Colla Ciotach and Dunstaffnage

The site of Dunaverty Castle, Southend, Kintyre.
The site of Dunaverty Castle, Southend, Kintyre.

After the defeat and murder of Sir Alexander MacDonald’s (Colla Ciotach’s son) followers at Dunaverty (Dunàbhartaidh) in Kintyre, General Leslie and the Earl of Argyll crossed over to Islay (Ile) and besieged Dun-naomhaig, held by Colla Ciotach. After a short resistance, Colla consented to surrender on certain conditions, to which Leslie agreed. While the terms of surrender were being drawn out, Colla thinking that all was settled, went out of the fort to speak to MacAonghais an Duin (MacAngus of the Fort, the patronymic of the Dunstaffnage  (Dun-staidh-innis) family), a gentleman for whom he had a great regard. No sooner was Colla out of the fort than he was made prisoner, taken to Dunstaffnage, and placed in irons, but received every kindness and leniency that Dunstaffnage could afford him, and was allowed to roam about as he pleased. Dunstaffnage having occasion to go to Inverary (Ionaraora), was asked by the Earl of Argyll if he had Colla in irons. MacAonghais answered that he had. The Earl swore that if he found out that he allowed Colla to be at large he would make him suffer for it. A man on horseback, with orders to change horses at every stage, was at once despatched to Dunstaffnage to see if it was true what he was hearing. Dunstaffnage gave a sign to his foster brother (Comhalta) MacKillop, who was along with him, and who set off at once, taking all the by-paths between Inverary and Dunstaffnage, and outran the rider. When they both took the road by Port Sonachan (Port Shonachain), the footman arrived first at the ferry; consequently the Earl’s horseman had to wait till the boat came back. When the Earl’s messenger was at Connel (A’ Chonaill), the man on foot was on the hill above the road south of Tigh-na-h-uallaraich, and seeing the reapers in a field over opposite, and Colla binding sheaves after them, he cried, “Colla fo gheimhlibh!  Colla fo gheimhlibh!” (Colla in fetters). Colla himself was the first to hear the cry; he understood how things were, ran into his prison, and placed himself in irons.

Shortly after this he was sentenced to be hanged. He was hanged from the mast of his own galley, which was placed across a cleft of the rock on a hill called Tom a’ chrochaidh (hill of hanging). He met his fate without fear or dismay, entreating that they would bury him so near to the place where MacAonghais would be buried that they might take a snuff from each other in the grave. When his request was told to Dunstaffnage, the latter ordered him to be buried under the second step at the door of the burying-place, and when they would be burying him, that they would step over Colla’s grave. Colla Ciotach was carried prisoner to Dunstaffnage after the fall of Dun-naomhaig in 1647.

— Lord Archibald Campbell’s Records of Argyll (1885).

 

 

Author: Christian Clay Columba Campbell

Christian Clay Columba Campbell is a Roman Catholic of the Anglican Use. As Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL), he organised the process by which the parish accepted the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, petitioning to join the Catholic Church. The Anglican Cathedral is now the Church of the Incarnation in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Personal queries should be directed to me at eccentricbliss dot com.

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