probably not known yet as MacIntyre) was injured and had a kind
heart. So, he spared this Norseman the normal coup de grâce and
instead nursed him back to health. As thanks for this most unexpected
act of mercy, the Viking gave our ancestor the only thing he had of
value and the thing he gave credit for his good fortune. It was just a
little stone, you might find on any shoreline, even on Loch Etive, but
it had a speckled or brindled surface with a dark line across it.
According to the Viking, this stone had healing properties and the dark
vein could foretell success or failure before a foray. (Was it right or
wrong in this case, where he lost the battle but was saved from death?)
The normal practice was to drop it over your left shoulder and the
augury was made according to the position of the vein as it landed on
the ground. It is known as the Clach Nodha
or speckled stone. It was brought to the mainland and Glen Noe with the
first MacIntyres and is now in the possession of Alexander Bell
MacIntyre of Inveraray and Dunoon, as part of his inheritance as the
eldest son of the late Alexander James MacIntyre of Inveraray.1
A Viking Raid and the White Cow
The MacIntyres, or their ancestors, lived in Sleat
and had been ravaged by frequent Viking raids with the loss of their
homes and cattle. After one such raid, there was snow on the ground so
the Norseman overlooked one of MacIntyre’s white cows. In desperation,
MacIntyre sought the advice of an old lady gifted with second-sight.2 She
told him that he would find peace and happiness if he left Sleat and
settled his family where the cow would first lie down to rest after
landing. MacIntyre, his wife, two sons, and the white cow, which
fortunately was in calf, left Sleat in a galley, and landed on the
mainland. It may be noted that the MacIntyre coat of arms has a galley,
which may represent the one that was involved in starting the clan (Somerled
and Ragnhild) or the one that brought them to the mainland from Sleat
with their white cow, or both.
Maurice MacNeil and Somerled
Somerled, Thane of Argyll and a descendent of the
early Scoti colonists, wanted to wrest possession of the Western Isles,
including the Isle of Skye, from his Norse overruler, Olav the Red, King
of Man. Somerled was not strong enough to do this by force so he had to
resort to cunning. At first, he offered to support Olav in a raid on the
English coast in return for marriage to his Olav’s daughter, Ragnhild.
Olav refused and Somerled had to agreed to go anyway. As was common
among those who didn’t trust each other, men from each group were
assigned to the other groups boat as a sign of goodwill. Somerled’s
nephew (sister’s son) called Maurice O’Neill was assigned to Olav’s
galley and he had a plan. The night before they sailed, he secretly
bored holes near the waterline, plugged them with tallow, and prepared
wooden plugs to fit the holes. The galleys set sail in the morning and,
as expected, they encountered rough seas past the point of Ardnamurchan.
The waves dislodged the tallow plugs and Olav’s ship began to leak.
Faced with certain death, Olav gave Somerled his solemn pledge of his
daughter’s hand in marriage. Once Olav was safely on Somerled’s
galley, Maurice plugged the leaks. For this heroic act, Maurice was
called "The Wright or Soar" and his descendants were called,
MacIntyres, children of The Wright.
1. An article by Seton Gordon
in 1959, describes the magic stone as small, light brown, egg-shaped,
with a crack or vein on one side. See photograph on pate ___.
2. Traditionally Scots have been believers in spirits, fairy lore, and
The Mountain Spirits and Glen Noe
The MacIntyres came ashore at `Cown-na-Gara'.
They stayed there for quite a few years until their white cattle became
so numerous that they had to find a place with more pasture. Arriving at
the side of Ben Cruachan on Lochetiveside, they tried to drive their
cattle through several passes and each time they were prevented by the
Mountain Spirit. They persevered until the spirit finally let them pass
through an opening to Glen Noe, a beautiful rich grazing valley at the
base of Ben Cruachan on the south shore of Loch Etive. The Spirit told
them to stop and build their house where the cow should first lay down.
This they did.
In another version, the MacIntyres first landed on
the Scottish mainland at Bagh-na-Torrach or `castle bay' near
Dunollie (the Fort of Olav) and then followed the shores of Loch Etive
until they came to Ben Cruachan. The Mountain Spirit, after repulsing
them, let it be made known that it was from no ill will that he did
this, and that if they went to the other side of the mountain they would
find a habitation where they could settle down under his guardianship.
The First MacIntyres At Glen Noe1
This is the beginning of a historical novel by
Alexander James MacIntyre of Inveraray, one of Clan MacIntyre’s
twentieth century storytellers. It appears to combine facts from over a
number of centuries into one moment of time, which is the novelist’s
prerogative. In truth, the landscape and living conditions probably didn’t
change very much for many centuries.
"An Clach Nodha"
The Tale of the Brindled Stone
Being a collection of stories connected
with the mystic stone of the MacIntyres of Glenoe
By Alexander James MacIntyre
Inveraray, Scotland 1936
Long and earnestly have I
considered this matter, as to whether I should attempt to commit this
tale to paper. Well knowing my own limited abilities as a storywriter I
hesitated, but always bearing in mind that I may be the last of my race
to take any interest in these tales I feel it is my duty. I may never be
able to complete the task I have set myself, but will, at least, leave a
record of a well-meant intention.
As generation succeeds generation, each bringing its
own changes, all writing their history in the world’s pages, so do I
write of long forgotten days, when the Highland Clans of Scotland were
each paving the way towards the glorious position Scotland holds in the
world today. I have tried to collect the scattered stories regarding
this mystic stone into a sequence, which, when they were told to me as a
boy, I have always
1. There is no evidence
of any kind that MacIntyres or even their ancestors were present in Glen
Noe in the 600s which might be inferred from references in the Alexander’s
story. Having said that the description of the living conditions,
lifestyle and fortifications in this abbreviated romantic tale didn’t
change substantially for the next 1000 years!
thought they should have; with what success,
if any, I have met, I leave my readers to judge.
How the stone came to Glenoe
Introduces the reader to three of the principal
On a gloomy mid-winter evening when the mist had
settled low on the surrounding hills of Loch Etive, hiding their
snow-capped peaks in an impenetrable blanket, a man and a young boy
wandered seeming aimlessly along the seashore. Not another soul was in
sight and only the screaming of the hungry sea birds disturbed the
sombre silence. A piercing nor-east wind was blowing from the Appin
hills sending the loch into sheets of white foam and as the wanderers
moved about they held their plaids closely around them to obtain the
maximum amount of warmth possible. They were a curiously assorted pair.
The man tall broad shouldered and with a spring in his step which gave
him the appearance of a real athlete, but what attracted attention most
was his great shaggy head crowned by a mop of fiery red hair while his
beard of the same colour reached almost to his waist. As he walked along
at each step his head moved from side to side a peculiarity which gave
him the name amongst his friends of "The Watcher" because this
peculiarity in his walk was supposed to give him the ability to see all
around him. His companion was a complete contrast. He appeared to be
about seven years old, but when you caught a glimpse of his squat little
face he might be any age. He had raven black hair which came down in a
frill over his forehead, a small turned up nose set between two eyes
with a horrible, almost evil squint, while a great protruding under lip
made him unable to close his mouth properly. His body was equally
misshapen. His arms were unusually long reaching almost to the ground;
his back bent almost double supported by legs so slender and bent that
they appeared almost too fragile to support his poor twisted body.
Alert and eagerly this man and boy continued to
search the rock-strewn shore near high water mark. Now at the water’s
edge, each followed his own path, never uttering a word. They both
carried long cromacks in their hands, which they used with a peculiar
twist to turn over large stones or to search below the sea tangle. It
was evident that a very diligent search was being made for something
which they knew was there but was seemingly very difficult to find.
Behind them right to the shore stretched the impenetrable Caledonian
Forest, tall firs, birches, and ancient oaks mingling together in a
confused mass. Complete solitude and utter desolation were it not that
in the distance, rising above the trees, could be seen a slight wisp of
blue wood smoke almost obscured by the mist proclaiming that even in the
midst of this wilderness of forest, mountain and sea, cosy fires burned
to welcome the wanderers home. The short winter’s day was fast drawing
to a close; the note of the sea birds’ cry had changed. No longer was
the search for food possible; their cry was the roosting cry as they
settled to rest in sheltered corners of the shore. Down the steep sides
of Cruachan echoed the sharp bark of the she-wolf gathering the pack
before setting out to their nightly hunting ground. The searchers
continued on their quest until it seemed almost impossible to see what
they sought when suddenly a shout from the boy brought his companion
running to his side. He was on his hands and knees pulling furiously at
a length of copper chain, which was wedged tightly beneath a large
stone. By their combined efforts assisted by their cromacks, the stone
was moved and the boy seizing the chain sprang to his feet dancing in a
paroxysm of delight shouted,
"Amadan was right;
Amadan is always right."
