Old Inverary1 Castle (Caisteal Ionaraora)
The grey turrets of this old castle witnessed the arrival of Mary Queen of Scots when she came riding from Dunoon (Dun-odhain) with her retinue on a visit to her half-sister the Countess of Argyll — that Countess who was seated in the Queen’s closet at Holyrood at supper when the arras was drawn aside in the adjoining bedroom, and Ruthven’s ghastly form, clothed in full armour, gloomily surveyed the party, when all rose, and the Italian troubadour, David Rizzio, knowing his hour had come, clung shrieking to the Queen’s skirts, to be but rudely torn away and despatched with dagger-thrusts before her eyes.
There at the head of the table in the old hall, sat MacLean’s wife, Argyll’s sister, whom MacLean supposed drowned. The story of how the lady was saved from the rising tide on the island not far from Duart is well known, and how she fled to Inverary; how MacLean was induced to believe she had perished, and his letter to Argyll saying he would bring her body to Inverary, and bewailing her untimely fate,– are all sufficiently well known. But it may not be as well remembered that Argyll caused a room to be prepared for the body to rest in overnight; and how, when the dinner-hour came round, Argyll in bitter scorn introduced MacLean to his wife seated at the head of the table; and how through the entreaty of the injured wife, he was allowed to go free. It is on record that MacLean was fully armed, and that Argyll’s people who met MacLean at the top of Glen Ara (Gleann-aora), were not so armed.
In the old castle lived the Marquess of Argyll during the stirring times of Montrose’s wars. From here he wrote many a curious letter; and here he received correspondence from all parts of Europe, gave audience to those whom it suited him to receive, or abruptly ended an inconvenient discussion by leaving the room and closing the door — as will be related elsewhere.
There, too, lived Archibald, ninth Earl, who loved his fellow-countrymen, and declared that if heaven were half as beautiful as the glen or valley of Eas-a-chosain, he would be satisfied — who ended his career on the scaffold at Edinburgh, murdered by the legal tribunal of the day.
Here dwelt John, second Duke of Argyll and Greenwich; and here sojourned Earl Crauford of the 42d, who learnt to love the ways of the people among whom he lived, and became famous for his rendering of the national sword-dance — the ancient dance, not to be confounded with the modern sword dance.
There the Earl of Ilay (Ile), later Archibald, third Duke, planned the new castle a pistol-shot from this fine old place, and, alas! ordered the old one to be destroyed, as being no longer habitable.
Here Athole lived and raised the rents during the days of the attainder of the Argyll estates, and the Athole Highlanders made free with whatever they could lay hands on, as is elsewhere described in the depredations committed on the Campbell Clan by the Atholl men.
– Lord Archibald Campbell’s Records of Argyll (1885).
1 Now spelt “Inveraray”.