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Graham Donachie's Stories
A West Highland Tale

After reading accounts of this atrocity, I ventured to write this wee ditty....
I have no axe to grind here.... I have no insult to hurl at anyone on ES.... I have no intention to cast blame on any three hundred year old Campbell ancestor....... This is me, merely trying to get to grips
with attempts at simple poetry....

Let it be known however, that not all Campbells in the King’s service that day approved of the act of Military murder....Two Campbell officers, under the command of Hamilton, were locked up for their refusal to march against the MacDonalds and commit murder and besmirch the honour or the name of
Campbell...... It is documented that on the fateful morning, when stealth was necessary to begin the bloody task at hand...MacIan was awakened by the shouting of the Campbell Militia....This was thought to be an attempt by some Campbells, to warn MacIan of the treachery.............

A West Highland Tale.....

The Order cam frae Wullie,
A Sovereign lad was he
That damned Jacobite clansmen
Should gae doon on bended knee
And kiss his Royal bunions
And swear to him be true
And nae mair tae think on Jamie
Or else their decision rue.......
The day they gave their claymores
To the one true Catholic King
And swore on their Highland honour
That tae ancient Scotia bring.......
The auld right’fu King amangst them
Again on Scotia’s Throne
And cleave the Orange imposter
For his fate, let him bemoan....

But as fates wad hae it..victory lost
And the dream did quickly die
And were Jacobite chieftains sent for
Tae swear for Wullie...or die


Lads were sent tae the Frenchman’s Court
To request the exiled ear
To beg of him his Royal word
And the Loyal clans to clear
Of the honoured oath they swore to him
So many years ago
Before defeat on the battlefield
‘gainst the mighty red-coated foe..

But Jamie humphed and Jamie hawed
And Jamie dithered Royally
And Jamie delayed his Royal consent
And Jamie caused many tae dee...
For the journey back tae London toun
And thence across the border
Tae Edinburgh they cam at last
Wi’ Jamie’s Royal order....
Tae forget their oath that he got from them
And tae Wullie now gie their word
For the foreign King now had the Throne
By the might of his stronger sword........

Now a Royal writ of amnestie
Was sent frae Wullies court
Tae his commander in the Great North Glen
In Royal Wullie’s Fort....
Until the first day of January
Of sixteen ninety two
They had pledge their honoured oath
Tae Wullies Crown be true.

Now..if any were to disobey
If any did refuse
And not swear by King and Law
Their highland lives would lose.

And the threat of reprimand and death
Of wives and children dear
Put to the sword by Lowland cur
Into highland hearts grew fear.
So they cam into the local touns
Civil Magistrates for tae see
And they swore upon the holy dirk
Their allegiance tae Wullie tae gie’


There was a chieftain in the North
A wily fox was he
Known as MacIan of Glencoe
A Stuart’s man..and free
To rove and plunder whatever he could
In the South far frae his Glen
But his tyme was short, for could be heard
The tramp of Marching Men..

He got the word tae mak his way
Tae the civil magistrate
As tyme was short and the snow was deep
He could not afford to wait.
And so unto Fort William
The fox did tak the road
But no one there could help him
No one could ease his load.

Through the raging storm he once more gaed
Tae Inverlochy far
Arriving there exhausted
To pause he could nae daur..
This was the last day o’ the truce
And late he could’na be
But nae Magistrate was there tae find
And desperate now was he...

But wi’ a letter from John Hill
The Colonel in command
He went once more on his wintry way
Now..into Campbell Land.
He was bound for Inverary
Sae many miles awa
In dark and stormy weather
Through cauld and drifting sna...
To see Sir Colin Campbell
The sheriff o’ Argyle
And there tae gie his MacDonald word
And rest his bones awhile..

But as the fates wad hae it
As he neared his journey’s end
He met with Argyle’s Grenadiers
No sympathy they did lend.
They locked him in a dark cell
Till the passing of a day
But they let him go next morning
And he went upon his way.

When he cam tae Inverary
Sir Colin for tae face
The Campbell wasna there at hoose
So he could’na plead his case.
Well...three days past until at last
The Campbell he cam hame
And took the vow MacIan gave
By the honour of his name.

So then at last MacIan
Returned tae his glen
Tae rest in lasting safety
Fae the fear of armed men...


The Campbell sent a letter
Tae the Law Lords in the toun
Wi the oath of auld MacIan
And his promise written doon.
But as evil is ever present
In the company of guid
There were those amongst the Law Lords
Wha had the Campbell bluid.

And the name of the MacIan
Was erased frae that document
And that fause scrap o’ paper
Tae Dalrymple, it was sent...

Now Dalrymple was a rabid man
As cruel as any could be
And he hated Highland people
Nae quarter wad gie he...
And he sent fause word tae Wullie
For the scribble o’ Royal pen
And the order cam back fae London toun
For the killing o’ Highland men.....

Dalrymple swore on his ain lyfe
Tae cleanse the highland air
And the foulest plan was ever hatched
By that bloody Master o’ Stair.
He gave the order to commence
Tae send the troops tae arms
Tae raize the crofts tae kill the kye
Destroy all highland farms

Gang tae the glen and kill all men
Leave none alive tae tell
What devil’s deed has happened here
What bloody fate befell....


On a snowy day by the River Coe
A lad wi’ a keen young eye
Saw a red coat troop o’ Grenadiers
Come grimly marching by.....

They cam tae seek MacIan
They cam for comforts hand
They cam tae rest their weary bones
From the rigours o’ this wild land.
MacDonalds welcome knew no bounds
Hospitality was theirs
They found warm and friendly solace
And a freedom frae their cares.....

They found food and warm shelter
Frae the howling winter storm
And all was kindness to them
Highland welcomes in every form...
For twelve days the troops were sheltered
In the houses in the Glen
And they looked on the laughing faces
Of the women and the men..

But their hearts were cold within the breast
Their duty, it was clear
And with the tolling of auld nick’s bell
Macdonald’s fate was near.
On that fateful storm wracked morning
When all decent folk abed
Cam the red coats of the Grenadiers
And all were Campbell led.......

And the slaughter and the murder
And the running of the bluid
And the bayoneting of innocents
And the redness o’ the flood
And the stabbing and the shooting
And the spree o’ Murder wild
And the violation of the women
And the dirking o’ the child.

And the chasing o’ the innocents
Into the winter sna
And watching naked mothers
Into the storm tae fa.
And the laughter and the lust for bluid
The howl o’ rapine glee
And watching as the deeds were done
And the auld..they tried tae flee...

But none were spared that could be had
And none were spared that morn
And none were left tae tell the tale
Their bodies cruelly torn
By the bayonet and broadsword
And musket shot they died
And for golden rings on fingers
Bluid soaked Grenadiers vied.
And then at last to the Fox’s den
They cam unto the door
Invited in..from the storm’s wild din
They knocked him to the floor.

And in the sight of his ain dear wyfe
They shot him in the head
Another ball into his breast
Tae mak sure that he was dead.
And then tae his auld loyal spouse
Nae mercy did they show
They stripped her bare
And threw her into, the unforgiving snow.

Now all was done and silence cam
Unto that far wild Glen
And bloody was the sna that day
When left the Redcoat men..

On a snowy day by the River Coe
A lad wi’ a keen young eye
Saw a Redcoat troop o’ Grenadiers
Go bluidily marching by...........

Read other stories from Graham Donachie


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