The man watched him until the boy tired and obtaining
possession of the chain examined it carefully. Turning to the lad, he
laid his hand on his shoulder saying,
"Amadan is truly right. They were here last
night in their curved birlinn (small galley) and
this chain was forged in the fires of Crin. What the Crinach seek on the
bleak shores of Etive I know not."
The boy, or Amadan as we shall call him in future,
resumed his queer dancing capers with an excited look on his face
yelling as he danced about.
"Amadan was right; Amadan is always right."
He continued this until from sheer exhaustion he sank
on the shore where he lay with his head cupped in his hands and his legs
drawn up below him. The Watcher stood by for some time looking down at
the boy and then looking up at the sky and noting the fast approaching
night, turned on his heels saying,
"Amadan, its time we were on the road
Amadan silently obeyed and followed The Watcher who
set the pace heading for a tall fir tree which stood on the shore edge.
As they approached the tree they were greeted by a low growl and
immediately a huge deerhound arose from a clump of bracken and advanced
to them wagging his tail. The Watcher patted his back murmuring,
"Lead on Dealas, my boy."
And the dog acting as guide led his companions into
the forest. Here we must leave them meantime to find their way home.
The Clachan of Invernodha
In order to more understand, as near as possible, the
time in which my tale opens it is necessary for me to make a slight
historical reference. Argyll had for many years been divided between the
Dalriadic Scots and Picts of Ancient Caledonia. The MacIntyres, who had
settled in Glenodha came from the Isle of Sleat as the ancient legend
tells us and had thrown in their lot with Lorna, who was King or
Chieftain of the district now know as Lorne. This district under the
wise rule of Lorna had long enjoyed peace except for a few tribal
fights. Protected from invasion by the lonely glens, wild corries and
impassable mountains, the people of Argyll were able to pursue their
native occupations without help or hindrance. The Picts, who were in
strong occupation of Lochaber, were the only troublesome element and the
men of Glenodha had often been called to assist their neighbours
and blood brothers, the McIans of Glencoe, in keeping them in check. For
some time past, as soon as spring came, melting the snows and
transforming the bogs and marshes into glorious pastureland, strange
rumours had been carried into the glens by wandering minstrels. These
rumours came from every quarter. A minstrel, who had been entertaining
for many weeks in the north castle of Beregonium, told how men were kept
continually under arms there; the same was said of Dunstaffnage where
the King ordered constant watch to be kept. The cause of these rumours
and continual alertness was the always-present fear of invasion from the
sea, the only side for which their land had not been provided by nature.
Shangi ships had been seen on the locks and firths, so these
stories went. Parties had been seen coming ashore and exploring the land
where it was possible. It was said that some were heavily armed while
others, who came in small ships, carried no armour and tried to make
friends with people whom they met. It was also said that these unarmed
men were clad in robes like Druids and had travelled unto the far north
to where the great King Bude of the Picts lived and that the great King
had welcomed them because of the wondrous stories they told of a god
above all other gods. He had given them the Isle of Ey to settle on.
Other tales were told of warlike men who landed from huge ships with
many oars destroying all they found, killing the people, and carrying
off their sheep, goats, and cattle. Loch Etive might attract these
people, protected as it was by its fierce rapids at Connel.
On the next day in peaceful Glenodha, the
yellow or dappled glen, shouldered by Mighty Cruachan but exposed to
the sea except for its forest and bog, the whole clachan of Invernodha
was agog with excitement. On the evening before, Dhol Alister known as
the Amadan because of his peculiar ways and deformity accompanied by The
Watcher whose real name was Donald MacIntyre or ‘Dhol Fiach’,
rushed home to the village with an alarming story about how, when they
had been in pursuit of a badger which had been annoying some of the
penned sheep during the night before, they had chased it to the sea
shore and on arriving there, they had sighted a mighty ship approaching
the shore near the huge rock know as Clach a Bhat and that many Shangi
men had come ashore from her, headed by an old grey-bearded man who wore
long flowing robes carrying a cross before him which glittered in the
moonlight as if it were on fire. A gale of Nor’West wind had been
raging and during the time the party were ashore their boat was in
danger of being smashed. Seeing this, the old man shouted an order and
half the party remained beside the boat to watch it while the remainder
proceeded along the shore, the veteran leader in front singing a queer
chanting song as they went. Dealas, Amadan’s faithful friend and
constant companion, alarmed by this queer sight, broke away from his
master and rushed after them giving vent to the deep-throated bray which
his kind do when prepared for battle. The strangers, thinking perhaps
they were being attacked by wolves and being apparently unarmed, hastily
returned to their ship, which even during the short time they were
ashore had become almost unmanageable because of the increasing storm
and huge waves. They had put ashore an anchor chain which had become
entangled in the rocks and before they could get away one of the party
had to break it with a hammer. As they left the shore battling against
the storm, the old man stood in the bow with the cross uplifted
encouraging his men to keep singing their mournful song while they
strained at the oars. As soon as they were out of sight, Amadan and
Watcher had searched the seashore until they found the remains of the
chain and now brought it with them as evidence.
In modern times a story recited by a half-wit such as
Amadan would have been treated as a joke, even though it was
corroborated by The Watcher, but it has always been different in the
Highlands. Those deformed either in brain or body being treated with
great respect; and it was often believed that their infirmities were the
mark of some fairy, which had been present at their birth. When the then
Chief of the MacIntyres, Patrick Ruadh by name, heard their story he
gave orders calling together the chief men of the clan early the
The Clachan of Invernodha was centred on a
rising piece of ground in the middle of a huge clearing in the forest.
All around it was hidden by the dense forest except on the side of the river
Oe which during the rainy season was accustomed to overflow its
banks forming a vast bog. From the point of view of defence no better
position could have been chosen; but even these defences were not
considered sufficient and a palisade of rough logs had been erected
completely around the houses. In the distance, Mighty Cruachan looked
down on this scene of solitary grandeur, silent guardian of her sons.
The clachan consisted of about forty stone built houses. They were all
thatched and had a central chimney. On the highest part of the mound
stood an ancient oak tree under whose spreading branches lay a huge
flat-topped stone. This was the centre of the community and the
gathering point of the clan. It was round this tree that early next
morning the clan gathered to discuss the report, which had come in the
night before. I must leave it to my readers to picture this scene: many
a time had these same people gathered here to discuss local gossip or
hear the tales of some wandering bard, but as they gathered this morning
there was an atmosphere of anxiety everywhere. They collected into small
groups and among them moved Amadan looking very important. Talk went on
until the chief was seen approaching. There was then a general rush to
see who could get nearest the central stone. They made way to allow the
chief to gain the vantage point on the stone and on a word from him all
was silent. He looked an imposing figure in his rough tartan kilt over
six feet in height; he stood and gazed over his people. Placing his
hands on the hilt of his drawn sword he spoke to them in a clear audible
"My friends, the tale that has been told by
Amadan is now known to you all. Strange things are happening in our land
and whether those visitors from across the wide waters be friend or foe
I know not. As in the past we must defend our lands, wives and children.
Just as our ancestors sailed from the distant Isles to settle in our
lovely glen, so may these strangers be seeking settlement and it is our
duty to ourselves, and our fathers, to protect our lands. I know every
son of an Saoir can be depended on."
He raised his heavy sword and kissed it; every man
following his example; and afterwards lifting their swords on high
shouted, "We will."
The shouts of approval having died down the chief
signalled to someone at the back of the gathering and immediately a very
aged man with a long grey beard started to push his way forward. He was
almost bent double with age and helped himself along with a stout stick.
It was easily seen that he had the respect of all the clan. As they
moved aside to let him pass they made a slight bow, which he
acknowledged by a friendly smile. He was too crippled to mount unaided
the stone where the chief stood and had to be assisted. He took up his
position beside the Chief, who on seeing him safely at his side with
sword still upraised spoke again to his followers saying,
"My men, in times of stress it has always been
our custom to seek the advice of those made wise by long experience.
None were ever more fitted to advise than Aoidan Mac Ian and we now seek
his never-failing guidance."
He placed his hand reverently on the old man’s
shoulder taking a pace back as he did so. The old man looked around and
spoke in the attitude of a father speaking to his children.
"I can say little as yet. My advice is as
heretofore; avoid conflict where possible. Nothing as yet can be done
but watch. Watch by day, watch by night, watch even when you sleep. No
harm can befall the constant watcher. Choose he who can watch behind him
even when he looks in front like the Red Fose (Face) of Ben
He raised his hand to his head with a tired
expression, but a few seconds later raised his eyes to mighty Cruachan
gazing intently at the distant snow-covered peaks lost in thought. He
remained this way for some time and no one in the gathered throng
attempted to disturb his reverie. Still with eyes on the snow-covered
ben his demeanour seemed to change. He appeared as if trying to
straighten out his twisted body raising his stick he pointed to the
distant hills, and as if gasping for breath shouted,
"All is clear. I have seen on the distant
corries a vision of he who shall guard our homes. He comes pursued by
wolves, but none dare draw near because he watches their coming pursuit
while he unerringly treads the rough mountain paths. I see the Sionnag
Ruadh, the red fose of Glenoe; he is your ‘Watcher.’
He has already seen the strangers and will watch for their coming. I
call on Alister Mac Dhol, already known as the Watcher, to guard
There was a stir in the gathering after this long speech and a lot of
shouting of approval as a man, whom we could easily recognise as the one
whom we had previously heard about when searching the seashore, moved
forward. He climbed to where the chief stood, drew his sword, kissed it,
and spoke as follows,
"My Chief and my clansmen. The onerous duties
you have given me I will do my best to fulfil. I shall watch while
watching can be done, but this I ask (crave) of you, that
my friend and companion, Mac Aonas and his faithful Dealas, may also
watch with me. They have seen and they know just as I have."
"It shall be." they unanimously
shouted and, everything being apparently settled to their satisfaction,
started to wend their way back to their daily tasks, while Amadan M’Aonas
with his huge deerhound moved with the Watcher slowly towards the
The night cry of the MacIntyres from very ancient
times was the screech of the female owl and it was part of every boys
training to be able to imitate the cry of the bird faithfully, and to
such an exactitude were they able to reproduce this call, only those who
knew the peculiar note could distinguish the imitator from the real. The
habit of the bird was carefully studied. They noted the peculiar resting
cry, also the long drawn out cry of alarm and used these cries to their
own use. The danger call at night could be used to guide parties through
the forest and bog. If danger was imminent, the call was repeated often
so that the clan could judge when haste was necessary. The call was
often timed by counting the beat of the heart: twenty beats between each
call. This method of night calls was adopted by many other Highland
clans, though each kept its own peculiar code a secret and as it was
seldom necessary to use this signalling system except in cases of peril,
the night cry of an owl was always looked on as an ill omen. In later
days, this was used by the Christian missionaries to further their
teaching. They said that when the owls screech it was the friendly St.
Peter giving a warning of approaching death. By this, St. Peter had
become a real live patron to the Highlanders.
In times of danger the news was sent from clachan to
clachan, which left each little settlement responsible for its own
safety. Vantage points were manned by day and night and at night the
chief could tell whether his watchers were alert by using the high
pitched breeding call of the owl, which demanded a response from each
sentry. When all had replied, the Chief could rally his whole clan in a
very short time by repeating the call twice over to the beat of twenty.
The huge oak in the centre of Invernodha was the clan's gathering
point and very often when calling the clan by day, a fire letting out a
huge volume of smoke was used. On the sea shore the main feature was the
tall fir tree, which I have already mentioned. On the topmost branches
of this tree there had been built a platform with a small hut on it. It
was screened by the thick branches; so that it was invisible from below
but had a full view of the seashore for several miles. This was one of
the clan's most important vantage points as it guarded the easiest road
from Lochaber to Lorne along the coast. It was from this direction that
the MacIntyres always expected danger to come. The platform was known as
Ligh-cure or the watch house and the tree as Croabh an Ligh
aire. It was to this tree that the Watcher made his way accompanied
by his friends. Silently they moved along apparently thinking of the
arduous and responsible duties they had before them. They had only gone
a short distance when they were met by the Chief, who had hurried after
them. He was rather out of breath when he joined them and asked them to
sit down on a nearby heap of stones while he spoke to them.
"Never," he said, "in the history of
my people has greater trust and responsibility been placed on two men,
than is now placed on you both. I have sent word through the glen that
all watch mounds are to be manned. I have sent word to the M’Ians and
the Appin Stewarts so they will watch and guard their own. I trust you
both as I would trust my own son had the fate granted me one."
"We know our work. The watch will be well kept,
but tell us Chief, who shall be the oak tree watcher? Will the Chief
himself watch out homes in Invernoe?"
"That, my men," replied the Chief,
"is why I have hurried after you, because Shuna (Sheena), my
daughter, knowing how I miss a son’s help wishes to be daughter and
son to me and has taken a vow that no one but she will watch by the oak
tree. She is a true daughter of the clan and I have no doubt that she
will do a man’s work well, but the weather is wild and the heavy
winter snows are coming and the task is too great even for a brave
woman. I ask you to watch by the oak tree and leave ‘Ligh-aire’ to
some other clansman."
"I mark your words, Chief,"
said the Watcher, "I would obey you were times more peaceful. You
are filled with anxiety because of your daughter's vow but if it is the
will of Shuna to watch, Clan an Saoir can rest in peace; she will not
tire or feel the cold blast of winter storms. Her true heart will bear
her up through all storm and stress."
The Chief looked up at The Watcher and seemed about
to speak when Amadan, who up till now had not joined in the
conversation, suddenly exclaimed,
"Chief, our Shuna need not be alone. My Dealas
will guard her. He follows no one except Shuna and me. He will be her
constant companion should I tell him."
"Thank you, my boy," said the chief,
"I am content. I leave all in your hands."
He arose and moved away. When he had gone some
distance towards the clachan he was joined by a tall slim young girl who
seeing The Watcher and Amadan still sitting on the cairn, waved her hand
to them with a free and easy grace. She took the chief’s arm and
escorted him toward the largest house in the village. The Watcher
returned her wave and remained gazing at her until she had disappeared.
Then turning to Amadan he said, "There she goes, the finest maiden
in Glenoe. I would that she might look kindly on me."
"Never fear," said Amadan.
"Never fear, my friend. Little you know how kindly she thinks of
you because there’s not another man in the clan like you."
"Aye Aye", said the Watcher, "that may
be. We’ll see, we’ll see, but its time we got to work. You had
better go to the chief and see about food and coverings for Ligh-aire.
Tell him we’ll report each day and that we just want enough food for
one day. I’ll off to the shore and will see you there when you have
Introduces the ladies
In a central position of the village of Invernodha,
stood the Chief’s house, easily distinguished from the others by its
size and by the fact that it was the only house surrounded by a dry,
stone wall. All the other houses, of which there were about forty,
looked alike, built of dry stone with turfs of earth used as mortar and
thatched with rushes. One thing was noticeable, that the doors of all
the houses looked towards the centre of the village and rough stone
walls connected the outer ones this providing a second line of defence
should the defenders be unable to hold the outside palisades. Rough
pathways of flat stones were laid between the houses, which gave the
place an appearance of cleanliness. Yet a third line of defence
consisted of a number of rough stone pens, which occupied the centre of
the clachan. These were used to pen up the cattle during winter or when
danger threatened. Since their arrival in Glennodha, the
MacIntyres had become famous for their splendid herd of white cattle,
descendants from the animal, which had led them to this glen. They had
therefore devised this very secure system of protecting their herd. Wild
winter weather had flooded most of the lower part of the glen and a
number of cattle strayed amongst the houses unwilling to go further a
field in search of fodder.
Amadan left his friend and made straight for the Chief’s house
where he was always a welcome visitor and without ceremony pushed aside
a rough curtain which gave entrance to the main room where he found the
chief warming his hands in front of the central fire.
"Come away in, my boy," he said, "it’s you
should be a proud lad today, to have been chosen by The Watcher."
"I am," was the boy’s reply. "I’ll
learn many a thing and hear many a story while I’m out with him."
"Aye, that your will," said the Chief,
"and take heed because The Watcher knows his task. But what might
you be seeking?"
"I seek a word with Shuna," answered Amadan.
"Where might she be?"
There came an immediate reply from a corner of the
room, which was in some darkness,
"And what might you be seeking from me; surely
you and your great Watcher do not need my help."
Pulling her plaid over her shoulder, Shuna joined
them round the fire and gave Amadan a friendly pat on the shoulders. In
the semi-darkness of the room one was immediately struck by her handsome
appearance. She had a magnificent head of golden hair, which looked like
gold as the light of the burning log fire glinted on it. It fell in a
luxuriant mass over her shapely shoulders reaching far below her waist.
Her skin was fair and her eyes blue and she had an easy engaging manner.
At the time of my story, she was just seventeen years old and was
considered the belle of the clachan and was known to all as the Golden
Sunbeam. Amadan, who worshiped her, called her Greine. The Watcher and
she were never separated in their younger days, although he was about
ten years her senior. She had looked on him as her big brother and
protector, but as she grew up into womanhood, the Watcher’s affection
had gradually grown into a stronger passion. He never allowed this to be
known by word or look, though to Amadan, the fact was well known. He who
knew no fear in the face of his foes was a coward in this direction. He
would have given his all to know if his love was even in the smallest
degree returned. He who was considered the sharpest-witted warrior in
the village; he who knew the hidden tracks through the hills and could
track the bear and the wolf to their secret lairs, but he could not
mashie up enough courage in love. His great fear was that by word or
action he might destroy the life-long companionship, which had
existed between Shuna and himself. As time went by and he was no nearer
the solution of his dilemma, he began more and more to confide in Amadan.
He began to withdraw from her company depending on his friend for all
news of her doings.1
1. N.B. Unfortunately,
this is the end of the manuscript that is in my possession. I can’t
tell if this is all there is, just all that was in my father’s
possession, or it was as far as Aleck had progressed when he sent it to
my father. It was written in long hand and was at the end of the
materials which constituted Aleck’s history of Clan MacIntyre. I will
try to locate the rest because I want to know what happened. Even for
those of us who have been to Glenoe, this story brings Glen Noe to life
in a way that seeing it or simple history cannot). MLM
The Two Sons of Chief Duncan
In the 1400s or earlier, Duncan, Chief of the
MacIntyres at Glen Noe, had two sons who were in some way implicated in
the death of a Campbell in Glenorchy. The two sons were Duncan Og (heir
apparent) and Donald Fiach (next in line). Much to the Chief’s sorrow,
their punishment was exiled with their families to Glenorchy, on the
other side of Ben Cruachan. The Chief was permitted to visit his sons
and grandchildren but they could not visit him at Glenoe. Upon the death
of Old Duncan, his eldest son, Duncan Og, was allowed to return to
Glenoe claim his place as Chief. Much to his dismay, his wife, and five
children had to remain behind in Glenorchy as hostages against his good
behavior. This so angered Duncan Og that he devised a scheme to return
his wife and children to Glen Noe where they belonged. The plan required
the complete confidence of his wife, his brother, his brother’s wife,
and every MacIntyre clansmen in Glen Noe and Glenorchy. Over the years,
they conspired to fake the death of each of their five children, by
substituting a child who had recently died in Glen Noe. It was an
unhappy, but normal, circumstance in those days, when children of all
ages could die suddenly after a brief illness. The death of a MacIntyre
child in Glen Noe would be unknown to Campbells living in Glenorchy on
the other side of Cruachan because there were no Campbells living in
Glenoe. Prior to each faked death, late in the evening, Duncan Og would
cross over the pass at Lairg Noe, near the top of Ben Cruachan for his
usual visit his family in Glenorchy. Under his plaid was concealed the
corpse of a child! The next day was the funeral and that night, in the
darkness, Duncan Og returned to Glen Noe with the child, who the
Campbells thought he had buried that morning! Five times Donald Og’s
wife reacted with great sorrow, as any mother would, at the new grave of
one of her children, and five times Donald Og carried his human cargo
both ways over the pass. When the last child died, Lord Glenorchy felt
pity for Donald Og’s wife and allowed her to return to Glen Noe to
console her husband, who had no heir and was unable to father another.
Little did Glenorchy know that their five children were alive and well,
being fostered by families in Glen Noe where the secret was well kept.
It came to pass that Duncan Og died, without issue,
or so it seemed. To maintain the deceit, his brother, Donald Fiach, took
over the chiefship. Donald Fiach was now allowed to return to Glen Noe
but, as happened to Duncan Og before him, his wife and family had to
remain in Glenorchy as hostages.
The secret was safe until the death of Donald Fiach.
Remember, he had become chief only because his brother, Duncan Og,
apparently had no living heirs. Thus, the heir to the chiefship was the
eldest son of Donald Fiach, who by now, was an adult. But Duncan Og’s
widow had kept alive the hope that by the time Donald Fiach died, there
would be a new Lord Glenorchy who would have forgotten or forgiven the
past indiscretions and would permit her first born son to inherit his
rightful place as "Glenoe." However, the widow of Donald Fiach,
having spent years of exile in Glenorchy without her husband and keeping
her brother-in-law’s secret, was not about to have her son give up the
chiefship. Duncan Og’s widow was just as adamant.
It is not known if anyone told Lord Glenorchy or if
they merely threatened to tell, but what is known is that soon after the
death of Donald Fiach, many MacIntyre families left Glen Noe and
resettled in Badenoch, or perhaps Lochaber. It has been said that the
old name for Tyndrum was "place of sorrow" for it was there
that the MacIntyres lost all hope of becoming a major clan.
The Snowball and the Fatted Calf
Before recorded history, there was a time when the
MacIntyre Chiefs were required to give a payment to the Campbells of
Glenorchy, in return for being left alone at Glenoe. The payment was
given at a ceremony each Midsummer’s Day, which is June 24th, close to
the summer solstice, which is June 21st, or 22nd. Midsummer’s
Day was one of the days when people traditionally would pay their rent
or other obligations. The payment was a snowball and a fatted white
calf. There is a possibility that this was actually a death duty since a
calf is the normal payment for a serious offense. Perhaps it was related
to the incident at Tyndrum mentioned earlier in the story of about Chief
Duncan and his two sons.
The snowball was obtained from the corries1on
the side of Ben Cruachan that never saw the sun and where even in late
June, snow can still be found. The white fatted calf came from the
MacIntyres prized herd. These tokens were delivered to the Campbells at
a stone, just below the majestic peaks of Ben Cruachan at the top of the
pass leading from Glenoe to Glenorchy. To this day, this stone is called
Clach-an-Loaigh Bhiata, the Stone of the Fatted Calf. The stone
is quite remarkable. Not only is it large, but it also appears to have
been brought there by men and then carved into its present shape. It has
broken into three parts, which, it put back together would form a
rectangular box shape. It may have been one large stone but just as
likely it was three large stones placed together as one large object.
Two parts are at a lower level and tilted after what appears to have
been erosion or sinking of the ground beneath them. The largest section
appears to be in two parts, both perfectly flat, one on top of the
other. It is possible that this was an altar, erected by Stone Age
people in the far distant past. It could have even been used for
sacrificial offerings to the gods, who they probably felt resided in Ben
Cruachan. It is hard to imagine how so large a stone or stones, arrived
at the very top of the pass and the effort involved in carving them with
other stones. It has been said that the MacIntyres continued to bring
the calf and snowball to this place every year until 1737 or was it
1656? Well that story will have to wait its turn.
The Piper’s Warning
James Graham, fifth Earl
and first Marquis of Montrose, was a brilliant military tactician who in
1644 defeated Campbell of Argyll and his Covenanting Army at
Inverlochay after ravaging his territory. When Glen Noe was spared
because of the relationship between the MacIntyres and the MacDonalds,
the MacIntyre Chief's favorite piper was permitted to go with Montrose'
celebrated commander, Alexander MacDonald, better known as Coll Ciotach
or Coll Kitto. He was known by the nickname Col Kitto, which means
left-handed, even though he wasn’t left-handed. It was his father's
nickname and he was called that in honor of his father.
In 1645, The Earl of Argyll commissioned
Campbell of Calder to expel the MacDonalds from Islay, where Colkitto
had retreated with his depleted army. Calder levied troops from all of
the branches of Clan Campbell and assisted by the MacDougalls of Lorn
expelled Coll's smaller forces from the Castle of Dunadd, which
was then razed to the ground. Coll Kitto retreated again to the Castle
of Dunyveg, where he was again attacked.
Under the cover of night, Coll escaped by boat to
seek assistance in Kintyre and Ireland, leaving Dunyveg in charge of his
mother. Discovering this, Calder likewise left for reinforcements. There
is a tradition that a woman commander should be opposed by another
woman, so Calder left his troops under the command of the Lady of
Dunstaffnage. While both male commanders were away, the Lady of
Dunstaffnage discovered that a wooden pipe that supplied the Castle with
water and forced a surrender by cutting off the supply of water. With no
outward sign of the change in command, a perfect trap was laid for
In those days, piping was a greatly respected
profession and so, while others were kept as prisoners below in the
Castle of Dunyveg, the MacIntyre piper was granted freedom within the
castle. Recognizing a galley in the distance as belonging to his master
Coll, he asked permission to play a piece of music, which he had
composed on the misfortune of his party. The request being granted, he
stood on the battlements of the castle and played a Piobaireachd
just as Coll was entering the bay. Coll, hearing the tune and
recognizing what had happened, at once put about and escaped. This tune,
now high, now low, and full of menace, is known as Piobaireachd dhun
Naomhaig or `The Piper's Warning to his Master'. MacIntyre was a
master piper and his deliberate mutilation of a known tune was
sufficient warning to Coll Kitto MacDonald that something was wrong --
in fact that Dunyveg Castle had been captured.
1. Deep clefts in the
It did not take the lady commander long to discover
what had happened and that with Coll's escape the trap had failed. On
the following day she made the MacIntyre piper play tunes of the
merriest kind as he walked before her on the top of a nearby hill, and
then she ordered his fingers to be cut off so that never again might he
give a similar warning. It is said that this hill, which is the highest
in Islay, has from that day been known as `The Hill of the Bloody Hand'.
A similar story has been told about the capture of
the Castle of Dunaverty by General Leslie of the Covenanting Army at
about this period with the consequent massacre of all of those taken
Coll Kitto’s father, the elder Coll Kitto was
captured at Dunyveg and in 1647 was hanged at Dunstaffnage from the mast
of his own galley, Montrose's initial successes had not won permanent
victory, and by 1647 the superior forces of the Campbells had gained the
Hate and Love Between the MacIntyres and Campbells
The MacIntyres and the Campbells have a long history
of mistrust and marriage. One might think these make strange bedfellows
but in the Highlands, they were like two peas in a pod. If one clan
mistrusted their neighboring clan, there were three choices – constant
fighting or keeping hostages. The latter was in the form of fostering
each other’s children, and intermarriage. The Campbells also used
marriage as a way of inheriting land. Of the next four stories told by
Alexander James MacIntyre of Inveraray , three are about mistrust and
one about marriage.
Never Again. Chief Donald
Fiach of Glenoe, from a previous story had the onerous duty of
personally delivering to the Campbells, the tribute of a snowball and
calf. On one such occasion, ". . . when driving the calf to the
appointed place, it got very badly stuck in the peat bog. In rescuing it
(temporarily1), Donald himself, got as badly covered with peat as the
calf. When they arrived at Clach an Larigh Bhiata they were in
such a mess that the Campbells who were waiting to receive the tribute,
laughingly said that they had come to receive a white calf from a
MacIntyre, not a black one from a son of the Devil. Donald looked at the
Campbells with a scowl on his face, tore open his tunic, shouting as he
exposed his chest, "Black MacIntyre is as white beneath as snow
covered Cruachan is black beneath. Turning on his heels he never again
delivered the tribute to the Campbells."
A Party with a Purpose.
Although the MacIntyres had free access to Glenorchy, they didn’t give
the same access to Glenoe to the Campbells of Glenorchy. So the
Campbells, probably with good reason, assumed that the MacIntyres might
be hiding something from them ,and they also seemed to cozy up to the
Stewarts of Appin, a Campbell enemy, who lived across Loch Etive. For
this reason, Lord Glenorchy was accustomed at times to sending a spy on
some pretense or other into Glenoe, a fact that was well known to the
MacIntyres. Once he chosen spy was a Campbell, who was smitten with a
Glenoe lassie. In order to ingratiate himself with his sweetheart, the
young man told Glenoe the real reason for his visit. Of course, Glenoe
already knew this and Glenorchy’s fear that the MacIntyres were too
chummy with the Stewarts. To use this situation to his advantage, he
invited as many Stewarts as he could to Glenoe for a ceilidh2
He took the opportunity to lavish praise on Glenorchy. Of course, the
Stewarts had been well appraised beforehand that the MacIntyre chief
would do this. The spy dutifully went back to Glenorchy and honestly
gave a glowing report that temporarily set his fears at rest.
Music as Insult. The
Campbells were naturally suspicious of any visits between groups of
MacIntyres. As told by Alexander James MacIntyre, "On a certain
evening, several of the Glenorchy MacIntyres made up their minds to
visit their friends in Cladich. They had not long started when Glenorchy
(Campbell) was informed that several members of Clan MacIntyre were on
the move. He sent several of his men to stop them, with the result that
a free fight ensued, but the MacIntyres kept to the highway and had a
jolly evening with their clansmen in Cladich. On their way home, they
were headed by a piper who hurled defiance at the Campbells by playing Gabhaidh
Sinn an Rathad Mor (MacIntyre March)."
1. The rescue was temporary because
the butchered the calf on the Stone and had a barbecue.
2. A Scottish party with song, dance and storytelling.
Marriage Keeps the Boar at Bay.1 Despite these
stories of mistrust and dislike, the facts show that, at times the
relationship between MacIntyres and Campbells was based on marriage. The
MacIntyres of Glenoe and the Campbells of Barcaldine both attended
church at Ardchattan Priory. One might assume that before, after, and
perhaps even during church services, their children played hide and seek
in the beautiful gardens and, heaven forbid, in the grave yard of their
ancestors. In this way, the children would naturally become friends,
perhaps later on lovers, and, if the circumstances were right, they
might be suitable marriage partners. The last did occur on more than one
occasion, specifically, the marriage of Duncan (I) of Glenoe to Mary
Campbell, younger daughter of the 1st Lord Barcaldine and two
generations later, the marriage of married James (III) of Glenoe to Ann
Campbell, the daughter of a younger son of the 4th Lord
Barcaldine. Both of these marriages can be considered as partially due
to a desire to maintain peaceful relations between Clan MacIntyre and a
branch of Clan Campbell. James III was also connected to the Campbells
of Glenorchy by the Earl of Breadalbane sponsorship of his education.
This may have played a part in his not fighting for Price Charles
against the Campbells and King George. Finally, James (V) of Glenoe
married Ann Campbell, a relative of the Barcaldine Campbells although it
was not done to cement clan relations.
Clach Nodha and the Glen Coe Massacre
The story of the massacre of Glencoe has been told
and retold but it deserves telling again because of the aftermath
connection with the MacIntyres, which involves the Clach Nodha, the
magical stone given to a MacIntyre by a grateful Viking prisoner.
In August of the year 1691, when Duncan I was the
MacIntyre Chief, a Campbell Chief, the Earl of Breadalbane was given the
task of bribing the important Highland chiefs with English gold so they
would recognize King William as ruler of Scotland, instead of James II,
the Stuart King. James II had fled the country to take refuge at the
court of Louis XIV of France. All the chiefs had until January first to
make their submission of loyalty to the crown. Apparently, Glenoe made
his submission on time. However, Alexander MacIan, the Chief of the
MacDonalds of Glencoe, had territory which bordered with the Campbells
and there was naturally was a long-standing feud between them and
perhaps some cattle rustling. The old MacDonald Chief was determined to
wait until the last minute before making a submission.
The weather was unusually severe and it took him some
time before he got to Ft. William. However, the official there said that
he had no power to receive his submission because Glencoe was not in his
jurisdiction. So the Chief, called MacIan, had to go back through the
snow in the dead of winter to try to reach Inveraray, the county seat of
Argyllshire, before the deadline.
On his return he was delayed again at Barcaldine
Castle, a Campbell stronghold and he didn't even stop at his home in
Glencoe, where the MacIan MacDonald’s numbered 200, at the most.
Glencoe is formed by the River Coe, which falls into Loch Leven.
Starting at the top of the same mountain but going in the southerly
direction is Glen Etive down which flows the River Etive that empties at
the head of Loch Etive.
The first of January had already passed by the time
McIan reached Inveraray but the Sheriff there, seeing that he was trying
to comply with the spirit of the statute, accepted his oath of
submission and asked the military parties not to annoy him. So, MacIan
returned home confident that the government to which he had sworn
allegiance would now protect him. He even called the Clan together and
told them they should not give cause for offense. This was quite
important because it was his next-door neighbor, the Earl of Breadalbane,
who bore him ill will, because of MacIan’s cattle raids.
1. The Campbells crest is
a boar’s head. Almost everything the Campbell had was inherited from
another Clan and their crest is no exception. They came to Argyll by
marrying an heiress of the O’Duines or O’Duibhne, Lords of Loch Awe.
They took her name and called themselves, Clan O’Duine but changed it
to Clan Diarmid, after Diarmid O’Duibhne, the most handsome of all the
warriors of ancient Alba. The myth itself mirrors the Campbells modus
operandi. Diarmid spirited away Grainne, the beautiful wife of Fionn
and took her to his love in Glen Lonan, near Loch Etive. In a feat of
strength and courage, Diarmid killed a giant boar with poisonous
bristles. In turn, the vengeful Fionn used the bristles to kill Diarmid.
What the old Chief did not know was the extent of the
Earl's vindictiveness. In the preceding fall, Breadalbane hoped that by
holding out, MacDonald of Glencoe would give a legal excuse for the
Campbells to ravage his land. Breadalbane, was particularly incensed
because he suspected that the McIan and the other Highland chiefs, had
accepted King Williams's gold but still owed allegiance in their hearts
to James II, and he was probably right. So he was looking for an example
that would be so severe as to terrify the others, and the little band of
MacDonalds of Glen Coe seems to be the best choice.
The Secretary of State of Scotland, the Master of
Stair, Sir John Dalrymple, sharing the feelings of the Earl of
Breadalbane, deleted from the records the oath that MacIan had taken and
put in the record these words: "As for MacIan of Glencoe, and that
tribe, if they can be well-distinguished from the rest of the
Highlanders, it will be proper, for the vindication of public justice,
to extirpate that set of thieves". Later the Secretary of State, in
letters to military officers, took such a personal interest in the
execution plans that he indicated that the winter was the proper time to
maul them ‘in the long dark nights’ which was the only season when
the Highlanders could not carry off their wives, children and cattle to
the mountains, and no constitution could stand the freezing weather. His
instructions continued, "to plunder their lands, or drive off their
cattle, would be only to render them desperate; they must be all
slaughtered and the manner of execution must be sure, secret, and
So, before the end of January 1692 a party of the
Earl of Argyll's regiment, commanded by Captain Campbell of Glenlyon,
came to take up quarters in Glencoe under the pretext of relieving the
garrison at Ft. William where the quarters were overcrowded. They were
received with hospitality as of friendly disposition, since Alister
MacDonald, one of the sons of the Chief of MacDonalds of Glencoe was
married to a niece of Glenlyon, who was in command of the party of
soldiers. The Clan members were defenseless, having assumed that the
soldiers might have a commission to disarm them, they hid their weapons
out at a distance.
After enjoying the hospitality of the Clan for some
14 or 15 days, Glenlyon received his instructions, which were to put to
the sword all persons under 70 and not to be troubled with prisoners.
Major Robert Duncanson asked that they fall upon the rebels (men of
Glencoe) at 4 o'clock in the morning of February 13, at which time he
would be at the eastern passes out of Glencoe with 400 men prepared to
intercept any who had escaped the fire and the sword, the gun and the
The murders were carried out on schedule. The aged
Chief was killed in his bed and others, fleeing their burning huts,
half-naked in the winter morning of darkness, in a storm, the worst the
Highlands had known in many years, had to make their way through
mountain passes for 12 miles before they could reach any kind of help
and protection. Fortunately, the heavy snowfall delayed Major Duncanson
and he did not arrive with his 400 men at the eastern passes of Glencoe
until 11 o'clock, when the major portion of the people had already
escaped. The men found only one MacDonald left in Glencoe - an old man
of 80 - whom they killed.
Even after the passage of almost 300 years this foul
deed is still execrated as murder under trust by government order. The
penalty under Scot's Law for murder under trust carried the cumulative
penalties of hanging, beheading, disemboweling, and quartering. But
after a three-year inquiry, none was brought to justice. The Wax Museum
in Edinburgh, Scotland, has a tableau of MacIan of Glencoe shot as he
arose from bed.
From the Unpublished Manuscript of Alexander James
MacIntyre1 we hear that the refugees from the massacre were trying to
escape through the worst blizzard in many years. The MacIntyres of Appin
and Loch Etive opened their doors and gave hospitality and shelter to
those who had escaped. They sheltered all the stronger men in a cave
near Dalness and shared their homes, as small as they were, with the
women, children, and older folks. Lady Glencoe, as the wife of the Chief
was known, had been brutally mistreated by a Campbell soldier who tore
her rings from her fingers with his teeth. Although not strong, she
escaped across the hill passes, through snow-wreaths and swirling drift
eventually arriving in Dalness, at the head of Loch Etive.
A rescue party made up of about 20 MacIntyres,
Stewarts and MacDonalds was sent out to the head of Glen leac nan
bhuidhe and were able to help about 30 to safety including Lady
Glencoe and an infant who was found on a big stone near the burnside on
the only part free from snow.
1. Bibliography 8
The Clach Nodha was used successfully to heal Lady
Glencoe's septic fingers. The baby boy found on the stone was adopted by
Lady Glencoe and was called Donald MacIntyre MacDonald. One in the
rescue party was captured in the glen where they were on watch and he
was taken to Inveraray, where everything was done to him to make him
divulge the aid the people of Appin had given the MacDonalds of Glencoe.
He refused. It is said that he was hung, on what charges nobody knows.
The Fairy Dart of Glen Noe1
There may be something to the mystical nature of Glen
Noe, Ben Cruachan, and Loch Etive. After all, wasn’t this where
Deirdre of the Sorrows and the three sons of Uisnech lived happily
until, by a tragic ruse, they were lured back to their death in their
native Scotia? Wasn’t this where the "Stone of Destiny", the
Lia Fail, was first brought to Scotland? Wasn’t this were the
spirit first kept the MacIntyres from entering Glen Noe and then led the
white cow to where she should lie down? And then there was the Clach
Nodha. But there was yet another magical stone to grace Glen Noe.
A man by the name of Dr. Stewart was directed to find
an unnamed gentleman in Oban who possessed a relic with an interesting
story attached to it. When Dr. Stewart saw it, the relic was in a small
iron casket the size of a snuffbox with a carved lid. The box was opened
by pressing a spring. Inside was a flint arrow lying on a bed of frayed
and faded brown silk. It was creamy grey in color like Ballachulish
stone but of the tangless variety with a nosserated head. He carefully
took it out. The base of the dart had a hole in it with a small silver
ring attached. Through the ring was a faded dirty orange ribbon that
must have been bright scarlet when it was new. The relic was carefully
replace, the lid closed, and the owner commenced to tell this story.
About the year 1700, in the time of Ian Splagach
(splay-footed John) second Earl of Breadalbane, there lived at the head
of Glenoe a Patrick MacIntyre who was one of the Earl’s foresters. One
fine summer’s day, Patrick’s wife, who was a MacGregor, was in a
lonely corrie on the back of Ben Cruachan milking her goats. Because her
pails were full and the heat was oppressive, she sat down to rest and
fell asleep. After a considerable time, she was awakened by something
cold on her bosom. She was afraid that it might be a poisonous serpent
or dease (newt or elf) and started to pluck it away when lo! it proved
to be no living creature but a very splendid "saighead or
sìthiche" or Fairy Dart, the same one you have just examined.
They were all superstitions then and many still are,
although they would not admit it. She had no doubt that the Fairy Dart
was a gift to her from a benevolent fairy and she was so convinced that
she completely recovered from an ailment that had troubled her for
years. I should tell you that soon after the Dart came into her
possession she had sewn it up in a square red cloth and suspended from a
ribbon or string worn constantly around her neck. It was covered by her
neckerchief or dress so that only members of her family and a few
intimate friends knew of it. It was however under the following
circumstances that the already widely known, "Dart of Glenoe"
reached its pinnacle of fame.
One day while hunting in the forest, Lord Breadalbane
took occasion to tell MacIntyre that he was in a state of great anxiety
about Lady Breadalbane’s health. She had for some time been out of
sorts suffering from an insidious disease which the doctors did not seem
to understand. MacIntyre was of course very sorry to hear of her
ladyship’s illness (she was the Earl’s second wife) and took leave
to suggest that perhaps his very own wife might be of some use because
many years before she had suffered an illness with similar symptoms. His
lordship very readily arranged for an immediate visit of the forester’s
wife to the ailing Countess at the Castle of Bealach (Taymouth). What
else she did, the tradition sayeth not, but it is certain that she got
the Countess to wear the Fairy Dart around her neck. In a few weeks the
Countess was fully recovered and much of the credit for her cure, if not
all, was attributed to the mysterious virtue of the Fairy Dart talisman
1. Bibliography 8
Soon after this, the Countess left for London still
wearing the Dart, the virtue of which she fully believed. While in the
south she took it to a jeweller and had the silver ring attached to it
with the scarlet ribbon. She also had the casket specially made to keep
it safe. In due time the Countess sent the talisman back to its proper
home in Glenoe with an accompanying present to the forester’s wife of
a white faced dun cow of superior size and excellence as a milker. As
nearly as I can make out this was about 1710 and well down into the
present century the white faced dun cows "Strainal a mhairt on hair
Phlar" were in high repute and brought the highest prices whether
for grazing or dairying purposes. The repute of the Fairy Dart spread
all over Breadalbane and was in constant demand. On such occasions as it
was used, it was always returned with some accompanying gift and it
became a very valuable possession to its owner. It was a granddaughter
to the wife of Glenoe, an aged and childless widow, who on her deathbed
bequeathed the talisman and casket to my mother, who always looked on it
with respect and preserved it with care although the popular faith in
its efficacy had long been on the wane. Only twice, I think, was it
called into use whilst in my mother’s possession and never since it
came into mine. We don’t know the present whereabouts of the fairy
dart. Perhaps it has been returned to the fairies.
The ‘Loss’ of Glenoe
It has been said that at one time
the MacIntyre Chief’s owned Glenoe but lost it by being tricked or
simply by being foolish. The truth of this story will be thoroughly
discussed under the Section on the Tenure of Glenoe. Regardless, this
story has a life of its own and has been a central part of the latter
day Clan mythology. This story impressed and angered me so much as a
little boy that I insisted on my father telling it over and over. It
wasn’t right; it wasn’t fair; and we were tricked. I don’t know
what I thought I would do to make it right, but I didn’t want to
forget the wrong that was done. My father felt the story was based in
fact, but I now have my doubts so will tell it only as the story I was
told so often, and still motivates me to find the truth.
The MacIntyre chiefs kept Glenoe by paying to the
Campbells at Midsummer’s Day, a snowball and a fatted calf. The
payment was delivered on the stone of the fatted calf at the top of the
pass between Glenoe to Glenorchy, just below the twin peaks of Ben
Cruachan. Sometime in the early 1700s, as Midsummer’s Day was
approaching, the Earl of Breadalbane made a seemingly harmless and even
helpful suggestion to the chief of the MacIntyres. "Wouldn’t it
be better to replace the snowball and calf with a few hay pennies?"
After all, this old fashion tradition was no longer necessary, and the
Chief could lose Glenoe, if by chance, a snowball could not be produced
on the appointed day.1 Foolishly, the Chief agreed, and year
after year, the Earl increased the number of pennies (something he
couldn't do with the snowball and calf). Eventually, there came a time
when the Chief’s descendants could not pay the rent. They had to leave
their beloved Glenoe and Scotland forever. They came to America.2
1 The Earl never saw the
calf, because it was butchered on the Stone of the Fatted Calf and eaten
by the emissaries of the Campbell and MacIntyre chiefs, perhaps as a
belated celebration of an even longer tradition, the Summer Solstice.
2 Perhaps, this is why I have an aversion to the
name, Campbell, even though it is prominent in the family of our Chiefs.
Of course, this is how feuds are perpetuated from generation to
generation, sometimes with fatal consequences.
Return of the MacIntyres: The Movie
In 1976, Glen Noe was part of the West Highland
Estates of Lady Wyfold. So that the members of Clan MacIntyre the world
over might feel they still have a bit of Glen Noe they could call home,
an offer was made to purchase a plot three meters square for that
symbolic use. There was no answer, but Lady Wyfold's brother, Lord
Wyfold, stated to the press that it would be too difficult to sell a bit
from a sheepfold.1
1. In 1965, Glenoe was
purchased by Mr. Heriot-Maitland.
On April 16, 1976, a family of MacIntyres from the
United States1 and one MacIntyre from Great Britain raised a cairn in
memory of past Chiefs on the shore of Loch Etive at Glen Noe. It is so
distinctive that it now appears on the Year 2000 Ordnance Survey Map.
For the last twenty-five years, the cairn has been increased in size by
MacIntyres who visit Glen Noe, and it is always pointed out as a tourist
attraction on the boat tour of Loch Etive. There are local people who
still remember hearing about this adventure and seeing the boat as it
went by the Taynuilt jetty towards Glen Noe. Rosemary and Martin
MacIntyre described the trip in an article in the travel section of the
Washington Post newspaper. This trip gave impetuous to L. D. MacIntyre
to complete the first edition of this book, and the publication of the
book gave rise to the renewal of the Clan MacIntyre Association.
(Article from the Washington
A Very Special Delivery
When writing the first edition of this book, my
father discovered that the magic stone was real and still existed. It
was in the possession of Alexander Bell MacIntyre of Dunoon, son of
Alexander James MacIntyre of Inveraray. L.D. wanted a photograph of the
stone to put in the book, so he wrote to Alexander Bell and then forgot
about it. As preparation of the book progressed, the place for the photo
of the stone remained empty.
The day for the book to be complete was August 8th,
1977, my father’s eightieth birthday. The last day that photo could be
place in the book was one week before, August the 1st. As the
end of July approached and there was no photograph, wee finally had to
call Scotland to see if it was going to arrive in time. Alexander told
us that it had been sent many months ago!2 We thought he meant the photo.
There wasn't much else to say or do. If it hadn’t arrived by now, it
never would, and it was too late to mail another one.
On July 31st a package arrived with
Alexander Bell’s return address in Dunoon, Scotland. We were overjoyed
when we saw it, although it was battered and torn as if it had been
through Hell. You couldn’t miss the message on the front in
handwritten, big, bold letters, S A M P L E. It was then that we noticed
that the first of a number of unexplained events; the stamps on the
package weren’t from the United Kingdom, they were from the United
States! We carefully opened the parcel hoping almost sure that the photo
was inside and it needed to be, because this was the last day we could
send it to the printer. We hadn’t even thought about was we would put
in its place. Inside there was a lot of crumpled up paper but so far, no
photo. We kept removing the paper and at the bottom was a MIRACLE.
Alexander hadn’t sent a photo of the magic stone, he had sent The
MAGIC STONE, as a sample and it arrived at the last possible moment.
We couldn’t believe it. We immediately rubbed it on
everything we could, because it was known to have magical healing powers
and who knew what else? In fact, we knew it had magical powers, because
how else could that box have survived the journey of many months without
the proper stamps, without being registered, and, instead of being
insured for how many dollars or pounds as a priceless, irreplaceable
relic, it was sent as a sample? Were the United States custom officials
suspicious and opened it? Were they embarrassed or dumbfounded by what
they found? If this were a sample, was the sender planning to send more
stones to the United States? What possible commercial value could there
be for a simple stone? Did the Customs officials have meetings about
what to do with it? The could send it back, but what reason could they
give - contraband,
1. The family included L.D. and Alice
MacIntyre of Bannockburn, Maryland; Martin, Rosemary, Laurie and Sarah MacIntyre
of Inverness, Maryland and Ian Stuart MacIntyre, from England.
2. In 1977, making an international long distance call was not only expensive
but was usually limited to life and death emergencies. You contacted a special
operator who performed miracles, and finally, if you were lucky, a faint voice
was heard on the other end of the world amidst the static.
an illegal weapon (like David might have used against
Goliath)? What happened to the UK stamps? Perhaps Alex used some U.S.
stamps and put them on the package and then put the package inside
another package that he was sending to a customer in the U. S., with a
request to forward it to us? Maybe it was that other package that was
opened by Customs officers, and inside they found this package with U.S.
stamps? Our minds were racing with questions and our hearts were
delirious. Imagine, the real thing, at the last possible moment, a magic
stone that came from Norway via Sleat on the Isle of Sky to Glenoe and
now to the United States. We immediately took the picture that you can
see on page ___ with the ancient mystical stone in L. D. MacIntyre’s
hand. We sent it back first class, special delivery, and registered,
because we didn’t have as much faith in its miraculous power as
Alexander Bell MacIntyre. We never asked him how he sent it, and why it
came with U.S. stamps and his return address. In hindsight, we should
have saved the package. Anyway, it was too good a story to spoil with
the truth, although maybe the truth is even more miraculous. When Alex
reads this story he can decide whether to spoil the fun or top it with
the magical truth.
Another MacIntyre Miracle --The "Wright"
Man at the Right Time
In 1984, at the Stone Mountain Highland Games in
Georgia, a young man appeared at the Clan MacIntyre tent out of nowhere.
Politely, almost timidly, he asked if he could be our champion to
compete for the Clan Trophy or what everyone called, the Battle of the
Clans. At many Highland Games the clans compete in a tug o’ war, but
at Stone Mountain, individual Clan champions are pitted against each
other. The competition was only open to amateurs and was the last and
most important prize to be awarded in the closing ceremony of the games.
This "boy" didn’t look particularly well
suited for Highland sports but at least we would have someone
representing the MacIntyres. But . . . wait a minute. He has to be a
member of Clan MacIntyre and I think he said he had come a long way just
to compete for Clan Gunn and they didn’t have a tent this year. To
avoid an unwanted feud, we felt obliged to query him about his ancestry.
Much to our relief, he was a Gunn on his father’s side but his mother
was a Wright . . one of us!
The site of the contest was near to our tent and as
we gathered to watch, it was clear that our champion wasn’t the
tallest or the heaviest by far and he certainly looked inexperienced. In
fact, while the others warmed up and practiced, our man ... boy, just
watched . . . as if he were on the sidelines getting the gist of it
before trying for the first time. And then the contest began.
In total disbelief, our boy won the hay toss. What he
lacked in size he replaced with grace. The next contest was the weight
throw. He hadn’t a chance
Wait . . . could it be? Was that OUR MAN who hurled
the weight for a record distance? It couldn’t be!
IT IS ! ! ! ! ! !
What’s next? He’s won again!! He’s won
everything so far. He seems to have grown in the process, much bigger
and stronger than before. Why isn’t everyone here to see this?
Only the dreaded caber toss remained. Oh, it’s too
heavy and too long. During the practice session, most of the champions
had trouble even picking it up, let alone turning it over. Our champion
hadn’t even practiced!
Each clan champion took his turn and each failed
miserably. But then it was the turn of Montgomery’s champion. He was 6
feet tall but looked much shorter because he had short legs and he was
four feet wide. This man looked like he was created for the caber toss.
Now our champion looked small again. Three times Montgomery, in
his purple kilt with black and red stripes, tried and three times, he
failed. After the last attempt the disgusted Montgomery had turned away,
the caber fell back, and it hit him in the head. He certainly had a hard
head because it didn’t seem to faze him. However, to those of us
watching it was a bad omen. If Montgomery couldn’t even turn it over,
how could our boy have a chance? We hoped he hadn’t seen what
Now it was our Champion’s turn. Without evidence of
mental or physical preparation . . . without a shiver, shake or even a
step . . . our champion picked up the caber and in one fluid motion
tossed it like a toothpick, end over end, straight at 12 o’clock. The
judge raised both hands high over his head . . . a perfect toss! Just to
rub it in he did it again and again . . . three perfect tosses of the
caber -- a m i r a c l e.
I swear it’s the truth. Ask Jerry, he was there. It
was almost too much to take. I was screaming with joy . . . close to
delirium, rolling in the grass, laughing and crying, like a little boy.
We held an ad hoc derhbfine (council meeting)
and awarded this mighty Wright . . . this MacIntyre (I don’t think we
ever got his proper name) an honorary membership and book, signed by the
author. After huddling to agree on a dinner invitation, we turned around
only to discover that our guest-of-honor had gone, as mysteriously as he
At the closing ceremony, the massed bands came in,
led by the Air Force pipe band dressed in handsome, hand-me-down Ancient
MacIntyre hunting tartan kilts! With the clans assembled and the
dignitaries from Scotland in their places on the podium, our very own L.
D. MacIntyre, now over 80 years old, was asked to come forward and
accept, on behalf of Clan MacIntyres and their champion, the final and
most coveted prize of the games, the Clan Trophy. We had had the
"Wright" man at the right time, truly another modern MacIntyre
This is a collection of poetry by, or about, MacIntyres and their
homeland. For so small a clan, with such a mysterious and elusive
history, we can be justly proud of our wealth of poets and poetry.
VERSES ON ARMS1
By Duncan MacIntyre of Glenorchy, Gaelic Poet known as
`Fair Duncan of the Songs.'
(These verses were composed in commemoration of a
visit to James MacIntyre of Glenoe, 3rd Chief of Clan MacIntyre,
1727-1799, and are a tribute to his Armorial Bearings)
I saw today the stone of might,
The jewel splendid,
Settings of gold around its light
In cirque defended;
The blazon strong upon the banner
Of my kindred,
Who firmly clung to their old manner,
As use inbred.
A device to traverse danger through
By host untiring
Men who never dread or panic knew
At sound of firing;
A clan who often moved amain
Where foes did yield,
And no return sought save with gain,
Or stricken field.
You were once serenely sailing
On salt billow,
From a stave there sprang a nail in
The boat's hollow,
With all haste he thrust his thumb
Down the cleft,
With a hammer struck it home,
Its end he left.
What the Sleat wright won of
With all prestige thence arising,
Has been still kept for his seed,
All foes' injustice despising;
The coat of arms correct and handsome
Which the King for his use settled,
Good as man has of that stout stem,
Coll, the Spaniard, hundred-battled.
A gentle hand, a hand on blade,
With cross of fire,
Eagles with swift wings displayed
For danger dire,
Ship on back of billows moving
With sails furled,
The arms of MacIntyre of Cruachan,
Summit of the Argyll world.
Your men often are seafaring,
Captains brave that fear no harm, they
Have a graceful, handsome bearing,
Part of them in many an army;
Ah! they loved to tread hill country,
Early and late to hunt wilds swarming;
Numbers more of them are gentry,
Yeomen some of them at farming.
A kingly story all yet heard
About thy party,
A numerous stay, those that are spared,
Did fortune thwart thee:
Every suchlike virtue claims
Abode within Glenoe, the famous;
Bagpipe, flag, and strength has James,
The chief who never will disclaim us.
1. Metrical translation by
George Calder, pages 309-13, `Songs of Duncan MacIntyre', 1912. Other
translations are those by Angus Macintyre found on pages 64-66 of `Cruachan'
Vistas and by Angus MacLeod, pages 235-37 in `The Songs of Duncan Ban
A free metrical description of the Armorial Bearings
in `Verses on Arms' by Rev. James M. Joass, L.L.D., Blarour in Lochaber
from `The Celtic Monthly', 1905, page 168.
The Crest - a hand and dagger bright,
Borne in many a bloody fight
To fame and fortune pierced a way,
As motto saith `Per Ardua.'
Beneath the Crest, on ground of `or'
The Shield the brave devices bore,
Two eagles bold of plumage red,
With crests erect and wings outspread,
Above with fluttering pinions see,
A galley on a silver sea;
Below, behold on field of same
A gentle hand with cross of flame
Summoned the clan from cot and hall
To stand by their chief Troimh
Such are the Motto, the Crest, and the
Which oft fought and won by flood and
Have handed down from sire to son,
'Mong the MacIntyres of Cruachan Ben,
And still reflect the untarnished glow
The fame of thine ancient house Glenoe.
Gaelic words by Patrick MacIntyre (1782-1855)
Translation by Malcolm MacFarlane
1. Noblest hill e'er I saw!
It is grander a handle
Than ought Europe can show,
When it wears its snowy mantle.
King o' mountains,
To the lift towers its head,
Down its shoulders pour the fountains.
2.Macintyres were the clan
That its precincts frequentit;
Now there's nane o' them there,
And fu' sair I lament it.
3.'Twas in days o'langsyne
Bonnie Cruachan they claimit,
And as lang as water flows,
Still on it they'll be namit.
4.I was reared at
Far the grandest of onie;
Deers and roes bounded free
Owre its knowes green and bonnie.
6.I nae mair shall behold
Spot on earth half sae takin';
But they've put it under deer,
And my heart's nigh a-breakin!
8.Fare thee well, Cruachan
Every scaur, glen and fountain!
Lang may Macintyres be found
Round their ain glorious mountain.
Bibliography 17, pages 124, 125
Nostalgia By Angus Macintyre
The honey-scented, dew-wet flowers,
That made the air so sweet;
The stillness of the gloaming hours
And the burnie at my feet,
The corncrake’s rasp in the meadow grass
And the witching Highland moon;
Why did such joy so swiftly pass,
Oh why did it go so soon?
The peat-flame flickers and fades and dies,
Grotesque on the bothy wall;
The dusk is filled with seabirds’ cries
And the curlew’s fluted call;
But I heed them not, for my memory strays
Far back to the time lang syne;
To the golden, fleeting summer days,
When the world was fair and fine,
And the simple joys were all our need,
In the happy, Highland glen,
When friends, long-made, were friends indeed,
Steadfast as Cruachan Ben.
This way my land, my bonny land,
Beloved, dear to me;
Each rocky shore, each silver strand,
Laved by the sunlit sea.
Each corry on the snowy Ben,
The Gorse in yellow blaze,
The Burnie chuckling in the glen,
Enchanted boyhood days.
I cannot see, my eyes are old,
The brae is steep and sore,
But richer far than miser’s gold,
The memories that I store.
Within my heart I hold an keep,
For now and evermore,
Sweet mem’ries of the friends who sleep
Far, far on Etive’s shore;
And the Awe keeps purling in my ears,
As its limpid waters run
Down, Down the valley of my years
To Loch Etive in the sun.
Oh, Blessed me, Oh, happy man,
Of heaven’s favoured band,
To pass my joyous mortal span
In that sweet bonnie land.